cooking by barockschloss at flickr

When the weather get  warm I get excited about picking wild greens (also known as Weeds) and wild berries as saskatoons are my favorite berry.

All of my life I have eaten wild plants. My father would bring in dandelion greens and boil them up for us. (sometimes it was out of necessity as there simply was no food in the cupboards).

Benefits of  eating wild plants:
•     Full of more nutrition than the same plant grown domesticated.
•     Are fresher than store bought as vegetables and fruits are shipped long distances to market, sit on shelves, losing flavour and nutrition. •     They are organic as no fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are used in the wild. (if there is don’t pick them there, I won’t pick them in the parks in my city as I know they spray for mosquitoes).
•     Not grown in depleted soil as nature replenishes itself.

Best of all they are free!  And they are gourmet foods.  A few of my favourites are nettles, dandelions, chickweed, fiddleheads & lambs quarters.

Nettles:
Now you might wonder how to pick these since they are called stinging nettles and they do sting.  They are a great spring tonic.  Every year in spring, I would make nettle soup when I lived in England. I will post that recipe later. You can even put them in your smoothies.

Nettles leaves contain: flavonoids, acetylcholine; lecithin; carotenoids, vitamin C, and many minerals.

Dandelion Greens:
They are one of the most useful of food herbs. More importantly, they are there for the picking. I dig them up with the roots intact and keep the roots in water in a bowl till I am ready to eat them thus keeping them as live food. I usually simply steam them along with my other vegetables.  The most common thing to do is boil dandelion greens until tender (changing the water once will take away some of the bitter taste if they are not young greens), then garnish with olive oil, butter or lemon juice.

The leaves are very high in potassium, Vitamin A, B, C and D, the Vitamin A content is higher than that of carrots. They also have iron, fiber, protein and a little carbohydrate. Read more: Dandelion Madness

Chickweed:
Grows almost everywhere! It is very easy to pull up as it grows in clumps of bright green with tiny white flowers. I simply add them to my salads and occasionally to soups, steamed vegetables and stews.

Chickweed contains Beta-carotene, B vitamins, Vitamin C, Bio-flavonoids, GLA/Gamma-linoleic Acid and lots of Minerals.

Fiddleheads:
The fiddlehead, is a delicacy that appears in the early spring April and May in place like the coasts of Canada and the US and all over England. We do not see them much here in Edmonton. Simply eat them the way you would asparagus in salads, steamed or in soups.

Fiddleheads contain protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and minerals including iron.

Lamb’s quarters also known as pigweed:
They are very profuse in all gardens. The young leaves are great in salads as they taste like spinach. When they are more mature, the leaves are better steamed, in soups or in smoothies.

Lamb’s quarters have a number of Vitamin B’s, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and minerals including iron.

Another weed that is worth learning about is the Canadian Thistle: The Man who Tried to eat Canadian Thistle

Recipes using wild food:

Saskatoon Crumble made with my favorite wild berry from northern Canada; Saskatoons.

Please share your wild food recipes with us; I look forward to trying them.