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Guest Blog: Wildlife Foods by Anke Bialas

As promised two weeks ago, we have a guest blog post by book author, Anke Bialas from the Herbology website. This post is a part of the virtual book tour that coincides with the release of her latest book Homemade Health. I hope to bring you reprints of some of her other sensational posts later this month.

A big THANK YOU, to Rhi for giving me this opportunity to address her readers on this, the 3rd stop of my Virtual Book Tour.  Rhi’s message of ethical and environmental awareness echoes its way into all areas of life for many of us.  To stay true to this message I chose the subject of weeds/wild foods for this post.  I figured it addresses your health and that of the planet, what could be better than that?

Do you have a garden? Do you love weeding it?  Nope, neither do I.  What if I told you that there are quite a few ‘weeds’ that would be better classified as wild foods? There are many plants that taste great, are so full of nutrients and grow so plentiful that it seems a shame to just throw them on the compost. Oh, and if you don’t have a garden do not despair, there are plenty of these little super foods out in the fields and along the paths you walk every day.

In this post I will talk about a few common weeds found in our gardens, not native bush food which of course are also incredibly nutritious and free for foragers in many parts of Australia. Nettles, dandelion, purslane, chickweed, cleavers, red clover, plantain, cobblers pegs,

Everyone knows dandelions! Children know it to grant wishes while they blow the seeds far and wide. As adults we curse its existence and dig furiously at the roots to remove them from our lawns. Dandelion is a diuretic and a hepatic used to strengthen, tone and stimulate bile flow, this tends to keep your liver very happy. Drinking an infusion made from Dandelion leaves or root after each meal, it will help strengthen the liver, clean the body via the kidneys and if you add Meadowsweet it will also aid the stomach.  The young leaves are a great addition to a spring salad, are often added to soups and make a pleasant wilted green with a slightly bitter taste.  The older leaves can get REALLY bitter.  If you do want to cook with them it is a great idea to blanch them first (discard the water) to remove some of the bitterness.  I personally like the idea of adding a few young leaves to a wild foods pesto, yum! You can also use the flower heads to make lemonade, jelly, fritters and more.

Dandelion Greens

1 pound dandelion greens
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 whole small dried hot chile pepper, seeds removed, crushed
1/4 cup cooking oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, shaved

Discard dandelion green roots; wash greens well in salted water. Cut leaves into 2-inch pieces. Cook greens uncovered in small amount of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Sauté onion, garlic, and chile pepper in oil. Drain greens; add to onion garlic mixture. Taste dandelion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve dandelion greens with grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe for dandelion greens serves 4.

For those not familiar with purslane – you too are probably growing it without knowing it. I took this picture not two feet out of my front door. A prolific “weed” which grows in most areas of the globe, this ancient herb has been used for thousands of years. It has been used as a medicinal and culinary herb in ancient Egypt, China, medieval Europe as well as the Americas. Medicinally it is used to clear toxins from the system and to strengthen the immune system. In the kitchen it is seen raw in salads and as a cooked vegetable. In soups it counteracts the acidity of sorrel. Modern science has found purslane to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B & C as well as calcium. Although fine to consume in culinary quantities, it is advised that pregnant women do not take purslane medicinally (i.e. in large quantities).

Traveller’s Joy

3 cups purslane, chopped
1 cup chickweed
1 ripe avocado
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
1/2 cup amaranth leaves
1/2 onion (wild, if avail.)
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (or other cheese), diced into small bits
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon

 Much of this salad can be gathered on the trail (or in your backyard, for that matter). Chop the purslane, chickweed, amaranth, and onion into bite sized bits. Add the avocado, peeled and diced. Add one hard-boiled egg, sliced. Mix in approximately 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese which has been cut into small bits. Squeeze the lemon over the salad, add the garlic salt, and mix well. If you have them, you can add chia seeds and one tablespoon of mayonnaise to this lip-smacking salad.

Nettles, yes the stinging kind, are an amazing super food.  Nettles are known to be rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially selenium, sulphur, zinc, chromium, and boron. A litre of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins. The young leaves won’t sting you and older ones need to be blanched to take the sting out before eating.

There are many recipes for nettles as a culinary herb/vegetable. An oldie but a goodie is to add the young leaves to a green salad – maybe with some young dandelions and nasturtium flowers to perfect the herbal theme.

Or do as the Italians do and make a gorgeous nettle sauce to go with Gnocchi. All you have to do is blend 4 sun-dried tomatoes; 150g fresh nettle leaves (blanched), 50g pistachios and olive oil until creamy.

The most important aspects of utilizing wild foods are to make sure you have identified your plant correctly and to pick from areas that are not heavily sprayed (or a favourite place for the local dog population to mark their territory). Be creative, experiment, check the weeds you are throwing out and see if they are of the edible kind.  There are many other, prolific ‘weeds’ out there such as chickweed, cleavers, plantain, clover and so many more.

Instead of spraying them out of existence, do yourself and the planet a favour: Eat your way to better weed control.

Anke Bialas is known for her practical, everyday approach to herbal health which led to the creation of the Herbology At Home series of guides to herbs and natural health which provide a convenient reference you can take with you where you need them most.

Visit Anke Bialas at:
Herbology.com.au
Facebook.com/Herbology

For permission to reprint this article please contact admin@herbology.com.au

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Guest Blogger

 

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Book Review: Homemade Health by Anke Bialas

Every now and then, a product comes across my desk that catches my eye. When I first heard about this book, I have to admit that my interest was perked. After all, who isn’t interested in healthy remedies for what ails us?

Homemade Health is a collection of home remedies straight from a time, not so long ago, when people went to their garden or kitchen pantry before going to a doctor. Some tried and true, some quirky, but all based on natural remedies your grandmother knew and most likely used on a regular basis.

The book highlights the healing properties of common culinary herbs and covers 43 common ailments. It boasts more than 160 remedies with recipes and uses both common & botanical names for easy use. It covers everything from harvesting & preserving herbs to making herbal remedies at home. In short, its your one stop natural health resource!

The idea behind Herbology at Home: Homemade Health  is that it is stepping stone, giving you an insight into the type of remedies that used to be popular instead of their modern synthetic counter parts. Perhaps you already know some of these old world treatments from your own Grandmother, or maybe this book will inspire you to chat to her and learn more about what health measures she grew up with.

English: Herbs for Grüne Sauce/Green Sauce - a...

Freshly gathered herbs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Book Exert: A tea made from apple skins is meant to induce sleep. Add dried apple skins to water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, sweeten to taste and drink 2 – 3 cups during the evening.

The author of the book, Anke Bialas from the Herbology website was lucky enough to have been raised with herbal traditions and has expanded her knowledge of herbs and their applications over the years which she now shares with those new to natural health.  She encourages use of herbs in unconventional ways, advocating that even a little bit of Nature goes a long way.  With a firm believe that herbal health can fit into even the most conventional home, she makes all things herbal appealing to everyone.

I am quite excited to announce that Anke has agreed to do a guest blog spot for Rhianna’s Guide to Ethical Eating on the 13th June. Additionally, Anke will be answering a herb Q&A on The Environmental Rhi-Source nn the 26th June. The questions for the Q&A will come from you guys. If you would like to ask Anke a question, please leave a comment below or email me at rblackthorn22@gmail.com

Exciting times ahead with guest blogs and a Q&A session! Who knows what else is installed for us?

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Guest Blogger, Uncategorized

 

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