Nine times out of ten, the emergence of dandelions in one’s tidily maintained lawn can elicit a broad range of physical and verbal responses, including but not limited to a crinkled up nose, cocked brow and a series of rather rude gesticulations that might typically be favored by members of the Italian mafia. All that wasted energy directed toward a weed! They’re such cheery little troopers, though -- so bright and sunny, in fact, that we really should take pause to admire their natural good looks and impressive industrial strength (and probably glass-melting) chemical resiliency.
In spite of being the focus of our widespread disgust and perpetually relentless chemical assault, these harbingers of springtime are genuinely worth reassessment. Boasting rustic green foliage punctuated by a smiley-face-like flower, dandelions are actually quite dandy indeed – and not merely because their reflection underneath your chin indicates your likelihood of favoring fresh creamery dairy butter over emulsified vegetable fat-based margarine.
Did you know that the milky white goo emitted from their roots is now being transformed by Ford scientists and Ohio State University researchers into a highly sustainable synthetic vulcanized rubber that could potentially revolutionize the auto industry? Oh… not impressed, huh? Maybe you’ll appreciate the simple fact their leaves are capable of keeping kidneys in tip-top shape and bestowing overall detoxification benefits to the body? Heck yeah… now we’re talking.
But that’s not all. Consider some of these positively inventive ways to make the most of your perpetually replenishing dandelion crop:
Dandelion, Bacon and Egg Salad: This creamy, flavorful indulgence is tempered with the peppery punch of wholesome dandelion greens, so it’s technically not as artery-clogging as it seems… yeah, that’s the ticket!
Dandelion Wine: Knock back a few glasses of this home brewed libation with a lovely citrus boost, knowing full well that Mother Nature would want you to indulge.
Dandelion Solar Prints: Take one part solar paper (available at an art store or craft supply center) along with one part spiky dandelion plant and let the whole thing cook in the sun for a veritable feast for the eyes.
Dandelion Mushroom Calzone: Mamma mia, what a tasty way to serve up a Meatless Monday main course!
Vegan-Friendly Dandelion ‘Honey’: This spirited treat is absolutely buzzing with curiously tantalizing flavor, not just as a topper for your weekend French toast or pancakes but also as a nifty sweetener for your favorite herbal tea.
Dandelion Flower Cookies: Your Tollhouse chocolate chip recipe will seem hum-drum next to this summery floral blend, made toothsome with the addition of oatmeal.
Dandelion Tisane (aka ‘Herbal Tonic’): You drink peppermint tea to soothe indigestion and chamomile to bring on the zzzzzz’s, so don’t neglect the health-boosting properties of dried dandelion roots, which make skin glow, help the digestion system to run smoothly and ensure that fluid retention is a thing of the past.
Fried Dandelion Fritter Flowers: Why should squash blossoms have all the fun? This recipe proves that dandelions are equally worthy of dredging in batter and submerging in scorching hot oil!
A Naturally Cheery Yellow Fabric Dye: Usher in a sunny new disposition with this DIY clothing tint that is as chemical-free as it is long-lasting.
Dandelion Herbal Jelly: Grape what? This might very well become your new PB & J stand in!
Eco-Paintbrushes: Got an artsy heart or a bunch of young creative kiddies in the house? Then use dandelion flower heads as naturally biodegradable paint brushes that will inspire one and all to tap into their inner Van Gogh.
Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee: If you like spicy, earthy chai, then you’re going to love this flavorful morning pick-me-up with its medicinal yet undeniably yummy underbelly.
Dandelion Pancakes: These gluten-free wonders have a rustic cornmeal texture that will appeal to mainstream eaters as well as hard-core foodies.
For more juicy green goodness, follow Elizah via Twitter @elizahleigh