Backyard to table: 3 nutritious and edible weeds!

Turn your backyard-weed-woes into dinner by picking some of these leaves for a delicious, free punch of nutrition! 

Dandelion 

 Toshiyuki Mai/ Flickr

Toshiyuki Mai/Flickr

If you haven't already heard about the health benefits of dandelions, you're late to the party. The entire plant - flower, leaves and root - is edible and has been used in traditional societies as food and medicine for thousands of years. In fact, it was first documented as a medicinal treatment in the Middle East in the 10th century

Dandelions boast a massive 535% of your RDA for vitamin K and 112% of your RDA for vitamin A (a carotenoid antioxidant). They're also high in vitamin C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron and manganese. You'll also get some magnesium, phosphorus and copper. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that you can buy dandelion greens at the store, which is a pretty trendy-health-food penny to pay for something that is right in your yard!  

 Tropical Dandelion Smoothie/ Raw Revive   

Tropical Dandelion Smoothie/Raw Revive  

They're a little bit bitter but once you know how to work with them you won't turn back! Not sure how to include them in your next meal? Try making them as a breakfast boost with this tropical dandelion smoothie

Broadleaf Plantain 

 F.D. Richards/ Flickr  

F.D. Richards/Flickr 

Though this is not related to the plantains that you can buy in the produce section (the ones that look like bigger, green or black bananas) it is related to spinach. This should give you a clue to the nutritional profile of broadleaf plantain- it's packed with vitamin C and A and iron. It also has a lot of medicinal uses, including as a demulcent to relieve coughs and as an infection-fighter, among many others. You can read more about its healing properties here. Then, make plantain a part of your meal with this guide to cooking it

Violets 

 liz west/ Flickr  

liz west/Flickr 

Roses are red, violets are blue ...and edible, too. Native to Eastern North America, this often pervasive plant has an edible leaf and flower. Both are highly nutritious, containing vitamins A and C as well as a slew of antioxidants (the blue color might've given that away!). They also have a reputation as a medicinal plant, used by Native Americans for headaches, colds and skin problems

 Candied Violets imagine childhood/ Flickr  

Candied Violets
imagine childhood/Flickr 

They can be consumed raw, cooked, as a tea or even candied. In the 1800's, the most common use for violets was as a soup thickener! You can also get double points by making this dandelion violet lemonade. Find several other ways to include them in your meals here, such as making a fresh salad or smoothie. 


Choosing to transform any of these weeds into a meal provides superb nutrition for your body and prevents the use of herbicides. That sounds like a recipe for health, happiness and harmony to us!