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Lambsquarter: Wild Spinach in Your Yard

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Lambsquarter: Wild Spinach in Your Yard

Thirty some years ago, I lived on a farm in Reynolds, Missouri. Every Thursday I would go help an elderly neighbor woman — Mrs. Glore — old enough to have outlived three husbands. She taught me that most of the weeds we would be pulling out of the garden were useful and edible plants and that rather than getting rid of them, we should incorporate them as the evening’s dinner and thus double or triple the yield of our gardens.

Wild foods are plants nourished by rain, sunlight, moonlight, and wind. Learn to enjoy the freshness of a salad that was collected five minutes before being eaten when much of the produce bought at a store, was growing a month ago! Learn to eat local, native and cut down on grocery bills. Many of the foods one buys in groceries are descendants of wild plants. In times of survival, we can be all the more prepared by recognizing the wild things around us.

Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album is a member of the Chonopodiacee (Goosefoot) Family and a relative of spinach, quinoa, amaranth and beets and much easier to grow!

The genus name, Chenopodium is derived from the Greek chen, meaning “goose” and podus, meaning “foot.” This is because the shape of the leaf looks like a goose’s foot. The species name album means “white” and refers to the whitish beads of moisture that are on the top of the plant. Lambsquarter is also known as wild spinach, goosefoot, pigweed, Good King Henry and fat hen. Lambsquarter, the common name is a corruption of “Lammas quarter,” a harvest festival held August 1st.

The stems, leaves, and seeds of lambsquarter are all used as food. The goosefoot-shaped leaves of this abundant plant have long been used as a nourishing food during times of need. The leaves taste like spinach and are even more nutritious being rich in beta carotene, vitamin B2,  niacin, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Eat lambsquarter raw in salads, prepare like spinach.  Like spinach, lambsquarter contains oxalic acid; so be sure to get adequate calcium if you’re ingesting a lot of this plant. Lambsquarter can be dried, frozen or canned for winter use and even fed to animals as fodder. Seeds of lambsquarters can be dried and sprouted or ground into flour for bread, pancakes, muffins, cakes, cookies or gruel. The seeds are also used as a seasoning and a coffee substitute.

Next: recipe for Lambsquarter à la Salt and Vinegar and video

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Brigitte Mars

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over 40 years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts and has a private practice. Brigitte is the author of 12 books, including Rawsome!. Find more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com. Also check out her international model yogini daughter, Rainbeau at rainbeaumars.com.

64 comments

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3:09PM PST on Jan 8, 2014

Thank you Brigitte, for Sharing this!

5:16PM PDT on Jun 8, 2013

I've seen this in the garden and had NO idea! Thanks so much for sharing.

1:20AM PDT on May 2, 2012

I have been pulling this out for years and didn't know it was edible. It will nourish me instead of the compost bin from now on

5:40PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Fabulous, the taste of spinach-will try this and cheaper than the store bought variety too!

4:18AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

wild foods are also supposed to have greater amounts of nutrients and anti-oxidents and other good stuff, more than the usual foods we buy which have been bred for colour and transportable qualities. I think its just something you have to get your head around since its a new way to eat compared to 'shopping' but its really the original way we foraged :-)

10:17AM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

It's amazing how much healthy food we throw away or over look because of "plant snobbery"

3:01PM PDT on Oct 13, 2010

Oh yum! I have been mostly cooking them gently with purslane and dandelion as a mess a greens, but this sounds so good I can hardly wait until next year! Most of my lambsquarter is done for the season :-(

7:32PM PDT on Sep 18, 2010

Buen comentario.

9:06AM PDT on Jul 25, 2010

Wonderful information, thanks.

2:11PM PDT on Jul 23, 2010

good to know!

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