The Nature Conservancy of Canada spends hours pulling weeds across the country each year. This past Saturday, Alberta Region Conservation Volunteers were given the opportunity to bite back! Since 2006, Conservation Volunteers have gone to the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary near Devon, Alberta to pull creeping/Canada thistle from the property. In 2012, Ivy Smith, the Conservation Volunteers intern at the time, thought up the idea of serving edible-invasive themed appetizers at the event. The volunteer feedback was so positive that these treats have become a tradition at the event.
Conservation Volunteers interns have served up a variety of different snacks in the past. We’ve had some very ambitious recipes, including dandelion pesto and dandelion and cheese pinwheels. This year, we settled on three delicious treats: the tried and true dandelion chips, the well-received dandelion and ginger tea and a new recipe (below) from the Alberta Invasive Plant Council entitled dandy balls.
Before I got into the cooking portion of my dandelion adventure, I decided to do some research into why someone would eat these common weeds in the first place. Turns out these greens boast complete proteins and are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including calcium and iron and vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, E and K. Amazing! Plus these greens are credited with improving digestion, decreasing inflammation and reducing the risk of many age-related diseases and cancer.
Not to mention, these slightly bitter leaves are really quite tasty and can add a nice flavor to anything one feels like adding them to. All in all, I now understand why people eat these usually annoying greens!
It’s one thing to eat and enjoy dandelion, and quite another to make dishes with it. I spent a day laboring in the kitchen to make treats for our awesome and dedicated volunteers. This year, the Conservation Volunteers team decided to take an extra bite when it came to preparing snacks for this event. With help from Katie Cascadden, my sister (and Conservation Volunteer), I filmed a cooking show detailing the ingredients and methodology required to make these weeds into taste treats.
- 2 cups dandelion greens, chopped
- 2 cups of stale bread cubes, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 2 eggs, or egg substitute
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the first two ingredients together and then add eggs. Mix everything together. Create one to two inch balls, and coat them in parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the balls are just starting to brown.
Check it out and let me know how your cooking goes!
Written by Maggie Cascadden, Conservation Volunteers intern for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). This post originally appeared on Land Lines, the NCC blog.