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Why We Should Eat More Dandelions

Why We Should Eat More Dandelions

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.

Maggie Cascadden shows us how to prepare healthy snacks with invasive species

Maggie Cascadden (Photo by Katie Cascadden)

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.

Dandelion Balls

  • 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.

Read more: All recipes, Eating for Health, Eco-friendly tips, Environment, Food, Green, Green Kitchen Tips, Nature, , ,

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12:04AM PST on Jan 17, 2015

Thanks for sharing

8:43PM PST on Dec 1, 2014

Thank you

8:58PM PST on Nov 30, 2014

Young dandelion leaves and flower petals can be used in salads, steamed, or added to stir-fries.

5:35AM PDT on Aug 20, 2014


4:39PM PDT on Aug 18, 2014


12:28AM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

dandelions grow so easily, kind of makes sense to use them as food instead of considering them a weed.

9:35PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Some will eat anything just leave some greenery for the animals.

1:43PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014


11:17AM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Thank you for an interesting article. I will try some next year when they are back again.

5:34AM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Sounds really good but those dandelion leaves look a lot different to the ones we have here in Australia. The dandelions here are also called milk thistle so just wondering? Birds love it especially budgies and canaries. So for now I need to do more research on dandelions growing here. Thank you for interesting article and very informative.

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