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December 27, 20170
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Subscribe to my Transform Health Podcast channel in iTunes!!

Do you want to become healthier in the New Year through better nutrition and lifestyle habits? Want to learn more about using herbs like Rosemary? Want to find out how to improve your micro biome (gut flora)? Do you want to be a healthier, better version of you – You 8.0? Great News! Watch or listen to my free Transform Health iTunes Podcast channel.

There are several podcasts published and ready for you to listen to right now. They are listed as both video and audio versions – your choice.

Topics include:

  • Plant Spirit Medicine Lecture Part 1 (Parts 2-3-4 on YouTube/Links included.)
  • Wheat Analogs – Gluten-Free foods that act like wheat in the body (sesame, GF grains, more)
  • How to Lower Inflammation: 8 Simple Tips (Nutrition and herbal medicine)
  • Post-Antibiotic Recovery and Rebuilding of Gut Flora
  • Rosemary: Herbal Medicine 101
  • Green Tea Chai Latte Recipe

Subscribe now to my Transform Health iTunes Podcast channel on iTunes. You won’t regret it!

Please Share this new podcast with your friends, using the social media buttons below. Let me know what you think in the Comments below.

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And check out my online course, Raising Your Immunity Through Herbs, Nutrition and Lifestyle Methods. Thanks!

December 6, 2017

What is Plant Spirit Medicine? Author Eliot Cowan explains that plants, trees, rain, lightning and the Chinese Five Elements (water, metal, earth) are each represented by a conscious being, and may be called upon for healing. These may appear through meditation or dreaming in human, animal, insect or other form. Join speaker Diana Sproul as she describes plant spirit medicine as explained in Eliot Cowan’s book of the same name.

With Chinese Five Element Theory, healing an imbalance or lack of a certain element in a person’s spiritual make-up and life can help a person become well and whole again without addressing or focusing on the illness itself. I highly recommend this book! It’s amazing!

Watch Part 1 of 4 at this link ( or right here below, on this page. The links to Parts 2-4 are below the video, and on YouTube and Vimeo in the video’s description.

**Links to All Four Lecture Parts:

If you enjoyed this lecture about Plant Spirit Medicine, please Share it with your friends, using the social media buttons below. And let me know what you think in the Comments below.

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And check out my online course, Raising Your Immunity Through Herbs, Nutrition and Lifestyle Methods. Thanks!

March 31, 2017

I had the good fortune to try a new herb this week, dried Codonopsis root. It has an affect  similar to the herb ginseng, but it is less hot and less strong. It’s considered better than ginseng for women and during hot weather, too, when you don’t want quite so hot and strong an effect (Imbalancing with herbs can be a bad idea. Hot + hot = too hot)

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History of Dried Codonopsis Root:
You may not have heard of this herbal medicine – I never had before I attended herbal medicine school in Boulder. The official name is Codonopsis pilosula or Dang Shen in Chinese herbal medicine.* (Beware, there seem to be multiple herbs with a similar-sounding Chinese name.) This herb grows in northeastern China, and is part of the Traditional Chinese medicine (called TCM).

Herbal Properties of Dried Codonopsis Root:
It is supposed to have these properties: It’s warming, slightly stimulating, increases energy similar (but weaker) than coffee, and “helps the body adapt to stress.”* This is called an adaptogenic herb. It’s taken for weak digestion, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing issues (asthma, mucus), general fatigue, and more. It has a shorter affect on the body than ginseng.

Chinese nursing moms take it to increase milk supply, as well as help their own health be stronger. This may be true, as lab tests showed that it increased red blood cells.

How to Prepare:
Because it is a root herb (i.e. hard) it is prepared through a decoction method, which means slow simmering instead of a tea method (called infusions). This root is not as hard as others; it can be squished a little. It feels spongy, and looks brown.

Seven to twenty grams of the root herb is added to 2 cups of water in a pot. Then the mixture is brought just below a simmer, and kept there for 40 minutes. After that, strain out the solids, and drink the liquid. The dose is half a cup per day.

codonopsis root, about codonopsis root, how to prepare dried codonopsis, herbal medicine, plant medicine, qualities of codonopsis, dried Chinese herb, how to prepare, how to make, what to use codonopsis for, what is it, in bag

When simmering, Codonopsis smells like warm bark and sweet, similar to another herb called Astragalus root.

Taste Test: What is Codonopsis Like?
The first taste is very sweet with a mild lemon flavor or sourness to the end note. It’s sweetness reminds me of Eastern spices like cinnamon.

Bodily Affects of Codonopsis:
After having some, I didn’t feel like my energy was being pushed, like I would with coffee and caffeine. (On coffee, I sometimes feel like my heart is outside my chest, in front of it, pounding there.) I just woke up a bit more, and got my work done in a gentle way. Before that I was falling asleep, probably because I also needed some more food just before lunchtime.

I stopped drinking it by 1:30pm in the afternoon. Some adaptogens can cause insomnia later in the evening, especially if taken too close to bedtime, or even afternoon, sometimes. I was able to fall asleep, and stay asleep, with no problems.

If you enjoyed this article about the herb Codonopsis root, please share it with your friends, using the social media buttons below. And let me know in the comments below.

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* Andrew Chevallier, Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, DK Press, 2000


February 28, 2017

Great News! My Transform Health blog is now publishing through the Apple News app, which is available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers! This blog specializes in educating the public about functional nutrition, alternative & herbal medicine, common nutritional deficiencies, the Paleo Diet, special digestive diets like GAPS & SCD, and using holistic health knowledge to combat the spread  of common diseases, and incidence of chronic diseases.

Here’s the link to Transform Health on Apple News app– Please spread the word to your health-minded (health-obsessed?) friends:

Here’s the link to Apple News app on the website.

Why is this health education work important? Here’s a quote from Dr. Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain:

We spend nearly 20 percent of our gross domestic product on health care [in the US]… although we are presently ranked first in the world in health-care spending, we are ranked thirty-seventh in overall health-system performance, according to the World Health Organization. [bold added]

And another quote, from the same source:

We live in an exciting time in medicine…But we also live in a time when the number of people dying from chronic disease (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria), maternal and perinatal  conditions, and nutritional deficiencies combined.

The Transform Health blog is written by me, Diana Sproul, a health coach based in northern Colorado, who helps clients nationally. Besides free health articles and recipes on the Paleo, GAPS and SCD diets; articles comparing the nutrition between wild and farmed salmon, and info about the importance of the Omega 3 to 6 balance (nutrition geeks – you know who you are!), I have these free resources:

  1. free videos on YouTube  (channel link) and (channel link),
  2. a free monthly newsletter (subscribe here),
  3. an online course, “Raising Your Immunity Through Nutrition and Herbalism.” (Free course coupon here)  (read more about)
  4. a Transform Health Pinterest page with recipes, health videos (including her own), and a lot of nutrition, alternative medicine and holistic health info. Also includes recipes for these diets: Paleo, SCD, & GAPS.
  5. The Transform Health Facebook page (includes local events)
  6. The Transform Health Google+ page
  7. E-books on (link) (1 is about baby sign language)

I hope you’ll join me online, or through our newsletter, and that you benefit greatly from reading my health and nutrition articles on the Apple News app! Self-education is the best path to preventative health and a healthy lifestyle.

Can I help you on your journey toward better health?
 Just Contact me at this  link. I would be happy to talk with you further.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends, using the buttons below.

January 31, 2017
Doctor Susie Anderson, Doctor Suzie Anderson, female doctor, pioneer doctor, country doctor, woman doctor, 1900's, early female medical doctor, Fraser, Coloraqd, Rocky Mountains
Doc Susie Anderson at graduation from medical school. She was an early female doctor, and became a country doctor in the mountains of Colorado.

Have you ever heard of Doc Susie? If you had visited Fraser, Colorado, deep in the Rocky Mountains from 1910 to 1945, you probably would have heard of her. Famed actress Ethel Barrymore wanted to make a biopic about her, but was refused. Although Doc Susie came to Fraser to live out her last days from a longterm case of tuberculosis, instead she thrived in the cold, dry air!! She was a longtime resident and one of only a few country doctors serving a very wide country area. This article will talk about medical school, sexism in the medical profession, early treatment methods, and Doc Susie’s sterilization methods before antibiotics.

Medical School and Sexism:
When Doc Susie attended medical school, it was not considered a good job. The hours were long, the pay was low, and it had little prestige. Doctors were on call night and day. (Some of that hasn’t changed!) However, I was surprised to learn that when she attended the University of Michigan, 25% of the student body were females enrolled with her. Later, when the pay and prestige of doctoring went up, female students’ enrollment declined. I’d like to know more about this, whether it was the schools not admitting them, or some families discouraging their attendance.

As far as treating patients, there was some sexism in her community. At first, she was a newcomer. Some men didn’t want their wives to see her. But the wives did seem to want a female doctor with which to discuss their private issues. Others just came to her to ask free advice for their “friend.” In any case, there were rumors of her being a doctor, and sometimes the one or two male doctors were simply not available. Sometimes they were attending a birth out of town for several days. It happened that her first emergency was for Dave…who turned out to be a horse! She was being called upon for an animal patient! Anyway, she did such a good job that she slowly gained some trust and patients. And – (luckily or unluckily?) she lived in an area with several industries with high amounts of injuries: logging, railroads, coal mining, tunnel digging.

Doc Susie Anderson, Doctor Suzie Anderson, Colorado pioneer physician, pioneer doctor, female doctor, woman doctor, Rocky Mountains, Fraser, Colorado, 1900's
Doc Susie Anderson in Fraser Colorado with her father (left, and step-brother (right). Her first house was right next to the railroad tracks. Later she lived in a log barn that was moved closer to town.

Early Treatment Methods: Pneumonia and Wound Care
She was called late one night to the bedside of a young boy about twelve. He had a bad case of pneumonia, which is a deep lung infection. Doc Susie had already been out all day on another call, having just lain down, exhausted. The case caused her some personal flashes back to her brother, who had died years earlier of this same disease. Luckily, she was called early enough to this patient to do something.

She thought the case was severe already, and the patient might die in a day or two. She decided, in her sleep-deprived state, to try something new. She herself had recovered from TB in the cold, dry air. She had the boy undress, and stand in a warm water basin, wrapped only in a blanket. She then opened all the windows to the cold, winter air. At the same time, she poured hot water over his head and down the blanket. As she did this, she percussed his chest and back to loosen the phlegm, and she told stories to keep the miserable patient on his feet. It sounds like she did this for about twenty minutes. Then the patient was dressed again, and covered only with a flannel blanket, instead of mounds of quilts.

I’m trying to figure out why this worked. Extremes of cold or heat (in this case the cold air) can kill of bacteria. Bacteria can survive in many different extreme environments, but they need time to go into hibernation mode.

Cold can stimulate one’s vital response into high gear. Water therapy, like changing one’s bathing from cold to hot water and back again has a lot of history in the Water Cure movement, and in the book Nature Cure by Dr. Henry Lindlahr (This may be available in the public domain. Try the Gutenburg Project website.)

Her own recovery from tuberculosis involved sleep, sleep and more sleep; a daily cup of fresh raw milk right from a cow and into a cup; and exercise that started slowly and worked up. The fresh, cold, dry air really helped her breathe. I wonder why the damp air exacerbates the disease. After all, we use humidifiers in breathing colds at home.

Sterilization Before Antibiotics
You would not believe the trouble she had to go to in order to sterilize her own hands, instruments, wound dressings (old sheets) and the wounds. At this time, people often did not die of the injury, but from later infection that took over.

The bandages and instruments all went through thorough cleaning in hot water and then were pre-packed for emergencies into cloth kits that were wrapped up. The wound dressings were cleaned in hot water, air dried (outside in winter, then later inside). Then they were heated again with a hot iron. Then they were packed up into small kits. Local residents saved their old white sheets for her to cut up and use for wound dressings.

She started with thoroughly washing her own hands (up to the elbow) and nails in soap and hot water. Her instruments went into hot water.

Wounds were first inspected for any debris, clothing, dirt, grit, hair, etc. It was picked out carefully with tweezers. More hot water was used to thoroughly rinse out the wounds (The horse got this treatment, too.) Then all wounds were treated with iodine, which stings, but sterilizes. Then wounds were dressed with clean bandages.

The case of the horse attracted the whole town as an audience. But the crowd thinned out as the treatment lasted all day long!

It’s too bad she could not use herbs, because there are several with antibiotic properties.

My source for this article is the excellent book by Virginia Cornell, Doc Suzie: The True Story of a Country Physician in the Colorado Rockies. (Manifest Publications, 1991) The story was told in narrative form, and I believe from exhaustive research. The author studied writing, and ended up living about two miles outside of Fraser. It was captivating, and I couldn’t put it down last night.

To read more about Doc Susie Anderson, check out these sources:

If you enjoyed this recipe, please share it with your friends, using the social media buttons below.

Have you visited Fraser, Colorado, and the areas? Let me know in the comments below.

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October 14, 2016

Now that it’s Fall, I’m discovering smooth, brown acorns around the oak trees in the neighborhood. I think they’re so pretty! I wondered how to prepare and eat acorn as a wild-foraged food, even though I live in a city. One source said that acorns were eaten more commonly in the past than wheat and rice combined! Acorns were historically eaten on four continents: New England and dry California, Europe, Asia, and even northern Africa.(1) Isn’ that amazing? They are a nutritious food source, and work well as a cooking binder, similar to wheat products.

Plentiful Food:
One video producer estimated there was over 88 pounds’ harvest from one oak tree alone based on his gathering sampling of 8.8 pounds (250 grams) in 1 square meter. And because there were seventy-five large oak trees in one area, he was wondering why we weren’t utilizing this wild-foraged harvest as large as 3 tons!(4) (All video sources included at end of article, so you can watch them, too!) However, they are eaten by deer, squirrels, and other forest animals, so they’re not going to waste.

Acorn Nutrition Information- Vitamins and Minerals:
According to Arthur Haines, acorns are rich in nutrition: calcium, potassium, B vitamins, phosphorous. They have all eight essential amino acids (essential meaning that we need to eat these substances for fuel to build our own body proteins.)

One video producer, brawny03, said that a mere one ounce has 142 calories, 9 grams of fat and 2.3 grams protein. Historically, we needed a lot of fat to get through winter, even though our metabolism became slower during cold months. Today we still need fats for every cell wall in our bodies, brain function and more.

They are high in Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid (EFA), which we can’t make in our bodies, but have to take in with food. This EFA is good, because its in a natural state, but most of us get too many Omega 6 EFA’s already from grains in our diets and our meat & dairy animals’ feeds. Omega 6 EFA’s are best if eaten with ample amounts of Omega 3 EFA, which is found in plants like flax seed and purslane herb, as well as wild and grass-fed (pastured) animal meats and dairy. But historically, food and fats were scarce, and most hunted animals were wild game anyway, and already high in Omega 3’s.

I found these beautiful acorns around several oak trees at our local mall, of all places! They were on a parking island. They’re really pretty. I found two kinds: long and thin, and wide and round.

Two acorns, 1 small and long and one large and round, sit on a wooden table. There is a bowl full of brown long acorns in a porcelain bowl. Wild food foraging in the city.
I found two acorn types in the neighborhood: long and narrow and round and wide with fuzzy cap.

Different Kinds of Oak Species:
According to Arthur Haines, there are two kinds of oak trees and acorns: black oaks and white oaks. Black oaks have a sharp end lobe on their leaf tip, the acorns have hairs inside the shell, and have a long collection season from Fall through Spring. I think he said that they ripen over a longer period, as well. This makes them super important historically, when food may have been scarce after October. Black oak acorns also dry more easily, and are less prone to spoilage than the White oak acorns.

White oaks have a blunt tip lobe on their leaf tip, no hairs inside the acorn shells. They have a shorter collection season because they drop all at once in Fall. And they are more prone to spoilage. There were other species differences on the leaf sides, too.

Different acorn and leaf types: narrow long acorns and round short acorns. Lobed oak leaf on left and on right, leaf is half narrow and half lobed.
On each side are the oak leaves matched with their different acorn types.

Within each of these two species there are many different kinds of oaks. They vary the world over as to the growing environment that they like, some preferring drier conditions, some liking having wet “feet.”

How to Harvest Acorns: Wild Foraging Instructions
Video producer Arthur Haines recommends avoiding collecting acorns with holes, caps still on (shows they are immature), and those with black streaks, which can show that fungus is present. Video producer Green Deane recommends avoiding eating green acorns, and waiting until they ripen (turn brown in color) before eating them.

Brown and yellow colored acorns are still in the oak tree, and have green caps attached. There are many green oak leaves and branches in the background.
Acorns that have fallen down to the ground with the caps still on shows that there is something wrong with them. The yellow acorns aren’t ripened yet. They will turn brown in time.

Tannins/ Tannic acid in Acorn Nuts:
Before being eaten, acorns need to be soaked in several changes of either hot or cold water to neutralize two things: 1) phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that becomes a phytate, binding to our vitamins and minerals and washing them out of the body, as well as 2) the bitter taste of tannins in the nuts. In the videos, people soaked (or leached) the acorns either whole in the shell or after grinding during their processing to remove the tannins. (Just FYI, phytic acid is found in all seeds and nuts, including our grains. We’ve just forgotten how to neutralize them through soaking, sprouting and sourdough processes. See cite 5 below to read more about this.)

According to Green Deane in his YouTube video channel “Eat the Weeds”, the larger the cap size to nut generally shows that they have more tannic acid. He collected or foraged acorns from a neighborhood Live Oak, explaining that hardly any leeching was needed as they were just not as bitter as other species. (I’m not sure where he filmed his video, but I know that Live Oaks grow in southern California with dark glossy leaves and great outstretched arms. They look cool and sinister in dusk light.)

How to Process Acorns to Eat as Food, According to Arthur Deane:
The most elaborate and traditional method was in the video by Arthur Deane, who used traditional preparation methods used by Native Americans with cold water leeching. Dried acorns store a very long time in the shell: two to three years! Important Tip: He said that acorns are much easier to shell after they’ve been dried, as the inner nut shrinks in a bit, and loosens from the outer shell. In fact, I saw another Youtube video (not cited), and the creator was trying to shell green acorns. It was a slow process with a lot of grousing.

Remove non-food bits from your acorn bag. Rinse them. Dry acorns in 1 layer in the sun for two weeks, bringing the acorns inside each night to avoid dew fall and on rainy days. (These instructions are for black oak acorns; white oak acorns take 2-3 times longer.)

If you’re going to store the acorns in the shell at this point, it’s recommended to store them in a cold dry place, as the high fat content can make them rancid.The video producer brawny03 said that you should eat them immediately if they start to germinate. However, she said that long sprouts (3/4″) were not good to eat.3

How to Shell Acorns for Food Eating:
Shell them like this: hold the acorn’s pointy end down into a wood board. Pound the blunt back end with a rock and the shell should break apart. Other people showed pliers or nut crackers in their videos, or hit them with a hammer on their side. Don’t worry about removing the red paper on the nut. Grind the acorns to a fine meal or flour size. Mr. Deane used a corn mill (grinder) that he ran the acorns through twice.1

How to Leach Tannins from Acorn Meal:
Then Mr. Deane put the meal into a large bowl (much larger than the meal), and added water to the rim. The meal sank to the bottom. Change the top water once or twice daily for 5 days to prevent spoilage. The acorn meal is done leaching when it stops tasting bitter or astringent (dry & tightening taste on the tongue). (Acceptable bowl materials include glass, porcelain and stainless steel.)1

Acorn Meal Preparation: Draining After Leaching
Pour off the top water only into a drain, well above the sunken acorn meal on the bottom. Strain the rest of the acorn meal through a cloth-lined strainer, into a bowl. Gather the cloth and squeeze the water out well. Use the prepared acorn meal immediately, or dry it to use later. Brief recipes are below.

Acorn Meal Drying Process: Spread 1/4″ layer onto a flat baking sheet in the sun for a few days, or use a dehydrator for several days.1 (I am wondering how we can avoid having squirrels eat them at this point.) Avoid high temps until the cooking time. A different video producer said that if you introduce heat before the actual cooking time that the meal would lose its ability to stick together. I do know that if you heat soaked nuts over 150 degree Fahrenheit, that their enzymes are destroyed.4

Craft idea using acorns in a jar
Craft idea using acorns

Acorn Drying, Shelling and Leaching According to ACampfireProduction:
The video by ACampfireProduction dried the acorns in the sun for 5 days. To shell them, he cut off the top and bottom ends crosswise while holding them sideways on a cutting board. Then he cut down into the acorn lengthwise and removed the shell. He put them into boiling water, and changed the top water for new water about 5 times or more. He didn’t really say how long he boiled them like that. From other videos, I learned that they are done boiling when they’ve lost the bitter tannin taste. This might come out as an “astringent” taste, drying to the tongue similar to black tea.

How to Dry Acorns:
Then this video host dried them in a small, dry pot. There was no duration given. (Alton Brown videos used to make fun of chefs who wrote, “Cook until done.” When was that?} The video producer then pounded the acorns into a flour using a wooden post and wooden metate. He made the acorn meal into a pancake, using these rough ingredients (no measures given): acorn meal, white flour, egg, milk, small amount honey. He fried the acorn meal pancakes for ten minutes in fat, presumably turning the pancake halfway through.  He said it held together OK until the end. (This makes me wonder if the sickness factor goes away with overcooking, like it does for arrowroot powder.) The taste was sweeter than he would have thought, because he only used a bit of honey.

Leach Tannins from Acorns in Cold or Hot Water:
Green Deane from recommended leaching the acorns or acorn meal in your choice of either only cold water or only hot water. Mixing the two methods would make the meal bind to the tannins, and leave in the bitter taste, so avoid this! He wanted us to avoid cooling them in the middle of the heating process, for instance. Heating them probably makes the acorn meal lose its binding/stickiness factor. And different people leached the tannins from the acorns either when whole or after grinding.

Green Deane leeched his acorns whole, then dried them, shelled them, ground in the food processor, added water, and then strained the meal through a cloth and sieve into a bowl. He made the acorn meal into an Acorn Bannock, but didn’t give an actual recipe. (Bannock bread is an Irish baking soda-risen bread, with no yeast for the riser. It’s a “quick-bread.”) It looked like flour, baking soda, acorn meal, and water from the time in the food processor. He fried it in oil on both sides to make a flat bread. (Maybe you could get a bannock bread recipe and replace some flour with the acorn. It sounds like acorn has binding qualities, like its more flour-like in recipes. Nuts can only be used to replace a small amount in a recipe, because they don’t act the same as wheat gluten and other binders.)

Green Deane said that if you’re boiling the acorns, the fat will separate and rise to the top. It can then be taken off.

Next – Trying to Prepare Acorns Myself:
OK, the next step is trying this process myself. Wish me luck! If you want to join me, write in the comments section. I’ll write again to update you on what I discover from doing it hands-on.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please share it with your friends, using the social media buttons below.

Did you try it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks! Happy Cooking!

Video Bibliography:

  1. Video by Arthur Haines – From Tree to Table: Gathering and Using, a New England food forager
  2. Video by Green Deane, EattheWeeds YouTube channel, and website #50 – Acorns
  3. Video by brawny03 in Acorns as Survival Food
  4. Video by ACampfireProduction: Acorns – How to Prepare and Cook
  5. Book <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Nourishing Traditions</a><img src=”//″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” /> by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig


This post contains a few affiliate links, which did not affect the content or information listed here. Diana Sproul of Transform Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This small affiliate payment helps me support this health education work, which a lot of information is offered for free to the public.


May 10, 2016

Don’t you just love the warm Spring sunny days? These are especially precious after a cold, snowy winter. The dandelions are often the first thing to flower in my yard, telling me that the worst is over. A few days ago, I had the chance to play around with them in soup, salad, face wash and a cocktail mixture called aperitif.

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I was weeding dandelions in the sunshine, and thought it was a waste to throw away the plants. (Really, why weed such a useful plant away at all?) The entire plant is edible – leaves, flowers and roots. I still had plenty in the yard after weeding for future meals, and a patch for the bees, as well.

Dandelions are found all over the world, and are cultivated in France and Germany. The name is a mess-up of Latin dens leonis, or lions’ teeth. The name refers to the serrated edge of the many-petalled flower.^ Another name is puff-ball or blow ball*, probably referring to the ball-like seed head that kids (and big kids) like to blow.

Dandelion is a Digestive Bitter:
The root is a well-known and easy to get digestive bitter, meaning people have used it for many years pre-meals to increase stomach acid (also called hydrochloric acid or HCL). If you take too much, it can make you cold inside or cause constipation, so use a small amount with care, maybe diluted in water. The root is also sometimes grouped with two other herbal roots to supposedly help with bowel disorders over time. (Directions for making below.)

Herbal Properties of Dandelion:
The root and leaves have a lot of potassium and vitamins, bioflavonoids to neutralize free-radicals, inulin fiber (which feeds good colon bacteria, mainly in the Fall roots). They are bitter, which stimulates stomach acid secretion, which increases foods’  vitamin absorption and use in our bodies. They help stimulate bile secretion (but see caution below).*

It’s a mild laxative and diuretic, which accounts for its French nickname, pis au lit (pee the bed). It’s also supposed to help with poor digestion, mild skin issues from internal causes, and be a blood purifier.* Cautions: One should avoid its use with biliary obstructions and abscesses, and gallstones.

Unlike other diuretics, which cause a dangerous loss of potassium, dandelions come with lots of potassium as part of the package, so this is less of a problem.

The famous herbalist Susan Weed (website) has a treasure trove     Susan Weed's book Herbal Healing Wise, part of wise woman herbal book series, recipes for dandelion drinks, face washes, soups, and cocktail drinks
of recipes in her book, Wise Woman Herbal Healing Wise.
I highly recommend reading it if you get a chance, for the herbal and nutrition information. She lists about ten herbs, many of them weeds or common plants. But then she  listed their properties and nutrition, and it was really amazing! (I have new respect for watercress and parsley!!) She must have twenty recipes of all kinds for dandelions, so please get a copy.

Susan Weed’s Dandelion Properties:
In addition to the herbal properties above, many of which Ms. Weed also had, she writes that they are pain-relieving, an alkalinizer, and wound-healing! They are high in vitamin C, A, Bs, potassium and calcium. Not bad!

She writes that the dandelion stem sap can get rid of liver spots, so I tried it for one morning, but didn’t continue it regularly enough to know if it really worked. I have to think it does, and I just haven’t done it enough.

Edible Flowers:
I ate one flower, but it tasted slightly sweet and also a bit bitter, like the leaves.single dandelion flower, see serrated dandelion petals, bright yellow flower alone, single dandelion bloom









Homemade Herbal Dandelion Face Wash:
I decided to try out Susan Weed’s face wash with many dandelion flowers, pouring hot water over them, and letting them cool. Trying it for several days in the morning and

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Gathering dandelion blooms for homemade herbal face wash.

evening, I did notice that my face felt slightly tighter. The face wash “astringes” or tightens the skin, but its not so much that it could be a bad thing. (I am sure you’ve felt that overly-dry-acne-wash feeling, and who wants to really repeat that??) My skin tends to already be dry, so it needs moisturizing and tightening, but not to be keel-hauled by chemical products.

Here in Fort Collins, the dandelions only flower for so long in Spring, so I put the wash into little jars that I can freeze, and use for a few weeks. (I’ve regretted my procrastination in years past.)

How to Prepare Dandelion Root Bitters in a Decoction:
The root is prepared like this: Cut up 1 root (3-6 grams maximum) into 2 cups cold water. Simmer in water for 40 minutes, and drink a small amount, and see what you think. [A decoction is a slow simmer of root or tough herbs in water.]@

Dandelion Leaf Tea
I tried the leaves made as tea, and it tasted good, just mildly bitter. I felt good drinking them, with a slightly rising energy, similar to drinking rosemary. I added some later to a fruit smoothie, without tasting it.

Dandelion in Salad
I really loved eating the younger leaves in salad, with lots of olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. I couldn’t get enough! I had to go back for seconds! I mixed them with arugula, chopped raw red onion, and some young Asian greens from a salad box. These would be super great with real bits of bacon, marinated artichokes, or sunflower seeds on top.

The larger leaves are more tough and bitter, so the smaller leaves taste better. All leaves will need a good washing off, and I use a salad spinner as a colander, then spin them dry.

How to use dandelion leaves in soup, instructions for dandelion leaf soup, directions for using dandelion in soup, recipe for dandelion leaf soup
Serving Herbal Dandelion Leaves in Homemade Soup

 Dandelion Leaf in Soup
I really enjoyed eating the smaller leaves in soup. I cut off the mostly stem part, and used mostly the leaves. Barely cooking them until just soft tasted great (6-8 minutes?). Then I cooked them again for too long (we were about at green mush by then– Darn!), and they became a bit bitter. –Far warning! Less heat is more, here.

Dandelion Aperitif –

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This is another of Susan Weed’s recipes. She calls for vodka, sugar, lemon rind, and flowers. You’ll have to see her book for the exact proportions, because I don’t want to plagiarize. I let it sit about two weeks, shaking it daily, and it smelled divine! The lemon oils in the peel are really strong and lovely. It was strained before drinking.

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Assembled Dandelion Aperitif: It’s shaken daily for two weeks while it flavors.

The recipe called for just the flowers, no green. I was trying to cut off the green part under the flower (sepals and stem, thank you, Josh!). Then my mom said you could just pull the two apart. Oops! That was the only tedious part of this recipe. You can have a good belly laugh at my photo, above.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the proportions just right, as I was a little short of vodka. I was halving the recipe, and still needed about 1/3 cup vodka. I still liked it, but it tasted like sweet lemon cough syrup – very nice, but I could tell that I need to dilute it with more vodka. The flavor was really good, though! I can’t wait to try it at the right mixture ratio.

Where to Gather:
You might want to collect yours away from roads, or any lawns sprayed with weed killer.

I hope that YOU will try out some dandelions dishes from your yard. I had a lot of fun with this project, and they’re very nutritious. If you’ve enjoyed this article, how about sharing it with your friends? There are handy “share” buttons just below.

* Source information: Herbal Vade Mecum by Gazmend Skenderi, Herbacy Press, 2003.
^ Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, by Andrew Chevallier, DK Publishing, Inc., 2000
Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, Lotus Press, 1988
Wise Woman Herbal Healing Wise, Susan S. Weed, 1989

April 20, 2016
Little boy about four years old with glasses shows off a meal worm bug on his tongue. He's going to eat it. Benefits of eating bugs insects in human diet.
Little boy shows off his next snack: a meal worm on his tongue. From The Growing Project website, used with permission.

When Dr. Weston A. Price and his wife toured the world studying people’s teeth and nutrition, he noticed that many of the healthy societies had a much higher vitamin intake than the typical 1930’s American diet (ten times, in fact!). Imagine his shock today, with more sugar and vegetable oils in our diet!! These healthy groups regularly ate wild fish and game, fish eggs, seaweed, grass-fed dairy, organ meats and… bugs! Apparently the creepy crawlers have really high nutritional value.

Well, just for you, I’ve discovered a local class, Eating Bugs 101, at The Growing Project where you can learn how to choose and prepare bugs to savor.

“Terri Randolph and Rachael Sitz research agricultural, garden, and landscape insect pests at Colorado State University. Both are proponents of entomophagy, so their class is all about eating bugs! They will cover what insects are edible, how to prepare insects, and why you should incorporate insects as part of your diet. Samples will be provided!”

It’s on Wednesday, May 25th, and costs $12. There are work trades and other trades available. Register on their Fort Collins, Colorado, events page.

Other upcoming classes include vermiculture (raising garden worms), wild foraging for mushrooms, fruits, or Spring flowers, and herbal medicine making like salves, syrups, and infusions (made like tea).

Alright, who’s brave enough?! Shall we go?

To read more about Weston Price, see the Foundation website here, or find the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Price at your library or bookstore. (Reads like a travel guide)

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