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Neglected Greens

by Alexandra Williams, MA on Mar 28, 2013

Food for Thought

Many greens that are high in nutritional value don’t get the same amount of love and attention as, say, kale. For example, dandelion greens rank high in beta-carotene and contain vitamin E, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, potassium and zinc. Best picked when young, these bitter greens also support kidney functioning and toxin removal.

Known for the medicinal benefits and drying agents in its tannins, sorrel is used to reduce pain and inflammation of the nasal passages and respiratory tract; to treat bacterial infections and sinusitis; and as a diuretic. For cooking, use garden (common) and French sorrel to add a lemon flavor to soups, stews and salads. Due to its oxalic acid content, sorrel should be used in moderation.

Found mainly in New England and Canada, the fiddlehead fern looks like the scrolled top of a violin. Aesthetically appealing, the fern—when washed, boiled and served with lemon and butter—also tastes a bit like asparagus. It’s good in salads, pasta and stir-fry dishes as well. There are several varieties, with different levels of toxins; the most commonly eaten fiddlehead is the ostrich fern when it’s young (8–16 inches tall).

Most gardeners have peas in their garden at some point, but there’s more to the pea plant than just peas. Pea shoots are the leaves, and they have more vitamin C than blueberries and more vitamin A than tomatoes. Also high in potassium, vitamins E and K, folate, thiamin and riboflavin, pea shoots can be eaten raw or lightly cooked.

Experienced foragers and gardeners collect all these unique greens on their own, but everyone else can find them at farmers’ markets or specialty markets.

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About the Author

Alexandra Williams, MA

Alexandra Williams, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Alexandra Williams, MA, is a contributing editor for IDEA Fitness Journal and co-owner of the Fun & Fit blog, column and radio show with her twin sister. Certified since 1986, Alexandra currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and for Spectrum Clubs. She loves to write, emcee and edit, especially in a humorous fashion. She can be reached at