Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lady's Thumb

Persicaria maculosa

NL: Perzikkruid / F: Renouée persicaire

Very strong plant, from the family of  buckwheat. Edible parts are leaves and young shoots, which can be eaten raw or cooked.

It is traditionally used in poultices to relieve rheumatic pain, to heal wounds, to arrest bleeding or in infusion to help relieve stomach ache.

There is a variety of persicaria very similar to this one, known as smartweed. It is also edible, but it is very hot in taste, so you might want to try first a tiny small piece before putting it a lot in your mouth.

Another family member of the persicaria family that I love to use in dishes is the Persicaria odorata, also known as Vietnamese coriander. It is very easy to cultivate and makes every dish taste divinely good.

Here are some helpful videos with more information on Persicaria maculosa:

Edible & Medicinal Lady’s Thumb
Lady’s Thumb - LuminEarth

As we are talking about persicarias, in the link below you will find some information on culinary uses of persicaria odorata, which looks pretty similar to Lady's Thumb, but it tastes much better:

Persicaria odorata -Kruidwis

Wild Rocket

Diplotaxis tenuifolia
NL: Grote zandkool / F: Roquette sauvage

Wild rocket is another super food that you can find growing spontaneously on your garden or even on sidewalks. From the family of broccoli and cabbages, it has a great taste and it can perfectly be eaten raw, in salads or pesto. In its raw form it preserves most of its antioxidant phytochemicals which protect the liver, help the body to detox from chemicals and heavy metals and it enhances our immune system and our protection against cancer, Alzheimer and other degenerative diseases.

I’ve always been a big fan of this salad green but what inspired me to post this now was to find a large amount of it growing healthily through a crack on the sidewalk near where I live.

 One could write an entire book about the health benefits of this plant and its nutritional richness. It contains, for instance, a lot of vitamin C, A, K, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper. This is indeed one of the healthiest vegetable one can ever find in nature (or easily grow it yourself).

My favorite recipe with it is to blend a large portion of wild rocket with apple juice, fresh mint and pineapple.

More on arugula:

5 Things you need to know about the health benefits of arugula

Healthy Cooking: Arugula

Green smoothie with wild weeds

This is our favorite way to consume these superfoods, by making delicious green juices and smoothies.

We use the juicer mainly for leaves that contain too much fibers, such as winter kale, old dandelion leaves, (wheat or oat or other type of) grass or plantain. Otherwise we use all the greens with fruits to make smoothies. The best smoothies are made in a high speed blender, such as Vitamix, Magimix or Omniblend.

It is pretty simple and you don't really need a recipe to make delicious smoothies. Just add the greens of your preference together with fruits that are growing in that season. Here are some guidelines.

1. Get a full bowl of some:
- young dandelion leaves
- young fresh tops of stinging nettle
- young leaves of ground ivy
- young plantain leaves
- wild mint or lemon balm
- whatever else green you can find depending on the season

2. Rinse the greens carefully.

3. Put some fruits in your blender and add water or fruit juice

4. Add the wild weeds

5. Blend and enjoy !

You can also make these green smoothies using any cultivated greens if they are more easily available at some point - such as rocket greens, watercress, purslane or young kale.

Sometimes the richest parts of the plant, such as radish, turnip and carrot greens, are thrown away when they could be perfectly used in juices or smoothies. In fact if you have natural, non sprayed grass in your back yard you can just harvest every day a bit of that grass and juice it.

If the greens you are using are very fibrous and you don't have a (good) juicer, you can blend the leaves first with water of fruit juice and strain them in a fine sieve or cheese cloth before drinking.

A very easy and simple combination is to blend your greens with appel juice, sieve it or not, depending on the greens used and on the personal preference, and add some freshly squeezed lemon juice at the end.

Next to vitamins and minerals boost that we get from drinking green juices, the chlorophyll content in it has strong energizing, detoxifying and general healing properties.

Here is a video where Valya Boutenko teaches us how to improve the taste of green smoothies, making it more appealing to those still unfamiliar with high amounts of greens at once:

How to Make a Tasty Green Smoothie