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Wednesday July 6th 2022

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Save Money – Eat Your Weeds

By MARY ELLEN KALUZA

Eating well is expensive even without high inflation. Save money by foraging around your backyard, neighbor’s yard, or other overgrown areas. A small pile of free greens can easily save you $5. Here are a few common weeds that are delicious and nutritious. (Always look up the plant to safely identify and prepare. Harvest in areas you know are not treated with chemicals. Get permission, if necessary. Rinse thoroughly.)

Lamb’s Quarter: My neighbor turned me on to lamb’s quarters years ago with quesadillas stuffed with them. Yum! They are also quite tasty on their own, lightly steamed with a little salt and pepper. Lamb’s quarters contain oxalic acid and you don’t want to eat too much of them raw. (Cooking removes the acid.)

Purslane (verdolagas in Spanish): Purslane can be a pesky weed in the garden. Or in your sidewalk cracks. I get particular pleasure eating this weed because its stubborn tap roots and bazillion seeds make it hard to control. The plant is delicious raw or cooked with a light lemony flavor, eaten around the world. I recently had a green chili stew with purslane and it was the BEST green chili stew ever!

Nettle: Last month Nikki Fleck shared a fabulous nettle recipe, and included the myriad of nutritional benefits the plant provides. Find it May’s alley online: https://alleynews.org/. Nettles are at home in fancy dishes or simply sauteed in butter. (Note: Handle nettles with gloves until cooked.)

Dandelion: Four decades ago I had newly arrived Hmong neighbors. The grandmother of the family often visited my sister and me in our garden. We didn’t speak the same language, but we learned a lot from her. In particular, she taught us to eat our dandelion greens – a powerhouse of nutrients. Dandelions are a little bitter raw but cooking cuts the bitterness.

Pigweed: A member of the amaranth family (as is lamb’s quarter), it is not the showy type of amaranth that makes you pause in awe, but it is still delicious and nutritious. Pigweed is widespread in the Americas and has been part of Native cuisine from Canada to Argentina. The seeds are high in protein, and the nutrient-rich leaves are edible raw or cooked.

Violet: Long considered a pest in lawns because they spread so easily, violets are gaining new respect as we strive to help our bees live. Both the lovely purple flowers and the leaves can be eaten. Toss some flowers on a salad or bowl of soup for a picture-perfect meal. Thanks to their prolific growing habit, you and the bees will have plenty.

Some of you already eat your weeds, some may be apprehensive. I was quite skeptical when I first tried eating weeds. But, I mustered up my bravery, opened my mind, and am now an enthusiastic fan of edible weeds.

Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial, Housing, and Reverse Mortgage Counselor.

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