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Why you should add Wild Edibles to your Green Smoothie

10 Comments 12 February 2010

If you have browsed the Green Smoothies Blog you know that rotating the variety of greens in your diet is very important. Wild edibles are a fantastic way to increase the diversity of greens in your smoothies, they are higher in nutrition than store bought greens and they offer a cost effective solution for those on a budget.

This article is written by Sergei Boutenko. Sergei  is extremely passionate about wild edibles and has shared his knowledge through talks and guided hikes all over the world. Sergei will be touring Australia in April 2010, click here for more information.

Wild Edibles

By Sergei Boutenko

After several months of drinking green smoothies I got very tired of using kale and spinach. It was at that time that I first embraced weeds. I appreciate that weeds presented me with a practically unlimited variety of greens. This summer I discovered heavenly scrumptious and nutritious “new” foods such as: pumpkin leaves, grape leaves, chicory greens, young and tender borage leaves and flowers, tightly curled fists of young ferns, clover leaves and flowers, plantain, sorrel, and even lemon grass. Next year I plan to fill my garden a large variety of weeds.

Wild edibles often contain more vitamins and minerals than commercially marketed plants. Weeds have not been “spoiled” with farmers’ care in contrast to the “good” plants of the garden. In order to survive in spite of constant weeding, pulling, and spraying, weeds had to develop strong survival properties. For example, in order to stay alive without being watered, most weeds have developed unbelievably long roots. Alfalfa’s roots grow up to 20 feet long reaching for the most fertile layers of the soil. As a result, all wild plants possess more nutrients than commercially grown plants. I feel so silly now when I remember how I used to always pull out the “nasty” lambsquarters from my garden to let my “precious” iceberg lettuce grow.

The best way to learn which weeds are edible is to sign up for an herb walk with an experienced guide in your local area. This way you can learn to recognize particular edible plants by actually touching, smelling, and tasting them so that you can gather your “wild produce” on your own. Also, there are lots of articles and photos of edible weeds on the Internet. You may also find many books that help identify edible plants in your area. Please maintain caution when picking wild plants to avoid poisoning. There are usually only a couple of poisonous plants in one region, make sure you can identify them well.

Borage leaves and flowers
Chicory greens and flowers
Dandelion (greens and flowers)
Fiddlehead ferns
Miner’s lettuce
Stinging nettles

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10 Comments so far

  1. garmstrong100 says:

    I’ve had a garden but shame on me for throwing away my carrot tops and pumpkin leaves, among other things!

    As a boy growing up I remember my grandfather pointing out the lambsquarters to me in his barnyard, but I dont think anyone ate them. Now over 40 years later, I will be looking for them again. Perhaps barnyards are a good place to look. I will have to get pictures of these weeds so I know I am searching for the right thing.

  2. Sheryl says:

    I must admit that I prefer spinach and “forget” to rotate my greens, but ran out of spinach this morning and forgot to get some today when I was in town…So I went out to the garden and picked borage, purslane, lambsquarters, stinging nettles and mint. Tomorrow should be interesting!!

  3. Ginger says:

    Sweet potato leaves are yummy, too! And jute leaves are interesting.

  4. Catarina says:

    I use some wild greens and love them. I grow barley grass for my cat and have used a purchased dried barley grass for me but it finally occurred to me I could throw some of the barley grass in my smoothie. If my cat will share. My question: is it safe and does it have some nutritional value? Do you have info on using sprouts in smoothies? For those of us without land for a garden.

  5. Catarina says:

    I also just learned that cat’s ear looks a lot like dandelion and is often mistaken for it but, no worries, they’re both edible. Cat’s ear has a fuzzier leaf and seems to grow a bit smaller.

  6. emilyb says:

    Catarina, All grass is edible so you can use it in your smoothie if you like the taste. If it contains chlorophyll then it’s good for you. We don’t usually add sprouts to our smoothies, however I sometimes add them to a savoury green smoothie or green soup for texture and garnish. You can read a little about sprouts here Sprouts are a wonderful part of the raw food diet if you don’t have room for a garden. In the Boutenko’s book ‘Raw Family’, they share that while hiking the Pacific Crest trail they grew sprouts in their backpacks.

    When feeding cats green smoothies, remember that cats can not tolerate fruit (dogs can). You may like to blend the greens and water for your cat, put his/her portion in a bowl and then blend the rest with fruit for yourself.

  7. emilyb says:

    Dear Cararina, All Dandelion leaves are smooth to touch, this is the best way to identify them. There are not poisonous dandelion look a likes so it’s ok if you are eating a ‘fake dandelion’.

  8. Jane says:

    Hi I’m lucky I can buy sorrel and sweet potato leaves here in Canberra also kohlrabi leaves-very rarely see dandelion. My question is can we use parsnip leaves in green smoothies?

  9. sara says:

    Before this sight, I was unaware that sweet potato and pumpkin leaves and lemon grass were suitable for green smoothies. Is there a website anywhere that lists all leaves that are edible,
    Thank you

  10. Chelle says:

    I have found this very exciting. I recently started eating raw but had such cravings still until I added the green smoothie. And now the idea that I can use wild edibles! I have always collected them to plant them in my garden but never got around to using them much.. a little… but not much. Now it is easy! Throw them in a smoothie! One new one at a time I think… : ) Thanks so much Sergei for sharing all you experience. So appreciated.

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