Love the Dandelions

Dandylions dryingEarly mornings are a great time to do some weeding and be one with nature. I try to work mostly in the shade and eventually get in 10-15 minutes of vitamin D boosting sunshine without burning my hide up too much. Besides the benefits of horticultural order, getting out in your yard gives you the opportunity to exercise your muscles, including your heart, which is made of a special type of muscle. Get moving to also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Sweating, another benefit of yard work , is the body’s way of cooling and getting rid of toxins through the largest organ in the body, the skin.

Depending on the intensity, an hour of yard work can burn 200-400 calories. Remember, your body will burn sugar and other carbs before it burns stored fat. So when you eat that big blueberrry muffin or something similar, think about what you are going to with that 385 calories, 10 grams of fat and the 65 grams of carbs. FDA recommended intake of carbs for a 2000 calorie diet  is 300 carbs. So pace yourself. They can add up quick.

So back to the yard. While most people are trying to eradicate dandelions, I let mine grow.

When focusing on a healthy diet and lifestyle, dandelions pack a nutritional punch. The word dandelion comes from the french word dent de lion referring to the lion tooth shape of the leaves. Not a native plant in North America, they were purposely brought over here from Europe by immigrants who knew the valuable healing and nutritional properties. The humble dandelion helped keep early pioneers healthy and stretched the food budget during the Great Depression and World War II. Nutritionally, the dandelion is a good source calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, sodium, vitamin A and C.  The leaves are a diuretic, meaning they help flush out excess water from the body and the roots aid in cleansing the liver and blood. You should not consume dandelions if you have any bowel obstruction or if you have gallbladder problems. This is a good time to harvest, dry, for teas or freeze dandelions (free  of pesticides and herbicides)  for the winter. Fresh, you can toss them in salads. They are also good wilted with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Chop and freeze in ice cube trays to add to soups and sauces for added nutrition. For further reading, herballegacy.com is a good website for the history and medicinal uses of the dandelion. ” The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook” by Kristina Seleshanko, an e-book I found on kindle, is full of ideas for using up these nutritional weeds. So put down those environmentally and physically harmful herbicides, start digging,  burn some calories, and honor those early settlers who couldn’t run to the grocery stores for nourishment or the doctor for medical help but relied o one of nature’s gifts, the dandelion.

Margie LaFleur is a licensed massage therapist who has been in practice since 1991. She is passionate about nutrition consciousness and healthy living and is committed to encouraging others to be aware of their bodies and to maintain good physical health.  Margie LaFleur is the owner of LaFleur Healing Arts.

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