Spring Dandelion Greens to Balance Kapha
I’ve heard it said that the difference between a flower and a weed is a mere judgement. At some point along the way it was decided that dandelions were weeds rather than flowers. This change in perspective coincided with the time that the highly manicured patches of grass we call lawns came into fashion.
For millennia, the dandelion, or lion’s-tooth, was beloved globally for its cheerful beauty and potent medicinal qualities. Completely edible from the root to the tips of the long, jagged leaves, the plant is a powerful healer.
Dandelions were used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese to purify the blood and address digestive issues. Pleasantly bitter in taste, dandelions are wonderful for gentle cleansing and reducing kapha in the system during the transition from winter to spring.
Kapha accumulates in our bodies during the autumn and early winter and provides comfort, contentment, and stability during the cold, dark months. But an excessive consumption of sweet, heavy, and oily food or a little too much time spent hibernating on the couch will result in excess kapha in the system.
When the spring thaw brings moisture to the environment as well as our bodies, excess kapha will result in imbalances like respiratory discomfort, bloating, and lethargy. To counterbalance kapha, I often recommend this simple dandelion green recipe to clients.
As spring rains bring brighter days, the diuretic greens will flush excess fluid and metabolic wastes from the system. While they’re at it, dandelion greens will also calm pitta by clearing excess heat and toxins from the liver and blood.
Dandelion Greens Recipe
Total preparation time: 15 minutes
Dandelion greens are readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets. But, tenacious as they are, dandelions grow pretty much anywhere and can be easily harvested. The ideal time to pick the tender greens is in the early spring, just before the plant flowers. However, when harvesting, be sure to pick the greens from places that are sure to be free from contaminants.
- 2 large handfuls chopped kale
- 1 small handful chopped dandelion greens
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon mineral salt
- 2 pinches cumin seeds
- 2 pinches turmeric powder
- 2 pinches chopped fresh ginger
Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the salt and spices, using your hands to measure so that you can infuse love and prana into your meal. Let the spices simmer until their aroma fills the air. Stir in all of the greens, then add a small amount of water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer for 5–7 minutes until the color changes and the greens are soft.
Pair the greens with foods that nourish and build tissues like whole grains and sweet root vegetables. This way the body will stay strong and grounded as it cleanses. For a complete and balanced meal, I also like to include a legume like split mung or adzuki.
Consume dandelion greens in moderation, perhaps 1–3 times weekly during the seasonal transition. If taken in excess, the bitter taste and cooling effect of the greens will increase vata dosha.