Ready to “eat wild?!”
Audrey Barron, Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe, explains how to could add a variety of wild plants into our diet!
Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables tend to lose both vitamins and minerals as they age. Don’t get me wrong, we should still be consuming a large variety of plants in our diet (the more local the better!). But when we add wild foods into our regular routine, we are adding another level of mineral, nutrients that we’re probably missing in our “non-wild” diet.
Eating wild does not need to be hard or scary. In fact, it’s probably much easier than you might realize. And when you harvest it yourself, it’s not only extremely fresh, it’s FREE!
So let’s talk about our three wild foods we’re working with in today’s recipes.
You might have heard about nettles. They’re often called “Stinging Nettle” and considered an unwanted weed! They can be found fresh growing in wooded areas. You can also purchase seeds and grow it yourself if you have the yard space (beware, it will take over). They get their name because they do in fact have stinging hairs along the stem and under the leaves. Those stings bring with them a medicinal quality that acts as an antihistamine as well as an anti-inflammatory. The fresh leaves can be eaten as a green in soups, pesto and you can even eat them raw in smoothies. You can use dried nettle to make a highly nutritious tea. Nettle is extremely rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and even protein.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know what dandelion is. It grows seemingly everywhere! You can use the leaves in salads, smoothies, pesto and even soups. The root can be used as a tea or coffee replacement and the yellow flowers can be used to help with skin issues. When taken internally, dandelion helps the body naturally detox. It’s also high in antioxidants and promotes healthy skin.
Black Wild Rice:
Black wild rice is the most nutrient-dense of all the rice available. It’s extremely high in antioxidants, protects the heart and it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s also very nourishing to the adrenals, helping the body fight fatigue. This one is not quite as easy to harvest yourself in the wild, so look for it in your local health food store
Chef Audrey’s Nettle Rosemary Pesto
Yields approximately 1 ½ cups of pesto
3 cups fresh nettle leaves
5 garlic cloves, diced
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
To make your pesto, add your walnuts, sea salt, nutritional yeast and garlic and process until coarsely ground.
Now add your nettle and rosemary and process again for a few seconds.
As the processor is going, stream in your lemon juice and olive oil and watch as it becomes a beautiful emerald pesto before your eyes.
Store in your refrigerator for up to a week in an air-tight container. You can also freeze this pesto!
Wild Rice & Veggies with Nettle Pesto
My family absolutely adores this dish. It’s comforting, fresh and vibrant all at the same time. And it makes me feel so good knowing we are eating wild food that brings in a level of nourishment that supports our well-being on a higher level.
You will use the nettle recipe above. You can actually make the pesto as the rice is cooking.
Rice and Veggies
6 cups cooked black wild rice
1 cup diced red pepper
4 cups fresh ramps (wild garlic) – chopped (or use green onion)
2 cups quartered brussel sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste
To cook your wild rice, you want to first soak over night if you can. Drain the water and then cook. To cook, add 1.5 cups water per cup of rice in your pot and allow it to come to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook with the lid on. I like to add sea salt and fresh turmeric root to my rice as it cooks.
When rice is cooking, sautee your ramps (or green onion) and Brussel sprouts in your olive oil and sea salt until tender. Don’t overcook – you want them to be nice and bright green.
When rice is finished cooking, add your red pepper, ramps and broccoli and allow to sit. The red pepper will warm and soften with the heat.
After a minute or so, add about ¼ cup of your pesto and stir until everything is coated.
Serve with a sprinkle of hemp seeds and allow your cells to soak in the goodness.
Wild Dandelion Fruit Smoothie
Makes 1 smoothie
Smoothies are an awesome way to sneak wild foods into your life. I love smoothies because they make eating healthy so easy! In the Midwest, we are blessed to have wild dandelions everywhere in the Spring and Summer. When you don’t spray your yard, you can literally walk outside and grab your greens for you smoothie! (or salad, soup, etc)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 frozen banana
1 ½ cup fresh almond milk
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 kale leaves
5 leaves of dandelion
It doesn’t get much easier than making a smoothie. Just add your ingredients and blend!
I like to have smoothies in the morning for my breakfast. They are easy for the body to digest, easy to make and filling. And you can add your wild greens, superfoods and anything else you want in before you blend.
Cheers to your wild health!
Would you like to take a class with me? Check out our class lineup and more about Ezra’s Café at www.ezrasenlightenedcafe.com.
Want to follow me (Chef Audrey) to see what I’m up to at our farm and behind the scenes at the café? Find me at @GaiaChef or www.gaiachef.com.