An integrative approach to healing ourselves and our world: honoring people, plants, planet

Posts tagged ‘wild foods’

Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot) for weight loss

Queen Anne's lace, Wild Carrot, Daucus carota, Crawford, GA

“Queen Anne’s lace is one of the great undiscovered herbs of the 20th century,” says Alabama herbalist Darryl Patton. “It is a weight reducer, probably the best to be found.” I think that statement applies to the 21st century, too. Also called wild carrot because its edible root is the predecessor to our cultivated garden-variety carrot, Queen Anne’s lace reduces weight through a diuretic action, and perhaps speeds up the metabolism. Many genus and species in the carrot family (Apiaceae, or Umbelliferae) have a similar diuretic action, but less powerful than Queen Anne’s lace. Due to its diuretic properties, Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) can relieve the edema in one’s ankles. The old-timey herbalist, Tommie Bass, suggests boiling 2 handfuls of leaf and flower in a quart of water for 20 minutes. Just a heads-up: This makes a bitter brew.

Queen Anne's lace, Wild Carrot, Daucus carota, Crawford, Ga

Other uses of the leaves and flowers of Queen Anne’s lace are for kidney stones and gout. It has mild liver-cleansing properties, which helps prevent uric acid from staying in the joints, causing the awfully painful gout. The leaf tea can also help to bring on a woman’s delayed menses, which is called an emmenogogue. However, first she needs to be sure that she isn’t pregnant. For first-aid in healing sores, the leaves are applied to the skin sore with honey.

The seeds are forming on the closed infloresence of Queen Anne's lace.

Queen Anne’s lace seed is taken to relieve bloating, or “wind” as it is sometimes called, evoking the natural elements. The release of wind can also give the appearance of weight loss.

Wild carrot, or Queen Anne’s lace, was a popular diuretic, anodyne (pain reliever), and antiseptic during the Civil War according to Confederate surgeon, Dr. Francis Peyre Porcher.

Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century English physician-herbalist-botanist, writes about the difference between garden carrots and their wild kin, saying, “They are of less physical use than the wild kind (as indeed almost in all herbs the wild are most effectual in physic, as being more powerful in operation than the garden kinds).” That’s a little plug for learning wild plants, and even incorporating them into your landscape.

Queen Anne's Lace gracefully used in a garden. Takes full sun to partial shade.

Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms


Chanterelle mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius) are popping up all over the place. It takes a little bit of knowing to identify them. Jack-o-Lanterns are a poisonous lookalike, and so therefore, it also takes a bit of courage to harvest and eat chanterelles. Yesterday I harvested some, and made a delicious garlic-butter saute with them.

Chanterelle flavor is mild compared to meatier mushrooms like portobellos (Agaricus bisporus) or shitakes (Lintinula edodes). They take on the flavors they are cooked with, which is nice when its garlic and butter.

The ingredients: chanterelles, butter, garlic

If you’d like to sample chanterelle’s flavor without chancing it, you may want to try the 5 & 10 Restaurant in Athens, GA who has been featuring them on the menu. Or, I just saw them for sale at Daily’s Co-op, in which case, you can try your own garlic-butter-chanterelle saute.

A quick saute can be done in an oven-safe dish heated in the oven. Take the hot dish out and place on a safe countertop. Melt the butter, add the garlic for a minute, then add the chanterlles. Stir til they look a little melted.

Dining on Delicious Wild Foods: Salmon with Poor-man’s Pepper and Lamb’s Quarters

Wild-caught salmon seasoned with poor-man's pepper, accompanied with wild greens mixed with local collards and local zucchini and onions.

What a delicious dinner, and much of it came from WEEDS in the yard!

OK, so the salmon wasn’t local, but it was wild-caught and shipped flash-frozen to The Herbal Gourmet on Baxter St. in Athens. The zucchini, onion and collards are from Athens Locally Grown, the awesome and easy online local food ordering service. The weeds, lamb’s quarters and poor-man’s pepper, were very-locally grown in my friend’s unmanicured backyard.

Poor-man's pepper growing on East Broad St., Athens

Poor-man’s pepper, Lepidium virginicum,  is from the mustard family and is a common weed in disturbed areas. It will grow in gravel and through sidewalk cracks. The plant is easily recognizable by its profuse display of seed pods, which have a spicy flavor. To harvest just cut a few plants and bring them inside. Strip the seed pods and leaves from the stem and add them to your meal. It doesn’t matter if the pods are still green or dried. Plants in the mustard family can cause a little bit of skin irritation, so wash your hands after handling.

For the seasoned salmon, add some dill to the poor-man’s pepper and liberally apply to the top of the salmon. Over medium heat, melt butter, and place the salmon face down in the pan for 2 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon over and place a lid on the pan. Cook for an additional 8 minutes, more or less, depending on the size of fish and your preference. Serve immediately, or chill for a salmon salad.

Lamb’s quarters, Chenopodium album,  also grows in disturbed ground. The diamond-shaped foliage is a lightish green with the top leaves looking like they’ve been dusted with powder. The stem of more mature plants is often streaked with purplish-red lines running the length of the plant. Strip the leaves from the stem and rinse them very well. Lamb’s quarters are way more nutritious than spinach, and I think they taste better, too. Cook lamb’s quarters like spinach or other leafy greens. You can supplement lamb’s quarters with another leafy green.

In a big stock pot add olive oil, and place on medium-low heat. Add the freshly rinsed greens and roughly chopped green onions. After cooking for a couple minutes, stir and add your favorite vinegar and some garlic, as much garlic as you can handle. I think ume plum-shiso leaf vinegar is delicious, or you can use herbal vinegars. Salt and pepper to taste. Be careful not to overcook the greens. They’re done in about 8 minutes.

And for desert, just-picked mulberries with a dollop of Greek yogurt!

Lamb's quarters growing on East Broad St, Athens

A great patch of lamb's quarters!

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