Wild Arkansas

November 5, 2011

Leafy green blues

Filed under: food, health, organic greens, wellness — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 12:54 am

 Twenty-five years ago I read a health article from a popular woman’s magazine that told me if I ate leafy greens at least twice a week I would avoid the perils of premenstrual crabbiness.

I was a skeptic, but I tried it. The “experiment” began two weeks before menses. I ate bok choy, spinach, turnip greens and lots of lettuce. That time of the month came and went with no significance and that was the evidence.

My husband told me that since we had been married, he had not gotten through a month without having to deal with the mood changes. For him this was a remakable improvment, simply because there were no petty arguments escalating to talk of divorce.

Upon recall, I remembered feeling as if he was being a jerk simply because he watched a ball game.

But that was twenty-five years ago and times and the people have changed.

Today we have more incidence of food-related illnesses and food-related behaviors than we did back then. More people eat fast food and more children suffer from ADHD.

Children consume pizza and chicken McNuggets as regular diet staples and unfortunately suffer from that consumption. Diabetes, obesity and mood disorders are a result.

From my own experience, I know what I consume affects my moods and my health. After my juicing experiment I began eating a lot more leafy greens again. My diet consists of mostly vegetables and fruits, though I do eat some fish.

The before and after are remarkable, only in that they are graphic representations of the way I felt about the world around me.

Before: my diet consisted of whatever was in the house. When I shopped for food, I shopped for convenience. What would take less time to prepare? What can I pop in the microwave? Taste, comfort and convenience were the most important factors. I ate fruits or vegetables about once a week or when I foraged them.

Comfort included not dealing with other people. When I had to deal with other people I tried to make the experience as brief as possible.

Now: I deal with people daily because I also work as a customer service representative. Fortunately, today it’s not nearly as traumatic an experience as it was a month ago.

That sounds and feels like an extreme statement of fact, but in fact, it is true.

In the age of information it’s difficult to believe that people don’t know eating pizza or other fast food every night is not bad for them. Maybe it’s denial.

Listen to your mother. Leafy greens are good for you. Eat your vegetables. Eat fruit for dessert. I guarantee…Yes, I guarantee… You will be a happier, healthier person for it.

 

 

 

Advertisements

September 14, 2010

Scouting Siloam

I made it back to  Siloam Springs yesterday and began scouting the area to see what has changed in the past month. I’ve found quite a few edible weeds.

If you use pokeberry to dye with, the season is getting short. The berries are more than ready and beautiful as ever, but you need to pick them soon.

Epazote is going to seed. There are still a few hangers-on, but the next two weeks you may want to start checking plants daily to see if they have turned brown yet, to plant for next year or trading online.

The field amaranth here is almost completely seed. If you have the patience to grind flour, now is the time to collect.

The wide leaf dock is looking beautiful. We just got a new growing spurt, so it’s time for fresh greens.

New mullein – meaning just the new leaf is sprouting. If you’re just collecting leaf, there’s quite a bit of on the edges of wooded areas and along fences.

Last, but not least, the lambsquarters are still leafy. I’ve been collecting quite a bit of it for freezing so if you run across large patches in the area that look a bit thin on leaf, you may have come behind me.

August 4, 2010

Re-post: summer edibles w/parts

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, fruit, herbs, summer — Tags: , , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 5:37 pm

Cattails

A couple of readers expressed an interest in viewing the list with the information on which plant parts should be harvested. Here it is.

A Short list of common edibles currently in season (summer) for Northwest Arkansas, though some can be found throughout the year.

Common name                         Binomial                                What’s Edible?

American Elder             Sambucus canadensis        Berries (prepared)

Asparagus                       Asparagus officianalis        Tips

Black Cherry                 Prunus serotina                   Berries

Cattail                            Typha latifolia                      Root, stem, flower, pollen

Chicory                        Cichorium intybus             Every part of plant is edible

Chufa                            Cyperus esculentus            Tubers; raw or cooked

Dandelion                  Taraxacum officianale        Every part of plant is edible

Docks                          Rumex (acetosa,longifolia…)    Leaves; raw or cooked

(There are several varieties of dock/sorrel in the area; including curly, spinach, broad leaved and the dooryard. All are edible.)

Ground Cherry       Physalis pubescens                    Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Ground Nut              Apios americana                          Tubers; cooked

Lambs quarters      Chenopodium album                  Leaves; raw or cooked

May apple                 Podophyllum peltatum             Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Mulberry (red, white) Morus rubra/alba               Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Oak (Red, White)    Quercus rubra/alba                  Fruit; raw (alba) or prepared (rubra)

Passionflower          Passiflora incarnata                All parts are edible; raw or cooked

Pawpaw              Asimina triloba        Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Peppermint          Mentha piperita        Leaves; raw or cooked

Pickeral weed       Pontederia cordata        Leaf stalks/fruit; raw and cooked

Plantain/Plantago   Plantago major, asiatica…    Leaf; raw and cooked

Purslane            Portulaca oleracea        Leaf/leaf stalk; raw and cooked

Quickweed           Galinsoga parviflora        Green tops; cooked

Smilax              Smilax rotundifolia        Vine tips/berries; raw and cooked

Smooth Sumac        Rhus glabra            Fruit; cooked

Spearmint           Mentha spicata        Leaf; raw or cooked

Sweet Flag          Acorus calamus        Young stalks; raw or cooked

July 17, 2010

Lambs quarters prep

Filed under: foraging, lambsquarters, organic greens, recipe — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 4:37 pm

Simple is best. I gathered lambs quarters this morning and though I’ve never prepared it, I took a chance and used it as I have other greens.

Thrown in with a bit of oil, salt and pepper to taste, I cooked it until the leaves turned a darker green color (spinach green).

Daughter #1 tried it and said it smells and tastes like spinach. I don’t think so. I think it tastes like lambs quarters, though it does have the texture, color and smell of spinach.

This is a clean, organic green that grows everywhere in NW Arkansas.

The cost of organic spinach at Ozark Natural Foods is currently:

$6.99 lb in bulk

$2.49 by bunch/bunches are from 1-1.5 lbs.

Lambs quarters nutrition information

High in vitamin C, rich in riboflavin, one cup of cooked lambs quarters provides an excellent source of vitamin A, folate, magnesium, potassium, vitamins E, B6, and thiamine. Substantially more nutrients than cultivated spinach.

September 19, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Lowell and its gifts

Filed under: dandelion, Edible plants, Epazote, foraging, herbs, Lowell, passionflower — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 9:04 pm

Though foraging for edibles isn’t done as often as it once was, many Ozark families still retain knowledge and skills used by older generations and regularly collect wild greens, poke root or maypops.

Today, most people drive to the local market rather than grow or forage their own food, though the benefits go beyond the feeling of accomplishment and nutrition.

There is something transferred from plant and earth to the harvester. An acknowledgement that we depend upon one another or perhaps that connection lost when walking through the produce section of Wal-mart and stuffing the plastic bags with waxed greens.

Few realize how many wild edible greens are growing so close. On a recent forage in Lowell, I managed to discover garlic mustard, wild spinach and several varieties of Rumex or sorrel.

Many medicinal and culinary herbs are also found locally. Goldenrod is plentiful, as is, hedge woundwort, Japanese honeysuckle, passionflower, Asiatic dayflower, red clover, dandelion, yellow woodnettle and wild lettuce to name just a few.

Walking down dirt roads and along rows of a grape vineyard, I found the common mallow that is a regular diet staple in Israel, or once was.

Epazote is a culinary and medicinal herb used extensively in Mexico and has been naturalized to the U.S. In Arkansas it grows as a noxious weed despite its medicinal value. And the Cutleaf Coneflower, shines it’s mighty yellow head above all the other “weeds” in the vicinity.

The Coneflower was commonly used as a burn dressing by the Chippewa and a dietary aid by the Cherokee, by using it in cooked spring salad.

…And all of this is a reminder to me that Arkansas is abundant in natural resources. Maybe not the resources we typically look for, but those kind that are good for the body and soul.

I may not always be as grateful as I should be, but today I thank this land we live on for giving us so much.

Blog at WordPress.com.