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This salad was made on a whim while working on a couple of flowery projects, and we loved it so much we thought you might enjoy. It's a very simple recipe, but I wanted to talk a little about bitters and weeds first.
While working this morning, we seized the moment, and ran out front to pick some dandelions and whatever else we could find. Jody was making a salad and we were focused on eating something healthy but nothing overly complicated. We foraged dandelions, but chickweed, sorrel, bittercress, henbit, dead nettles and red clover would have been other nourishing weeds to add. This is so perfect for our chilled, stagnant early-spring bodies. The bitter flavors of arugula, dandelions, lime zest and Spring Tonic were crisp and enlivening. The side of fruit was spectacular and complimented the bitter greens perfectly. The fruit pictured on our plate is mango, papaya, strawberries and avocado. I chose to eat my bitter salad first and then indulge in the fruits after. I, personally, enjoy bitters and have come to appreciate them way more, since learning about health and herbs. I think everyone's liver needs help these days. We are exposed to so many toxins in the air, on our skin, in our foods, and we eat such starchy, heavy foods, that giving our liver some support is a huge way to thank our bodies.
So how are bitters and the liver connected? Bitter flavors on the tongue are reactive. The body just can't ignore it. They cause an immediate response in the body to stimulate saliva, then bile juices in the gall bladder secrete which then helps the liver do it's job optimally. This reaction is a catalyst essentially for the gall bladder and liver to start their jobs - in a natural way. This causes a cascade of reactions continuing through the entire digestive tract. The only catch is, you must experience that bitter taste. It's the taste that sends the signal. Interestingly enough, we have lost the old ways of embracing bitter foods with our meals. Chances are, your great-great-grandparents ate bitters more than you. Current foods are much more expansive with what we can select and most people choose starchy or salty over bitter. It's not really a taste most people prefer. There are so many benefits of taking bitters from curving sugar cravings to maintaining healthy skin to calming upset stomachs. The list is so long that eating bitters (or taking bitters) is the single most important thing you could do to provide your body with healthy support, in my humble opinion. One thing I remember from grade school is that we can not live without our liver, so that statement really stuck with me. There are many ways you could detox in late winter/ early spring which can help your liver. Adding some bitter greens is a really easy way to gently help.
The weeds I mentioned above are generally weeds that we find popping up first thing in the Spring - the ones that many people try to get rid of. These plants, in particular, fall under the alterative category, meaning they gently help eliminate the metabolic waste through several eliminatory organs (liver being one of them). There is a reason they pop up during Spring. Nature has a way of providing exactly what we need when we need it. Some alteratives can be gentle and others can be more aggressive. Dandelion and red clover are two gentle alteratives, and they are most familiar. Once you feel comfortable identifying weeds, start adding them to your food. Food is medicine. There is a wealth of information available today. Start learning. Slowly. Always forage with respect. Keep in mind that pollinators need some, and you want to be sure the plants come back up next year.
Jody made this salad and it tasted like spring on a plate.
Enjoy alone or with your favorite side of fruit.
WILD SALAD with TONIC DRESSING
• about 5 ounces of arugula
• one bunch of dandelion greens, a couple of flowers
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
• 1 Tbsp. Mystical Blossoms Spring Tonic
• 1 Tbsp. honey
• one lime zest, plus the juice of 1/2 lime
• 1/2 orange zest, plus it's juice (we used blood orange)
Wash your greens and place dandelion flowers aside.
Dry greens well.
Put greens in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.
Add dandelion flowers on top.