I grew up in the suburbs, where the amount of land around your rented house or apartment is enough for a dog to pee on, but not much more. Now, with two acres, I have a gap in knowledge that I’m fast trying to close. I’ve started a wonderful garden where I go to when my four kids have pushed too many buttons. It plays a double role as stress reliever and stress bringer, from the massive amount of weeds growing after improperly preparing the garden soil. There is just not enough time to pull them all, so they co-exist with my vegetables.
Curiosity getting the best of me, I wanted to know what these weeds were, and if they had any potential uses. Our refrigerator has been getting awfully bright and spacious from sticking to a small grocery budget. Pesticide free and pastured food is more expensive, and my kids are constantly hungry, so I wanted to know what I could harvest from the land. It’s also a good thing to know in case of emergency.
Aside from ragweed, this powdery green weed was popping up everywhere. I finally identified it as Lamb’s Quarters. If you see them in your yard, field, or garden, it means you have very healthy soil. Lamb’s Quarters is an exceptionally nutrient dense weed, if we should still call it that. Since we have industrialized our food system, we have lost the art of identifying medicinal and healthful, wild plants free for the eating. This is what our ancestors have always done. They knew when certain things grew, when to eat them, and how to prepare them. They made tinctures and poultices, teas and pastes that promoted healing and wellness. Now we just buy a vitamin or smoothie at the grocery store. Whatever ingredients they’ve chosen has been factory raised and processed to sit on a shelf for, well, we can’t say how long. Fresh is best, and you can’t get any fresher than harvesting it right from your own property. People are still off-put by how prolific Lamb’s Quarters is. Obviously they have a full fridge because I see it as a whole bunch of free food!
Here are the health benefits of Lamb’s Quarters.
Nutrition (per half cup)
Lambs quarter seeds
Protein 19.6 grams
Fat 4.2 grams
Carbos 57.7 grams
Fiber 27.1 grams
Calcium 1036 mg
Potassium 1687 mg
Niacin 3800 ug
Iron 64 mg
Lambs quarter Shoots
Protein 3.5 g
Carbos 5.5 g
Calcium 324 mg
Potassium 684 mg
Beta Carotene 3800 ug
Niacin 1000 ug
Iron 1.5 mg
Lamb’s Quarters is high in chlorophyll … “According to research published in the Global Advanced Research Journal of Environmental Science and Toxicology, chlorophyll has a porphyrin ring that functions as a natural chelating agent. Additionally, ‘[t]he middle of chlorophyll is magnesium,’ writes the authors, ‘which is freed under acidic conditions, allowing other heavy metals to bind in its place.'” (http://www.naturalnews.com/049882_chlorophyll_chelating_agent_blood_builder.html)
Many diseases are now linked to having an excess of metals stored in brain tissue. Alzheimers, Autism, Lou-Gehrig’s Disease, etc. have all implicated a system that is taxed by excess toxins. Eating a clean diet and including ingredients that help purify the body can both prevent and improve such conditions. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/07/22/toxic-metals-the-reason-you-still-feel-sick.aspx. http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/amlatscleral.html
Lamb’s Quarters is high in vitamins A, C (one cup of greens is equal to 96% of your recommended daily value), B complex, enzymes, trace minerals, and 8 amino acids that our body can’t produce on its own. When chewed, it can be applied to insect bites, scrapes, and sunburn and can even be applied to aching joints. The leaves also reduce inflammation and have a high iron content, which increases blood count and circulation in the body.
“A tea of the leaves is beneficial for diarrhea, internal inflammation, stomach aches, and loss of appetite. The tea can also be used as a wash to heal skin irritations and other external complaints. Soaking the body in bathwater with lambsquarter tea added will support skin health by toning and tightening the tissues.”
The roots can be used to make soaps, being high in saponin. “Saponin also creates a cleansing and laxative effect in the body when drunk as a tea. Lambsquarter root tea is helpful for removing excesses from the body by the way of assisting elimination.” http://www.chelseagreen.com/blogs/use-lambsquarter-from-root-to-seed/
Lamb’s Quarters Recipes can also be found on Chelsea Green’s blog above.
I currently am drying out a bundle to add them to dishes through the winter.
One last note. If you pick up what looks like Lamb’s Quarters, crush a leaf. If it smells awful, than it is a look-alike called nettle leaf goosefoot. The smell is the giveaway. While not deadly, it has a higher amount of oxalic acid and nitrates in unsafe conditions which can cause kidney problems. Cooking removes oxalic acid, so if you are still worried about there being Lamb’s Quarters, give it a good steam or quick sauté and enjoy!