How to Prepare and Enjoy Stinging Nettles
A few weeks ago at my potluck group I talked about my list of top foods that I believe to be super nutrient rich. Stinging Nettles, urtica dioica, were on that list.
The reason I think they are so great is because they are rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. According to some sources they are one of the best plant sources of iron. They are 40 % protein which is considered high for a vegetable. Traditionally in folk medicine they were used to build the blood and treat anemia among other conditions. Recently they have been proven helpful to treat hay fever and osteoarthritis. (For more medicinal uses scroll down to the bottom of this post.)
Where to Get Stinging Nettles
To add stinging nettles to your diet, first you need to find them. I am lucky enough to live in Northern California where I can get them at the Marin Farmer’s Market for 6 dollars a pound. If you have a local wild edibles guided tour (please don’t eat any wild edible unless you are sure) you might be lucky to find them in shady spots, in flood plains, woodlands, along streams and river banks in Europe, Asia, North America, and Northern Africa. Or you can simply try to grow them in your own backyard. If you can’t get ahold of fresh nettles you can find dried nettles in the bulk herb section of your natural grocery store, which make a lovely tea.
They are called stinging nettles for a reason, they have stinging hairs which can really irritate your skin. For this reason I do not advise handling them with your bare hands. I personally use tongs, but you could use gloves as well. Some people recommend rolling them like a taco and then eating the leaves. Here is a video of David Wolfe, raw food author and speaker, showing you how to do just that.
I personally prefer to enjoy them using the methods I describe below:
The great thing about stinging nettles is that when you cook them, juice them, or blend them they loose their sting!
My favorite thing is to make a nettle shake. (recipe below)
(Thanks to Novalee for this idea)
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup nettles
Blend for a minute in a high speed blender and enjoy. For a heartier drink you can add 1 banana and half an apple.
Nettle Green Juice
You can also add nettles into your green juice. Just substitute whatever green you were going to use with nettles and run them through your juicer. I like to juice them with celery and apple.
Make Nettle Tea
Boil a pot of water and add a cup of nettles and let sit for at least 10 minutes. It makes the most beautiful emerald green tea you can imagine. Sweeten and enjoy.
Nettles can be steamed or boiled and are probably one of the most delicious greens out there. They have a mild nutty flavor and can be substituted in any cooked recipe that calls for spinach or kale. They are so good that they can be enjoyed just steamed plain or perhaps with a touch of sea salt. I have also seen recipes where they are boiled with potatoes, leeks, and other ingredients to make a creamy blended soup.
Nettles have been used medicinally in folk medicine for such things as: allergies, water retention, anemia, poor circulation, asthma, wound healing, as a diuretic, to build the blood, and for arthritis and rheumatism. Recently, nettles have been proven effective for treating hay fever and osteoarthritis.
*Now if you are going to use nettles medicinally I would definitely work with a professional for the correct dosage and there are some contraindications and drug interactions you might need to be aware of especially if you are pregnant, have kidney issues, diabetes, or are on blood pressure medication or other medications.
Hope you can enjoy this powerful superfood as a regular addition to your diet!