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Dandelions: Tools of Gratitude & Nourishment

27 May

sweet-dandelionSometimes that moving, growing spring energy doesn’t always burst forth in the most helpful ways.

ie: my beloved husband {and partner of almost 15 years} and I cannot seem to stop bickering these days.  One of us will be excited about something when the other is in a funky mood – and BAM, before I know it, we’re in the middle of a fight.  And I find myself, shall I say, appreciating him a lot less.

It reminds me of dandelions.

For years, growing up, I watched my uncle Tom wage war against these little bright blots on his otherwise perfect lawn.  Most of us see dandelions, and think, “CRAP, the lawn is ruined!”

The thing is, just like my husband, dandelions have a lot of love to give, and if you can change your perspective about the number one hated “weed”, you can transfer that mental shift to your partner {or kid or boss}, too.


So here’s why dandelions deserve, if not adoration, at least a little respect {besides their gorgeous color and honey scent}:

  1. Parts of the leaves and roots have a diuretic effect on the body {they encourage the kidneys to release stored liquids}, while also providing minerals, especially potassium, that can get sparse when we take some diuretics.*
  2. Those same constituents encourage increased liver function, which can help us break down and digest fats, while also aiding in detoxification.*
  3. The taste of the leaves is bitter, and when our tongues taste bitter it signals our digestive juices to start flowing.  This means that something as simple as nibbling on a dandelion leaf, or taking a dandelion tincture, before eating can help increase the efficiency of your digestion.*

When those dandelion heads pop up to the surface, they’re not trying to ruin your weekend, just like your partner/kid/boss is {probably**} not trying to make your life more difficult.

Practicing the process of re-framing from anger to gratitude can give you a little bit of space when you’re in the middle of a moment of anxiety and frustration {and, dare I say, outright rage?}.


Here’s how it can work: you might not need to increase liver or kidney function, and your digestion might be in tip-top shape, but when you see those vibrant yellow lion heads you can use them as an opportunity to practice re-framing by thinking about how healing and nourishing a simple weed can be.   Isn’t it amazing that plants can be so helpful to human bodies?!

You can think thoughts of gratitude as you’re decapitating them – it’s the mental step of finding awe, joy and gratitude that’s important. 

The best part is you can give yourself a habit of appreciation.  Some people use gratitude journals because when we choose to feel thankful it makes us feel happier, and when we’re happier we are more likely to make choices that are good for us {ie: driving past the fast food drive-thru}.

The journaling approach doesn’t work for me, so I try to take time in my day to notice one thing that I feel grateful for.   It takes 15 seconds; here, try it with me:

  1. Look up and notice how you feel – gratitude can start right now: are you thankful that you just let out a great, big fart and now you feel better?  Did your headache of the past 2 days go away?  Did someone just make you laugh?
  2. Next, notice what’s around you – are you not too cold, nor too hot?  Is the sun shining?  Is the rain watering your lawn & garden so you don’t have to?  Are those dandelions you see out there?!  Is the chair you’re sitting in really comfortable?

And that’s it.  Gratitude starts to blossom like, well, dandelions.

For me, once I practiced with simpler things, like flowers and farts, I tried moving on to humans-I-love.  When I’m really in the loving flow it looks like this:

I take a breath and remind myself that he is not trying to make my life difficult, in fact, our history tells me that he is a thoughtful and loving man who is not meeting my needs right now.  So I say:

“Thank you so much for starting to plan dinner, let me just take a second to finish up this phone call, send this email, and finish putting on the kid’s shoes, and then I’ll be available to brainstorm with you.”

It starts with the “thank you”, which tells the person you’re talking to, “I see you; I see that you’re loving me the best way you can right now.”  And then you can lovingly communicate that they’re not being quite as sensitive as you’d like them to be in this moment.

A recent study showed that significant others who felt appreciated were more likely to listen to, and meet, the needs of their partners.  So, while grateful re-framing makes you feel better and can lead to less bickering and more health, it also ends up giving you a little something extra in the form of a more sensitive, need-meeting mate.

And who doesn’t love a win-win with ulterior motives?

Spotlight on you, now!  Comment below and share what you’re grateful for, how you like to eat dandelions {if you do}, or anything else on your mind – you know your sharing is one of the things Ryanna and I are grateful for, no re-framing necessary!




The early spring leaves are tender, and can be used in salads or sautéed, just be sure to either buy organic dandelion greens, or harvest them from an area where you know that pesticides aren’t sprayed – due to their nutritive affects, they soak up everything they can from the soil.

Dandelion tinctures are available at most health food stores {and often dandelion is a main ingredient in digestive aid tincture blends}, and we have some for sale in the GRUB shop, made by our own Wilmington herbalist, Kathryn Waple.

Some coffee substitutes, like the brand Dandiblend, are made from roasted and dried dandelion root {as well as chickory and other plants}.  They’re good hot or cold, caffeine-free, and available in most health food stores.


*If you are thinking of trying any herbal tincture or remedy, it’s always a good idea to check with your health care practitioner first, especially in the case of liver or kidney disease.

**Dandelions and/or gratitude are not remedies for an abusive or unsafe relationship.  If you feel you are in danger call 910.343.0703, or go to for help in the local Wilmington area.  Or if you are really struggling, we are happy to recommend local family and couples therapists, just give us a call or email.






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Liz Flint-Somerville, Nutritional Consultant

Liz was a partner in Grub for 3 amazing years and helped author many of our most beloved recipes and posts. She is now dedicating her time to caring for her family, writing poetry, and continuing to cook delicious Real Foods.

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2 Responses to “Dandelions: Tools of Gratitude & Nourishment”

  1. Alexander January 1, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

    Does anybody have some simple answer how to improve the taste of dandelion`s salad? Must say that the taste is… unique… 😉 I`ve heard about adding some chilli to it… but that`s not it. Please share some ideas…

    • Liz Flint-Somerville, Nutritional Consultant January 2, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

      Dandelion greens are a bitter pill for many because they taste so bitter! A good amount of sea salt and balsamic vinegar, for a tangy, sweet counter-balance, can be helpful, but really the bitter taste is a good message to your brain and body to get your digestion ready and flowing so you want to be able to really taste it. Our best advice is to take a break from foods that feel like a chore to eat!

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