Spring Nettle Magic Potions
There are plants that flourish in Spring and fill the world with beauty, shapes and colors. Others awaken your lower chakras with their seductive fragrance. Mother Earth knows exactly what we need to awaken the senses and move out from winter stagnation, and her greatest creation is the medicinal herbs. Nettle (Urtica Dioica) has the scepter in the medicinal kingdom of nature and this is why…
In Ancient Greece, nettles were used primarily as a diuretic and laxative. The genus name, Urtica, derives from the Latin word “uro,” meaning to burn, as the plant is well known for its burning stinging properties due to the fluid contained in its stinging hairs on the leaves. The species name, dioica, means “of two houses” and refers to the plant being male and female.
Medicinal uses in the West
High in calcium, chromium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, trace minerals, protein and many vitamins including A and C, nettle is a very good all-round nourishing tonic herb. Nettle has a good reputation as an iron tonic, not just because it contains relatively high levels but because it also contains amino acids and vitamin C which are both required as co-factors for iron absorption. Nettle is also high in flavonoids, including quercetin and rutin, as well as chlorophyll, both of which help to improve the health of the blood and circulatory system. Perfect
as Decongestant, Antihistamine, Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic, Immune Enhancing, Astringent, Tonic.
Medicinal uses in the East
Tonifies the Lungs/Treats Skin: eczema, congested lungs, coughs, asthma, shingles. Purifies Blood: cleanses the Blood from environmental toxins and toxins in food. Drains Phlegm/Astringent; urinary tract infections, allergy congestion, gout, edema. Builds Blood/Enriches Kidney and Liver Yin: hot flashes, night sweats, dry skin, dull hair, brittle nails, regulate menses. Stops Bleeding: hemorrhage, postpartum bleeding, heavy menses. Regulates Metabolism: improves stamina, poor appetite, improves lactation.
Following the season and nettle’s universal reputation, Afendula collected wild fresh nettles from the fields and created not one but two first-time-made Sunshine recipes perfect for Spring Detox and empowerment of our immune system.
For both recipes, we need to collect the tender tops of the plant and the soft leaves and avoid the stems that can be fibrous.
1. Nettle dip as a spring snack on a warm day.
- 3 handfuls of soft nettle leaves
- 200 grams Cassius nuts – soaked overnight (or at least 2 hours in warm water)
- juice from 1 big lemon
- 10 leaves of spearmint
- 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (adds cheesy flavor)
- few drops of chili olive oil (Afendula made some with Mexican japanero peppers) or 1 small fresh chili pepper.
- Salt/pepper to taste
Rinse the nettles and put in boiled water just for 3 minutes to soften, then dip in cold water to preserve their vital green color. Afterwards, put them in a blender, add the rest of ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. If it is too sticky and solid, you can add some water, but be aware to add it slowly, so that it doesn’t get too liquidy.
You can add 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds to give a crispy texture, and sprinkle some on top. Enjoy with raw veggie sticks or wholegrain bread-sticks, or make a sandwich for a healthy snack in your day!!!
2. Nettle soup for cool evenings.
- 150 grams of fresh nettle leaves rinsed.
- 20 grams of ginger finely chopped
- 1 fennel root cut in pieces
- 1 big white sweet potato cut in pieces (you can also use the red one, but will turn your soup to a brown color)
- 1 medium onion chopped in small pieces
- ½ leek chopped in slices
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 green apple cut in pieces
- few drops of olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
We saute in a few drops of olive oil the ginger, onion, leek and garlic until they release their odors. We add the rest of the veggies and the nettles for a stir and then we cover with water (be careful and to add it slowly so that it doesn’t become too watery) and bring to boil. When our ingredients are cooked, we remove from fire and blend until we have a creamy texture.
Add some spicy olive oil and a few drops of lemon at your plate.
You can add other wild greens from your area for a richer result. Greece is full of herbs this season so we like to include a few more in our soup (lapatho, pentanevro, kafkalithra etc)
You can grill small pieces of Pleurotus mushrooms and add in your soup as a crispy surprise. Alternatively, you can roast some pine nuts, or sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds, or make some crouton from your old bread.
Nettles are drying and heating, both mildly so. They’re known as Xun Ma in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where they’re included in formulas that help open and dry the Lung, Liver, and Kidney meridians. Nettles are perfect for times when you want to nourish the blood and drain or move fluids that have started to pool or stagnate.
In a western way of life where we spend most of the time inside walls and buildings, these recipes call us to go out to become food collectors! Take this opportunity to enjoy the spring light, the caress of the sun on your face and feel the awakening of nature and of your own body.
We welcome Spring with these recipes to enjoy this natural awakening!