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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Scorzonera or black salsify is not a particularly good-looking vegetable with its dark, earthy skin.
You can’t concentrate or your tummy is rumbling. Many people grab the simplest solution – a

Fresh young nettles are a delicacy

In spring, fresh nettles are a seasonal taste treat. There are several ways of using those vivid green young leaves with the slightly acid to nutty aroma. One is to combine them with dandelion, sorrel and wild garlic in a wild green salad.

Cooking with nettles

Wash the nettle leaves (wear rubber gloves to pick them!) wrap them in a tea towel and roll them with a rolling pin to get rid of the fine stinging hairs. Nettles are a treat in soups, in a quiche, in risotto, in gnocchi and in homemade herb butter. Try nettle pesto by processing the leaves with pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil, herb salt, pepper and lime juice. If you’re going to serve them as a vegetable, wilt them like spinach then chop them roughly and add them to sautéed onions. Season them with salt, pepper and nutmeg, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of cream.

Origin and health benefits

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are to be found all over central and northern Europe growing in large groups in nitrogen-rich soil. They can grow up to a meter high and are food for many insect larvae and the caterpillars of beautiful butterflies like the Peacock’s eye. The fine hairs on the surface of the leaves break when you touch them and spew their poison, mainly formic acid, onto your skin. Nettles have been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. It’s thought to have a detoxifying effect, to strengthen the immune system to counter urinary tract infections, digestive problems, rheumatism and gout. To make your own nettle juice, simply pour a quarter of a litre of boiling water over a handful of fresh or dried nettle leaves. Let your nettle tea draw for five or ten minutes, filter and drink it. Nettles are rich in iron, calcium, potassium, silicic acid and vitamins A and C.

Young plants are the tastiest

Nettles can be cut from spring through to summer. Always pick young leaves and preferably not from the roadside where they might have collected dust and pollutants. Wear gloves so you don’t get stung. Young plants up to about 20 cm high are best, but the young sprouts of older plants can also be used. Try to keep the time from picking to table as short as possible.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de