A wild awakening
Nikki Bawn of Boggle Lane Foods uncovers the many health benefits of wild plants to help revive and rejuvenate.
The first month of the year might seem a little bleak but behind the scenes there are wild things that can provide a much-needed pick-me-up to revive even the most seasonally affected among us.
January can be bitterly cold, dark and dreary, but despite the desolate looking landscapes, new life is lurking. Buds, seedlings and young shoots are now on the cusp of bursting into life, ready to transform our surroundings.
Look beyond the muddy verges and bare, bony branches and you will see a hidden world. Foraging is indeed an all-season exploit and deep within the tufts of yellowing, frost burnt grass, moulding leaves and wet fields lies a sea of life. The sun is making its way back to us a little more every day and as it does so, many of our favourite wild friends are making their own new beginnings.
So many of us will have made New Year’s resolutions, the majority of which will be linked to health and well-being. So, to turbo boost your good intentions, why not try a few of our hedgerow and woodland dwellers? Whether it’s slow cooking or superfood salads on your culinary repertoire, there are a few easily found ingredients that will take your dishes to the next level. If cooking isn’t your thing, why not boil the kettle and infuse some hot water with a dose of these natural elixirs for a healing tea?
As always, make sure you have positively identified anything you find. Remember that some may pack a punch – so always check before you consume them, especially if you are on meds.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Three-cornered Leeks (Allium triquetrum) – a great oniony plant perfect for salads and stews. Treat the young plants as you would baby leeks or spring onions. The roots are especially pungent and a milder substitute for garlic. Nutritionally, this plant is said to be great for reducing high blood pressure, as well as cholesterol.
Sow Thistle – best gathered before it becomes too prickly. Young leaves are fab as a salad or garnish and contain lots of vitamin C and manganese too. This unsung hero has been used to treat all manner of ailments including wounds, bronchitis, diabetes and kidney disorders.
Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) – a great find especially if you can gather its seeds to make oil, known to help speed up your metabolism and alleviate arthritis, among many other benefits. Romans loved this plant and it has been in the UK since at least the 1700s.
Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) – use the leaves from this lovely plant in your recipes and you could benefit from improved vision, not to mention a boost of energy, due to the iron levels provided. It’s always best to not go overboard with your intake from the sorrel family though, due to the high levels of oxalic acid found, which can cause kidney problems – so less is definitely more in this case!
Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) – seen by many as a common weed which grows any and everywhere. It is however a great source of vitamin C and the leaves are fab as a peppery garnish or salad – or use them when young as a microgreen for elegant additions to any dish, from sandwiches to stews.
All of the ones I have mentioned can be used fresh or dried. I love adding them to my wild snap crackers as the perfect addition to warming, slow cooker recipes.
Wild plants have astounding benefits and will always be my “go to” for reviving, rejuvenation and replenishment. There are still berries, nuts and other things that remain from the autumn bounty, ripe for the picking too. All have the power to lift you from even the deepest of doldrums!
As Jack Frost slowly releases his grip, nature will return to show off her palette of lush green and neon colours to replace the dull, muted shades of winter before we know it!
For more information visit: www.bogglelane.co.uk or email email@example.com