Energy Boosting Superfood – Taking the sting out of nettles
When I changed the site in early 2011 there were a whole lot of posts that disappeared into the ether. I have dusted them off and am re-posting them here. No way this post on nettles be left lost, right?
I thought I would start with my favourites so I made Nettle the herb of the month for March.
Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica – In many places the stinging nettle is an unwanted weed and it is rather an invasive, vigorously growing plant in the garden. It does not require cultivation as it grows freely in the wild. Nettles like moist, nitrogen rich soil and if cut back before flowering will sprout a second crop of young leaves.
Leaves, stems and roots are all used. The leaves and stems are used fresh or dried for medicinal purposes but you really only want to use fresh for cooking. A decoction of the roots (fresh or dried) make an excellent hair tonic.
Nettles are known to be rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially selenium, sulphur, zinc, chromium, and boron. A litre of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins.
Traditionally it is used in the treatment of anaemia, rheumatism and arthritis. According to Susun Weed, one of America’s best-known authorities on herbal medicine and natural approaches to women’s health, “The dried herb makes a nourishing herbal infusion that packs more energy per cup than any stimulant, and without the downside of caffeine or stimulating herbs like cayenne and ginger. Tired teenagers, sleep-deprived new moms, stressed executives, wakeful menopausal gals, and wise women of all ages depend on stinging nettle to restore mood, replenish energy, and guarantee sound sleep.“
Susun says that it takes quite a lot of nettles to make a strong enough infusion to harness it’s energising powers. Store bought preparations and capsules will not have enough active ingredients to give you the lift a strong infusion will. Make this powerful infusion by adding 30g/1oz dried nettles to a large glass jar, pour on boiling water to the top, stir until all combined and seal tightly. Leave to infuse for 4 hours or overnight. Once that time has passed, strain making sure you squeeze out all the excess liquid, bottle and refrigerate. Drink a glass of cold infusion every day and you will find your energy levels replenished within a couple of days.
If cooking with herbs is more your thing why not make a stunning nettle pesto? Just replace the basil in your favourite recipe with fresh young nettle leaves.
Or do as the Italians do and make a gorgeous nettle sauce to go with Gnocchi. All you have to do is blend 4 sun dried tomatoes, 150g fresh nettle leaves (blanched), 50g pistachios and olive oil until creamy.
An oldie but a goodie is to add the young leaves to a green salad – maybe with some young dandelions and nasturtium flowers to perfect the herbal them.
Somewhere in the world of my readers nettles will be sprouting and may make a great addition to your Easter feast. If this is not in your neck of the woods, you can still benefit from the amazing nourishment that dried nettles can provide.