Can You Eat Lambsquarters Leaves – How To Use Lambsquarters Plants
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Have you wondered what in the world you can do with thatgigantic pile of weeds you just pulled from your garden? You might be surprisedto learn that some of them, including lambsquarters,are edible, with an earthy flavor similar to chard or spinach. Let’s learn moreabout eating lambsquarters plants.
Can You Eat Lambsquarters?
Are lambsquarters edible? Most of the plant, including theleaves, flowers and stems, are edible. The seeds are also edible, but becausethey contain saponin, a natural, soap-like substance, they shouldn’t be eatenin excess. Saponins, also found in quinoaand legumes,can be irritating to the tummy if you eat too much.
Also known as pigweed, wild spinach or goosefoot,lambsquarters plants are highly nutritious, providing a fair amount of a numberof vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, andgenerous amounts of vitamin A and C, to name just a few. This edible weed isalso high in protein and fiber. You’ll enjoy eating lambsquarters most when theplant is young and tender.
Notes About Eating Lambsquarters
Don’t eat lambsquarters if there’s any possibility the planthas been treated with herbicides. Also, be careful of harvesting lambsquartersfrom fields that have been heavily fertilized, as the plants may absorb anunhealthy level of nitrates.
University of Vermont Extension (and others) warn thatlambsquarters leaves, like spinach,contain oxalates, which should be used with caution by people with arthritis,rheumatism, gout or gastric inflammations, or who are prone to kidney stones.
How to Use Lambsquarters Weeds
When it comes to cooking lambsquarters, you can use theplant any way you would use spinach.Here are a few ideas:
- Steam the leaves lightly and serve them with butter, salt and pepper.
- Sauté lambsquarters and drizzle it with olive oil.
- Toss lambsquarters leaves and stems into stir fry.
- Add a few leaves to scrambled eggs or omelets.
- Mix lambsquarters leaves with ricotta cheese and use the mixture to stuff manicotti or other pasta shells.
- Use lambsquarters leaves in sandwiches in place of lettuce.
- Add a handful of leaves to tossed green salads.
- Add lambsquarters to smoothies and juices.
Disclaimer:The contents of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only.Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise,please consult a physician, medical herbalist or other suitable professionalfor advice.
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Can I Eat Lamb’s Quarters? Edible Weeds
In a world full of uncertainties, grocery stores with holes in the shelves, and food scarcities across the country, it’s important to be prepared for anything.
Although most of us have stocks of food and supplies, there may come a time when we have to know how to find our own food. If you don’t live in an area where you can have a big garden or grow your own food, you may want to learn about edible weeds.
Recently, I asked myself “Can I eat lamb’s quarters as an edible weed?” Here is what I found out…
How to Eat Lamb's Quarters
Last Updated: November 10, 2020 References
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Chenopodium album, also known as lamb’s quarters, goosefoot and pigweed, is a type of flowering herbaceous plant that is commonly found in warm, temperate areas. Though it’s sometimes mistakenly identified as a weed, lamb’s quarters have historically been harvested for food due to their availability and versatility. With the right preparation and a little creativity, both the leaves and seeds of the plant can be introduced to a host of your favorite recipes—the key is to draw on your knowledge of closely-related items like spinach and quinoa when experimenting with exciting new flavor combinations.
20 Edible Wild Plants You Didn’t Know You Can Survive on in the Wild
The burdock consists of big leaves and purplish flower heads that are thistle-like. Boil the leaves at least twice to remove their strong bitterness before consuming. You can also eat the stalks and roots raw or boiled as long as you peel them first.
The wild variety of asparagus is thinner than its grocery counterpart and tends to grow on damp soil with direct sunlight. It is edible, whether cooked or raw and leaves a distinct urine smell when consumed.
Lambsquarters are edible wild plants rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and protein. Its leaves have a milder taste compared to spinach.
Chicory is a bushy plant that has small lavender, white and blue flowers. Its entirety can be eaten from its leaves to the roots. You can eat the flowers raw, but the roots give a pleasant taste after boiling.
5. Wild Ginger
Though eaten as a spice substitute today, you can transform its rootstocks into wild ginger candy by boiling when it down in a rich, sugary syrup.
6. Red Clover
The red clover consists of trefoil leaves and red, rounded flower heads. Besides eating, you can also use it for medicinal purposes for conditions such as high cholesterol and brittle bones.
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The dandelion plant is entirely edible, from its roots to its leaves. Boiling removes its leaves’ bitterness. Moreover, you can use the flowers as a garnish when making a dandelion salad.
Kelp is a form of seaweed and is rich in folate, lignans, and vitamin K. It produces a compound called sodium alginate which you can with dairy products, among many others.
9. Green Seaweed
You can eat green seaweed raw after rinsing with fresh water to remove its saltiness. You can also use it in making many dishes such as seaweed soup and sushi rolls.
Cattail is mostly found near the edges of freshwater wetlands. Most of it is edible and was a staple diet of Native American tribes. The corn dog-like flower spike has a corn-like taste, but the best part is the stem.
11. American Elderberry
Use the purplish-black drupes of this edible wild plant to make jams and jellies. Ensure you cook it thoroughly before consumption as it can be poisonous.
12. White Mustard
White mustard is abundant in most parts of the world. It can be consumed from its seeds, flowers to its leaves.
13. Wild Rose
Wild rose plants can grow anywhere. It is a rich source of vitamins A and C, essential for birds and animals during the winter season.
14. Prickly Pear Cactus
The prickly pear cactus is delicious and nutritional but consider removing its spines on its outer skin. Boil the stems before consuming.
15. Miner’s Lettuce
The miner’s lettuce is usually used as a salad crop. It is heart-shaped, has slightly succulent leaves, and has a mild flavor. You can also safely consume its flowering shoots and leaves.
The chickweed’s leaves are hefty, along with small white flowers in the plant. It is high in vitamins and minerals. Eat raw or boiled.
17. Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are snacks that are edible straight from the pine cones. It is also a favored snack of woodland creatures such as squirrels and birds.
The fireweed plant has red-stemmed flowers that usually pop up in areas that recently suffered wildfires, hence its name. Its reddish stalks and pinkish to purple flowers are edible, especially at its earlier stages.
The bamboo’s edible parts are the stout and rotund buds, which have been a staple Asian food for centuries. It contains toxins that are lethal when eaten raw hence the need to boil it first.
Though purslane is seen as an obnoxious weed on your lawn, it can provide much-needed vitamins and minerals while in the wild. It has smooth fat leaves that leave you with a refreshing sour taste when eaten raw or boiled.
There you have it, fellow preppers. Outdoor expeditions should be filled with responsibility as they are fun, so you can never be too prepared with extra survival knowledge.
What other edible wild plants do you think we should add to this list? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Lamb's Quarters Culinary Uses & Preparations
The greens can be eaten raw, steamed, or sautéed or added to soups and stews. If you dislike the texture of raw spinach, or it gives you a funny feeling in your mouth, you probably won’t enjoy raw lamb’s quarters.
I enjoy the steamed greens in lasagna, omelets, quiche, and cold pasta salads. The sky’s the limit with this pleasant green—you can substitute it in most any dish that calls for spinach or Swiss chard. To preserve any surplus bounty, you can blanch and freeze the greens, or freeze a batch of pesto or pâté.
Some years ago I thought to bring some of my favorite wild edibles to the farmers market where we were selling organically grown vegetables. I set out pretty baskets filled with tidy bundles of pigweed ( Amaranthus sp.), purslane ( Portulaca oleracea ) and lamb’s quarters accompanied by little signs explaining the preparation and nutritional value of these tasty greens.
I also thought a yummy sample of the greens would inspire people to move beyond any fears of eating an unknown vegetable, especially a “weed”.
As it turns out we did not develop a wild following or even a tiny demand for our weeds, but people went crazy for the sample – wild greens pâté. We ended up selling just as much pâté as fresh salsa and pesto.
Wild greens pâté freezes well and works well wherever you would use pesto – tossed over veggies and pasta, as a base to a green or white pizza (no marinara) or as a dip for crackers, raw carrots and celery. Last week I made delicious green lasagna with wild greens pâté and added more steamed lambs quarters instead of the traditional spinach.
Wild Greens Pâté
- Sautée 3 chopped cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes in a deep pot
- Add the washed tender tops of purslane, lambs quarters and pigweed (about 7 big handfuls)
- Sautee until tender and add tamari or soy sauce to taste
- Blend in a blender or food processor with more olive oil, nutritional yeast and your choice of raw nuts
- Be creative with your ingredients – miso, freshly grated parmesan cheese and raw garlic are just some of the many ways you can put a little twist on this recipe. Note: This recipe is still delicious even if you only have one of these wild greens. Nettles and lady’s thumbs are other wild greens which blend well with lambs quarters.
*Dietary oxalates are found in a wide range of cultivated and wild foods, including spinach ( Spinacia oleracea ), Swiss chard ( Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris ), beet leaves ( Beta vulgaris ), black tea ( Camellia sinensis ), rhubarb ( Rheum rhabarbarum ), garden sorrel ( Rumex acestosa ), sheep sorrel ( Rumex acestosella ), purslane ( Portulaca oleracea ), chickweed ( Stellaria media ), yellow dock ( Rumex crispus , R. obtusifolius ), and lamb’s quarters.
You’ll often see precautions in wild foods literature against ingesting high quantities of plants that are rich in oxalates or oxalic acid (the same molecules). There are two primary concerns: reduced mineral uptake and increased kidney stone formation.
Oxalates (which are acidic) bind to minerals (including calcium, magnesium, and iron) in the digestive tract, thereby rendering the minerals unavailable for assimilation. 3 However, many leafy greens containing oxalates also contain considerable levels of minerals. When we eat a variety of greens and other mineral-rich foods in our diet, this doesn’t appear to be much of an issue.
An additional factor is a plant’s calcium levels. Calcium binds to oxalic acid, rendering it nonabsorbable (it isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream and, instead, passes through the feces). Therefore, it’s important to consider the relative proportion of oxalates to calcium. If a plant has high levels of both oxalic acid and calcium, it poses less of a problem than a plant that has only high levels of oxalic acid. Lamb’s quarters and chickweed are examples of the former, and yellow dock is an example of the latter.
There is a concern that eating a diet rich in oxalates will increase the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones (the most common kind of kidney stone, making up 75–80% of all stones). Newer evidence points to multiple factors that affect kidney stone formation, which may be more important than dietary oxalate ingestion.
Increasing fluid intake, ensuring adequate dietary calcium levels, eating probiotic foods, and cooking oxalate-rich foods are all helpful measures to reduce the chances of kidney stone formation. If you are prone to calcium oxalate kidney stones, you may want to monitor oxalates in your diet or check with your physician.