Spring is around the corner - it's time to start thinking about all the nutrient packed spring greens that will be popping up. Are you ready to embrace your inner child and start stinging yourself with nettles? These pesky plants may give you a wicked sting if you accidentally brush up against them, but they're secretly loaded with nutrients and have a long history of use in traditional medicine. Plus, they're just so darn cute with their little green leaves and wispy stems covered in tiny, irritating hairs. In this blog, we'll explore 10 reasons why you should start incorporating nettles into your diet.
1. Nettles are packed with nutrients:
These little green buggers are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium. In fact, nettles have one of the highest concentrations of iron of any plant, making them a great choice for vegetarians and vegans looking to boost their iron intake.
2. Nettles are high in antioxidants:
These plant compounds can help to reduce inflammation and protect against diseases like cancer. Nettles are also rich in quercetin, a type of flavonoid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. So basically, if you're looking to become a superhero, nettles should definitely be on your grocery list.
3. Nettles are great for skin health:
They're often used in natural beauty products because they can help to reduce redness, inflammation, and irritation. Nettles are also thought to be beneficial for acne-prone skin, thanks to their astringent properties. My cedarwood soap contains loads of skin-loving nettles!
4. Nettles can improve hair health:
They're thought to be beneficial for hair growth and can help to prevent dandruff. Nettles are rich in silica, a mineral that's important for healthy hair and nails. They're even thought to be stimulating for hair growth and preventing dandruff. Basically, nettles can turn you into a glowing, luscious-haired goddess (or god).
5. Nettles are easy to find:
Nettles love moist, nutrient-rich soil and can often be found near streams, rivers, and other bodies of water. They have small, green leaves that are serrated, or toothed, on the edges and thin, green stems. And, of course, they're covered in those pesky little stinging hairs that make them so much fun to touch. Just kidding, please don't touch them without gloves or long sleeves unless you enjoy being in pain. Nettles are a common weed, so you may even be able to find them in your own backyard!
6. Nettles are versatile:
Once you've properly harvested your nettles (AKA plucked them from the ground while avoiding the stinging hairs), you can use them fresh or dried in a variety of recipes. One popular option is to make nettle tea, which is as simple as steeping a handful of fresh or dried nettles in hot water for a few minutes, then straining and enjoying. Nettle tea is a refreshing and nourishing beverage that's great for boosting your immune system and improving your skin health. You can use them fresh or dried in a variety of recipes, like tea, soup, and pesto. Nettles can be used in place of spinach in dishes like lasagna and quiche, or added to soups and stews for a boost of nutrients.
7. Nettles are delicious:
They have a slightly earthy, grassy flavor that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. If you were lucky enough to snag a fall CSH box you received some delicious nettle seed salt! Nettles are quite mild when cooked, so they won't overpower the flavors of other ingredients in your dish. For example, you could try tossing some chopped nettles into a potato leek soup or a batch of vegetarian chili. Or, if you're feeling really wild, you can use nettles as a replacement for spinach in dishes like lasagna or quiche. The possibilities are endless (well, maybe not endless, but there are definitely a few options).
8. Nettles are sustainable:
They're a wild plant that can be easily foraged, making them a sustainable choice for your diet. And because nettles are a weed, you're not taking away from the resources of a farmer or farmer's market when you forage them.
9. Nettles are fun to harvest:
Okay, maybe "fun" isn't the right word, but there's a certain satisfaction that comes from successfully collecting these pesky plants without getting stung. Just make sure to wear gloves or long sleeves to protect yourself from the stinging hairs, and you'll be good to go.
10. Nettles are good for your health:
From boosting your immune system to improving your skin and hair health, nettles have a ton of potential health benefits. They're also a natural diuretic, which can help to reduce bloating and improve digestion.
In conclusion, nettles may be annoying to touch, but they're secretly packed with nutrients and have a ton of potential health benefits. Whether you use them to make tea, add them to soups and stews, or incorporate them into other dishes, nettles are a tasty and healthy way to spice up your diet and improve your overall health. Just make sure to wear gloves when handling them, or you may regret it.
Here are a few recipes using nettles
This recipe uses fresh nettles in place of basil to make a flavorful pesto sauce that'll have your taste buds tingling. Blend together a handful of fresh nettles, a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, a clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a food processor or blender. Use the pesto as a spread for sandwiches or as a pasta sauce for a little extra kick.
This creamy soup is a delicious way to enjoy nettles and feel like you're getting a little bit of revenge on those pesky plants. Sauté a diced onion in a bit of olive oil until it's softened, then add in a few cups of chopped nettles, a diced potato, and enough chicken or vegetable broth to cover the vegetables. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it's smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve it up and enjoy getting a little bit of payback on those nettles.
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover nettles and give them a new lease on life (well, sort of). Sauté a diced onion in a bit of olive oil until it's softened, then add in a few cups of chopped nettles and cook until they're wilted. Beat together a few eggs in a bowl, then pour them over the nettles and onions in the pan. Cook the frittata over medium heat until it's set, then slice and serve. This dish is a great way to give those nettles a second chance at impressing you (even though they failed the first time around).
This creamy risotto is a delicious way to enjoy nettles and feel like you're really treating yourself. Sauté a diced onion in a bit of butter until it's softened, then add in a cup of Arborio rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is coated in butter and starting to turn translucent. Add in a few cups of chicken or vegetable broth, a cup of white wine, and a handful of fresh nettles, then simmer the risotto until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Stir in a bit of grated Parmesan cheese and serve. This dish is sure to make you feel fancy, even if the nettles are still a little bit annoying.
I hope these recipes give you some inspiration for using nettles in your cooking!