I have discovered that I am very good at growing nettles! Apparently nettles like a nitrogen rich soil and they are very prolific in my raised beds so I have decided that rather than dig them all up, I would eat them!
Nettles have been eaten in many cultures around the world and used for their medicinal properties, and my goodness, after doing some research there doesn't seem to be much nettles can't help with!
I won't go into detail here, suffice to say nettles have extraordinary nutritional value, packed with A, C and B vitamins.
According to Francois Couplan the French ethnobotanist, nettles have three times more iron than spinach, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, calcium rivalling that of cheese and a protein content on a par with soya beans.
In effect, nettle has 3 times more nutrient density than anything you would buy in the shops, and it grows literally everywhere for free!
Best eaten in spring, although it can be harvested from shady areas later in the summer, and long associated with health and vitality, nettle leaves can be steamed, dried, used in soup, teas, used like spinach and blitzed into this fabulous pesto recipe!
And better still later in the summer when the leaves aren't so vibrant the seeds can be harvested, dried and used all year round as a pick me up and nutrient boost!
There is nutrient dense food literally under our noses and most of us either ignore it or destroy it! Well not me, I am harnessing the awesome power of nature and reaping the benefits!
There is no time like now to support our immune system, and no better way of increasing diversity in our gut microbiome by eating seasonally foraged greens!
I am stating the obvious here but nettles will sting you so wear gloves and take a pair of scissors to snip the tops of the nettles. Don't pick any of the older leaves just the young growth at the top. Also pick away from traffic pollution, grass verges or areas likely to have been sprayed with chemicals, and avoid nettles at dog level which may well have been peed on!
So this pesto recipe is vegan, nutritional yeast flakes and lemon juice replace the cheese, nuts and seeds provide protein and fibre and olive oil gives a good dose of omega 3. Feel free to mix up the types of nuts and seeds you use, according to what you have available. Hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and sesame seeds all work well.
I added the zest of a lemon too since the zest contains loads of polyphenols, vitamins and minerals, which our gut bacteria love, and most folks throw it away
Here is the recipe
🍃 Health educator🍃