August 13, 2022

Foraging for nutrition

Nature offers a lot more variety than the supermarket. Domestically we only farm about 35 plants but there are about 700 edible plants out there in the countryside. During the first lockdown our fruit and vegetable aisles were often sparse or empty which jolted me into studying foraging again.

Yesterday I was collecting female seeds from the nettle and drying them out to use in bread, porridge, smoothies and seed bars. You can tell the female nettles as the seeds hang down in big clumps, whereas male nettle seeds are on sparse strands and point up or out to the side. Female nettle seeds are full of vitamins, iron, calcium and essential fatty acids. They are great for fatigue and burnout, and are anti inflammatory. Recent studies have shown that they can also slow down renal failure and repair the liver. It is best not to eat over 30g of them a day, though, as they are a stimulant and could keep you awake all night.

Dried nettle seeds are a good substitute for poppy or chia seeds, which are not cheap to buy. How crazy is it that we all buy the expensive alternatives when nettles are free and abundant and all around us? It is even more mad that most people don’t even know. There are so many other plants out there that are good for our health, and could help with minor ailments, but naivety has us popping pills instead.

Foraging isn’t just good for me because it improves my diet for free, but it gets me out exercising in nature and connecting with it, it makes me more mindful of what is around me, it teaches me about the seasons, and improves my mental health. People have forgotten that we are part of nature and not separate from it, and that everything we need is still out there, even in towns and cities, for now anyway. I love trying out new recipes with my foraged goodies and hopefully, as my knowledge improves, my nutrition will too. Does any one else out there like foraging and supplement their diet with what they find?

Foraging for nutrition.

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  1. jen March 1, 2023 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Thankyou for the information, i didn not know that nettle seeds were edible nor how to identify the female ones, i will look out for them and collect some to dry and use in porridge and baking :) I also got back into foraging during the first lockdown in 2020, and nettles were a staple of our diet that spring! We were travelling at the time, and were lucky enough to be ‘stuck’ during the lockdown in a coastal town where mallow plants were abundant. I love greek-style spinach pie (spanakopita) but spinach can be expensive to buy, and i found that 1/3 spinach, 1/3 nettle and 1/3 mallow made a great combination for the pie filling. I learnt so much about wild plants that year, and enjoyed making hawthorne leaf salad, dandelion honey, nettle cake and many other lovely recipes. Sadly, normal life has resumed with little time for foraging, but i agree it’s important to get out in nature so this year i am resolving to make more effort to pick it up again. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement!

    • ToniG March 1, 2023 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      No worries. That pie sounds lovely I will have to have a go at making it, though I haven’t seen any mallow locally. Thank you so much for sharing and commenting. I hope that you can find time to forage

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