The Gardener's Weed - the other Spinach Green
Yes, I'd bet you've seen this plant before!
You've likely cursed it's existance as you rip them out by the handful trying to weed around seedlings you've purposely planted.
Should you curse any plant? If it's there and thriving better than your seedlings, is there a reason or a benefit/blessing you are missing? Hummm, worth thinking about.
Do you know it's name?
Some call it "pigweed" or "goosefoot" or just that cursed dusty looking ever-present weed in their garden.
It's name is Lambsquarter.
And this bountifully growing plant you've been blessed with just might be more nutritious to eat than the seedling you are removing it for
Yes! It's true.
I've shared this truth with many people over the last several years. The reactions are usually either uninterested in eating that weed, unbelieving that it could have value, or totally amazed.
Lambsquarter really is more nutritious than the spinach that you may be trying to help grow by pulling up the lambsquarters. That is, according to the usda's food composition report! And since spinach bolts and gets bitter, lambsquarter is often tastier since it doesn't bolt it has longer harvest season than spinach. And of course there's the fact that it's amazingly easy to grow!
It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, protein, B vitamins, and phosphorus. Never bitter, even when old, the leaves can be added raw to salads, steamed and put in soups, stews or casseroles, or dried to store for wintertime use as a seasoning. Excellent as a spinach replacement. Even the seeds are edible and nutritious. Use them the same as Amaranth seeds, cooked for a breakfast cereal or dried and ground into flour.
You can use it in place of spinach or with spinach or just as an assorted salad green. I've used it instead of spinach in vegetarian spinach lasagna and taken it to a potluck. People loved it and thought it was delicious spinach lasagna.
As the plant grows the stems will get tough, but the leaves are good all summer. Those cute little plants can be pulled and eaten whole or just pick the leaves and leave the stalk to grow more for you! Those cute little plants will grow tall and large if allowed to. If your garden has ever gone unweeded for a portion of the summer you may know what I mean. One plant can grow 3 or 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide with lots of branced stems filled with salad leaves for you.
Here's some great links for lambsquarter.
You REALLY should take a few minutes to check them out.
Right click on them to open in a new tab or window for easy viewing.
This link is to a printable pdf file with a great comparison chart and several recipes.
"It is one of the most nutritious plant foods available yet gardeners routinely pull it up from their gardens as a "pest" and throw it in the compost." Quoted from:">http://www.foodscout.org/food/lambsquarters.html">
Remember the definition of weed? "A plant considered unwanted in the particular location in which it is growing." Once you start eating the "weeds" they are no longer weeds but food!
I started this post by saying you've liked cursed their existance as you rip them out. Understanding the difference between a blessing and a curse is really what it's all about.
The most common "weeds" are usually the ones that are the most edible and have the most nutrition content. Definitely a blessing by our Creator indeed if we'd just stop cursing our blessings and appreciate them. :-)