While many find the dandelion to be their biggest nemesis come springtime, we celebrate its arrival and this gluten free dandelion cake is our favorite way to use those yellow flowers.
Our Journey to Medicinal Herbs
Over the last several years, we’ve been on a mission to learn about the native plants in our area and how we could incorporate them into our life for both food and medicine. However, I was quickly overwhelmed by the vast amount of information out there and the complex way much of it was presented.
I began taking baby steps. I learning one plant at a time and discovered the properties of that plant and how we could easily incorporate it into some of our favorite recipes. This made the whole process feel so much less daunting.
Some of our favorites are:
- Harvesting mint for these delicious flourless fresh mint brownies
- Picking nettle and eating them fresh or drying them out to add to our scrambles, stir fries, or soups
- Adding medicinal herbs like plantain and incorporating it into our drawing salve – a must have for combating tick bites and bee stings
Favorite Resources for Learning Herbs
When it comes to learning herbs there is so much great information out there but it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. My favorite resources to dive deeper into identifying different plants and learning their unique properties and uses are the app Picture This and Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Medicinal Herbs, a Beginner’s Guide.
Picture This is really helpful for identifying herbs. You can take a picture on your phone and the app will tell you within seconds what the herb is and how it is generally used. This has been invaluable in helping us to discover what plants we already had growing on our property.
Medicinal Herbs, a Beginner’s Guide, is my go-to resource for getting a synopsis of the most basic herbs. She outlines some basic history, properties, nutritional and medicinal benefits, and recipes for each herb. I find myself reaching for this book time and time again.
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The Properties of Dandelion
As those who try to wage war with the dandelion know, it is a robustly growing plant. Regardless of how you try to squelch this plant out, it seems to just pop back up even stronger in successive years. However, for those who respect and appreciate the many benefits dandelions offer, they welcome it in their yards.
The entire dandelion plant is useful from its roots to its leaves and flowers. It contains an array of vitamins, minerals, as well as antioxidant properties making it extremely beneficial to the immune system and combative against many modern-day diseases like cancer.
Ways to Use Dandelion Flowers
Dandelion flowers are delicious and naturally have a sweet, honey-like taste. This makes them perfect for incorporating into sweet treats like ice cream, wine, or baked goods like this gluten free dandelion cake. Another common use for dandelion flowers is to sauté them in butter or cooking fat and eat them as a snack or in a stir fry, similar to fried mushrooms.
A Perfect Activity for Kids
For most children, picking dandelions is a natural part of childhood. Before we began harvesting dandelions to incorporate in our favorite recipes, my kids would often present me with a beautiful dandelion bouquet.
Now that they know how delicious dandelions are and the many benefits they provide, they eagerly harvest dandelions and love to help cooking with them. There’s just something so fun about being able to harvest your own food and then use it as a basis for your meal, side dish, or dessert.
The dandelions just came out in full force in our area. As soon as we saw dozens out there our kids immediately requested this dandelion cake. They harvested all of the flowers, de-stemmed the green outsides from the flowers and loved being a part of taking something from a plant to a delicious dandelion cake that they could be proud of and enjoy!
How to Harvest Dandelion Flowers
Our favorite way to harvest dandelion flower is to first bring out a bowl or container and pull the tops of the dandelion off the stem. After we’ve collected several cups worth, we begin separating the flowers from the outer green part of the plant surrounding the flower. You want to try to eliminate this green stemmy part and just include the yellow flower part as the green part will taste much more bitter. This activity is somewhat time consuming but it’s a great activity for kids and totally worth it!
Do I Need to Wash the Dandelions?
This is up to you. Because I know we don’t spray our yard with any chemicals, as long as they look clean, I just leave them as they are. If you are concerned about any sort of potential contamination then you may want to give your dandelion flower a quick rinse and dry them before using.
Gluten Free Dandelion Cake Recipe
This dandelion cake is packed with nutritious ingredients. Plus, the dandelion flowers making it a healthier option while still tasting delicious. We have been known to serve this dandelion cake as either a coffee cake alongside eggs for breakfast, as a sweet afternoon snack, or as a dessert following dinner.
½ cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed dandelion flowers
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup tapioca flour (or arrowroot flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Extra sugar and cinnamon optional for topping
1. Mix the wet ingredients (eggs, coconut oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and dandelion flowers).
2. Add dry ingredients (coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt).
3. Stir until everything is fully incorporated.
4. Optional, sprinkle on top of dandelion cake a mixture of a few tablespoons of sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
5. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 8×8 pan for 25 min, until set.
Have you ever incorporated dandelions into your cooking – what are your favorite ways? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
If you are looking for more ways to incorporate herbs in your cooking, give these flourless fresh mint brownies a try!
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- 4 Eggs
- ½ cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup packed dandelion flowers
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup tapioca flour (or arrowroot flour)
- ½ tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- Extra sugar and cinnamon optional for topping
- Mix the wet ingredients (eggs, coconut oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and dandelion flowers).
- Add dry ingredients (coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt).
- Stir until everything is fully incorporated.
- Optional, sprinkle on top of dandelion cake a mixture of a few tablespoons of sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 8x8 pan for 25 min, until set.