When most people think about "superfoods", they only consider the cultivated celebrities like goji berries, blueberries, wheat grass and other plants requiring care, attention & time. However, if you live near a woods with moist soil or a stream, you likely have unlimited access to one of Botanical Wonders of the World: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica).
Nettles are robust weeds that grow with vigor, even when harvested by heavy foraging. A nettle patch that has claimed a piece of ground will come back year after year for more nettle-y goodness. The spiny, stinging outer layer protects a tasty green with nutritional values that rival (& eclipse) other Health Food Kings like spinach and kale. Luckily, to eat nettles you do not have build the esophagus strength of a farmer from Dorset (which hosts an annual raw nettle eating competition). A light 5-minute steaming makes the nettle greens gentle and palatable, with a slightly rough texture and a nutty taste.
I like nettles because they have spunk, because I get to wander in the forest to collect them, and because they do not taste bitter like kale and some spinach varieties. However, their hairy cooked texture is not so delectable for me. Solution: Nettle Smoothies.
Step 1: A Question of Balance
In my experience, cooked nettles give a smoothie a nutty, earthy taste. You can enhance this flavor with ginger, raisins and other gathered wild edibles like common plantain. You can balance it by adding tart fruit like apples or raspberries and citrus juice. I go for both. I have yet to try a heavy raspberry batch, but they would be a good seasonal pair with the nettles in mid-June through July.
Ingredients (for roughly 1/3 gallon of smoothie):
- 1 quart or more of packed fresh nettles
- 1 apple
- 2 bananas (or 2-3 cups of raspberries if available)
- Ice and Water as needed
- Honey to taste (I stir it in after blending)
- Juice from 1 or 2 lemons/limes (depending on your citrusy pleasure)
- 1 tsp+ of ginger
- 2 cups of lightly packed plantain
- 1/2 cup of flax seed