Green Treasures

By Melissa Kipe

What worthy item can you find in your backyard that many people pay to get rid of, some drive to the store to buy—even though they already have it—and others step right over? Did you guess “weeds”?

It has been said that a weed is a plant that is unappreciated because its virtues are unknown. Our humble backyard greens would surely qualify for this status. In a day and age where many of our resources are completely stretched, why are we ignoring the treasure in our backyard? Lack of knowledge is the correct answer. If we only knew what nutritional wealth and deliciousness awaits us!

Our family has, through the wisdom of others, been made aware of the green, “gold mine” we have. You could use greens to stretch and embellish your salads or, like us, you can “shake it up” a bit. That’s right. Most of our beloved weeds disappear into green smoothies.

Each year I send various members of my family out to forage for the smoothie ingredients as soon as the weather begins warming up in the spring and on through the crisp fall months. Learning what greens are safe can be a family project. Many children are poisoned by eating dangerous plants and I would rather be proactive than risk my children’s health. But, even if gathering weeds doesn’t appeal to you, you can still make yummy smoothies from the bounty of greens available at the local market.

There are a few ingredients you need to make super delicious shakes. The main thing is you must have fruit in the shake. Fruit has the amazing ability to make most greens taste good. We prefer our fruit to be frozen to make a thicker drink. Bananas and any kind of berry are our favorites. Another tip is to pick only the greens that aren’t bitter. For example, when it gets too hot we stop picking dandelion greens. Try adding a packet or two of stevia to make it a real treat.

A typical smoothie at our house often contains fresh-from-the-yard lemon balm, rose petals and leaves from unsprayed bushes, echinacea, dandelion leaves, frozen raspberries, a bit of milk, and one tablespoon of soaked chia seeds. Blend, and watch the kids come running.

There are a few other things to consider when creating your backyard blend. Lemon balm is our secret weapon. It can be found at any plant nursery, and is truly worth its weight in gold. It’s part of the mint family, but it has a fresh green citrusy flavor, not minty at all, that puts our shakes deliciously over the top. All of my shakes get a healthy handful of this tasty herb. Lemon balm deserves a book of its own, but the short story is it’s a refrigerant, meaning it makes you feel cooler on hot days. It also encourages sunny dispositions; has antiviral properties; is full of nutrition; and has a reputation for being a long-life elixir. We use it so frequently that we grow several patches.

In addition, I would recommend that you only pick your herbs and weeds from animal-free zones for health reasons. So, if Woofy has the run of the yard, you may want to purposely grow a lovely, luscious, luxurious, weed garden in a raised bed for your use. That should make your neighbors wonder!

In conclusion, instead of attacking the weeds in your yard with unhealthy chemicals, or even organic solutions, try using these hidden treasures to supplement your diet and enjoy a wealth of benefits.

Melissa Kipe and her husband of 19 years, Brian, relish raising and homeschooling their tribe of one daughter and six boys in Central Pennsylvania. They enjoy gardening; doing projects together; having adventures; making and using buckets of herbal healing salve; and learning together. God is gracious!

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