Turquoise Barn

An Eco-Conscious, Green-Certified Retreat, Event, & Education Center located in the Catskill Mountains on an Organic farm. Offering group workshops, retreats, outdoor event space....specializing in sustainable Botanical Cuisine, Nature Therapy, and more! An ideal venue for YOUR retreat, wedding, or friends/family gathering. For more information, please visit our website.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

 My Love Affair with STINGING NETTLES
 What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nettles……..Stinging Nettles…….Oh how I love thee…..let me count the ways and share them with you….
 Although I’ve known about this plant for many years, my love affair with Stinging Nettles began just a few years ago.   It was actually one of the first “weeds” I discovered over 10 years ago when I first moved onto my property.  Before I knew better, Nettles was a just a scary weed that I would avoid brushing against or weeding without gloves, lest I’d feel the sting and breakout in a rash.

My very first encounter with Nettles was casual.  About 25 years ago I was diagnosed with anemia and a friend recommended I try Nettles tea to bring up my iron levels.  So I bought some from the health food store and began drinking as a tea.   It wasn’t long before I had forgotten all about the Nettles of my past -  until I became pregnant. 
 I had read that nettles was a good tonic for pregnancy so I decided to buy some from the health food store and get back to drinking it again.  I also drank red raspberry leaf tea, another tonic recommended for pregnant women.  I was excited to discover that I had red raspberry leaves on my property and decided to try and harvest the raspberry leaves myself to make a tea.   However, it was inconceivable to me to even think of harvesting stinging nettles – ouch! 
For a long while I had read & heard of stories of individuals actually harvesting & eating wild nettles not just for medicinal purposes but for food.  Really?  I was intrigued. Well, it took me awhile but a couple of years ago I decided to FINALLY give it a try.  It had been on my “list of things to do” for a long time.
Honestly, I really wasn’t interested in sautéing or cooking with them since I prefer to eat a diet of mostly raw foods, especially when it comes to greens.  I had heard of people using them raw in smoothies.  Since I was already drinking green smoothies everyday, sometimes 2x a day, this just seemed like the most logical place for me to start.  And needless to say, stinging nettles & I have become good friends........that's how my love affair began. 

Yes, nettles and I have progressed - our “relationship” has evolved - in fact, I love nettles so much that I no longer need to wear gloves to harvest.  Just like any relationship, if you are gentle, respectful & kind, you will be repaid with gentleness, respect, and kindness (and in the case of nettles lots of health benefits too) – if not – look out – your gonna get stung!   
"Yard Crackers" - Nettles& yellowdock,
& numerous other seeds - "Garden Herb Cheeze Spread"
Nut Based w/Wild garlic Mustard & Chives
Other ways I love my nettles include incorporating them into my crackers, dips & desserts to add a unique flavor and lots of nutrition or dehydrated and used as a tea.   I love the smell and taste of nettles – for some reason it reminds me of green tea but without the caffeine side effects.   

Here’s a recipe for one of my favorite Nettles Smoothies

Wild Edible Green Smoothie
We serve this whenever in season at the B&B and during our retreats – besides being high in protein, loaded with vitamins & minerals; it’s also great for cleansing.  Wild edibles are much more nutrient dense than cultivated greens;  you may actually feel a “buzz” of energy after you drink this.  But what about the “stinging” of the nettles?  You can wear gloves to harvest – once blended, the sting will be gone.  And……you may also be wondering about taste…..absolutely wonderful….I refuse to eat or drink anything JUST because it’s “good for you” – no nose holding going on here. 

1-2  cups stinging nettle leaves
½ lambsquarters
1/2 cup kale
2 frozen bananas
1 cup strawberries or 1 cup papaya
1 cup pineapple (optional - for extra sweetness)

½ cup spring water

Blend all ingredients together in a *high speed blender pour and top w/bee **pollen (optional)
Note:  When harvesting Nettles, use just the leaves and only harvest BEFORE they begin going to seed.
 If you do not have access to any of these greens – you can substitute spinach, swiss chard, kale, or collards.

*You can make this in a regular blender, although I prefer using a Vita-Mix - (for more info on vita-mix please visit my website)
**Besides being loaded with nutrients, bee pollen is great for allergies & ENERGY - be sure to know EXACTLY where your bee pollen is coming from – how & where it is harvested is of the utmost importance.   I use local New York pollen gathered by hand from a small apiary which is eco-conscious and really loves their bees.  You can purchase this on my website or in my Etsy store if interested.  

Caution:  Do not harvest or eat nettles when they begin flowering or going to seed – can cause irritation to the urinary tract.   I am not giving advice or recommending anyone to eat nettles or any other wild edible.  Please be sure to get proper training or consult with an expert (which I am not).