Green smoothie pros, put down your avocados and spinach. Here’s something a little different from your everyday smoothie, featuring one of my favorite foraged greens, purslane. Try this anti-inflammatory smoothie recipe featuring an underappreciated “superfood” that’s commonly mistaken for a weed. Free superfood? Awesome. Purslane may be growing in your yard at this very moment — go check and then blend yourself a refreshing, healthy anti-inflammatory smoothie!
Until a couple years ago, my smoothies were pretty much always just yogurt blended with whatever frozen fruit had accumulated in the freezer. But when I started whirring up fruit + veggie combinations for baby purees, I discovered that vegetables were actually a pretty tasty addition to grown-up smoothies and twigged onto the whole green smoothie thing that’s now caught on in a big way. After I finished putting up the little one’s blueberry-broccoli combo, I’d leave some in the food processor for myself. Little bits of frozen broccoli actually add a surprisingly nice texture and no detectable flavor if you’re not too heavy-handed.
When there were some extra beets lying around, a smoothie veteran suggested adding them to my next concoction. The only fruit on hand was canned pineapple,* so that went in as well, with some frozen broccoli for texture. A little flax for omega-3s and fiber, and then some ginger and turmeric for an anti-inflammatory boost. This combo worked surprisingly well; the ginger was not overpowering, and the normally bitter turmeric wasn’t even noticeable. (Check out upcoming posts on anti-inflammatory foods for more on why these are great ingredients to sneak in anywhere you can for pain relief, long-term health, and anti-aging). Plus a sprinkle of chia — I felt like I’d started the day supercharged by all these healthy ingredients, just like all the proponents of green smoothies promised. Real or imagined? You’ll have to decide for yourself.
I challenged myself to add other super-ingredients and got to thinking about purslane, a truly amazing little weed I’ve mostly ignored as it flourished on my boulevard. After double-checking a couple weed identification sites, I went out and picked some, as I was running low on other smoothie ingredients and didn’t think anything could beat purslane nutritionally. I’m pleased to report that purslane-pineapple-ginger smoothies are quite tasty, and you can find purslane just about anywhere for free during the growing season. One of your neighbors might even offer you money to take it away!
According to John Kallas, author of Edible Wild Plants, the whole plant is edible. Don’t worry about taking the last little bits from your yard, as it seems this little wonder plant is indestructible. Packed with vitamins and one of the best plant sources of omega-3s, this green is versatile and works well as a salad ingredient, in stir-fries, and of course as the green in your green smoothie. I like it so much, I’ve tried harvesting and spreading the seeds in other unused areas of the yard. I even bought some of the golden variety to plant as a groundcover in an area that needed one. Yup, I planted weeds, purslane’s that cool.
Here’s a recipe to try next time you want a not-too-sweet anti-inflammatory smoothie with some serious nutritional punch.
Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie with Purslane, Pineapple and Ginger
1 loose-packed cup of purslane (fine if you include some thinner stems and seeds)
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple*
1/2 c. yogurt, or non-dairy milk/kefir if preferred
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, diced
If you like a sweeter smoothie, you could add a half a banana, a little all-fruit jam, or some honey.
Bottoms up! If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments and tell me what you thought.
**Be sure to read instructions on weed identification carefully before foraging for wild edibles.** Steve Brill warns when looking for purslane:
Beware of spurge, a different-looking poisonous creeping wild plant that sometimes grows near purslane. The stem is wiry, not thick, and it gives off a white, milky sap when you break it. If you’re very careless, you may put some in your bag along with purslane, because they sometimes grow together on lawns, gardens, and meadows.
Up here in the northern part of the country, purslane doesn’t seem to get going till it’s quite warm, late June through the fall frost. If you live in a more temperate climate, you can find it sooner. I’ve started gathering up all I can find and popping it in the freezer for smoothies after everything’s blanketed in snow. If you find yourself with extra purslane, you might want to check out the purslane recipes Grow A Good Life has collected!
There are quite a number of other edible and medicinal weeds worth knowing about. I highlight several of them in this post.
*Pineapple is on a lot of lists of anti-inflammatory foods, but according to the Nutrition Diva, the canning process destroys the key enzyme, bromelain, which is what all the excitement is about.
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Photo credits: Stacy, Harry Rose via Flickr
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