If you're anything like me, hints of cooler weather have you savoring the last sparkling lemonades and crunchy salads of the Summer, while also looking forward to savory soups and steamy, hot drinks. As visions of pumpkins dance through my head (and at the grocery stores and coffee shop menus), I can close my eyes and smell the cinnamon and nutmeg. These images bring me to Pumpkin-Spiced Dandelion Root Latte. Say what?? I bet the coffee shop around the corner doesn’t have that on the menu! But it should. Let me tell you why!
Fall is a the season when most plants are sending their energy back towards earth. They have spent Spring and Summer bursting out towards the sky, basking in the warmth and nourishment of the Sun, and engaging with the world around them in expressions of scent and color and texture and movement.
As the weather cools, they drop leaves and flowers and anything else extraneous. For some plants, all of their energy was sent into their seeds to benefit future generations. Other plants have anchored themselves deep into the earth, drawing out the nourishment and strength needed to get through the tougher season ahead. They concentrate their energy, including nutrients, in their roots. When we harvest these roots, we can benefit from these stored minerals and vitamins that plants so efficiently mine from their environment.
When you think of edible roots, you might think carrots, beets, and potatoes. I hope that after reading this, you will also think Dandelion! Yes, that “weed” that has people spending millions of dollars every year to eradicate is actually a valuable edible and medicinal! Colonists brought to the 'New World’ to grow in their gardens! Dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale to make it sound more respectable perhaps, has been valued by herbalists for centuries for supporting and strengthening the liver.
With the barrage of chemicals our bodies experience these days and the fast pace of modern lives, our livers work overtime to cleanse and detoxify our bodies. When the liver is overtaxed, people experience hormonal and emotional imbalances, poor digestion, weakened immunity, and lack of energy.
When you nourish your liver, it becomes more effective at storing iron and filtering out nutrients from the blood. You will see an increase in your energy (the liver stores glucose and releases it as needed). You will be better at responding to stress in your daily life. Your immune system will be less taxed and therefore stronger to resist attack. And you will find your emotions to be less of an extreme rollercoaster ride. While ‘balance’ is a hot topic these days (is it the goal or is it unachievable?), I argue that Dandelion brings balance in ways you might not have known you needed it.
Some people talk about roasted Dandelion root tea as a coffee substitute. It has a similar bitter profile (the bitter taste stimulates digestion to improve nutritional absorption and boost metabolism). However, the taste is not quite the same. Coffee is actually a medicinal herb in its own right, but many people are in the habit of drinking too much of it. If you enjoy drinking coffee because of its deep, roasted flavor or the creaminess some coffees, but are hoping to cut down on your caffeine intake, you may enjoy this drink as a substitute. But I encourage you to try this drink for its own merit.
Now about those autumnal spices I mentioned. Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice and ginger are warming herbs that also support nutrient absorption and ease digestive discomfort. Herbalists call them carminatives. The scents we so enjoy from these spices are due to their essential oils which generally have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. And, don’t they just make you feel good? It’s not all in your head! While ‘pumpkin spice’ is not an official blend, it is usually made up of a combination of these spices. And adding it to your food and drinks allows you to reap the benefits.
While I like to harvest and roast the roots myself (making my kitchen smell so amazing!), and blend up the spices so they are fresh and potent, you can absolutely make this Pumpkin-Spiced Dandelion Root Latte without much effort. Boil, steep, strain, sip! Enjoy!
Pumpkin-Spiced Dandelion Root Latte
Steep tea in 8 ounces of freshly boiled water.
Warm milk or cream in small saucepan with spices and sweetener if desired.
Remove tea bag or strain tea.
Add milk/cream-spice blend and froth it if possible!
Inhale. Exhale. Sip and Enjoy!
Sarah Cody, guest blogger, is a Family Herbalist and homeschooling Mother to three strong daughters. Despite having moved around quite a bit in the past few years between the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Green Mountains of Vermont and most recently the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, she always finds a way to have herbs growing for teas and other herbal medicinals. She loves to paint and read and explore the great outdoors and tries to find time to leave her mark online at http://www.aButterflyHerder.com
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