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Herbal Wisdom - March 2016 - Santa Fe

Wild Spring Foods to Boost Your Well Being

By Tomas Enos and Erin Galiger


Worried about what you will grow and eat this year with our water shortage? Relax!  Our Great Mother Earth always provides just what we need!  I will have a great big grin on my face the first week of March when I saw three of our best edible wild greens poke their heads out of my desert soil.  By mid-April I’ll be preparing some of my favorite dishes full of vitamins and minerals, and I didn’t have to water a thing.  So here is a description of what to look for in your backyard.


First up was Common Mallow or Malvas in Spanish.  This is a super abundant plant in our area and even grows in disturbed soil.  Mallow is high in calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A and C.  What’s more it tastes good!  Mallow makes a tasty raw salad green and is also excellent cooked in casseroles, with eggs, or marinated in olive oil. Nobody will starve with this beauty around!


Second out was Yellow Dock or Native Sorrel (Hierba de Sangre). Yup, this plant is a potent “liver and blood cleanser”.  The leaves need to be cooked and are best when young. Look for Yellow Dock in moist areas against your house, along clean ditches, streams, etc. The leaves have a mild sour flavor and are high in caloric value, calcium, potassium, and vitamin A.    


Third out was Dandelion or Diente de Leon.  The leaves make an excellent spring tonic green salad or they can be lightly cooked.  And yes, these are the same Dandelions that our fellow Americans spend millions of dollars worth of herbicides to kill each year.  Dandelions are high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and extremely high in vitamin A.

Allergy sufferers take note: eat dandelion greens regularly.  And remember bitter is better! 


All of the above natives will love you more if you toss a little rainwater on them.  They are free, local, drought resistant, nutritious, perennial, and darn good!  Give a little back in the form of prayer, dance, and song. 


Nettles (also known as Stinging Nettles) is a common edible and medicinal plant that grows worldwide.  It is consumed in soups and vegetable dishes for its savory and blood building qualities.  As a tea it assists in relieving inflammations from allergies and skin disorders.  It is really one of our “green superfoods” and is quite easy to cultivate in Southwest gardens. Nettles are very high in proteins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and many trace minerals.  Try this favorite of mine as an early spring tonic dish for a delicious wild dinner!


Spring Nettle Pie

Always use fresh Nettle leaves; that means either growing your own or gathering them in the wild from a clean place. Cut off the leaves from the plant where they meet the stem (wearing gloves) and then before cooking, cut off the small leaf stem.  The stinging from the plant is formic acid and is nullified by cooking; it is, however, a valuable medicinal component for other ailments (such as allergies and arthritis). 


Pie Shell

½ cup olive oil

1 cup quinoa flour

½ cup oat flour

Pinch of salt

4 Tablespoons cold water

Blend the oil into the mixed flours and salt until crumbly; add the cold water a little at a time to blend into a smooth ball.  Press the pie dough into an 8 inch pie pan.


Pie Greens

4 Tablespoons olive oil

6 cups Nettle leaves, lightly chopped

4 cups red Chard leaves, chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons chopped Parsley


Saute the chopped onion in olive oil at medium heat for 10 minutes until transparent in color; then add the Nettle leaves and continue cooking until they are completely wilted.  Now add the chopped red Chard, salt, and fresh parsley; cover and reduce heat until all ingredients are equally cooked about 10 minutes).  Now spread all the vegetables into the pie crust evenly with the rich sauce in the pan and place in the preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.



Tomas Enos owns El Milagro Herbs in Santa Fe. He can be reached at 820-6321 or at fro information about classes and herb walks.


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Tomas Enos studied with Michael Moore in 1990 and then created Milagro Herbs. Erin Galiger has worked with herbs for 10 years.  Their philosophy of health and healing is holistic and rooted in the ancient tradition of “Solar Living,” synchronizing our bodies according to the biological time clock, circadian rhythms, and seasonal patterns found on Earth. 419 Orchard Drive (off Paseo de Peralta next to Kakawa    Chocolate House)

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