Nutritious and Healthy Lamb’s Quarters

lamb's quarters

Picture by 6th Happiness

Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) is an annual plant that is commonly thought of as a weed in lawns and gardens, however it is quite edible and flavorful. This is an edible weed that is another of the survival foods that people should appreciate more, rather than spending so much effort poisoning, pulling and otherwise trying to eradicate it from the yard.

Lamb’s Quarters description

This widespread plant is also called goosefoot, white goosefoot, wild spinach or pigweed. The latter designation is because it is a member of the pigweed family and because pigs enjoy the great flavor. The plant usually grows up to three feet tall, though normally less than this. Depending on the location and the growing conditions, it can get much taller, however.

The leaves are green on top and whitish below. From a distance, this can give the plants a look as if dust has settled upon them. The leaves are broad at the base and taper to the end. The edges are usually smooth or toothed, though not normally deeply. The flowers are green, small, lack petals and there are a great number of them that grow tightly around the stem. Each plant is usually capable of producing in excess of 50,000 seeds.

lamb's quarters

Photograph by Jim Kennedy

Lamb’s quarters is hardy and will grow in most locations that have reasonably good soil and sunlight. It withstands both cold and hot temperature and it is drought hardy. The white that is under the leaves is actually a waxy coating that waterproofs the leaves and helps them to retain moisture.

Lamb’s Quarters as food and medicine

The leaves, seeds and blossoms are the parts that are normally eaten. Young leaves and the seeds can be added to green salads, however people should avoid eating large quantities of the uncooked seeds because they do contain small amounts of oxalic acid. People who are prone to kidney stones should also avoid the plant because the oxalic acid can promote stone formation.

Lamb’s quarters is an excellent potherb if it is steamed or lightly boiled. The flavor is similar to young, mild spinach. It can also be added to sauces, such as spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce or barbecue sauce. Additionally, it adds flavor to soups and stews.

According to the Self Nutrition Data website, a cup of cooked lamb’s quarters contains only 11 calories, making it very suitable for those who are trying to lose weight. This is a powerhouse of nutrition, though. The cup of cooked lamb’s quarters contains over two and a half times the daily allowance of vitamin A, over 100 percent of the needed vitamin C and over 1000 percent (that isn’t a misprint, over a thousand percent) of the RDA of vitamin K. It is also high in thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6. Lamb’s quarters is quite high in calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium, while being a source of iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium as well.

The cup of cooked lamb’s quarters also contains approximately 57 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 3.8 g of dietary fiber.

The high amount of omega-3 fatty acids gives the plant cancer fighting and prevention properties. The plant has been used to prevent scurvy, for treating upset stomach and indigestion, to treat diarrhea and externally, for insect bites, blisters and burns.

Lamb’s quarters is a good tasting and a medicinally useful edible weed and it is a survival food that can help people to get the vitamins and minerals that they need. In fact, it is even useful for the land, because it helps to keep the soil fertile. If you don’t know what it looks like in the wild, it would be a good thing to get acquainted. If you do know what it looks like and you have access to some that isn’t growing in a place that has been sprayed with pesticides, you might think about picking some to have with your evening meal. This is a great wild herb.

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