Continue my series (see part 1 and part 2) on swapping exotic superfoods for more readily available and cheaper but just as nutritious alternatives, this week I turn my attention to Wheatgrass.
Chickweed: The New Wheatgrass
As green as any grass you've ever seen, wheatgrass has been a main event in health food circles for decades. People will line up to pay big bucks for a small shot of the stuff, which tastes pretty much like you'd imagine, similar to the aroma of new-mown hay; as one company describes it, "unfamiliar, but not unpleasant."
Several of this commodity's features include fighting aging by revitalizing skin cells, cleansing the blood and fighting tumors. Clinical studies show that it contains 90 minerals, 20 essential amino acids, 13 vitamins and 80 enzymes.
But it's the 70 percent ratio of chlorophyll, structurally similar to red blood cells (hemoglobin), that makes it a superfood. World Lifestyle notes that once it's absorbed, it converts to hemoglobin, mimicking red blood cells and carrying oxygen to vital areas of your body, and may even kill off cancer cells because "cancer cells can't survive and thrive in oxygen-rich environments."
But get this: Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a wild, edible plant growing prolifically in every area of the world other than those that are coldest, like Antarctica. Besides decreasing insect damage to other plants, it's chockfull of many vitamins, minerals and, like wheatgrass, chlorophyll. Chickweed stems and flowers can be used raw in salads and sandwiches, tossed into soups and stews or added to cooked dishes (but at the end as the stems and leaves are delicate).
Frontier foragers learned that when they gathered chickweed, almost exclusively in the spring, it was useful as both food and medicine. As a food, Foraged Foodie observes, the raw form is covered with a fine layer of fibers, which are minimized when they're gently chopped and sautéed or wilted. Natural medicine expert Dr. Josh Axe notes:
"Chickweed is taken by mouth to treat stomach problems, intestinal complaints such as constipation, disorders of the blood, arthritis, lung diseases including asthma, kidney disorders, inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract, rabies, and scurvy or vitamin C deficiency. It is also used to relieve extreme exhaustion. Chickweed is applied on the skin relieve various skin conditions such as skin wounds, ulcers, burns, arthritis pain and symptoms of eczema."