Eating Stinging Nettle? Health Benefits, Harvesting and Pesto Recipe

Have you ever considered Eating Stinging Nettle?

Eating Stinging Nettle? Health Benefits, Harvesting and Pesto RecipeStinging nettle is truly an amazing plant – and can make for a delicious and highly nutritious green addition to your meals! Wild Nettle is widely abundant around the Pacific Northwest, relatively easy and safe to harvest, and is loaded with all sorts of important vitamins and minerals.

The Health Benefits of Nettle

The health benefits of wild nettle are vast and varying. It should certainly be a local super food, that we all look to consuming more of. Nettle is especially high in Vitamins A, C, K, and several of the B vitamins. It also happens to be high in calcium and magnesium and a great plant based source of iron. 

Further more, eating nettle has been found to help reduce inflammation within the body. With nearly all doctors agreeing that “inflammation is the root of all illness” (1) – any food loaded with anti-inflammatory properties, is highly beneficial to make a regular part of ones regular diet. 

Nettles have also been found to help support the lowering of blood pressure, through their ability to stimulate the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, when released in the body, acts as a vasodilator of blood vessels, helping them to widen and therefore decrease blood pressure. (2) 

Another one of the meany health benefits Nettle touts, is it’s ability to contribute positively to blood sugar balance. In fact, compounds within the plant seem to play a role that mimics that of insulin (our blood sugar balancing hormone) within the body. (3) 

How to Harvest Wild Nettle? 

Harvesting Wild nettle (aka stinging nettle), isn’t as painful as it might sound! In order to avoid getting stung, it is highly recommended you wear gloves when handling nettles. However expert harvesters explain that if you pinch the stem of the leaf tight enough, you do not get stung. 

Wild nettles are best harvested in early spring, and most tender when harvested less than 12 inches tall. It’s best to harvest the 4 to 5 upper leaves of each plant, lightly tugging the leaf from the stem, or clipping with scissors. 

Wild Nettle is highly prolific so over harvesting isn’t a huge concern, however as always, be sure to harvest with respect. Be sure to leave lots left in a given area, as like all plants, Nettle is very scared and an important part of an ecosystem! 

How to Use Nettles?

The are so many amazing ways in which you can use Nettle!

Listed below are a few of the many:

– Dry it for tea 

  • Sauté it with a touch of oil and add to any meal 
  • Make nettle soup 
  • Make a tincture with it
  • Use it for pesto (recipe below!) 

 

Nettle Pesto

This pesto tastes great on sandwiches, pasta, or roasted veggies. It also happens to be an incredibly beautiful deep green colour!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steamed nettles (approx. 2 cups fresh)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp water (plus a few Tbsp more while blending)
  • 1 to 2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, and place the nettles in it for approx. 45 seconds (this helps to remove the stinging qualities of the plant)  
  • Be sure to save the water you boiled the nettles in and drink as a tea
  • Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until well incorporated
  • Feel free to add additional water or a dash more oil for easier blending – depending on the consistency you like
  • Use this pesto on the dish of choice. If left over, store in a glass jar in the fridge for 5-6 days or the freezer for any longer

Eating Stinging Nettle? Health Benefits, Harvesting and Pesto RecipeReferences

1) https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2019/05/inflammation-disease-diet

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17170603

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20013820

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