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Nettle Powder

The health benefits of nettle (Urtica dioica) are absolutely amazing! We can use the roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds of nettle for different purposes. The leaves and stems are covered with stinging hairs that stop most people from using nettle. 

How to use nettle when you don’t want to touch them in the first place? And how can you add nettle to your eating plan if you don’t grow your own fresh stinging nettle? 

One of the practical forms of using nettle is leaf powder. The powder made of dried nettle leaves is actually a concentrated form of nutrients contained in these leaves that are rich in minerals (calcium, potassium, silica, sulfur, magnesium, iron, copper), vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B9, vitamin C, Vitamin D, vitamin K), amino acids, proteins, polysaccharides, plant pigments (chlorophyll, carotenoids), fatty acids, sterols, tannins and many other phytochemicals.  

Nettle leaf powder can be used as a nutrient-rich food additive in sauces, soups or salads, as well as a conditioning agent in cosmetic preparations, shampoos and hair masks. It is rich in green pigment, chlorophyll, so it is perfectly usable as natural food, cosmetic and soap colorant. Its high content of proteins, vitamins and minerals makes nettle leaf powder a great dietary supplement. It is often sold in capsule or tablet form as well. Nettle is well-known for its high iron content and it is often recommended to people suffering from iron deficiency.

You can use nettle leaf powder in cookies and biscuits as well. Sweet nettle may sound unusual, but worth a try. This nettle shortbread recipe is based on traditional Scottish shortbreads.

Nettle shortbread recipe

Ingredients:

  • 160 g butter at room temperature
  • 310 g flour
  • 70 g sugar
  • 3 tablespoons nettle leaf powder
  • ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 egg yolks

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cut butter into small pieces.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, nettle powder, baking powder and sugar).
  4. Add butter and mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the egg yolks and form a ball of the dough. If you want a softer dough, add a tablespoon milk.
  6. Roll dough on parchment paper to about 1 cm thick. Cut into squares, triangles or use a decorative cutter.
  7. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy this green shortbread with a cup of tea, while lying on the sofa with a book to read on the cold winter days!

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Nettle Fruit Leather or Nettle Roll-Ups

Nettle is such an amazing plant! All parts of the herb are useful, filled with minerals, vitamins, nutrients and dietary fiber, among other beneficial components. But when we make a nettle tea and strain it after steeping enough time to get the healing juice and nutrients out of the leaves for example, the leftover strained nettle is just a “waste” that usually ends up in the compost heap. Though, it is still beneficial for human health. Here is an easy and delicious snack recipe using leftover nettle, that your kids will love too. You will never throw away the strained nettle after you tried this nettle fruit leather again! But of course, you can use dried and re-hydrated nettle for this recipe. In this case, you will get an even more nutritious superfood!

Ingredients:

  • Leftover strained nettle or 1 cup dried nettle, soaked in water for an hour
  • 4 large apples
  • 4 large pears
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbs honey

Preparation:

Wash, core and cut your fruits into chunks. You don’t have to peel them unless they don’t seem too nice. Add the nettle and water and cook until soft, then puree the mixture with a blender. Add the honey. Use food wrap or baking paper to line your trays. Pour the puree onto the sheet and stick it into a cool oven set as low as you can. You are aiming to dry it, not cook it. It can take anything from about 3 hours to about 10 hours to totally dry out. When it’s dried, cut even strips and roll them up.

It is easy to store nettle and fruits this way if your family doesn’t eat the rolls too fast.

Enjoy!

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Nettle Pasta

25 October World Pasta Day

Pasta is one of the world’s most favorite foods! We celebrate World Pasta Day today. The goal of this day is to call attention not just to the product of pasta, but to new, healthy, and creative ways to enjoy a pasta meal. 

The world has enjoyed this dish since the first century A.D. Pasta are divided into two main categories: dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca). Most dried pasta is produced commercially by machines and fresh pasta is traditionally produced by hand.

Dried pasta surged in popularity during the 14th and 15th centuries — mainly for its easy storage. This allowed people to bring pasta along on ships when exploring the New World. One of the first pasta factories of Europe was established in Pest, Hungary in 1859, which worked with steam machines.

Fresh stinging nettle is one of our most nutritious wild foods and makes a great cooked green, and it’s also a perfect addition to fresh hand-made pasta. Since it keeps its bright green color after cooking, it makes a beautiful and healthful pasta.

Let’s celebrate World Pasta Day with this home-made nettle pasta!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of fresh nettle leaves or 1 cup of nettle leaf powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 and a half cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of sea salt

Preparation:

  1. If you use freshly picked nettle, blanch them for 3 minutes, rinse in cold water and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  2. Puree egg and nettle (blanched or powder) to a smooth consistency. 
  3. Add flour and salt and mix to combine. It shouldn’t be sticky but should hold together when pinched. Knowing when the consistency is right is something that takes practice.
  4. Gather into a ball, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for half an hour in the fridge. Roll out and cut whatever pasta shape you prefer. You can do it with a pasta machine or a sharp chef’s knife.
  6. When ready to use, boil in salted water for 2 to 3 minutes or until al dente. Toss with olive oil or butter to prevent sticking.
  7. Add your favourite pasta sauce. Green herbs, garlic and spices work well with olive oil and cheese to nettle pasta.

Enjoy!

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An Underrated Superfood: Nettle Seed

Most people have tried nettle soup – a foraging classic – and nettle leaf tea is widely available. However, the use of nettle seed is still fairly uncommon, though it is the king of superfoods!

As the days lengthen, the female nettle produces little flowers quickly followed by green seeds, from the upper third of the plant. Over the summer the seeds ripen and thicken. They are harvested when still green before they start to dry out and turn brown. Nettle seed is crunchy and full of oil high in polyunsaturated fatty acids – linolenic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids. Our bodies use linoleic and linolenic acids to make the important essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6.

A component of lecithin vital to liver function is found in nettle seed called choline. Choline is sometimes used to treat liver cirrhosis and hepatitis. Studies have also shown that it is indeed anti-inflammatory and will soothe colitis (inflammation of the colon).

Nettle seed tastes delicious. You can substitute poppy seed in crackers, oatcakes, bread with nettle seeds or you can sprinkle them with chopped nuts into salads. Mixing them into yoghurt, a smoothie or adding them to overnight oats is also worth trying. Don’t put nettle seeds into juices because they float and are hard to drink. Instead, mix with honey and make into protein snack bars. This is another delicious way of eating nettle seeds. Try seasoning your soup with nettle seeds by adding them on the top. 

Crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar, then infuse them in sunflower or olive oil at room temperature for a week. This green oil makes a nice healthy salad oil or can be used with essential oils as an anti-inflammatory liniment for arthritic joints.

They will give you an energy boost and help to put you in a cheerful mood. Nettle seeds also raise dopamine levels, which is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward system and pleasure center. Dopamine facilitates learning, motivation and movement. 

For stimulating health benefits, take 1 to 2 spoons of fresh green or dried nettle seed a day (a standard heaped tablespoon is about 5 grams). Great help for invigoration of the body!

You can learn more about nettle seed here.

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Nettle for Normal Weight

4th March 2021 World Obesity Day

On the occasion of world obesity day WHO (World Health Organization) encourages practical solutions to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, undertake proper treatment, and reverse the obesity crisis.

Obesity is now a global crisis that affects 650 million people worldwide, but is poorly understood. It is a major risk factor for various noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and various forms of cancer.

People with obesity are constantly shamed and blamed for their disease. This is because many people – including doctors, policymakers, and others – do not understand that obesity is a chronic disease. They see it as a simple lack of willpower, laziness, or a refusal to “eat less and move more“. But like all chronic diseases, the root causes of obesity run much deeper. They can be genetic, psychological, sociocultural, economic and environmental. It is time we break the cycle of shame and blame and revaluate our approach for addressing this complex chronic disease.

The first step would be providing better access to affordable, healthy food and restricting the marketing of food and drinks high in fats, sugar and salt. Taxing unhealthy drinks and food would be another part of the solution. In our cities and towns, we need to make space for safe walking, cycling, and recreation. We must teach our children healthy habits from early on.

Herbs, with the beneficial power of nature, can help in weight loss. Nettle (Urtica dioica) clears the body of toxins. It contains a lot of iron, which protects the body and affects more hemoglobin in the blood. Hence, causes better circulation and better physical fitness, so you can burn more calories and thus lose more weight. Nettle lowers blood sugar, which also speeds up weight loss. In addition, nettle accelerates digestion.

It is relatively cheap, you can buy nettle based herbal teas or you can find it in the wild (basic herbal knowledge needed!). There are hundreds of nettle based food recipes available to cook healthy food for your family and loved ones. It is full of beneficial components to keep you healthy. Use the gift of nature!

Together, we can change the narrative around obesity.

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The Nutritious Stinging Weed

Nowadays, thanks to the recognized nutritional qualities of nettle (Urtica dioica), it is gradually becoming integrated into our diet. Who would have thought that nettle is richer in vitamin C than an orange? But it is! 

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food ~ Hippocrates

Nettle is also an important source of iron, calcium, magnesium and protein, much more than soybeans, making it an interesting addition to diets containing little or no meat at all and/or dairy products, such as vegetarian and vegan diets.

Stinging nettle can supply higher concentrations of essential amino acids than brussels sprouts and has a better amino acid profile than most other leafy vegetables. Although similar to spinach in terms of total amino acid content, nettle contains higher levels of all essential amino acids except leucine and lysine. 

Fortunately, nettle retains significant amounts of minerals, vitamins, and other functional values after blanching or cooking. Scientific results show that processed nettle can supply 90–100% of vitamin A (including vitamin A as ?-carotene). Fresh or processed nettle is recommended as a high-protein, low-calorie source of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins particularly in vegetarian, diabetic, or other specialized diets.

They eat nettle as a leafy vegetable or a curry, sour soup, a potherb or spinach alternative and vegetable complement in a dish in many cultures. In the Basque region of Spain, young shoots are eaten raw or included in omelets. In Georgia, a meal of boiled stinging nettle seasoned with walnut is common. Romanians use sour soup made from fermented wheat bran vegetables and green nettle leaves harvested from young plants.

If you would like to know more about the nutritional properties of nettle, read this or this article.

Suggested food labeling information for raw and processed stinging nettle