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Eat the Lowcountry weeds

Nutritious, organic and fresh edibles are all around us.

Lowcountry back yards are full of food. Many of our so-called “weeds” are actually edible, and surprisingly, many are quite tasty. Bluffton personal trainer Roberto Rodriguez has been fascinated with food and nutrition since he came to the United States in 1999.

“I started getting local organic greens, catching fish and hunting my own meat; then I dove into edible and medicinal mushrooms and foraging wild edibles,” he said. “Just knowing that I have the ability to go for a walk in nature, have a great spiritual experience and come back with a basket full of nutritious, organic and fresh edibles, most of them far better that any store bought ones, is very humbling and rewarding.”

Got weeds? Then you have dinner!

Elderberry: Cooked ripe elderberries are perfectly edible and are good for pies, jams and juice. Walnut: Nuts are more rubbery than ones you find at the grocery store. Wild lettuce: Often used as a natural remedy for stress and chronic pain.

Some of the wild edibles we can expect to find in the Lowcountry are:

Purslane: Soft, succulent purslane leaves have more omega-3 fatty acids than in some of the fish oils.
Dandelion: Everything from the flower all the way down to the roots is edible.
Chickweed: Eat the stems, leaves, flowers and seed pods.
Plantain: Its leaves are rich in iron and vitamins A and C.
Wild garlic: Eat all parts of it before the flowers are fully out.
Glasswort: Young stems are edible and have a salty taste. Use them as a garnish in fresh salads.
Blackberry: Why buy them at the store when you can pick them outside?
Sassafras: Its twigs and leaves are both edible, and can be eaten raw or added to soups for flavor.
Sea purslane: The leaves are thick and moist with a crunchy texture and a natural saltiness.
Mulberry: They’re a good source of iron, vitamin C and taste great, too.
Wild blueberries: Smaller wild blueberries tend to have a sweeter, tangier, more intensely “blueberry” taste.

“Start exploring this great place called nature. We don’t have to go there; we are already in it. A world of wonderful discoveries and experiences await us.”   Roberto Rodriguez


LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Sassafras tea

Ingredients

1 handful sassafras roots, washed in cold water

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 slice fresh ginger

Maple syrup or honey, for serving

Sparkling water

Directions
[1] Chop up the sassafras roots until you can smell their spicy scent.
[2] Place the roots in a saucepan with the cinnamon and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
[3] Decrease the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered. Add the ginger and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
[4] Line a fine-mesh strainer with a coffee filter and set over a bowl. Pour the tea through.
[5] Sweeten with maple syrup or honey, to taste. Drink hot, or serve cold over ice and topped off with sparkling water.