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PUBLISHED: 5:00 PM on Wednesday, May 4, 2005
It's not a weed: It's a coffee substitute!
So you're trying to limit your caffeine intake. But you can't just go cold turkey. You need something to replace it. You've tried tea, but it's too bland. Hot chocolate is too sweet. And orange juice's fruity flavor just isn't cutting it. How about trying dandelions?

Dandelions? Aren't those the weeds that ruin my pristine lawn, you ask? Those pesky miniature suns with their stubborn roots that drive me bonkers this time of year?

Yes. Those. Imported to America as a food, dandelions escaped the settlers' gardens and took over lawns and golf courses. What we view as a nuisance weed is really a versatile food.

All parts of the dandelion are edible, but the bitter milk in the flower stems is unpalatable. The roots are also very versatile - actually tasty and good for you. A drink made from the roots can improve digestion, support the liver help detoxify the body, and benefit the cardiovascular system. Dandelions also helps restore the overall health of the body and act as a gentle laxative.

In addition, root drinks make excellent replacements for traditional coffee. This "Dandelion Coffee" from Energy Juices by Nic Rowley and Kirsten Hartvig can be your new pick-me-up and after-meal drink.

Purchase the dried dandelion roots used here from a health-food store. Or dig them up from the garden and dry them according to the recipe.

DANDELION COFFEE

1. Wash 2 to 3 fresh dandelion roots, and cut into short pieces.

2. Place them on a baking pan in a warm oven (225 F to 300 F) for several hours until completely dry.

3. Place the dried roots in a dry, heavy-weight skillet. Heat over a moderate heat.

4. Stir continuously until they turn a rich, dark brown.

5. Grind the roots in a coffee grinder. Store in a sealed container.

6. Brew and serve like regular coffee.


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