Wild Huanzontles:   Aztec Protein

 

Huanzontles (Chenopodium album L.) at the Los Colorines restaurant in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  Commonly known as Lamb's Quarters, this dish is prepared from the seed heads of the plant. 

Recipe: Pick two dozen seed heads.  Steam or par boil (three minutes).  Whip two eggs with or without yolks with 2 Tablespoons of water.  Dip Lamb's quarters into egg, then dredge through flour or masa.   Fry in about a 1/4 inch of Canola oil (until brown).  Serve with warm red salsa or salsa verde.  Strip the cooked seed heads between your teeth.  High protein dish, with excellent fiber, folic acid, flavonoids, vitamin C and vitamin A.

 

Lamb's Quarters are a common garden nuisance that I encourage and nurture.  A single large plant supplies enough food to feed twenty people.  The plant's name comes from the shape of its leaf.  Note below that the leaf is light green on top and whitish underneath.  Plants will range from small (3  or 4 seed heads) to large 10 food plants with over 50 seed heads. 

Food:  Fresh leaves lightly cooked provide vitamin C and A include seeds and get a healthful dose of essential amino acids.   Add the leaves to spinach, throw a few in a tossed salad (older leaves blanch first).  Great in bean soups.   Or serve in egg dishes with green chilis or salsa verde.

You may par boil and freeze seed heads as seen below.  Seeds may be cut into soup or ground into flour for breakfast meal.   Montana Indian tribe ground seeds into flour and made flat bread. 

Medicine: In Mexico, the cooked leaves and seed heads are believed to keep the digestive system clean and healthy.  Cree used leaves in decoction for arthritis, rheumatism.  Joints and limbs were washed with the decoction.  Inuit people believe the leaves cooked with beans dispel gas.  Iroquois used cold infusion of plant to treat diarrhea.   High vitamin C content made the plant useful for preventing scurvy.

 

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