By Lynn Gamwell
Every spring I hear a few health conscious folks praising the wondrous nutritional benefits of nettles. The “perfect spring detox” food they rapturously exclaim while standing over those horribly invasive plants which always sting my skin if I even get near them! My husband wages valiant, annual battles against these plants as they threaten to take over our garden. But alas, they come back year after year. This year I have decided to embrace the wisdom of wild plant experts and practice tolerance toward nettles as I learn to appreciate them for the super food they are!
I am on a mission to detoxify and create a more hospitable environment in my body for overall health and wellness. Nettles are going to help me to do this! One of the most important aspects of health is pH acid/ alkaline balance. This is true in the external environment where, for example, the pH of a stream affects all the organisms living in it(1) This is also true within our bodies where the pH of our internal environment can affect the uptake of necessary dissolved minerals allowing them to become available for our use.(2) Unfortunately in our world of stress, toxins, and less than perfect eating habits, our systems become more acidic than they should be. This can mean that nothing works the way it should. At an extreme, acidosis can cause fatigue, aches and pains, blood sugar regulation problems (potentially leading to diabetes), respiratory ailments, weight gain, inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and so much more.
How, you wonder, are nettles going to help me balance my pH? As Dr Oz says, it’s time to “fight toxic acid overload” by eating more alkaline promoting foods to neutralize the body’s pH and bring the body’s acid-base ratio back into balance.(3) In addition to being alkalizing, nettles happen to be rich in essential minerals which are absorbed better in the alkaline environment they help create. But what does one do about all those nasty stinging hairs? Processing them in any way gets rid of this down side. So I will be juicing them, incorporating them into smoothies, drying them for tea, and making this delicious springtime soup!
Mint and Nettle Vegetable Soup (vegan, gluten free, dairy free )
(adapted from Trinity Bourne)
Serves: 6 bowls
- 1 ½ lbs. potatoes
- 3 ¼ cups filtered water
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
- 6 cups organic frozen peas and carrots
- ¾ oz or 21 g. mint
- ¼ lb fresh nettles
- Scrub and chop the potatoes into small cubes so that they will cook quickly.
- Combine in a heavy soup pan with filtered water. Bring potatoes and water to a boil.
- Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt.
- Add 1 can organic coconut milk.
- Wear rubber gloves to wash, de-stem, and roughly chop the nettles. If nettles are young and tender it is not necessary to de-stem or chop.
- Wash and de-stalk the mint.
- When the potatoes are soft and easily pierced with a fork, add the frozen peas, carrots, and any other frozen veggies desired.
- Bring the veggies back to a boil.
- Once boiling, mix in the fresh mint and nettles. Simmer while these quickly wilt down.
- Blend the soup until creamy smooth.
- Serve with parmesan if desired. (Not necessary for dairy free diets.)
Now, I’d like to tell you that every day I will be cooking alkalizing foods such as nettles in this yummy recipe and juicing lots of other leafy greens to load my body up with acid reversing wholesomeness. But I live in the real world just like you. So to speed up my pH balancing mission, I am also filtering my water to make it more alkaline with the New Wave Enviro Alkaline Filter Pitcher. Another great product for protecting against an overly acidic system is Vaxa Buffer pH. This homeopathic and herbal aid to balancing acid levels in the body is my go to source for creating a healthy habitat within. Manuka Honey is a super food with many nutritional benefits including balancing pH(4). I can add it to yogurt or many other foods. So on the days when I don’t care to wrestle stinging nettles, I’m going to enjoy some Wedderspoon Manuka Honey and take my Vaxa Buffer pH with filtered alkaline water. Then I’ll know that I am doing the very best I can to balance the pH of my body’s inner ecosystem!
2. Biological Science, Third Edition, William T. Keeton, W.W. Norton & Company, 1980