It’s springtime in the Rocky Mountains, and I’m so happy to see my favorite local plants popping up everywhere! From dandelions to thistle to plantain, there are so many nutritious plants right in our backyards. Harvesting your own wild foods expands your connection to the natural world around you, and provides you with deeply nutritious seasonal food – both of which are so nurturing from an Ayurvedic perspective.

Dandelions are arguably the most accessible plant to forage, and every part of the plant is edible and highly nutritious. Scrub the roots clean, dry, and roast for a DIY caffeine-free coffee alternative. The leaves are “probably the most nutrient dense food you can eat” – reducing systemic inflammation, dropping your blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and balancing blood sugar. Toss the flowers onto a salad for even more nutrition! I typically either saute up the leaves with other greens, whir the entire plant into one of my morning green smoothies, or dehydrate the entire plant and grind into a green powder to add to soups, stews, and smoothies in the winter.

Thistle is the next plant I look for in the spring. Like dandelions, every part of the plant is edible and highly nutritious. I either dig it up to get the root and all, or I use pruners to just snip it off at ground level for the leaves and stalk. While some people go to the trouble of snipping off the spiny parts, I just whir it all up in a smoothie or dehydrate and grind into a powder with the dandelions.

Plantain is another easy one to find in the spring. Herbalists call this one “nature’s bandage” for its ability to stop minor bleeding and jump start the healing process with cuts, burns, bites, & stings (it’s a natural antiseptic). Just pick a few leaves, chew for a minute, then apply to the skin. When eaten or taken as a tea, plantain is known to help with excess mucus in the lungs, reduce hayfever symptoms, cleanse the blood, and reduce excess water in the tissues (diuretic). You can also make a plantain extract – stuff leaves into a mason jar, cover completely with olive oil, and let it sit in a cool dry place for a month or so before straining – and use for skin irritations. I harvest the leaves and use them in salads, sauteed with other greens, in smoothies, or again dehydrate and grind to a powder for later use.

With any foraged plant, make sure you’re collecting from a place that is not sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals, and avoid roadways (pollution). Do not forage without permission from private lands. If you’re collecting from your own yard, avoid areas where your pets have access – no animal waste, please! And if you’re unsure on identification, best to leave it alone until you can get a positive ID – I use the iNaturalist app to doublecheck when I’m out in the field (you do need cell service or wifi).

For more information on foraging or Ayurveda in general, reach out to Shannon at