Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album)

Chenopodium Album is an ancient plant, related to both beetroot, spinach, and quinoa. It is an odorless, branching, annual herb, with stalked, opposite, simple leaves which are clammy-feeling, unwettable, and have a whitish coating on the underside. The first leaves are roughly diamond-shaped and somewhat toothed toward the point, and the later leaves are narrow and toothless.

Though cultivated in some regions, the plant is elsewhere considered a weed. Common names include lamb’s quarters, melde, goosefoot and fat-hen, though the latter two are also applied to other species of the genus Chenopodium, for which reason it is often distinguished as white goosefoot. It is sometimes also called pigweed, however, pigweed is also a name for a few weeds in the family Amaranthaceae.

Chenopodium album is extensively cultivated and consumed in Northern India as a food crop, and in English texts it may be called by its Hindi name bathua.

Nutritional value of raw Lambsquarters

per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy: 180 kJ (43 kcal)
Carbohydrates: 7.3 g
Dietary fiber 4 g
Fat: 0.8 g
Protein: 4.2 g
Vitamin A equiv. (73%) 580 μg
Thiamine (B1) (14%) 0.16 mg
Riboflavin (B2) (37%) 0.44 mg
Niacin (B3) (8%) 1.2 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
(2%) 0.092 mg
Vitamin B6 (21%) 0.274 mg
Folate (B9) (8%) 30 μg
Vitamin C (96%) 80 mg
Trace metals:
Calcium (31%) 309 mg
Iron (9%) 1.2 mg
Magnesium (10%) 34 mg
Manganese (37%) 0.782 mg
Phosphorus (10%) 72 mg
Potassium (10%) 452 mg
Sodium (3%) 43 mg
Zinc (5%) 0.44 mg

Properties and uses:

The leaves are anthelmintic, antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, mildly laxative, odontalgic. The leaves are applied as a wash or poultice to bug bites, sunstroke, rheumatic joints and swollen feet, whilst a decoction is used for carious teeth.  When prepared as an infusion, it manages hepatic disorders, spleen enlargement, biliousness, burns, and ulcers. Lamb’s quarters contain some oxalic acid therefore when eating this raw, small quantities are recommended. Cooking removes this acid. Lamb’s quarter can be eaten in salads or added to smoothies and juices. Steaming this edible weed is one method of cooking, or can be added to soups, sautés and much more. Drying this wild edible is one way to add this nutritious plant to your meals throughout the winter or you can blanch and freeze the leaves.

Seeds are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Can be chewed in the treatment of urinary problems and are considered useful for relieving the discharge of semen through the urine. Saponins in the seeds are potentially toxic and should not be consumed in excess. Cooking or soaking them in water overnight and thoroughly rinsing before being used will remove any saponins.

The juice of the stems is applied to freckles and sunburn.

The juice of the root is used in the treatment of bloody dysentery.

A green dye is obtained from the young shoots.

The crushed fresh roots are a mild soap substitute.

Chenopodium album is vulnerable to leaf miners, making it a useful trap crop as a companion plant. Growing near other plants, it attracts leaf miners which might otherwise have attacked the crop to be protected. It is also used to feed animals.

Bio-dynamic farmers dry them and combine with equal parts dried dandelion, nettle, purslane, sage, and chamomile to make a special plant food for the autumn garden.

Recipes ideas:

  • To make a bathua paste for use in many traditional Indian recipes, steam the leaves until wilted, strain any water, and then blend until smooth. Add water only if necessary.
  • One of the simplest dishes for this green is lightly flavored steamed bathua: steam tender leaves until brightly green but not mushy. Plate the greens and drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, fresh garlic, and a bit of soy sauce.
  • Make a raw vegan soup by blending soaked cashews, tomato, garlic, onion, lime, olive oil, dates, salt, bathua, butterfruit, and capsicum. To make a cooked soup, heat onions and garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add salt and pepper, and then toss in plain soymilk with the greens. Blend until smooth.
  • If in possession of a blender powerful enough to liquefy greens, use as part of a green smoothie. It pairs best with sweet fruits and veggies, such as beets and grapes.
  • Add the whole leaves to lentil soup recipes near the last twenty minutes of the preparation.

Salt and Vinegar Lambs Quarters Recipe
5 cups washed chopped lamb’s quarter leaves
2 tbsps. raw apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsps. of any finely chopped fresh garden herb of your choice (rosemary, basil, thyme, mint, etc.)

Wash and chop greens and place into a bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. This can be eaten fresh or you can bake this for 20 minutes at 325°F. (Spread evenly on a baking sheet.)

Lambs Quarters Herbal Salt Recipe
1 part dried lamb’s quarter leaves
1 part dried thyme or rosemary
1 part dried dill
1 part dried marjoram or oregano
2 parts dried dulce (or any available seaweed that is safe to eat)

Gently toast the dulce in a skillet until very crisp. Grind the lamb’s quarters and herbs in a blender or a coffee mill while seaweed cools. Then grind the dulce and combine with ground herbs. Store in a shaker.



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