Green Magic – The power of chlorophyll
The spring has turned into summer. We know this because the leaves in the trees have grown into full size. Who would have thought we experience three seasons during the lockdown? The start of the lockdown coincided with the start of the annual growth season. Plenty of time in our hands me and my family decided to dedicate our lockdown time for full observation of how nature opens up to life and what it provides for nourishment in our confined world. Without sharing the whole story of our lockdown, I am going to choose one of the most impressive findings by our experience and that is how much we have benefitted from eating nettles.
Nettles come out in full force in spring and provide the most important organic substance on earth, the green coloured chlorophyll. Known for its health benefits, especially for its detoxifying properties, chlorophyll is everywhere in nature in spring, not only in nettles. But before anything its first task is converting sunlight into a form of energy that can be consumed and benefitted by animals. So far it has been known that animals cannot capture sunlight for energy directly by being exposed to it, like plants do. However, new research shows how this is actually not true. We can capture sun’s energy directly from its rays, by eating chlorophyll. Mind-blowing to me! Not only it is now shown to be possible for us to get energy by just being outdoors, but chlorophyll also provides a sunscreen, making the skin more adaptable to the sun’s radiation.
Why am I so blown out of my mind for this? It is because this is yet another beautiful testimony of Mother Nature’s wisely planned seasonal pattern, which not only provides us what we need at any specific time but it also prepares us to the following season. In spring the body has an urge to detoxify out of winter’s stagnation, clear the blood and especially the liver and for this we need plenty of energy! The spring clean is not simply anecdotal but an actual physiological need in order to stay healthy in spring. It prepares us for the summer when liver has to be strong to cope with the heat and the increased amount of sugar coming from the summer harvest. Most interestingly, the skin will need to be able to cope with higher amounts of sunlight. As if by magic, eating enough chlorophyll can prepare the skin for better protection.
Leafy greens from gardens and forests all do the same job, not just nettles. We just have nettles in abundance around us. I collected the new fresh tender leaves and added them to anywhere I could. My daughter has eaten plentiful of nettle pancakes for breakfast and not only do they taste amazing, but also helped her to clear her skin blood and liver and give relief from eczema that tends to get worse every spring. Not this time! The recipe is from my dear grandmother who’s name Ilmi Rauha can be directly translated as “Total Peace”, often in direct contradiction with her endearingly exuberant nature. To me she was peaceful most of the times and my first inspiration in herbalism. I am grateful to her for many things especially for the chlorophyll filled nettle pancakes that have provided us so much joy and amazement. Having had only two half days of rain this spring, we are more tanned than ever, have not used any sunscreens and have had no sunburns at all. We also made a commitment to have only one proper meal a day during the lockdown and we’ve managed amazingly. I can humbly honour the power of the green magic in the nettles and other green spring foods, such as the most tasty local asparagus, that have given us the extra energy to carry on working and maintaining health during this period of global pandemic.
There is robust research showing that we should expose our skin to the sun rather than protect us from it. Seasonal living helps us to cope with the different doses by adaptation. Of course, we should be cautious if we haven’t gone through normal adaptation process in spring by for example having to be indoors most of the time, an unfortunate affair for most people having to work indoors, or stay home because of the lockdown. What we can and should do is to stay out of the hottest hours during the first part of the afternoon, protect the skin with organic cold pressed coconut oil before and after and, of course, keep eating plenty of leafy greens. Nettles (spinach and any other greens) are always around, just pick up the most tender top leaves and leave the hardy ones alone.
Savoury nettle pancakes
I rarely use measures so I am guesstimating here how much I use flour. Also, the amount of nettles can vary to your preference.
Midsized bowl of fresh tender nettle leaves (you can also use spinach)
Organic cold pressed coconut oil / organic ghee
¾ -1 cup Khorasan or spelt flour (but feel free to use any flour of your choice)
2 organic eggs
400ml organic milk (I prefer either almond or goat’s milk)
½ tsp natural salt
1 tsp raw sugar
(Choice of black or green pepper, chilli, garlic, cumin etc. Your choice!)
Wash the nettle leaves and wilt them quickly in ghee or coconut oil. Grind to smooth in mixer, add together with all the other ingredients (I use a Nutribullet) and leave for ½ h or more for the flour to thicken (I often make this in the evening and leave overnight so I can use less flour). Melt coconut oil or ghee for frying in a pan to make 3mm thick pancakes baked on both sides. Sugar in the batter should create beautiful crispy edges.
Enjoy the pancakes on their own or garnish with anything you like. My daughter likes them with butter or ghee and without any spices. I sometimes make these as our main meal, spice them more interesting and fill them in with e.g. mushrooms, cheese or other cooked and spiced veggies. The world is your versatile nettle pancake!
(Note for vegans, try chickpea water if you know the technique. I haven’t tried but am tempted. If you manage, do share your experience with me!)