Wild Food Recipe Secrets

Substituting wild edible plants for your favorite cookbook ingredients

Many have asked me where I find recipes for my wild menus, especially after they have enjoyed foraging, cooking and eating a delicious wild meal on our spacious front porch! I tell them that it is SIMPLE and not at all complicated. Choose a recipe from any cookbook and make it wildly yours.

Creating a wild dish is merely a matter of ADDITION and eventually with practice…SUBSTITUTION.

Eating a Wild Mexican Food Feast together after having foraged for the food and cooked it together in my kitchen. Everything was wildly delicious!

Addition & Substitution

To begin cooking with wild edible plants simply ADD something wild to your favorite recipe; it can be as simple as garnishing with edible flowers to jazz up your presentation or adding Chickweed leaves to your basil pesto for it’s nutritional value…

Learn by doing.   As you learn about each wild edible plant start looking for them in healthful locations nearby, begin harvesting them and preparing them into your menus!

As confidence is gained through personal experience you can begin SUBSTITUTING wild plants in place of the cultivated veggies.  If a recipe calls for cucumbers try using Cattail shoots instead.  Or if a recipe calls for garlic, Ramps are the perfect substitute…. It’s simple really…common sensical, just as you learned to shop for fresh produce at the grocery store you can do the same in nature and have fun in the process!

First Go Shopping

Shopping together in God’s Green Shopping Centers

Then Garble (sort, trim, quality control) your groceries to prepare or preserve for later

If this were your groceries what would you cook for dinner?

Learn with me

In my Forage to Feast events and instructional videos, I give detailed instructions on what part of each plant is edible, when is the prime harvesting time and wild tips for delicious preparation.  Preparation is the key to being wildly successful.   A plant may be edible but not palatable if it isn’t prepared well! But THAT is the topic of another blog!

I am here to help you learn from my years of trial and error and wild successes how to become a wild forager and cook!

Wild Substitutions A-B-C’s

Here is a short illustrated list of common vegetables and possible Wild Substitutions to spark your imagination!

Asparagus = Milkweed stalks (early Spring and supple, less than 10″ tall)

Just like asparagus Milkweed early Spring shoots has a tender meristematic growing tip and the lower part that connects to the root is inedible and tough. This picture shows the inedible tough part on the left (to be composted) the early Milkweed leaves on the right (only tender young tiny Milkweed leaves are edible) and in the middle is our ‘asparagus’ I prepared it al dente and poured over a Bernaise sauce for dinner.

Broccoli = Milkweed flower buds not only look like broccoli but taste like them

Milkweed Flower Bud Casserole w/ Feta Cheese

Carrots = Queen Anne’s Lace first year roots, Burdock roots

The only thing not wild in this delicious lunch is the rice and cherry tomatoes. Sweet and Sour Burdock root….be sure to dig up a first year root or the Spring of the second year root then decoct till tender.

Celery = Dandelion crowns, Thistle stalks (deprickled)

Dandelion crown (celery substitute) wild cheese casserole; Ramps for garlic and Morels for mushrooms.

Cheese = Milkweed seed pods (larger than an inch and before the seeds turn beige)

Milkweed at the ‘cheese’ stage has a sweet flavor and the consistency of a mozzarella cheese stick. Use these cheesy surprises however you would use cheese.

Chips = Queen Anne’s Lace flowers, Broadleaf Plantain ‘Kale’ Chips

Plantago major (broadleaf Plantain) fat leaves make wonderful seasoned ‘kale’ chips, season and bake till crisp.

Coffee = Dandelion Root roasted, Chicory root roasted

Cucumber = Cattail (early shoots), Borage flowers

Cattail shoots in the Spring taste exactly like CUCUMBERS!! I use them for my Greek wild food feasts as Tzatziki sauce.

Corn on the cob = Cattail (green female flower heads)

The Cattail is the Supermarket of the Swamp! The ‘Corn of the Cob’ stage is the female green flowers that when pollinated by the golden male pollen (above it) turns brown like a hot dog. I love to boil these green cobs with a portion of the stem to hold as you eat it buttered and salted like corn on the cob. It tastes like artichokes to me.

Flour = Amaranth seeds, or grinding dried edible leaves into green powder, Cattail roots, Yucca Root

Acorn flour bread, Chestnut butter, Autumn Olive Berry cream cheese dip for apples for a wild lunch.

Garlic = Ramps, Garlic Mustard

Ramps are such a delicacy, the bulbs and the green leaves taste like a sweet garlic. Make Ramp butter to freeze in molds to enjoy all year long.

Green Beans = Burdock stems, Milkweed shoots

Milkweed Early Spring Shoots Buttered and Salted

Hamburger = Burdock roots

Burdock root is a delicacy in Asia, it is called Gobo root. It can be purchased at Whole Foods or just dig it up yourself. I have used this root to make taco meat, pepperoni, hamburgers, stir fries even mushrooms…the secret is in preparation.

Jams and Jellies = Beauty Berry, Autumn Olive Berry, Blackberry…

Wild jams, jellies, fruit leathers and gummies…

Lemon = Japanese Knotweed, Sumac, Sheep Sorrel, Oxalis…

Young lemony Knotweed shoots waiting to be sliced for storage in my freezer

Lettuce = Chickweed, Violet leaves, Dandelion leaves, Wood Sorrel

Wild edible greens and flowers to make a completely wild and wonderful salad.

Mushrooms = Chicken of the Woods, Morels, Puffballs…

Noodles = Yucca flowers

Yucca flowers have an amazing texture and when boiled for a few minutes in salted water have the texture of a noodle. Last Summer at one of my wild food feasts we made Yucca Noddle Alfredo!

Okra = Milkweed pods sliced, parboiled and fried in seasoned corn flour

At our Wild BBQ we had Autumn Olive Berry BBQ sauce and breaded Milkweed seed pods (at the potato stage) as amazing OKRA! It was incredible!

Onion = Wild Alium

Wild Onions are the first things up the late Winter, early Spring. Use them like chives or dig up their white bulbs for more of an oniony flavor.

Peas = Dandelion flower buds (before they open the first time), Evening Primrose flower buds

Pickles = Milkweed shoots, Purslane shoots,

Purslane is such an amazing gift from God! Nutrient dense and high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. This succulent makes fantastic pickles!

Potatoes = Milkweed seed pods (early, when they are about an inch long, firm and green), Jerusalem Artichoke roots

The Potato Stage – These tiny potatoes are the beginning of the Milkweed seed pod, harvest them when they are one inch long and quite firm. Any longer and they morph into the ‘cheese’ stage. Cook them whole, or slice and cook in bacon grease as hashbrowns.

Nuts = Hickory nuts, Black Walnuts, Chestnuts, Beechnuts, Butternuts, Acorns

Back from foraging in early October with Chestnut Oak acorns, White Oak acorns, Crabapples… Feeling blessed!

Soda = any wild flower or flavorful root or berry plus fermentation

Lacto bacilli a bacteria that protects Winter roots can be used to create a ferment and a fizzy soda. I like using Burdock, Ginger and Dandelion roots for this, just feed them sugar and wait.

Spinach = any number of wild edible leaves but my favorite substitutions for Spinach are: Lambsquarter, Nettle or Poke

Savory Dandelion blossom fritters on a bed of sautéed Dandelion leaves

Sugar / Syrup = Meadowsweet (sugar), wild berries (jams), tapping Sugar Maples for Maple syrup


I collect and freeze Elderberry umbels to make Elderberry syrup in the Winter.

Teas Hot or Cold = Flavorful wild leaves dried and stored to infuse, Berries or roots to decoct and sweeten..

Pine Needle tea, Birch tea, Beebalm tea, Goldenrod punch, Beauty Berry water kefir all chilled and ready for my wild food feast.

Water = tap an edible tree, Hickory, Birch, Maple to get fresh water

Boiling on the stove top….for hours. Clear Maple sap tasty like pure water with a twinge of sweetness to it. The brown liquid in the glass jug jar in front is the final boiled down syrup.

Wine = Sumac berries, Dandelion Blossoms, Elderflowers, Blackberries….so many options for making meads and wines

Wild Meads brewing: Sumac, Elderberry, Sassafras…

Follow Nature’s Wave

Follow nature’s wave with the seasons and eat fresh the wild offerings within each season.   As you get more experience with identifying, harvesting, preparing and cooking these wild green gifts begin making up your own recipes by incorporating wild edible plants into your favorite recipes.  Your family will never know! (maybe) and you will be having fun, eating healthier nutrient dense foods, and saving money.  That is a good deal!  A God deal!

So…what do YOU see?

So back to the picture I posted at the beginning of this post.  The Dandelion groceries spread on my table….  I asked what you would cook for dinner if these were your groceries.  Do you have a better idea now?

Dandelion harvest, garbled (sorted and cleaned). Roots to be roasted and powdered for coffee, leaves for salads or stir fries, crowns for celery and casseroles, flower buds for peas, blossoms for fritters or wine…. Versatile, supremely nutritious and delicious…DANDELION one of our best green gifts.

If you want to use my favorite recipes, I will be providing them in my upcoming E-Book

Wild Blessings – From Forage to Feast

In future blogs I will be helping you rediscover ways to use God’s green gifts in your wild pantry: wild seasonings, wild thickeners, wild teas, wild flours, wild fermentation and I will teach you how to preserve your wild harvest year round.

So much nutritional abundance to be discovered FREE for the knowing, the picking and the preparing.

Wild Blessings are abounding!! I am here to help you reclaim your wild heritage, knowledge that our ancestors knew and kept them alive and well.

“We look to You to give us our food, in due season,

You give to us we gather it up,

You open Your hand we are satisfied,

You send forth your Spirit and we are created and

You renew the face of the ground.”

Psalms 104 :27-30



  1. You have hit on EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to do myself!! So amazing!! You are way, way head of me in everything you’ve been doing. I’m working on it though. My two granddaughters are the only ones that will try my wild foods and they leave my home with stars in their eyes. I’m hoping all the info I try to get into their heads – sticks! So fun, so wonderful and so tasty! I look forward to your e-book.

    • Oh Nina, I have been organizing my photos so I can write my blogs and happened upon ones of you just yesterday at a Spring Fling in 2012. I hope you are doing well. I miss you!

  2. God has blessed you with so much knowledge and a clear, fun way to teach it! Thank you!

  3. Amazing! I love how learning from you takes the “scary “ out of eating wild edibles. I can’t wait to try your recipes!

    • Thanks Brook. I love the way you bring wild offerings to our Young Living gatherings: Queen Anne’s Lace cake, Red Clover jelly, Chickweed salads… You do pretty well yourself hon. And when you think of all the abundance in your yard that grows without any help from you it makes you even more grateful because you have to work so hard to grow the cultivars! Love you!

  4. Absolutely excellent! So inspiring. God, in His kindness, has provided so much for us. We, in our ignorance, have neglected this wisdom for far too long! Thank you for bringing this once common practice back to our modern day.

  5. Sharon Haddad says

    Wow Holly! Your passion for foraging from field or wood to table is so inspiring! I feel so fortunate and blessed to have been able to join you on a few foraging adventures, to learn about the wild world around us, how to gather, prep and cook…and then best of all…sit at your table to thoroughly enjoy the fruits of our labor. Thank you thank you, friend. Looking forward to your cookbook! And to seeing you again!

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