About Quelites

May 26, 2008

About Quelites

When our southern Arizona summer blasts its hot air through fields and gardens, the only greens that naturally grow around us are quelites and purslane, and both make regular appearances in our CSA shares. Many of us often rather buy well-traveled greens at the store than enjoy these local greens that naturally appear in our back yards after the first summer rains.  We tend to consider them as weeds and overlook their good flavor and valuable nutritional qualities.

However, quelites, also know as Mexican wild greens, are consumed in large quantities in Mexico and many other parts of the world, where they are grown as crops as well as harvested wild. The Mexican term quelites generally refers to either amaranth greens (pigweed), or to lamb’s quarters (goosefoot or chenopodium), although in Mexico many other wild greens are collectively known as quelites. Essentially, quelites can be cooked like spinach, hence their other appellation of wild spinach.

Amaranth greens are a very good source of vitamins including beta-carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, and folate, and dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. However their moderately high content of oxalic acid inhibits the absorption of calcium and zinc, and also means that they should be avoided or eaten in moderation by people with kidney disorders, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis.

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