Alfalfa and its properties: consumption, curiosities and art



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Alfalfa and its properties: consumption, curiosities and art

Stefania Montori and Lucia De Carolis came back to talk with us about an interesting topic for the column: Among nature, history and territory: tradition meets science. Stefania and Lucia are telling us about alfalfa.

Alfalfa honey

Alfalfa honey is attributed with anti-spasmodic, diuretic and energetic properties.

It certainly has invigorating effects being excellent for athletes, especially if eaten after training.

Alfalfa in the kitchen

The parts used in the food sector are the sprouts, rich in all the properties described above, especially vitamins and fibers.

If fresh, they can be kept in the fridge for a few days. They can be added to salads (by placing them in a bowl in tufts, without cutting them), blended together with other ingredients for sauces, centrifuged and seasonings, combined with soft cheeses or tofu, and often combined with other sprouts, such as soybeans.

Alfalfa sprouts can also be eaten raw, in soups, as a side dish and in savory pies. Or made into velvety, combined with juices and even cooked.
In vegetarian and vegan diets, alfalfa sprouts are widely used due to their innumerable properties: they amply compensate for the nutrients usually found in animal derivatives, which are not included in these diets.

To keep all their substances intact, however, it is advisable not to cook them but to consume them raw.

How to make alfalfa at home

First of all you need to get seeds for alfalfa sprouts and then a seed germinator. If you do not have this tool, do not despair because you can also use a common plate or bowl, as long as they are made of glass or ceramic.

Here is the very simple procedure: First you need to put the seeds to soak for 10 hours, making sure you have made a careful selection. Rinse and place the seeds in the sprout or in the container of your choice. Store in the container in the dark, with a cotton cloth on top instead of the lid, in order to let the necessary air pass.

Rinse the seeds by fixing a gauze or a thin net (such as those used for sugared almonds) on the top of the container with an elastic, so as not to make great efforts. This operation must be repeated 2 or 3 times a day. After the first 3 days in the dark, remove the cotton cloth and place the container in a point in contact with direct light and away from any heat source, in order to activate the chlorophyll.

Continue with the rinses for another 2 days and that's it. After a total of 5 days, the sprouts are ready to be eaten raw.

Food consumption, doses and quantities

Alfalfa can be consumed in different ways: Infusion: 2 tablespoons of dried leaves in a cup of boiling water; the herbal tea will be ready after 10/20 minutes of infusion.
Alfalfa mother tincture can be taken two to three times a day, about 20 drops in a little water.

The chlorophyll present in alfalfa, when used as a mouthwash, is perfect against halitosis as it gives a refreshing and deodorizing effect. There are also supplements in capsules based on alfalfa, which bring all the properties they are rich in to the body.
Alfalfa seeds and its derivatives can be found in organic shops, online, or in outlets specializing in gardening products; while sprouts are mainly found in organic and online supermarkets.

Curiosity

Those who know the famous Japanese anime Heidi probably remember that, at some point in the story, the little girl decides to collect alfalfa to feed her goats. Little Heidi knows that by doing so, she can enrich their milk with additional nutrients and, consequently, make breakfast for her and her friend Clara much more substantial.

In fact, also due to lack of energy, Heidi's German friend is forced to stay in a wheelchair. As can be seen from the story, goat milk and the healthy air of the mountains are the main, if not the only cure, which allows the girl to regain all the strength she needs to be able to walk again.

Precautions and advice for use

Although alfalfa is a natural product, this does not mean that there are no side effects or it cannot have contraindications. Since Alfalfa is a powerful agglomeration of fibers, these could make the use of antibiotics or other drugs ineffective, limiting their absorption.

Even its seeds, if not sprouted, are toxic and can cause blood imbalances. The use of alfalfa for therapeutic purposes must always be agreed with the treating physician or, in any case, it is good to make him aware of its use or, clarifying any possible doubts.

Patients with a particular sensitivity to one or more components of alfalfa, as well as people with gout and systemic lupus erythematosus cannot take Alfalfa.

Outline of Art

Works of art from 1885 Georges Seurat paints Champ de luzerne à Saint-Denis (Alfalfa Field in Saint-Denis), now in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.
More than 500 specimens of plants: there are many plant species in Sandro Botticelli's Primavera.

the Latin poet Ovid presents, in the Fasti di lui (here in the nineteenth-century translation in third rhyme by Giambattista Bianchi), the goddess Venus as the one who "extends her hand" to the month of April, the period in which spring begins.

Venus is the goddess who rules the world, because by instilling love in men she pushes them to reproduce, and more or less the same she does with plants, giving rise to seeds, so that the aforementioned produce their fruits.

The fecundating spirit of the goddess associated with spring is well represented by Sandro Botticelli in the first of the two masterpieces created for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de 'Medici, known as Il Popolano: Spring, in fact.
Dante names her and represents a side of the poet to the most unknown: her profound sensitivity and love for medicinal herbs, plants and flowers that are mentioned several times in the Divine Comedy.