Penny Howard, Certified Texas Master Gardener
Swiss Chard – the healthiest vegetable you have never eaten. Swiss Chard is a leafy green that is in the same family as beets. It is a powerhouse of nutrition and is not incorporated enough into our diets.
Chard is easy to grow in a home garden. If you aren’t a vegetable gardener incorporate it as a landscape plant for the beautiful foliage and variety of colors.
Swiss chard produces beautiful large leaves. You can find Swiss Chard in a variety of colors. My favorite is the rainbow chard. Some of the leaves are dark almost maroon with a dark green rib and stem. Others are pale green with a white rib and stem. I particularly like the ones with bright green leaves and a red or hot pink rib and stem. When I use those to make “spinach” dip, it turns the dip pink and makes me laugh. I am easily entertained.
Swiss Chard contains a long list of vitamins and minerals in the nutrition information description. Of particular interest is a large amount of Vitamin K with 379mg in a 3.5-ounce serving (Source USDA). Vitamin K plays a role in helping your body absorb calcium, thus building strong bones. It can help in the prevention of Osteoporosis. There is also a significant amount of calcium in chard to aid in bone health.
Blood Sugar Control
Chard contains a unique flavonoid that helps to keep blood sugars stable. It helps to mitigate the ups and downs of blood sugar spikes.
With a variety of anti-inflammatory and antioxidants chard can be a part of reducing blood pressure which is beneficial to heart health.
Studies link the beta-carotene in chard to improved eye health. For the beautiful hair we all want, chard contains biotin. Biotin contributes to several markers for improved hair health. The anti-oxidants in chard and other leafy greens correlate to a reduction in cancer risk, especially colon cancer.
For a more in-depth and technical description of these and other benefits of chard see the article here. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/swiss-chard.html
All This and it’s Tasty, Too!
Chard is an amazing powerhouse of nutrition wrapped up in a beautiful, tasty, and versatile package. You can use it raw in salads, as a wrap for fajitas or fish tacos, or cooked in soups, or add it in any recipe calling for spinach. It is mild flavored and cooks quickly. You can chop and cook the stems separately or simply add them to the pan first to give them an extra couple of minutes to cook. I use chard in everything from spinach dip to mashed potatoes.
When making your mashed potatoes, throw some chopped chard in the pot with your potatoes a minute or two before your potatoes are done. Strain the potatoes and chard and make your mashed potatoes as usual. If you break up the pieces very small the dish will look like parsley potatoes. They don’t change the texture or taste of the potatoes and add a huge punch of nutrition.
Get Chard into you diet
So, go to the store or farmer’s market and get a beautiful bunch of Swiss Chard! Let your imagination run wild and find new recipes. Be adventurous! Make pink chard dip. Saute your favorite veggies and add some chopped chard just long enough for it to wilt. Make a wilted chard salad with bacon.
I’d love to hear from you about any recipes you find or create with chard. I will put together some more recipes that we use, but remember if the recipe says spinach, think chard!
Get Chard in your Garden
Don’t forget to pick up a packet of seeds and try growing your own. If you don’t have a garden, try tucking it into one of your beds as an accent plant. It is beautiful and doesn’t take a lot of care. The added benefit of being able to harvest and eat it makes it that much more fun!
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