Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Swiss Chard, My New Friend.

Frequently, at the farmers' markets, I am asked about Swiss chard - "How do I cook this?" Having a somewhat elusive reputation - Swiss chard deserves some attention.

Belonging to the chenopod family makes Swiss chard kin to beets, spinach and quinoa. Often used in Mediterranean dishes, it is not only versatile, but nutrient dense as well. This article is a good resource touting the benefits of this terrific green.

Baby Swiss Chard

"Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around and ranks second only to spinach following our analysis of the total nutrient-richness of the World's Healthiest vegetables." 
"Recent research has shown that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants, including kaempferol, the cardioprotective flavonoid that's also found in broccoli, kale, strawberries, and other foods."
"Like beets, chard is a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. In the betalain family are found reddish-purple betacyanin pigments as well as yellowish betaxanthin pigments. Both types can be found in chard! In the reddish-purple stems of chard and the reddish-purple veins in the leaves, scientists have identified at least 9 betacyanin pigments, including betanin, isobetanin, betanidin, and isobetanidin. In the yellowish stems and veins, at least 19 betaxanthin pigments have been identified, including histamine—betaxanthin, alanineĆ¢ˆ'betaxanthin, tyramine-betaxanthin, and 3-methoxytyramine—betaxanthin. Many of the betalain pigments in chard have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione. So you can see that in the case of chard, beauty is far from just skin deep!"
Wow! What a shining star, this green leaf we humbly call Swiss chard!  I'm humbly honored to be growing this super-fantastic nutrient-dense food that travels just a short ways, always chemical-free, to the farmers' markets near you.

And now let us continue with some nutritional facts:

  • 1 cup of Swiss chard has only 7 calories
  • Low in carbohydrates, it has only 1 gram (dietary fiber 1 g)
  • Zero cholesterol or fat
  • Sodium 77mg (3% of Daily Value)
  • Excellent source of vitamins A, C & K
  • Good source of potassium, fiber, iron and magnesium
When individuals ask me what it tastes like, I tell them it tastes like dirt. What I probably should say with a bit more tact is that it tastes "earthy." 

But why is Swiss chard called Swiss chard? Because it was discovered by a Swiss botanist and is a part of the Beta vulgaris family. Or, beets, as you might know. It sometimes goes by the names silverbeet, Roman kale, and strawberry spinach, as detailed in this article which also has a terrific recipe for a low-fat frittata. What a perfect combination; fresh-from-the-farm eggs and Swiss chard!

Of course, all good things in moderation, right? I did read in the aforementioned article that Swiss chard contains oxalates, which can potentially lower the body's absorption of calcium and can contribute to kidney stones - that's IF you are prone to kidney stones in the first place, though.  

More recipe links:

And there are hundreds more - just "Google" Swiss Chard Recipes and you'll have a plethora of ideas to explore. 

So, that sums up our new best friend, Swiss chard, I do hope you'll find some soon and try a recipe - and do let me know what you think about the taste of dirt earth!


A Daughter of the King said...

This is great! Thank you!

Unknown said...

I grow tons of chard over winter and spring. We love it and put in everything. Pasta, eggs paninis, veggie bowls you name it I find a way to add it in :) its a hardy plant too that the squirrels don't bother.

wtf-ery said...

You're welcome! Enjoy :)

wtf-ery said...

It is so versatile and nutritious! I love it!
And it is as beautiful as it is useful :)

Carol J. Alexander said...

Once we tasted Swiss chard, we could no longer eat soup without it. We also love it on pizza! This is a must have in the garden. I like the rainbow chard too because it puts more color in the jar of soup.

Unknown said...

We planted Swiss Chard in our fall garden for the first time this year. We live along the Tx Gulf Coast and can garden all year. We started harvesting in in November and have been harvesting since. Today was 105 degrees and it is still growing. I'm hoping to keep them alive until they go to seed so I can save the seeds. It really is an amazing plant.

wtf-ery said...

It is lovely in everything it is paired with!

wtf-ery said...

Hopefully you'll be able to grow it year round! Would love to see photos! Post them on my facebook page and I'll share them - I'm on a mission to spread the word about how wonderful Swiss chard IS!