Just two seasons ago I had know idea what to do with Swiss Chard. But, I bought some because it is so beautiful- and it is pretty enough to be grown for gorgeous foliage all on its own. But it would be just silly to not harvest and eat those beautiful leaves.
One cup of chopped Swiss chard has just 35 calories and provides more than 300% of the daily value for vitamin K plus it is one of the best sources for magnesium. Magnesium is an important trace mineral that is missing in most of our diets. Most soils are depleted of this mineral which is why it is important to purchase organic Chard or grow it yourself.
Growing Chard is very easy. Plant in spring or fall. Harvest leaves individually and the plant will keep producing more. Chard is one plant that can grow in partial shade. Fertilize with organic fertilizers and compost tea so as to add the trace minerals to the soil thereby enabling the Chard to pick them up and make them available for you. For more details on growing Chard, click here.
Here is a little more about the great veggie-
Chard features distinctly large dark-green leaves with prominent petiole well-developed edible stalk. Generally, its leaves are harvested at various stages of maturity. While the whole plant with its tender young leaves can be harvested for salad preparation, individual large-size, mature leaves with slightly tough texture stem may be picked up for sautéing and cooking in dishes.
- Green stalk: Lucullus.
- Red stalk: Charlotte, Rhubarb Chard.
- Multi-color stalk: Bright lights (white, orange, yellow, purple, pink).
- Swiss chard, like spinach, is the store-house of many phytonutrients that have health promotional and disease prevention properties.
- Chard is very low in calories (19 kcal per 100 g fresh, raw leaves) and fats, recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
- Chard leaves are an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin, vitamin-C. Its fresh leaves provide about 33% of recommended levels per 100 g. As a powerful water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin C helps to quench free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) through its reduction potential properties. Research studies suggest that regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C help maintain normal connective tissue, prevent iron deficiency, and also help the human body develop resistance against infectious agents by boosting immunity.
- Chard is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 700% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
- It is also rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin-A, and flavonoids anti-oxidants like ß-carotene, α-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert to vitamin A inside the body.
- It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.
- It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation.
Regular inclusion of chard in the diet has been found to prevent osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, and vitamin-A deficiency; and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and colon and prostate cancers.
So, now that you know why you should eat this little jewel you may wonder how-
Swiss Chard can be cooked the same way you would spinach- saute in butter, steam, roast, chop and add it to green salads. The stalks can be chopped and added to soups and broth.
A dish that we love for breakfast, lunch or dinner is listed below.
Swiss Chard, Mushroom, and bacon Saute with eggs.
1/2 pound of Swiss Chard- about 6 large leaves with stems
6-8 mushrooms of your choice (or more if you like)
1/4 lb of bacon, diced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or pressed
2- tbsp olive oil, if needed
Cut stems from Swiss Chard leaves and chop like you would celery. Chop leaves and set aside
In large stainless steal or cast iron skillet, brown bacon over medium heat. When bacon is just turning brown add onion, swiss chard stalks, and mushrooms. Saute until the onion becomes clear. If the pan is smoking, reduce heat and add olive oil.
Add the chopped Swiss chard and garlic, saute for 2 minutes or so- until wilted and tender.
Now, make four wells in the cooking mixture and break one egg into each well. If you need more oil, add olive oil. Let cook for 1-2 minutes for sunny side up, place lid on pan and cook for another minute for “over easy” or leave lid on until the eggs are cooked through if so desired.
Serve and enjoy! A nice piece of crusty bread goes very well.