Swiss Chard is a beautiful green that resembles spinach and comes in a rainbow of colors. This is the season (Jun-Aug) for fresh chard and you don’t want to miss it. Chard is not only delicious, but it may be one of the healthiest foods you can find. It is ranked as the world’s number two healthiest vegetable by whfoods.com
Just like other memebers of the beet family, chard contains an amazing variety of phytonutrients as evidenced by its vibrant colors, the dark greens in its leaves and the rainbow of reds, purples, and yellows in its stalks and veins. Phytonutrients provide antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, or both. This means speedier recovery times for athletes.
Chard promotes excellent bone health as it contains not only calcium, but 6-8 times the daily value of vitamin K in just one cup. Chard also contains two carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin), which some studies have indicated can help protect the eyes against vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Swiss chard finds its roots (pardon the pun) in the Mediterranean. Ancient Greeks and Romans valued chard for its medicinal properties. Aristotle mentioned a red-stalked beet chard in his writings around 350 B.C.
Chard has a bitter taste when eaten raw, and the stalks are rough and chewy. For this reason, it is suggested that you boil or saute the chard to soften it before eating. A large bunch of chard will easily reduce to 2 or 3 cups once cooked. Unlike spinach, I find chard to be less ‘chalky’ tasting.
I usually prepare the swiss chard by deveining the leafs and taking the main stem out with a knife. After all the stems are out, I chop them into smaller pieces. Then in a large skillet I cook the stems in a tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat and salt and pepper to taste. Once the stems soften I add the leaves. Cook time is approximately 10 minutes.
Out of the pan and onto the plate for an easy side dish or an appetizer. Delicious.
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