Colorful, Wonderful Swiss Chard

Back when I named this blog I had no idea just how right on I was about greens.  They really are the magical vegetable.  By “greens,” I am referring to the leaves and stems of all edible plants.  My family incorporates them into every meal, which greens depending upon the season and what is readily available at the local farm or market (or yard).  If you need to be reminded why greens is the answer to improving animal welfare, go read my page.  I continue to stress how getting protein from plants improves not only the human condition, but also the lives of other animals, and particularly our environment.

In the cool season of Texas, it’s Swiss Chard which is related to the beet green and also to spinach, an American favorite.  Now I know many of you don’t eat your veggies regularly like I do and wonder what the heck to do with such a giant leaf, much less 10-20 of them.

Green Little Beauty
Green Little Beauty

If you’re not a fan of bitter greens (mustard, turnip), then chard may be for you.  This green, though moderately packed with sodium, it is an excellent source of potassium, known by nutritionists as “the other salt.”  Potassium acts as the anti-sodium, so if your blood pressure is high and you eat a good amount of processed foods (which tend to be high in sodium), getting your 4.7 g of daily potassium is crucial.  A banana a day just won’t cut it.

Like many other greens, Swiss chard is an excellent glucose stabilizer if you are diabetic or have concerns there.

Move over, kale.  Most of my veggie friends laud kale as the Wonder Leaf, not spinach.   Though I don’t deny the power of the Brassica, I do believe chard has got kale beat in mineral content pound for pound.  Vitamins aside,…

I present to you Wonder Kale…

Kale -- 1 cup, boiled drained
Kale — 1 cup, boiled drained

And it’s Swiss Chard!  By a nose.

Swiss Chard -- 1 cup boiled, drained
Swiss Chard — 1 cup boiled, drained

My personal favorite (and easiest) way to prepare is boiling the leaves and stems.  It helps that I have an induction cooktop; boiling anything happens lickety-split with very little heat lost to to my kitchen and my face.  I boil a pot of greens nearly every day in this way.

Boiling or “wilting” accomplishes a few things:

  1. I can control the cooking time to just cook the leaves until tender but still bright green (no mushy leaves)
  2. The hot broth gets drained off for other recipes, and rinsing next with cool water halts the cooking process.
  3. I can quickly (10-15 mins) have a base of greens for any recipe, breakfast lunch or dinner.
  4. Maximizes nutrient content in a serving size.  Who wants to eat five giant raw leaves of chard?
  5. Easy clean-up.  Pot gets rinsed, wiped down, and put away.  No oily residue.
  6. No added fats.

Rather than wowing you with gorgeous photos of recipes I’ve whipped up with these babies, I’d rather share a great article on chard that has some fantastic recipe links.  I’d like to personally ask you to substitute any animal or animal product accordingly, and thank you, Whole Foods Market, for what you do for the vegetarian world.  I personally vouch for the garlic-y, tangy, creamy Asian-flared — but very simple — Creamy Sesame Greens recipe.  No substitutions necessary, and it is Vegan-approved.

Alternately, chard — or wilted greens of any kind — work well on Spaghetti Night, a weekly round in this house of kids.  Simply substitute half [or all] of the noodles with wilted chard, top with your favorite marinara sauce, vegan meatless meatballs, and sprinkle with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan.  Voila.  Heat-and-eat dinner in, say, 10 minutes.

Yeah, but is it easy to grow?   Does a sixth-grader have stinky feet?

Tiny Garden, Giant Swiss Chard
Tiny Garden, Giant Swiss Chard

That 4×4 garden space was hastily planted after flipping a compost pile off of it.  Seeds were thrown into the area, a few sickly nursery plants rescued, and zero supplemental watering once the seedlings were off to the races.  Just cut and eat.

No animals were harmed in the making and eating of this garden, except maybe the sixth-grader who stepped on a thorny rose branch because he didn’t put shoes on first.  Tough lesson.

Greens.  For Good.  For Life.


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