Have you ever seen neon colored stems in your greens section of the grocery store? Have you ever wondered what it is or if it’s healthy for you? It’s called Swiss chard. Not only is it colorful, it’s also known to be healthier than many of the other nutritious greens.
Swiss chard was first documented to be eaten in 400BC, but it did not come from Switzerland as some people assume, it came from the Mediterranean.
If you want to grow Swiss chard it’s fairly easy. You can buy small potted plants or it’s cheaper to buy seeds. Soak seeds for 15 minutes and then plant in rows a couple inches apart in a sunny spot. As they get bigger, thin seedlings 8 inches apart. They tolerate cooler weather which is why you are probably seeing a lot at this time of year. The color of the Bright Lights hybrid is spectacular for not only your garden for also for your plate.
To harvest, cut the individual leaves off at the base as they get to a size you prefer. The smaller, the tenderer they will be. More leaves will grow on the plant after you harvest.
If you are purchasing Swiss chard from the grocery store, select leaves that are firm and bright colored. Avoid leaves that are wilting, torn or have holes. Do not wash until you are ready to eat them. Store dry in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keep this vegetable cool to keep it crisp and healthy. Do not use warm water to wash.
There are a number of ways to enjoy Swiss chard. They have a far milder flavor than heavy greens like kale. You can eat fresh in salads if you cut out the stem. The stems are usually too stringy to eat fresh. You can cook them just like any other green. I like them cooked and added to my scrambled eggs. You can also juice them. Swiss chard has been known to be one of the best cleansing vegetables.
Swiss chard is loaded with 13 antioxidants that are known to help regulate blood sugar, digestion and calcium absorption. This green is an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, E and K, potassium, magnesium, iron and manganese. There is only one concern with Swiss chard. It contains a good amount of oxalic acid which is beneficial but can be a problem for people prone to kidney stones. If you are one of these people, discuss with your doctor before you make Swiss chard a regular part of your diet. Cooking the Swiss chard will reduce the concentration.
So there you go. You now know everything about this colorful, healthy vegetable. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is a good time to try!