Swiss Chard Healthy and Colorful!

Swiss chard

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!

 

Keep Moving!

Palmetto Marathonrunner, Alicia Chavarria

Was there a time in your life when you were very active and then stopped? Maybe you were a runner that did mini marathons or fun runs. Life got busy so you dropped out of the scene. Months, maybe even years later you decided you wanted to start up again.  A 2K run was a few weeks away so you started to run to prepare.  You got out on the road, took a few steps and thought to yourself……this is harder than I thought!  The next day…OUCH!

It’s amazing how fast the body gets out of shape, especially as you get older. Muscles don’t grow as fast and tend to shrink, they don’t stretch as easily and tissue doesn’t regenerate as well. If you remain active, you have the ability to keep the muscle and flexibility you have. Range of motion is important because as your range of motion decreases due to lack of movement, pain increases from stretching your muscles past the new limits.

Continuous movement is the key. Not only does it keep muscles in good shape, it also relieves pain. If you find yourself sore from starting up cold on a new activity, don’t give up. Stopping will only tighten up the muscles and make you feel worse in the short run. Keep moving to allow the muscles to work it out. Take it slower to allow the body to adjust and build up the endurance again.

Back to your running……. If you woke up in a lot of pain, don’t take the day off. Take a walk instead. Gradually work your way back up day by day. You may not perform as well as you hoped at the 2K, but maybe your next one you’ll be back to your original ability. Unfortunately, depending on your age, you may never get back what you had.

I hate to end this post with a depressing fact, but without being active, your body will only deteriorate. This loss with age should be an incentive enough to …..KEEP MOVING.

 

How much sleep do I need?

Bed

Don’t you hate it when you can’t sleep? You lay there staring at the ceiling and checking the clock every 15 minutes anticipating your alarm. This becomes very frustrating if it continues night after night. Even worse than the frustration is the exhaustion you feel with lack of sleep. Whether your insomnia is from being in a strange or new place, from having too much on your mind or from something physical, like a painful injury or illness, you need to resolve it as soon as you can!

Your body needs sleep to restore itself after a day of work, play or even what you may consider relaxation. Restoring means pushing oxygen and blood into areas that may have not received enough during the day, healing injuries, fighting invaders, refreshing brain patterns and fixing small variations in your cells. A person cannot survive without a good amount of sleep. The body doesn’t function properly without it. Have you ever noticed how poorly you think or react to things on a day after you didn’t get enough sleep? You can literally make yourself ill by not getting enough sleep. It’s even been found that people with insomnia have a higher chance of getting diabetes and heart disease!

How much sleep do you need?

In general you need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. You should expect to slightly wake up 1 or 2 times a night as part of a normal sleep cycle.  The cycle usually starts with around 4 hours of sleep, waking up a little, followed by two more 1-2 hour increments. Your sleep requirements are slightly higher when you are younger and decrease with age.

How can I help myself sleep better?

Many people don’t realize what they are doing that causes their lack of sleep. Here is a list with what I consider the easiest ways to fix insomnia in order of impact.

  • Remove simulants from your diet. This means coffee, black tea, green tea and chocolate.
  • Check with your doctor for medications you might be taking that could cause insomnia.
  • Increase your activity level in the day, but don’t work out 4-5 hours before you go to bed.
  • Stop eating 2-3 hours before you go to sleep.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Consider how much time you spend in bed. Don’t hold back on buying the best mattress and pillow!
  • Only use the bedroom for sleep.
  • Do not watch TV in bed.

Hopefully after trying a couple of these you will finally get a good night’s rest!