June 20, 2012

Swiss Chard - Wonder Food

Swiss chard belongs in every garden
Swiss chard is a wonder food, and has been a staple of gardens around the world for centuries. It is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables around. How is it, then, that I have never eaten chard until harvesting some from my new garden allotment this spring?

I could see instantly at my garden that chard is a force of nature. Our plot was previously tended, so it was full of life when we got it, and there has been little to do except weed, water, and enjoy harvesting fresh food.

Most of the bed is in strawberries, which we will make into jam. But dominating a corner of our small raised bed is a steroidal Swiss chard that towers over everything else. It scared me at first.

A little research told me that chard is known by many, many other names. I wondered how it could actually be good with so many aliases - it was obviously trying to hide something.

Our towering plant of large leaves is known as White swiss chard, Spinach chard, or Silverbeet. But the name that convinced me of its value was 'sea kale', which is fitting as the community garden allotments are on land just a couple of kilometers from the ocean.

Sea kale, or swiss chard, is an annual plant that grows vigorously between June and November. Leaves can be continually harvested during the growing season.

Swiss Chard: Super Food
  • Swiss chard, like spinach, has many phytonutrients that have disease prevention properties.
  • Chard is an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C. Its leaves provide about 33% of daily recommended levels per 100 g.
  • Chard is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 700% of daily recommended intake.
  • It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin-A, flavonoids anti-oxidants, and B-complex group of vitamins.
  • It is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
I have gone from never having tried chard to putting it in everything. It's that good.

This versatile, easy to grow food can be used in an infinite variety of dishes, but these are a few I have tried already:
  • steamed and served with butter and vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • replaced spinach in a veggie lasagna
  • in the filling for enchiladas
  • as a pizza topping
  • replaced bok choy in noodle soup
Chard is easy to grow from seed, and can be grown in containers. With care, a plant can provide dark, green leafy goodness for years.

Consider it a low maintenance, highly productive plant in the garden or container that can provide as much good stuff as expensive pill supplements.

Sea kale is nature's supplement factory, converting soil into things every healthy body needs!

Happy summer solstice, and happy gardening.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog - love it! I'm reading it like a book, post by post from the start and it's wonderful: meaningful, well written, captivating...
    Hope you are both doing good.
    Oh, yes - I think the plant is mangold, got a bunch of it in my ecological vegetable crate some years back (delivered at the door) (extremely expensive) and used it in a wok and that was a success :)

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