Produce Pick of the Week: Swiss Chard

If you are a Parks and Rec fan, don’t worry, I won’t be recommending chard juice shots just yet, but you might just think about becoming a “Chardbody” after learning about this nutritional powerhouse. I am just loving this breezy and sunny time of year in the beautiful PNW, especially perusing the Farmers Markets in Tacoma and picking up these gems from the Proctor district - Swiss chard!

fullsizeoutput_23a3.jpeg

Those big, beautiful, deep green leaves coupled with their bright reddish pink stalk are so eye-catching I couldn’t pass them up. Chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach so it is no wonder they have that same bitter-salty taste combo in both their leaves and stalks. You may have seen rainbow chard at your local grocery store or Farmers Market which consists of all three color stalks: white, red, and yellow; but remember when it comes to vegetables, the more variety of color the better! 

Chard isn’t only pretty to look at but this Mediterranean native has great nutritional benefits as well. It’s major highlights include carotenes, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins C, E, K, B6, and are additionally rich in several key minerals.

Due to its plethora of micronutrients and phytochemicals, chard has been the topic of research studies examining digestive tract cancers, and it turns out to be extremely beneficial in preventing and decreasing severity of these conditions. Its high vitamin K content (1 cooked cup of chard = almost 400% of daily vitamin K value), is crucial in maintaining bone health and supporting bone mineralization.

But what do I do with it?? First of all, if you are at the grocery store look for it in the chilled section so it will be able to maintain its crispness, as well as leaves and stalks that are bright colors and free of holes. Chard commonly has a lot of sand and soil left on it, so rinse thoroughly before using if you want to skip out on those dietary additions.

My favorite way of preparing chard is to braise with a little olive oil and white whine vinegar and top it off with some lemon juice, seasoning, and a few nuts. You could also add it to a variety of dishes including pasta dishes, stir-frys, omelets, soups, or simply sprinkle on top of your normal green salad. Wherever you would usually use spinach or another bitter leafy green, try out chard to not only mix-it up but reap the benefits of this green gem. Just a word of caution, if you are prone to kidney stones you may want to skip the chard due to its high oxalate content and therefore ability to aid in forming stones. How can you add chard to one meal this week?