Many people probably know how to spot it at the store or farmers' market.
But, many people we talk to say, "I just don't know what to do with it!"
Which is why our Superfood of the Month for August is...
What is it?
Swiss chard is a tall leafy green, native to southern Europe, and dates back to the fourth century B.C. Widely grown in the Mediterranean region, and very popular in Mediterranean cuisines, Swiss chard is at its best June through November.
Swiss chard is considered part of the "goosefoot" family, along with beets and spinach, because its leaves resemble a goose's foot. Swiss chard plants can grow as tall as 28 inches, and they tolerate both cool weather and heat. With their bright red, yellow, purple and orange stems, and large green leaves, they can be some of the most glamorous looking greens in your kitchen or garden!
Why Swiss chard?
Like all our Superfoods on Eat REAL America, Swiss chard is absolutely loaded with nutritional benefits:
- Just one cup of Swiss chard has 300% of our recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, which helps improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
- With its high dietary nitrates, it helps reduce blood pressure.
- Swiss chard contains chlorophyll, which helps combat cancer among other benefits!
- As a multi-disease fighting vegetable, it has impressive amounts of phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and it also helps regulate blood sugar.
How do you choose it and store it?
Select Swiss chard with bright green leaves and fresh cut stems. You want to avoid leaves that are wilted or turning yellow.
Store your Swiss chard loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, which will keep it fresh for a few days. Placing paper towels in the bag, between the leaves will help it stay fresh for up to a week. Rinse the leaves and stems just before using it to remove any dirt or grit.
Do you have to cook Swiss chard?
Swiss chard is one of the plants, along with beets, beet greens, rhubarb, and turnip greens that contain oxalates, or also known as oxalic acid. Our bodies can produce it, but you can also get it from food. Once it's consumed, oxalates bind to minerals to form compounds and most people process and eliminate these compounds with no issues. However, for some people with sensitivities, when they eat high oxalate diets, it can increase their risk of kidney stones.
To reduce the oxalate content of Swiss chard, you can boil it before sautéing it or adding it to other dishes. If Swiss chard is consumed in large quantities or eaten very frequently, it is recommended that you blanch, or boil it, for a short amount of time (about 3 minutes).
If you only eat it occasionally and prefer not to cook it, by combining high oxalate foods with dairy, such as milk, yogurt, or cheese, this can help neutralize the presence and absorption of the oxalates. Some people think Swiss chard has a bitter taste when it is raw. Cooking it will also help to remove any bitter taste.
Now the fun part...what can you do with Swiss Chard?
Yes, you can eat the leaves AND stems! If you are blanching or sautéing, and your Swiss chard stems are thicker than one inch, you may wish to give the stems a head start because they will require a little more time to soften and become tender. Watch Zonya show you one of our favorite quick and easy ways to enjoy Swiss chard...in the Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts!
Some other great tasting ideas:
Too much of a good thing?
As you can see, Swiss chard is incredible! However, certain people may want to be careful not to go overboard. For example, if you take a blood thinner or have an issue with blood clotting, contact your physician before increasing your Swiss chard intake because the high concentration of Vitamin K can interfere with some anti-clotting medications. Also, anyone with kidney or gallbladder problems should consult a nutritionist or physician regarding the appropriate amount of Swiss chard to include in their diets.
Take our Superfood Challenge!
Enjoy the wonderful taste and nutrition of Swiss chard while it's in-season!
Try Swiss chard in a variety of ways and share your successes!