It’s really chard not to fall in love with this vegetable.
Ugh, I know I’m a nerd, but I couldn’t resist you guys. Earlier this week, I was gushing about my sweet friend and fellow nutrition nerd Katie Lemons (@twist_of_lemons on Instagram) and she’s majorly into food puns so I’ve had them on my mind.
When it comes to eating the rainbow, there’s nothing better than a big ‘ol bunch of beautiful chard. Specically rainbow chard. SWOON.
Let’s dive right into the deets of what makes GORGEOUS Swiss and rainbow chard so good for you.
The Curated Kitchen:
WHAT IS IT? //
Chard is more commonly known as Swiss Chard. It is a member of the same family as spinach and beets. It’s stalk can be either white, yellow, or red and when all three types are sold together, it’s affectionately called “rainbow chard” (as shown in the images), which is probably one of the main reasons that I love it so much. Both the robust leaves and firm stalk has a slightly bitter, salty flavor and as with most greens, there are plenty of health benefits to adding them to your diet.
WHY YOU NEED IT //
Turmeric is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which are attributed to the aforementioned active compound curcumin, which is also a very potent antioxidant.
RICH SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANT POLYPHENOLS
Chard leaves may contain as many as 13 different kinds of this flavonoid antioxidant, including syringic acid, which is known for its regulatory affect on blood sugar levels. It’s presence in the body helps inhibit an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates, thus, helping to lessen their affect on and improve blood sugar.
If you recall from the Curated Kitchen post on beets, betalains are a specific phytonutrient that help promote detoxification pathways in the body. They also lend anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
LEGIT SOURCE OF VITAMIN K
One cup of cooked Swiss chard provides nearly 400 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and bone health by helping to transport calcium throughout the body. If you’re taking prescription anticoagulants (i.e. blood thinners like Coumadin), you would want to discuss increasing or decreasing consumption of foods like Swiss chard since the high vitamin K content can interfere with the effects of medication. The clinical RD in me had to at least mention it!
OTHER VITAMINS + MINERALS OF NOTE
Excellent source of vitamins C and E, carotenes, fiber, magnesium, and chlorophyll. It’s also got heaps of iron, potassium, and manganese. Good source of vitamin B6, calcium, thiamine, zinc, folic acid, and selenium.
WAYS TO EAT ‘IT //
Before using chard in cooked or raw dishes, be sure to wash the leaves really well, as they can hold onto a lot of dirt. A few could rinses should do the trick or try using a non-toxic, food-safe vegetable soap or rinse. If you’re using it in a raw salad, you might want to trim the thicker stalk away and only use the softer veined leave near the top.
If you’re cooking it, almost all of it will soften enough for easy eating, but you could also apply the same principle of removing the thicker stalk.
Here’s a few of my favorite ways to enjoy Swiss and rainbow chard…
Steamed. Add a little H2O to a pan and cook greens until wilted. Drain any excess water and enjoy however you like!
Sautéed with garlic and lemon. Simple and delicious! Saute a bit of garlic in olive oil and then add the chard until wilted. Drizzle with olive oil a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt and/or red chili pepper flakes. Yum.
Toast. Lightly steamed chard is delicious on top of toast with a fried egg or hummus.
Pasta + Noodles + Pizza. While I advocate eating bread and pasta products in small amounts, a little pizza never hurt anyone, am I right?! Especially if you crazy with loading it up with nutrient-dense vegetables like Swiss chard. Make me proud people!
Omelets + Frittatas + Quiche. Similar to other greens, you can add sauteed chard to any type of egg dish.
Smoothies + Smoothie Bowls. I’m always adding a random greens to my smoothies, even the bitter ones! Try it—you won’t be able to taste them if you add banana, green apple, or other fruits. Promise.
Salads + Grain Bowls. Add it to your salads and roasted vegetable or grain bowls for a nutrient-packed meal.
Soup + Broths + Stews. Add greens to any soup for an extra boost of phytonutrients. No need to pre-cook, simply add to the hot soup and watch them wilt right in!
Snacks (Char Chips, Anyone?). Rinse chard leaves well and pat dry. Preheat oven to 425-degrees Fahrenheit and brush a baking sheet with coconut oil. Break apart chard into small chip-sized leaves and distribute evenly across baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes until crispy.
SHOP SMART //
Nearly all varieties of Swiss chard are available at local grocery stores in the produce section with other greens. You can also find it at farmer’s markets when in season, which is during the summer (June through August). However, here in California we seem to be able to get it year round, as I’ve always found it at our local farmer’s market.
When buying any greens but especially chard, look for sturdy, crisp leaves and stalks free of insect bites and tears. The leaves should also be bright green without any yellowing. Pass on wilted and weathered looking chard—it’s likely been left outside of a chilled environment for too long.
After purchase, don’t wash or rinse it, as doing so will encourage mildew to grow. Instead, wrap it in plastic and store it in the refrigerator for up to five days. After you’ve cooked it, the chard will keep for about one to two days.
TIPS + ADVICE //
As noted above, anyone on blood thinning medication should talk to their physician about drug-nutrient interactions before adding or removing leafy greens to their diet. Capiche?
YOUR THOUGHTS >>>
How do you like to eat Swiss or rainbow chard? What’s your favorite recipe? Share it below so we can all enjoy it. 🙂