Ahhh the New Year……
Even though it’s February, if you smell hard enough, the fresh scent is still in the air. The feelings of brand new beginnings and fresh starts are scattered throughout our hectic lives. It’s still a time to expand your growth and build a better future. A time to explore new and different vegetables you’ve never eaten before…
Yep that’s right, one of my new systems for 2017 is to introduce one new vegetable a month and see what we can do with it. Fight with it, figure it out, and find ways to make them more accessible to me. At the end of the year, being able to prepare and feel confident with 12 new types of food is going to be amazing.
How CHARD was Chosen:
I walked into our closest Whole Foods the first week of the new year with butterflies in my stomach. It was like going on a blind date (don’t tell my fiance). I had conquered the vegetable wall before, but with friendly looking food like broccoli and carrots. I had to find something that looked different, but approachable. I’ve had green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale before, but chard never caught my eye. I always did a nervous glance and quickly strolled by. Today was its day and with not many other choices at the time, chard was the first new vegetable of the year.
Chard has been around for thousands of years and you can generally find it in two forms in any grocery store: Swiss chard or rainbow chard. The stalks and packaging can be massive and are usually found around the kale in the produce section. It’s nutritional impact is dynamic along with it’s other dark green leafy vegetable friends. Vitamins K, C, A, E, and B6 travel with chard; along with minerals like magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, sodium, and copper. Chard contains a wealth of dietary fiber and other healthy components such as polyphenolic antioxidants, phytonutrients, and enzymes that are highly beneficial.
Calories are hard to come by with chard, you’ll only get about 20 calories from a 100g (3.5oz) serving (that’s a lot of chard!). WIthin that size of a serving you’ll get 4.13g of carbs, 2.1g of fiber, and 1.88g of protein.
How to Prepare:
I’m not going to lie to you, chard was an intimidating guest in our house. It can take up a lot of space in your refrigerator and it doesn’t stay fresh for long. You MUST have a plan when you decide to bring chard home. At our house this month we threw chard into a couple of our salads, roasted, or sauteed it.
When chard is REALLY fresh it isn’t as bitter as it can get down the line. We got a fresh batch and cut it up really tiny and threw it into our salads raw a couple times. There definitely was a distinct taste to it, but by no means did it ruin the salad.
If you are scared the chard might be really bitter, sauteing or roasting is your best bet. Throw a pan on the oven around medium heat. Coat the pan in olive oil, avocado oil, or butter and throw in some cut leaves of chard (you can eat the stem if you want to try it out). Mix it around for a couple minutes with salt and pepper and you’ll end up with a nice side green for a meal.
Roasting was even simpler. Just throw some tin foil on a baking sheet, place some cut up chard on the tin foil and coat with your desired oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste. We had it in at 350 for 15 minutes, but you can play around with that. We both enjoyed this prep a lot and thought it had really nice flavor. This was our favorite way of using and enjoying the chard we bought.
If you’ve never used chard in your life, it can be an intimidating green. The stalks are long and tough, the taste can be quite bitter at first, and it comes in different colors at times. In the end though, you can learn to love chard. Don’t throw it in the same category as a spinach or lettuce, it is closer to kale than anything. Water down the taste by sauteing or baking the beast and you can tame it for you and your loved ones. Give chard a try, it’s nutritional benefits are worth the ride!
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