The Garden of Eatin’ … (Episode 4, Swiss Chard, “Beauty and Brains”)

Beauty is obvious, but also a nutrient dense "Brain Food", and a "No Brainer" choice for my beginner's edible garden.

from my garden, a "bug's eye view" of my Rainbow Swiss Chard

To use the perfect sports analogy, Rainbow Swiss Chard definitely was the perfect first round draft choice, as the "Face of the Franchise", the perfect starting quarterback of my "Garden of Eatin" team.

It is definitely earning its keep for me, the "Urban Soul Farmer", as pure Garden Graffiti, with its vibrant, somewhat "macho" decor, loves bad Seattle weather, and is plain old "good eats".

And, most importantly, easy to grow, for the guy that killed a cactus back in college…………..

from this one starter plant below……

……came this

….and this

….BUT WAIT!!!  there's more…..also this

Below: I gave this little bug in my planter my iPhone and said to him….
"Yo' man, can you go up in there and snap a photo for me?"

Swiss Chard, the quick, obligatory, Nutrition Science bla-bla-bla

Ranks second only to spinach on the Whole Foods Website analysis of the total nutrient-richness of the World's Healthiest vegetables

Contains at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants, one of the primary flavonoids found in the leaves of chard is a flavonoid called syringic acid.

Syringic acid has received special attention in recent research due to its blood sugar regulating properties, and thus a promising diabetes fighter. Many of the betalain pigments in chard have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.

 The red and yellow betalain pigments found in the food family which includes Chard, are considered unique in their health value

The large root system of Rainbow Chard makes good use of the cloth "Smart Pots"

Smart Pots allow for more root development than Terra Cotta and other hard pots, as the root structure will blend into the fabric and allow for more root volume, as opposed to circling around in hard pots searching for nutrients (you can actually grow a tree in a Smart Pot).

…there is this "super fine" 40+ year old super fit woman in my building, I think she is a Personal Trainer, she is always admiring my garden.

She doesn't know it yet, but I'm gonna give her a bouquet of colorful chard leaves wrapped in a bow. Now how many brothers on this planet have thought of that move? (I'm what we call an "Old School Playa', from the Himalaya 🙂 )

…things I learned about Rainbow Swiss chard

** not really Swiss in origin, but originated in the Mediterranean

** My plants seem to wilt and go lifeless in direct sun, but get vibrant and stand straight up at night time, and in colder, rainy, cloudy, misty, more dreary weather (I'm in Seattle, so they picked the right city for that behavior)

** my small plants were pretty OK with replanting, some I replanted 3 times, to get the right arrangement in my planters. Some leaves would drop off and die (I cut them off), or the whole plant would lay down and flop for a day or two, but none ever died, they would always eventually spring back to life

** my yellow and orange plants and stalks seem to grow tallest

** I heard the reason some bunches come out multi-colored while others may be straight yellow, red, or orange, is because some Rainbow Chard seeds are actually 3 seeds fused into one

** Chard is supposed to be a hardy plant that can handle a brief dry spell, but lack of water causes the roots to grow deeper, and the energy and nutrient transference to make deeper roots makes the leaves less sweet, so water liberally

Quick Swiss Chard Food Prep tips…..

Rinse Swiss Chard under cold running water. Do not soak chard as this will result in the loss of water-soluble nutrients to the water. Remove any area of the leaves that may be brown, slimy, or have holes.

Boiling is recommended to free up acids and allowing them to leach into the boiling water; this brings out a sweeter taste from the chard. In similar fashion to spinach, research has shown that the boiling of spinach in large amounts of water helps decrease the oxalic acid content

For me personally, I will probably be doing a hybrid of some raw Chard and some boiled or steamed, to add to my smoothies, although I always ate my high oxalic acid  spinach raw and it never bothered me.  (excessive oxalic acid can supposedly promote kidney stones, but no way can I believe spinach and chard be "bad for you")

I'm assuming with healthy lifestyle and diet, the body knows how to process out oxalic acid, and we would have known by now, from a historical perspective,  if problems can occur from casually eating Chard or Spinach, but they have the opposite reputation of being very healthy.

Some sources say the stems are safe to eat and others don't recommend. I'm assuming that the issue is veggie stems are often fibrous and harder to digest. Remember, many veggies [like kale] were historically always cooked, and only in the recent raw foodie movement were many things attempted to be eaten raw. I will be steaming or boiling my stems, saving them, and throwing them into the blender with the rest of my smoothies.

Though I respect the "raw foodies", as I wrote in another article, Swiss Chard is definitely in the category of…..
veggies which are equally or more nutritious cooked or steamed as opposed to raw

The "Catch 22" to growing such a visually appealing plant is that I don't want to cut it and eat it, I want see how big the plants can grow……

To help with the urge to get some "Chard Eatin' " going, I also have a pot of Chard from seeds, and I am snipping that "baby chard" for my current garden salads, very tender and tasty leaves……

But, with those big chard plants,  I'm learning that cutting some of the leaves transfers the energy of the plant to the remaining leaves, and the remaining leaves grow faster and more robust

…..and those leaves I trim off get a "Standing Room Only" slot in my daily smoothies

Below: Swiss Chard is a substitute for any Collard Wrap Recipe, like the one pictured below.

Right now, I'm really digging a little leftover Whole Foods Rotisserie Chicken, warmed up with olive oil in a pan
"juicy" it up), coarse ground Black Pepper and Healthy/Tasty Pink Himalayan Salt from a grinder on a big leaf. That's some good, quick, Paleo Power!!!

Other ideas: Shrimp, Ground Bison or Turkey, Sauteed Veggies

I'll get around to making my own blog videos one day, but in the mean time, this Swiss Chard 101 video by
Dani Spies is a good one to check out…….Good job Dani!!!!!

source of most of the nutrition and food prep facts for this article from this link

"Growing your own food is like printing your own money" :)


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