Grocery shopping 10 years ago was drastically different for me than it is today. Iceberg lettuce sat in the produce drawer of my tiny apartment refrigerator until it browned and I eventually threw it out. Terms like ‘kale’, ‘spinach’, and ’collard greens’ were foreign to me. As I gracefully aged (much better than that iceberg lettuce I might add), I became a green leafy snob. Iceberg? Ewh. Powerhouse greens are all the rage, so I want to introduce you one of my favorite and nutritious leafy loves. Say hello my ‘lil frien’ – the powerhouse food, CHARD
If you aren’t eating chard (otherwise known as swiss or rainbow chard), you need to be. Chard is packed-full of essential vitamins and minerals in each beautiful leaf. One serving will give you almost 40% of your daily intake of magnesium and over 300% (THREE HUNDRED PERCENT) of vitamin K. Chard also packs a great source of folate and vitamins A and C. Ok that all sounds great, but what does it mean?
Let’s start with magnesium. Magnesium aids in digestion, hormone production, regulates energy levels, and helps with muscle recovery. And Vitamin K is essential for bone health, brain function, and works as an anti-inflammatory. Vitamin K is also needed for blood clotting, which is important for injury recovery.
Vitamin A supports vision, skin, and hair growth and is critical for immunity support. Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen (bye bye wrinkles!), and that collagen production also supports ligaments and tendons. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps reduce stress.
And finally, folate aids in the production of new cells. And if you have a bun in the oven, folate helps lower the risk of some birth defects.
Can you see a common theme here? All these vitamins and minerals are especially crucial for active
people (‘lil friens) like yourself!
Ok, now that you are a smarty pants about all the amazing benefits of chard, let’s get down to business. How can I consume chard without having to plug my nose while eating it? Well, first off, the name is totally deceiving. Chard – rhymes with lard. I admit, it doesn’t sound appealing. But it can be! Here are some ways to incorporate this super-food into your diet.
- My favorite way to eat chard is sautéing in olive oil, adding a little himalayan salt and serving it with my eggs in the morning. Throw chard in a frittata, omelet, scrambled, or fried eggs for the ultimate breakfast of champions.
- Try adding chard to your regular salad routine. Chard works well with romaine, arugula, and spinach.
- Add pieces of chard to your next pot of soup – the chard will wilt down and make a nice addition to any vegetable or broth based soup.
- Throw chard in your morning smoothie. Just add a little fruit to sweeten and you won’t even know it’s there!
- Add it to warm mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. The heat will wilt the leaf pieces and pumps that mashed comfort food with a big dose of nutrients.
- Use chard to replace a bun or wrap. The consistency and texture is very similar to red leaf or butterhead lettuce , so wrap it around your burger, throw deli meat inside for a wrap, or use it cradle your chicken sausage.
- If you are feeling super adventurous, blanch chard leaves by submerging them in boiled water for 1-2 minutes, then dunking them in an ice bath. This makes the chard soft and pliable. Perfect for stuffing with cooked, seasoned ground beef, or turkey. Using the leaves as a wrap – roll in the meat and secure the edges like a little leafy burrito. Then place in a casserole dish and pop into the oven to warm throughout.
Are you convinced yet? Don’t make me go all Al Pacino on you! Any other ways you incorporate chard or other nutrient-packed leafy greens in your diet?