Almost mid April and there’s little chance of frost anywhere, so there’s no excuse for not getting outside and starting your spring and summer garden. Growing my garden is seriously my mental yoga. I go out every morning with my coffee and examine how my garden is progressing, and what’s really taken off is the patch of Swiss Chard under my grape vine. I planted these from seed about 2 months ago in rich, organic topsoil, a bi-weekly fish emulsion fertilizer (yuck; it smell like fish balls) and recently added, azomite clay and organic humus soil from the Himalayas or volcanoes of Montezuma or whatever (see where I got the idea here). See how big and luscious this crop is? These are fresh picked for a side dish I prepared for dinner yesterday (recipe below).
Swiss chard, with it’s spiky, circular seeds are incredibly easy to grow, even in containers. They thrive in just about any well-drained, moist soil, and can even tolerate a little shade, but also stands up to the hot summer sun and will keep producing until the first frost.
Swiss chard is a sister of the beet family, but tastes nothing like a beet, and unlike those weird red things, you only eat the leaves and not the roots (the beet is entirely edible). Chard is great for juicing, because the stem is full of water, and blends very well into a green smoothie, similar to the taste of spinach, but with a slightly saltier flavor. Not to mention it’s low calorie and packed with nutrition.
And according to World’s Healthiest Foods, chard is showing promising results in managing blood sugar levels.
Multiple studies on animals have shown that chard has unique benefits for blood sugar regulation. In addition, chard may provide special benefits in the diets of individuals diagnosed with diabetes. Although large-scale human studies have yet to be conducted in this area, lab studies and animal studies show that syringic acid—one of chard’s premiere flavonoids—has the ability to inhibit activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. Alpha-glucosidase is an enzyme used to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars. When this enzyme gets inhibited, fewer carbs get broken down and blood sugar is able to stay more steady. This blood sugar-steadying process seems to be particularly true following a meal. In addition to its syringic acid, chard contains a very good amount of fiber (over 3.5 grams per cooked cup) and a very good amount of protein (once again, nearly 3.5 grams per cooked cup). Fiber and protein-rich foods are an excellent way to help stabilize blood sugar levels, since they help regulate the speed of digestion and keep food moving at the right pace through our digestive tract.
One large bunch Swiss Chard, cut the leaves away from the stem and cut the leaves crosswise and slice the stems one inch crosswise and separate.
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 sweet onion, sliced crosswise
Shredded Parmesan cheese
olive oil and a pat of butter
sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat a nine-inch skillet to medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to caramelize. Add the stems and cook for another minute or two, or until the stems begin to get glossy and soften. Add the pat of butter and mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms cook down, about a minute. Finally add the chard leaves and cook until dark green a wilted, an additional minute or two. Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and finish with the parmesan sprinkled on top. Enjoy!