Swiss Chard & Peas

 

Swiss Chard & Peas

This week my CSA farmer has asked for information on swiss chard and peas.   Everyone is familiar with peas but I find lots of people are not as familiar with swiss chard so lets start there.

 

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard has been renowned for it’s healing abilities for thousands of years and yet in today’s fast paced world I find that many people have yet to discover how wonderful it is.  The trick to cooking chard is to only cook it for about 3 minutes and no more.  This maintains it’s bright green color, keeps it a little bit crisp and preserves it’s vital nutrients.  Chard contains only 35 calories per cooked cup.  High levels of vitamins K, A, C, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin E along with high fiber make it a powerhouse of nutrients.  It is also a good source of copper, calcium, tryptophan, B2, B6 and protein.  Swiss chard also contains very potent antioxidants that have been studied in relation to cancer.  Colon cancer in particular has been studied with results that show that precancerous lesions in lab animals were significantly reduced.

Swiss chard is a leafy green that can be cooked just like spinach, used in salads when fresh and cut up small, used as a wrap like kale, juiced and/or boiled for 3 minutes.  According to the Worlds Healthiest Foods on page 109, boiling swiss chard is the preferred way to cook it as it releases the unwanted acids into the cooking water so don’t use the cooking water for anything after cooking.  Both the leaves and the stems of chard are excellent to eat and full of fiber.

To store swiss chard it is best not to wash it first and to wrap tightly in plastic or put in a Tupperware Fridge Smart container and keep in the refrigerator.  It will keep for about 5 days this way.

 

Recipes

Boil a bunch of swiss chard in a pot of water for 3 minutes, drain thoroughly and add your favorite salad dressing.  I like to use olive oil, apple cider vinegar (2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar), a crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper and sometimes I add a small amount of live yogurt to this, sometimes not.

You can also use olive oil with some lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic and then add olives, feta cheese and tomato or use a good quality Greek salad dressing on the hot swiss chard instead of the olive oil and lemon juice.

I particularly like adding sheep or goat feta and some balsamic vinegar to my cooked chard.  Balsamic vinegar is like wine, there are good varieties and cheaper not so good varieties.  Try to find the best quality you can.  I particularly like a variety from Rola where I also get the best Olive Oil I have ever tasted.  If you are from the KW area you can find them at the St. Jacobs market every Saturday or on their website. Outside our area you can order online.  www.myolivetrees.com

One of the recipes I’ve developed for spinach works very well for swiss chard as well.  You can find it here http://balanceyourapple.com/2011/04/24/spinach-and-nut-salad/.

 

Mixed Green Salad

 

6 cups mixed salad greens

¾ cup thinly sliced onion

½ cup macadamia nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

2 kiwi fruit chopped up

Put in large bowl and toss.

Mustard Dressing:

3 tbsp. flax seed oil

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves (or ¼ tsp dried)

1 clove minced garlic

¼ tsp. sea salt

Combine in a jar with a tight lid and shake before tossing with salad.

 

Kale or Swiss Chard Salad

2/3 of a bunch of kale or swiss chard – spines removed – finely chopped

1/3 of a red cabbage – chopped fine or shredded

small handful of pumpkin seeds

small handful of sunflower seeds

6 tbsps olive oil

2 tbsps balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic crushed

2 tsps dijon mustard (I like the one with horseradish added)

salt & Pepper to taste

 

Glorious Greens

Many people don’t realize how calcium-rich green, leafy veggies really are!  Choose from kale, collards, spinach, chard and escarole.

2 pounds assorted greens, trimmed and cleaned

2 cups purified water

¼ cup low fat chicken broth

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

Juice of one lemon

4 tbsp. flaxseed oil

Place greens in a pot and add water to cover.  Bring to a quick boil and then lower heat, simmer cooking greens until barely tender, about 5-8 minutes depending upon toughness of greens.  Drain, chop, and set aside.  Heat broth in saucepan and sauté onion and garlic over low heat until tender.  Quickly add greens to saucepans, reducing heat to low, and cook greens until tender.  Dish greens into a bowl; add lemon juice and flaxseed oil and toss.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Peas

Oh those wonderful sweet and crunchy fresh peas!  Best way to eat these is raw when they are fresh out of the garden.  Shell the garden peas and add the peas to salads or just eat them straight up!  Sugar snap and snow peas are totally edible and  are great raw or added to stir fries.  If not washed and stored in an air tight container or wrapped tightly in plastic, peas usually keep for 5 to 8 days in the refrigerator.  Of course the sooner you eat them the more nutrient they will have as vegetables lose their nutrition starting shortly after harvesting.

Did you know that peas are from the legume family?  Garden peas have more calories than other green vegetables but are full of fiber and add staying power to salads.  They are really good sources of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C (when raw), fiber, B1 and folate.  Vitamin C is lost in cooking so to preserve peas high content, eat them raw.  Peas are good for bone health, heart health, good vision, immune support and good sleep.

If you want to cook peas it is best to use a very small amount of water or broth and do a stir fry type of cooking for a very short time (2 to 3 minutes).  You will see the color of the peas get brighter and that is when to take them off the stove.  Overcooking will make them soggy and dull in color with many of the nutrients gone.

One of my favorite ways to cook fresh peas is to sauté a little garlic and onion at low heat with good quality olive oil.  Then add a little grated ginger (amount depends on how much you like the taste of ginger) and some shiitake mushrooms (any mushroom will work but I like the health benefits of shiitake) and add some salt and pepper.   I like to add a dash of good quality balsamic vinegar when it is about to be served.  These can be served over rice or as a side dish with a meat meal.  You could also use rice vinegar or tamari sauce on them.

Peas are excellent in stir fries.  To make a stir fry use olive oil and keep the heat low so that the oil doesn’t smoke.  As soon as an oil smokes it is rancid and a trans fat so always throw it out.  Add any variety of vegetables you like to this and stir fry only until the vegetables are tender crisp.  You can add meat or shrimp as well or just some cooked rice or quinoa.  I like to have broth handy to add a little if the pan gets too hot.  I render my own homemade duck broth from the carcass of a duck every year and then let the broth boil down so it’s more concentrated.  Then I freeze this in ice cube trays and freeze in a bag.   Adding one of these broth cubes to a stir fry is amazing!  Duck has a stronger taste than chicken to start with and the flavor is fantastic!  If you want to do this have a look at my broth recipe at this link.  http://balanceyourapple.com/2010/10/27/health-promoting-bone-broth-for-soups-or-drinking/

There are great recipes for peas on this site http://www.peas.org/recipes.php.

 

Margo McIntosh, RHN, RNCP

Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner.

 

 

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