Karina Chronicles

What’s In Your Farmer’s Market?

This post comes to us via brand ambassador Laura Parker Roerden.  She writes, consults, and speaks about kids’ connection to themselves, each other, and the earth. She directs Ocean Matters, a nonprofit that brings young people ages 15+ to perform service projects on scuba to help save threatened marine resources. 

Yesterday I harvested some beautiful yellow-veined Swiss chard from our vegetable garden for dinner, which prompted a few “What’s that(s)?” and groans from our three boys. I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a garden center junkie. I had bought the chard seedlings on impulse this spring as I trolled through the leafy green aisle feeling run down and hungry besides. I normally avoid buying seedlings for greens. They are so simple and cheap to start from seed. But did I mention I was feeling hungry? And run-down? I bought three varieties.

I assured the kids they would love Swiss chard. “It’s just like spinach,” I had said, “only prettier.” The minute the P word was out of my mouth, I knew I had botched the sales job. The only thing worse in my male-dominated house than calling something I wanted my boys to like pretty is calling it “cute.” I hastily sautéed the chard in olive oil and added a finish of the juice from half a lemon and a pinch of freshly ground sea salt. The deep green color and yellow veins against a simple white bowl looked absolutely opulent—like an emerald displayed on white velvet. I thought about smothering it in butter as added incentive for the kids to eat it. But I resisted and put the butter back into the refrigerator unused. I swear this is true: The chard was so rich it tasted like butter itself. Even my boys liked it.

My reaching for chard when I was feeling run down is a testament to our bodies’ wisdom. It turns out that Swiss chard is among the healthiest of vegetables in the world. (Yes, it was named #2 on just such a list.)  Like beets, chard boasts a unique source of phyto-nutrients called betalains. Some of the known health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, boosting bone and eye health, cleansing your pancreas, and help in regulating blood sugar levels. And then there’s also that tasting like butter thing to consider.

While I tend to favor simple preparations for fresh-from-the-garden-vegetables, here’s an Indian inspired recipe for more ambitious feeling cooks supplied by my dear foodie friend Lisa Groves.

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp ground cumin.

1 tsp ground coriander

1 bunch Swiss chard chopped into 1-inch pieces

1/2 C plain yogurt

1/2 tsp salt

Heat oil in frying pan on medium high. When oil is hot, add mustard seeds and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add cumin & coriander and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring. Add chard and salt, mix well and cook 3-5 minutes, until chard is wilted. Turn off heat, stir in yogurt, and enjoy!

So the next time you open your CSA box or are at your local farmer’s market and see a leafy green vegetable with a red or yellow vein running through it, give one of the world’s healthiest vegetables a chance. And if your kids complain, tell them that you’d be happy to serve dandelion greens from your lawn instead (which are fabulous steamed and served with vinegar, by the way, and a great way to rid your lawn of these opportunists.) That should work! And put the butter away.

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