botanical name: Beta vulgaris var. vulgaris
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If the care of a garden was, in the past, with the breeding of small animals, a real method to obtain food and to ensure the survival for themselves, in recent years, cultivation has become mostly a nice hobby. More and more people, in fact, are looking for a rapprochement with nature, often forgotten because of the hectic rhythms linked to the city work, through the care of a ground used for vegetable garden. A type of vegetable that makes it ideal to start this type of activity is the chard.
Origins and history
Chard, also called Swiss chard, is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant with a variety of the beet family. This vegetable has large leaves from the shiny green shades with white stout stems, yellow or red, depending on variety. The origin of this tasty plant has location in Southern Europe, where it naturally arises, but, over the years, numerous species have been discovered and they differ between them, as well as for the color, also for the possibility of proceeding with its cultivation in any part of the world.
Nutritional properties and benefits of Swiss chard
This tasty plant, sugar beet's cousin, has many beneficial aspects for the 'body, if inserted in the daily diet; one of the first positive aspects that characterizes this tasty vegetable is simply the very low calorie intake: 100 grams of fresh leaves contain, in fact, only 19 kilocalories.
Another very important aspect, of which the body can enjoy taking regular chard, is the fundamental of ascorbic acid intake. The consumption of foods rich in this principle, more commonly known as vitamin C, allow the body to develop greater resistance against infectious agents. In addition, they are known for its beneficial properties to the prevention of iron deficiency. The leaves of this vegetable provide 33% of the daily requirement of this principle.
Vitamin C, however, is not the only acid very important to human health introducible regularly consuming this food: chard, in fact, is also particularly rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, flavonoids and antioxidants.
Analyzing in detail vitamin K, it is possible to recognize in her a vital role in bone health, as well as a major help to limit neuronal damage in the brain. Among the vitamin A and falvonoidi antioxidants, however, it is important to remember the beta-carotene and lutein.
Last, but not least, it's useful to analyze the important presence of mineral salts; such as iron, copper, calcium, sodium, manganese and phosphorus. And 'thanks to these elements, the consumption of this vegetable, can help to prevent anemia caused by iron deficiency, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Use of Swiss chard in cooking
You can consume all the parts of the Swiss chard: after a careful handling it's recommended to bring to the table is the leaf, characterized by a bright green and a more delicate flavor of the stem, from meaty texture and strong flavor. The leaves, if harvested when still present in rather small in size, can be consumed in light and tasty summer salads.
A particular recipe, which involves the use of cooked leaves, is attributable to a salad also perfect for the winter: after scalded in boiling water the vegetables, it's recommended flavor them with oil and lemon, in addition to a quantity of salt in pleasure, and serve garnished with seeds and dried fruit, such as sesame, almonds or pine nuts. An outline as fast as pleasing to the palate that takes only minutes to prepare, is to stir-fry, until the cooking, the stems and leaves of Swiss chard, flavoring everything with garlic and chilli. For seasoning is enough a tablespoon of olive oil extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste. In anticipation of a winter dinner, perhaps consumed in front of a good movie, you can freeze, after boiled, the leaves, and then cook them in a tasty soup.
Few people know that, despite the growing chard has now spread around the world, its extensive culinary use is known only in the countries of in Southern Europe. The rest of the world consider it an ornamental plant.