About Cooking Greens - Kale and Swiss Chard

Cooking greens are any type of cabbage where the green leaves do not form a compact head. Today’s harvest contains kale and/or Swiss chard.

Like all greens, kale descends from wild cabbage that originated in Asia Minor and it may be the ancestor to all of our modern cabbage varieties. It is very popular in Scandinavia, Germany, Holland and Scotland, and came to the United States with English settlers in the 17th century. It has become a particular favorite in the southern United States.

With long ruffled leaves that resemble large parsley sprigs and hues that vary from lavender to chartreuse, kale has a mild cabbage-like taste and delicate
texture. It is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and folic acid, and
contains both protein and fiber.

The scientific name for Swiss chard is Beta vulgaris, subspecies cicla, with the word cicla referring to Sicily where Swiss chard first grew. Its popular name stems from the fact that a Swiss botanist determined the plant’s scientific name. Today, Swiss chard is most popular in the Mediterranean, but can also be found in northern European and South American cuisines.

Swiss chard is extremely versatile, has a mild sweet, yet slightly bitter flavor, and has large green leaves with ribs running throughout. The leaves can be smooth or curly and are attached to fleshy, crunchy white, red or yellow celery-like stalks. Swiss chard is and excellent source of vitamins A and C, and also contains potassium and fiber.

Store greens unwashed, wrapped in a damp towel or plastic bag in the
hydrator drawer of the refrigerator. Cooking greens are best used very fresh, but may last for up to a week if stored properly and kept moist. For long term storage, blanch for 2-3 minutes, rinse in cold water, drain, pack in airtight containers and freeze.

Clean greens by dunking in a bowl of tepid water a few times. Drain and dry for use in salads. For use in cooking, it is not necessary to completely dry the leaves.

Traditionally, greens are boiled or simmered very slowly, with a piece of ham hock, for an extended period of time until they are quite soft (to decrease the bitter flavor). But overcooked greens are mushy, tasteless and significantly reduced in nutrition, so try one of these methods:

Boil for 3 to 5 minutes or steam for 8 to 10 minutes, removing from heat
when color brightens. Season to taste.

Stir fry, adding chopped greens 2 to 5 minutes before end of cooking time.

Use raw, tender Swiss chard instead of lettuce in a sandwich.

Add greens to soups and stews.

Mix greens into omelets, quiches, lasagna and casseroles.

Sauté in garlic butter and onion (do not use aluminum or iron pans).

Remember that most cooking greens are interchangeable in recipes.

Source: www.foodreference.com.

Nutrition Facts - Kale

Dark leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Kale is low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C and B6.

(1 cup cooked, chopped kale)

Calories 36
Total Fat 1g
Sodium 30mg
Total Carbohydrate 7g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 2g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A 354% RDA
Vitamin C 89% RDA
Vitamin B6 9% RDA
Calcium 9% RDA
Iron 6% RDA

Source: www.nutritiondata.com.

Nutrition Facts - Swiss Chard

The good news is that this food is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. However, be aware that Swiss chard is also high in sodium and a large portion of the calories come from sugars.

(1 cup cooked, chopped Swiss chard)

Calories 35
Total Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 313mg
Total Carbohydrate 7g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 2g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A 214% RDA
Vitamin C 53% RDA
Calcium 10% RDA
Iron 22% RDA

Source: www.nutritiondata.com.