Saturday
Nov142015

Swiss Chard: Healthy and Delicious!

I discovered Swiss chard a few years ago, and it has become one of my favorite vegetables. I plant it in the fall, and with a relatively mild winter it is likely to continue growing till the following summer. I pick the leaves, and they keep developing for more harvests. 

I originally planted Swiss chard for its decorative value. It grows on stalks up to two feet tall and has vibrant-colored leaves and stems.A selection of the Swiss chard varieties growing in my garden.Only later did I learn you can eat it! I tasted it and was thrilled to discover its delicious flavor.

The easiest way to eat it is raw. Stack the leaves and cut in pieces until one reaches the stems. Add the leaves to other greens for a colorful salad. Another simple way to prepare it is to boil the chopped leaves (without stems) for about three minutes and then toss with mediterranean dressing. I also love Swiss chard soup, my favorite concoction beginning with chicken bouillon, Italian sausage, onions and little red potatoes. Chopped chard leaves are added toward the end, as it only takes a few minutes for them to cook. There are many other great ways to prepare Swiss chard. If you like spinach, you will like chard; and you can substitute swiss chard for spinach in recipes. 

As beautiful and delicious as it is, Swiss chard's best qualities are the amazing nutrients it contains. It is one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. Its vibrant colors hint at its antioxidant phytonutrients. This vegetable may sound like the "snake oil" once sold by peddlers, but it is genuine. It is an excellent source of vitamins C, E, K and A and is also loaded with minerals. It promotes cardiovascular and nervous system health, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. High in fiber, it also supports removal of toxic chemicals from the body. It promotes strong bones, and it helps to regulate blood sugar. All of this, and a cup of chopped chard contains only 35 calories.

So, have you eaten your Swiss chard today?

 

Saturday
Nov072015

San Francisco Bay Area

I took a lot of photos during my trip to the San Francisco Bay area last month. I already posted on California Coastal Images and the Filoli Gardens. Keeping in my mind that this is a blog for plant and nature loves, here are a few more images.

First, I stayed at a remarkable Bed and Breakfast in Santa Clara, the Madison Street Inn, and I have to mention the comfortable accommodations and the fabulous breakfasts prepared by innkeeper Tess. The old Victorian home was nestled amidst beautiful plantings, and one of the most amazing trees I have ever seen graced the corner of the property. The ancient California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle) shaded a huge section of the yard and reached over the house's eaves:

Burlingame, California is home to another distinctive tree, the Tasmanian Blue Gum tree, a species of Eucalyptus globus. Native to Australia, these trees were first planted in Burlingame in the 1870s. They line the El Camino Real thoroughfare. I made my son stop the car so I could take photos of the astonishing giants.

Aeoniums grow well in California's climate. These were in a planter outside a retail store in Burlingame:

This was my first visit to San Francisco, so naturally I had to see the Golden Gate Bridge. I took the following pictures from a beach in the Marina District, a spot frequented perhaps more by locals than by tourists, but with great views of the Bridge:

A happy dog plays on the beach in the Marina District.

Sailboats in San Francisco Bay

I took the following shot from Herons Head Park, a wetlands habitat reclaimed from concrete, asphalt, metal and other debris left over from a previous construction project in the Bay. The park is home to numerous forms of wildlife and attracts over 100 bird species each year.

A short walking distance from the Marina District beach, the Palace of Fine Arts was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world's fair celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal. It also gave San Francisco a chance to demonstrate its recovery from the devastating 1906 earthquake. The Palace originally was built to exhibit works of art and is still used for that purpose, though it also is a popular tourist attraction and a fashionable place for weddings.

I saw many other sights during my visit to California. I hope you have enjoyed those I have shared with you.

Best wishes!  Deb