Life Begins in the Garden: Healthy Colors

By Sarah Leitzel

I love a colorful garden. The more colorful your garden and vegetable intake, the more key nutrients you are eating. Vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and folic acid are vital in boosting immune systems and fighting heart disease, diabetes and cancer. From the pearly-white, new onions in the spring to the ruby-red tomatoes and emerald-green peppers of summer, sunny-yellow summer squash and striped, round melons, the beds and boxes are full of nature’s eye candy.

Healthy lifestyle, dieting and nutrition concept.

This  year I have been blessed with an abundance of rainbow carrots, in yellow, white, purple, and orange, and rainbow Swiss chard, its glossy, crisp, green leaves atop stalks of white, yellow, orange, and red. When the Swiss chard was just a few weeks old, I plucked its young, tender foliage and added it to our salads. Now, the plants proudly stand almost two feet high, the leaves crunchier with a hint of bitterness. Four or five leaves roughly chopped are fantastic when added to a stir-fry, just at the end so they are wilted and still have a little crunch left. My favorite way to use up greater quantities of Swiss chard is in a cheesy, egg bake.

The following is a wonderful recipe I found on Pinterest by kalynskitchen.com. It’s simple and low carb, the rich, tangy feta balancing the mild bitterness of the chard. Instead of the Spike Seasoning that the recipe calls for, I used a good sprinkle of Italian seasoning and some Parmesan cheese.

Swiss Chard, Mozzarella, and Feta Egg Bake
(Makes 6-8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn)

IMG_0082

Ingredients:
8-10 oz. Swiss chard leaves, sliced into thick ribbons
1/2 tsp. olive oil (depending on your pan)
3/4 cup low-fat Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
8 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (optional but recommended; if you don’t have Spike can substitute another all-purpose seasoning blend)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Spray an 8 x 11.5 glass casserole dish with olive oil or non-stick spray.

Cut stems off the chard leaves and discard stems. Stack up the leaves in a pile and cut the chard into ribbons about 1 inch wide. (If your chard is from the garden, give it a good wash in the salad spinner and spin dry.)

Heat olive oil in a heavy non-stick frying pan, add the chard ribbons all at once, and cook while stirring until the chard has all wilted and slightly softened. This only takes about 2-3 minutes; the chard will finish cooking in the oven. Layer wilted chard, Mozzarella cheese, and Feta cheese in the bottom of the casserole dish.

Beat the eggs with the Spike Seasoning, salt, and pepper and pour over the chard/cheese mixture. (I take a fork and gently “stir” at this point to be sure all the chard/cheese mixture is coated with egg.)

Bake about 35 minutes, or until the egg bake is set and starting to lightly brown. Serve hot, with a dollop of low-fat sour cream if desired.

Visit my blog at simplysarahliving.wordpress.com for additional thoughts, short stories, and poetry.

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