Swiss chard is one of those "exotic" vegetables that I did not grow up with. Along with its leafy brethren kale, escarole, mustard greens, and broccoli rabe, chard was simply not on my radar until adulthood. My family ate plenty of veggies (mostly from my grandparents' gardens), but we stuck to the usual suspects of the 80's: green beans, corn, broccoli, peas, carrots, and of course, iceberg lettuce. And loads of fresh tomatoes in the summertime (but those are technically a fruit, so I digress).

But now that I've tried these dark, leafy greens, I can't get enough. I love seeing piles of greens in all colors of the rainbow stacked at the Farmer's Market or at Whole Foods. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they are easy to prepare and incredibly nutritious. Swiss chard (which actually originated in Sicily, F.Y.I.) has loads of cancer-fighting antioxidants and high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, and K. In fact, a one-cup serving of Swiss chard has only 35 calories, but contains 30% of your daily recommended vitamin C and 15% of your daily recommended fiber. Wow–that is definitely what you call a nutritionally dense food!

But nutrition aside, these greens actually taste good. Especially when sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic (a perfect match for grilled steak or pork chops). I love throwing chard into a soup or a pasta, or serving them simply steamed alongside grilled fish, with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. Easy, delicious, and healthy–what more can you ask?