A Gardener’s Diary: Benefits of mountain kale

Jocelyne Sewell is a longtime gardener and gardening columnist with The Morning Star in Vernon

A Gardener’s Diary – Jocelyne Sewell

I have been growing orach also known as mountain spinach for many years. I have both varieties of red and green orach plants. I let some of the plants go to seed but last fall I had some old seeds and I scattered them all over the back yard hoping that some of the seeds would sprout. They sure did and now is harvest time.

Looking for some recipes, I found many sites on the internet with good writings about this old vegetables. One writing was from Larry Hodgson’s website: “Do you know orach or orache (Atriplex hortensis), also known as mountain spinach? It’s a vegetable that was once very popular and, in fact, was one of the first vegetables cultivated by humans, known well before the time of the ancient Greeks.

During the Middle Ages, orach was one of the mostly commonly grown vegetables in Eurasia and by the 17th and 18th centuries it had “conquered” the Americas and Australia as well. But then spinach, previously an obscure, rarely grown spring vegetable with a similar taste, suddenly became very popular and orach went into decline. Why? Nobody knows. It’s especially odd considering that orach is easier to grow than spinach, can be harvested over a much longer season … and is far prettier as well!

Both plants belonged to the Chenopodiaceae, a family now placed in the Amarantaceae family, and both share the same sweet-sour taste, as does Swiss chard, another relative.

Interestingly, orach has naturalized in many areas where it was formerly grown, a sure sign there was once a vegetable garden there. You never see spinach naturalizing!”

Then from this site: www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/article/orach-is-the-new-kale-5-reasons-to-eat-more-of-this-healthy-green

What are the health benefits of orach?

Jam-packed with vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, anthocyanins, phosphorous, iron, protein, zinc, selenium, tryptophan, vitamin C, vitamin K, carotenes and dietary fibre, orach is a nutrient-rich superfood. Here are five ways it makes you healthier:

1. It stimulates digestion. Ample dietary fibre (11 grams per 100-gram serving) improves the health of your digestive system. High-fibre foods also lower cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar levels.

2. It improves heart health. Orach is a good source of heart-healthy potassium—a 100-gram serving has 800 mg of this mineral, which is necessary for proper heart function.

3. Its rich hue is from health-boosting anthocyanins. These flavonoids give fruits and veggies their vivid red and blue hues, but studies indicate they could also have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic powers. They may also prevent cardiovascular disease, help control obesity and alleviate diabetes.

4. It’s good for your immune system. High levels of magnesium and zinc support a healthy immune system: magnesium has inflammation-fighting properties, while zinc helps ward off infection.

5. It’s a calcium powerhouse. A single 100-gram serving of orach yields 200% of your calcium requirements for the day. And that doesn’t just lead to strong teeth and bones; calcium is also essential for proper heart, muscle and nerve function.”

So yesterday I made a soup including some sorrel and walking-onions, parsley, dill and lovage. Very delicious and healthy. I have a lot more to harvest.

For more information: 250-558-4556

Related: A Gardener’s Diary: Planting dos and don’ts

Related: A Gardener’s Diary: Spring has sprung

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