Natural Food Spotlight: Spinach
Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 at 2:09 pm
Few foods are as nutritious and versatile as spinach! A favorite of chefs and dieticians everywhere, spinach has a pretty mild flavor, but provides you with essential nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Spinach leaves are in season March through May, so keep an eye out for fresh, organic varieties! Whether you decide to steam it, sauté it, mix it in a soup, or simply eat it raw, spinach is one food that should definitely be a regular feature in your diet!
Like kale, spinach is low in calories and high in nutrients. A single cup of spinach has close to 20% of the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, maintains low blood sugar and even helps curb your appetite. It’s also high in vitamin A. In fact, a single cup contains over 337% of your daily recommended amount. Vitamin A protects entry points like mucous membranes and intestinal tracts, helps fight infection, and also promotes healthy skin.
Spinach also contains a huge amount of vitamin K, providing over 1000% of your daily recommended amount. Vitamin K is essential for healthy bones because it helps prevent them from breaking down while also promoting the protein that is essential for maintaining and strengthening them. This powerhouse vitamin also helps promote healthy brain and nervous function.
Finally, spinach is loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids that help prevent cancer, serve as an anti-inflammatory, and help prevent the onset of osteoporosis and high blood pressure.
Spinach is the perfect leafy green to have in your fridge at all times because there is so much you can do with it. The easiest answer is to use in place of or mixed with your favorite greens in a salad. You can also put a few leaves in your sandwich, tacos, pitas, or wraps. Spinach can also be cooked up in a pan with some garlic, a little olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper.
Since spinach has a pretty mild flavor, you can “hide” it in other foods. It’s surprisingly delicious blended in a fruit smoothie. You can also chop it up in a food processor and add it to your favorite soups, stews or pasta sauces. Looking for a fun way to get your kids to eat it? Once you’ve chopped up the leaves in a food processor, mix it into some macaroni and cheese. Your kids will love the fun green pasta and you’ll be happy they’re enjoying their greens!
When shopping for spinach, look for dark green leaves free from bruising or wilting. Once you’ve brought it home, don’t wash it right away (unless you’ll be cooking immediately). Water helps speed up the spoiling process. Loosely wrap the leaves in a paper towel, place in a zip-tight bag, squeeze the air out of the bag and store in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Learn more about another great leafy green in our nutritional spotlight on kale!