Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Splendor of Spinach

Written By:
Sara Police, PhD
School of Health Sciences

Spinach is one of my all-time favorite vegetables.  It’s growing in my garden, it’s in my refrigerator, and I’ve already had a glass full this morning.  That’s right – a glass full!  In today’s post, you will learn the nutritional benefits behind Pop-eye’s favorite and see a few of my all-time favorite spinach recipes. 

Spinach: A Nutritional Powerhouse
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for one cup of raw spinach:
27 calories
30 milligrams Calcium
167 milligrams Potassium
2813 IU Vitamin A
585 micrograms Folate

Documented health benefits associated with eating spinach include diabetes management, cancer prevention, protection of bone health and lowering blood pressure, among others.  Learn more at Medical NewsToday: What are the health benefits of spinach? 

Incorporate more spinach into your diet by substituting spinach for lettuce in salads and sandwiches, adding spinach to soups and casseroles or throwing a handful into a smoothie (see an example recipe below).  

Spinach & Banana Smoothie
1 frozen banana
1.5-2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup light coconut milk (or other preferred milk)
1-2 TBSP sunflower, peanut or almond butter
Place ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.  Add ice or additional milk/water to adjust consistency.  You could even sneak some yogurt or honey in this recipe for additional health benefits, as discussed in my last post.    

Spinach & Strawberry Salad
1 TBSP sesame seeds
1 TBSP poppy seeds
½ c. sugar (or honey)
½ c. olive oil
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP minced onion
10 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed, dried, torn into bite-size pieces
1 quart strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
¼ cup almonds, slivered or chopped
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for 1 hr.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Simple Spinach Saute
This recipe is so simple, I don’t even need to list ingredients!
Heat up 1 TBSP coconut oil in a large saute pan.  Add a top of spinach (more than you think you will eat!).  Let the heat wilt/cook the spinach down.  Add a touch of salt and pepper.  Pull it off the heat just before all the spinach has wilted (the heat will continue to wilt - it will be perfect by the time it hits your plate).  This is a 5 minute recipe.  
Enjoy!  (Photo courtesy of G*free*ology.)


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