With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I’m thinking shades of green. While there are plenty of green veggies, I thought I’d feature one that is perfect for the spring season and a personal favorite–spinach. There’s a reason this leafy green was touted by sailorman Popeye as his means of being big and strong. Spinach is high in both Vitamins A, C and K. It’s a good source of fiber, high in iron and folate, a good source of magnesium and it’s one of the few fruit and vegetables that is a source of calcium. Quite an impressive resume for such a tiny leaf!
So now that you know how good spinach is for your body, let’s discuss how to add it to your diet. There are really many ways–you can use frozen, chopped spinach and add it to soups, casseroles and stews. This is really simple and, quite frankly, you will barely even notice that you’re eating it. But I LOVE spinach so let’s explore some of the ways you can actually enjoy the flavor this veggie has to offer. My favorite way to prepare spinach is by sauteeing it with a little olive oil and garlic. It’s quick and very easy. Simply chop garlic (I love garlic so I use a lot) and heat olive oil in a large non-stick pot. Add the garlic, washed, fresh spinach leaves and cook, continuing to stir to prevent any burning. You’ll start with the pot filled with leaves and see how quickly the spinach will cook down. I will sometimes add a dash of crushed red pepper for a little “zing.” To serve you can sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top or add a squeeze of lemon over it.
Another popular way to enjoy spinach is raw, as in a salad. You’ll find spinach salad on most restaurant menus, but beware—many versions are loaded with fat and calories. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has a great alternative, Spinach Salad w/Apples and Eggs. This recipe omits high fat ingredients like bacon and adds apples, dried figs and uses a light honey mustard dressing.
Another great recipe from Fruits & Veggies–More Matters uses raw spinach, but with an interesting twist–Mango Berry Rotini Salad combines spinach with fresh fruit, pasta and feta cheese to create a blend of sweet and savory flavors. An extra bonus is that mangoes are in season right now.
Over the next couple months you’ll find spinach to be in season, plentiful at the supermarket and at that means budget-friendly and at its peak of flavor. Take advantage of this and experiment!