Spinach For Every Meal!

A bowl of fresh and organic raw spinach

Popeye had it all figured out: spinach makes you strong and healthy, equipped to tackle the day. Readily available all year round, this accessible and affordable green leafy vegetable, a member of the amaranthaceae family, is a durable and nutritious addition to almost any meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even as an afternoon snack. While spinach may not always top the charts as a superfood, it warrants a place at the table.

Fresh, frozen, sautéed, or baked, spinach can be added to soups, stews, smoothies, and casseroles, served as a side dish or as a main in many global dishes like palak paneer. As a rich source of vitamins, minerals, pigments, and phytonutrients, spinach is low in fat and high in potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium. Most notably, spinach provides significant amounts of folate, niacin, and vitamins A, B6, C, and K, in addition to thiamine, riboflavin, beta-carotene, lutein, xanthene, and chlorophyllin.  This makes spinach full of many health benefits.

Health Benefits of Spinach

Improves Eyesight

Spinach prevents vitamin A deficiencies, among so many other functions that help neutralize itching and dry eyes. Eating cooked spinach helps increase the amounts of beta-carotene, lutein, and xanthine, all contributing to better vision.

Supports Neurological Stability

The presence of potassium, folate, and various antioxidants helps reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases, increasing blood flow to the brain which in turn increases cognition, concentration, and neural cell activity.

Maintains Blood Pressure

Potassium plays a multifunctional role in helping lower blood pressure. In connection with folate, the two serve to reduce hypertension and relax blood vessels. These controls help to reduce stress on the cardiovascular system and increase oxygenation to the body’s organ system, helping it to perform at maximum capacity.

Strengthens Muscles

Again, we think of Popeye: his mighty arm strength helping him win the fight was not some cartoon myth, but rather researchers have found that the high content of iron in spinach accounts for its status as a superfood increasing muscle strength.

Boosts Metabolism

The protein content in spinach is impressive, providing some of the highest values of all vegetables available at the market. Being a plant-based protein, it’s easily broken down by enzymes into amino acids that are essential for humans to function at their best. It’s a great choice to help kick your metabolism up a notch.

Reduces Inflammation

There are more than one dozen anti-inflammatory compounds found in spinach, and it is regarded as one of the most notable vegetables for lowering inflammation in the body. Protecting the heart and minimizing the appearance and spread of cancer, spinach in one’s diet can also decrease inflammation and pain often correlated with arthritis and gout that afflicts millions globally.

Protects Skin

Spinach is one of those foods that helps your outside (skin) from the inside. UV rays are combated by the presence of various forms of phytonutrients and pigments present in spinach. Consuming healthy amounts of spinach can also help repair damaged genes to some extent, which can help decrease the chances of skin cancer.

 

Including spinach into your everyday dietary regimen can contribute to your overall health and wellness. Low calorie and mild in flavor, it is easy to take advantage of the vast benefits by incorporating spinach into your menu. Here are some tantalizing recipe ideas to tickle your taste buds and showcase spinach and its versatility.

 

Lean Green Morning Elixir

Lean Green Morning Elixir

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup cantaloupe
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 cup coconut water or carrot juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Summer Salad with Seasonal Fruit

Summer Salad with Seasonal Fruit

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh arugula
  • 1 nectarine, sliced
  • 5-6 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 small white onion, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • walnuts, chopped
  • pomegranate seeds
  • sea salt & cracked pepper, to taste

For vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch dried marjoram
  • pinch dried oregano
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

In a small mason jar combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Close with the lid and shake until thoroughly combined. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the salad ingredients. Add a pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. You do not need to use all of the dressing, just incorporate enough to satisfy your preference. Toss everything together. Garnish with additional pomegranate seeds and walnuts.

Sautéed Spinach

Sautéed Spinach

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • approx. 4-5 cups fresh spinach (or a 10 oz. bag)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • sea salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

In a medium size sauté pan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until fragrant and translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the spinach and allow to wilt lightly, tossing it with the shallot and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and zest of a lemon. Serve garnished with a slice of lemon.

Layered Vegetable Casserole with Sautéed Spinach

Layered Vegetable Casserole with Sautéed Spinach

Layered Vegetable Casserole w/ Sautéed Spinach

For this recipe, you’ll make 4 different components and then layer them together before baking the entire dish.

For Eggplant:

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled & sliced thin
  • sea salt

Directions

Peel and slice eggplant, setting each slice on a plate, and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside and allow eggplant to “sweat” for 30 minutes to an hour. Using a paper towel, pat the eggplant dry.

For Spinach & Mushrooms:

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove roasted garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons white onion, minced
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bag frozen spinach
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add onions and roasted garlic. Sauté until fragrant. Add mushrooms and sauté until browned. Add frozen spinach, salt, pepper, and oregano. Mix until cooked and seasoned throughout.

For Mashed Sweet Potatoes:

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, roasted

Directions

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Wash and wrap sweet potatoes individually in foil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool. Peel away flesh and mash. Set aside to layer.

For Tomato Sauce:

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, cubed small
  • 1 stalk celery, cubed small
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1-15 oz. can tomatoes, diced

Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender. Add sea salt, oregano, sage, basil, and black pepper. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside for layering.

Constructing the Casserole Layers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup four-cheese blend or cheese alternative
  • 1 portion eggplant (recipe above)
  • 1 portion spinach & mushrooms (recipe above)
  • 1 portion mashed sweet potatoes (recipe above)
  • 1 portion tomato sauce (recipe above) 

Directions

Preheat oven to 415˚F. In a large casserole dish, layer the slices of eggplant. Layer the mashed sweet potatoes next. Add the spinach and mushroom blend and top with tomato sauce. Sprinkle the cheese over top and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 7-10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

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