spinach

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Also Known as
Palak, paalak

Description
Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients than any other food.

Popeye popularized spinach, but it's too bad he ate it out of a can. Fresh spinach retains the delicacy of texture and jade green color that is lost when spinach is processed. Raw spinach has a mild, slightly sweet taste that can be refreshing in salads, while its flavor becomes more acidic and robust when it is cooked.

There are three different types of spinach generally available.
· Savoy has crisp, creased curly leaves that have a springy texture.
· Smooth-leaf has flat, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves, while semi-savoy is similar in texture to savoy but is not as crinkled in appearance.
· Baby spinach is great for use in salads as it has a sweeter taste, probably owing to its reduced concentration of oxalic acid.

Blanched and chopped spinach
After removing the stem, take the leaves and wash them thoroughly under running water. Then immerse the spinach leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds and then plunge into cold water. Remove, chop them roughly or finely and use as per the dish. If the recipe calls for chopping before blanching, then first chop them roughly or finely as per the recipe and then blanch it.
Blanched spinach
After removing the stem, take the leaves and wash them thoroughly under running water. Then immerse the spinach leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds and then plunge into cold water. Remove and use as per the dish. If the recipe calls for chopping before blanching, chop as per the procedure given below and then blanch it.
Chopped spinach
Chop Spinach by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "coarsely chopped," make the pieces slightly larger and proceed as per the recipe.
Shredded spinach
Place the bundle of spinach on a chopping board and with a large sharp knife cut in half through the root. Place each spinach half cut-side down and slice in half through the root.
Spinach puree
It can be made after blanching or without blanching. Just add it to your mixie and churn it till smooth and fine puree is attained. Though water is not needed but if it does add it in small quantities.


How to Select
Although spinach is available throughout the year, its season runs from March through May and from September through October when it is the freshest, has the best flavor and is most readily available

Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.

Culinary Uses
· Spinach, whether bunched or prepackaged, should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil.
· Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves. Place the spinach in a large bowl of tepid water and swish the leaves around with your hands as this will allow any dirt to become dislodged. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually two to three times will do the trick). Cut away any overly thick stems to ensure for more even cooking.
· If you are going to use the spinach in a salad, you can dry it in either a salad spinner or by shaking it in a colander.
· If you are going to cook it, you do not need to worry about drying it well as the remaining water will serve to help it cook.
· Spinach is one of the few vegetables we suggest quick boiling (for one minute). That's because boiling will help to reduce the amount of oxalic acids found in spinach, resulting in a sweeter taste.
· Add layers of steamed spinach to your next lasagna recipe.
· Toss steamed spinach with pressed garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.
· Pine nuts are a great addition to cooked spinach.
· Spinach salads are a classic easy and delicious meal or side dish.

How to Store
Store fresh spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep fresh for about five days. Do not wash it before storing as the moisture will cause it to spoil. Avoid storing cooked spinach as it will not keep very well.

Health Benefits
· Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, and vitamin B6.
· It is a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, protein, phosphorous, zinc and vitamin E.
· In addition, it is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, niacin and selenium.
· Spinach has antioxidants and as anti-cancer properties.
· Spinach Carotenoid Combats Prostate Cancer
· Helping You Bone Up, The vitamin K provided by spinach is important for maintaining bone health.
· Spinach is also an excellent source of other bone-building nutrients including calcium and magnesium.
· Cardiovascular Protection from Spinach, for atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, few foods compare to spinach in their number of helpful nutrients.
· Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A
· Spinach is also an excellent source of folate.
· Promotes Gastrointestinal Health
· Anti-Inflammatory Nutrients
· A Smarter Brain with Spinach. It may help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related related declines in brain function.
· Vitamin E-rich Leafy Greens Slow Loss of Mental Function
· Better Eyesight from Spinach, Lutein, a carotenoid protective against eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataract, is found in green vegetables, especially spinach
· Cooked spinach is an excellent source of iron, a mineral that it particularly important for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency. Boosting iron stores with spinach is a good idea, especially because, in comparison to red meat, a well-known source of iron, spinach provides iron for a lot less calories and is totally fat-free.
· So while spinach probably won't make you super strong the minute you eat it, as it did for Popeye, it will promote your health and vitality in many other ways.




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