Also Known as
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
· 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.
Nutritional Information of Spinach
One cup of chopped Spinach is 68 grams. RDA stands for Recommended Daily Allowance.
Nutritional Information for 1 cup Spinach.
1.36 grams of Protein
1.97 grams of Carbs
1.7 grams of High Fiber
0.47 grams of Fat
3794 mcg of Vitamin A = 158% of RDA (about 2,400 mcg)
83.6 mcg Folate, Vitamin B9 (FA) = 84% of RDA (about 100 mcg)
19 mg Vitamin C = 47% of RDA (about 40 mg)
43.5 mg of Magnesium (Mg) = 12.4% of RDA (about 350 mg )
1.83 mg of Iron (Fe) = 9.1% of RDA(about 20 mg for women)
66 mg of Calcium (Ca) = 6.6% of RDA (about 1000 mg)
140 mg of Potassium (K) : 2.98% of RDA (about 4,700 mg)
17 Health Benefits of Spinach
1. Rich in Iron : Spinach is one of the richest plant sources of Iron and it should be part of a healthy diet for everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult. 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.
2. Rich in Fiber : Spinach is very rich in insoluble fibre. The insoluble fibre contained in spinach has also been associated with protecting the heart and other vital organs from damage.
3. Good for Eyes : Beta Carotene, Lutein and Xanthene are all present in good quantities in Spinach which are great for your eyes.
4. Anti Inflammatory : Spinach is a great Antioxidant and also one of the best vegetables to reduce body inflammation.
5. Low in fat : One cup of Spinach is only 40 grams and contains 10.4 calories. So its perfect for Weight Loss and its healthy too. Eat as much as you want.
6. Rich in Vitamin C : Spinach is rich in Vitamin C which has immune fighting effect. It forms an important defence against cold and cough.
7. Rich in Vitamin A : Topping the list of nutrients for healthy vision is vitamin A and spinach has plenty of it.
8. Calcium : Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale contain good amounts of Calcium which is a mineral that makes bones stay strong.
9. Potassium : Being rich in Potassium, Spinach controls blood pressure, sustain cardiac health and promote muscle and nerve function.
10. Good source of Zinc : Zinc helps in immunity building, good for skin and fights cancer.
11. Rich in Magnesium : Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable which is high in Magnesium which helps in formation of bones, lowers insulin levels and helps in metabolism of calcium and potassium.
12. Rich in Folate, Vitamin B9 : Folate or Vitamin B9 helps your body to produce and maintain new cells, especially red blood cells. It also helps prevents DNA changes that might cause cancer. Sometimes, when you complain of fatigue, skin problems or palpitations, the doctor prescribes folic acid tablets. Simple solution is to up the Folate rich foods like Spinach.
13. Niacin for a smarter Brain : Green leafy vegetables are rich in Niacin which help in brain functioning, healthy skin and reducing blood pressure levels.
14. Vitamin B6 Most vegetables are rich in Vitamin B6 and help maintain a healthy nervous system.
15. Vitamin B1, Thiamine : Spinach is rich in Vitamin B1, thiamin or thiamine which is essential for glucose metabolism. It extracts energy from our food and converts it into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the biochemical form in which our ; body stores and uses energy.
16. Spinach Rich in Riboflavin, Vitamin 12 : Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin, enables you to get usable energy from the foods you eat. Basically, it gets energy from the carbohydrates, protein and fat you eat and converts it into energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). The breakdown of ATP frees energy, which can be used by the body's tissues, such as muscles.
17. Great Source of Vitamin E : It helps balance cholesterol levels, repair damaged skin and keeps your hair shiny and healthy.
Glycemic Index of Spinach
Spinach has a Glycemic Index of 15 which is low. Glycemic Index are for foods you eat, ranks carbohydrate-containing foods by how quickly they digest and raise your blood sugar or glucose levels. Foods rank from 0 to 50 are low GI, 51 to 69 are medium and 70 to 100 are high. Foods that are high in GI are not suitable for weight loss and diabetics. Foods like Spinach have a low GI and hence don't spike your glucose level as they are absorbed slowly. Great for weight loss.