The Health Benefits of Spinach
There’s a reason why Popeye loved spinach: The leafy greens pack some serious nutrition. For starters, one cup of the cooked greens is a good source of protein and fiber and an excellent source of plant-based iron, offering 36 percent of your daily need—all for only about 40 calories. Enjoying it raw? Add a squeeze of lemon juice or toss the leaves with a handful of halved grape tomatoes; the additional vitamin C will increase how much of the iron your body absorbs.
How Do You Prepare Spinach?
Remove spinach stems before washing the greens—you can set these aside to sauté with other veggies or add to a vegetable stock. Because spinach is often grown in sandy soil, it tends to be very gritty. To thoroughly wash the greens, fill a large bowl with cold water. Place the leaves in the water for a few minutes, then drain in a colander. Toss the water and repeat. You may have to do this a third time if the leaves are still gritty. Next, use a salad spinner to remove any excess liquid. If you prefer the packaged, pre-washed variety, it’s still a good idea to give those leaves a rinse to help protect yourself from foodborne illness. Once you have clean leaves, you can add them to a salad or cook ‘em up into a delicious dish.
What Can You Do with Spinach?
Spinach is one of the most versatile veggies out there. Give these preparation techniques a try.
Sautéed Spinach: Sautéed spinach is delicious on its own as a side dish or as an add-in to a rice bowl or pasta dish. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 10 to 12 ounces spinach leaves to the skillet by the handful, tossing with tongs until wilted. Season with black pepper and any additional spices you desire, such as red pepper flakes.
Spinach Smoothie: Blending spinach into a smoothie hides the bitter taste of the greens—if you use the right ratio of ingredients. Start with about 1 cup of spinach, 1 ½ cups of frozen fruit (such as banana and strawberries), and 1 cup of liquid such as reduced-fat milk or a plant-based milk, like soy. Add other ingredients as desired, such as plain low-fat Greek yogurt, nut butter, or spices, like cinnamon. Combine everything in the blender, adding the spinach and fruit first and the milk last; then blend.
Spinach “Chips”: Like kale chips but with more iron, magnesium, and potassium. Preheat the oven to 325° F (180°C). In a large bowl, toss 2 cups spinach leaves with just enough extra-virgin olive oil to lightly coat the leaves. Season with sea salt to taste and any other seasoning you desire. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange the leaves in a single layer. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until crispy. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes, then remove from the sheet.
More Spinach Recipes
Hungry for more? You’ll love these spinach-in-the-spotlight recipes!