My goal is that Live Simply Natural be a resource to help you feel empowered when making food choices, so I’m breaking down everything you need to know with the most common whole food ingredients. Today I’m sharing one of my springtime favorites – SPINACH!
Produce Guide: Spinach
While spinach is available all year round, it’s best when eaten in the peak spring season, when the leaves are both ripe and tender. Served raw, spinach has a sweet, slightly bitter taste but when cooked it takes on a more complex, mildly tart flavor. I really can’t choose which way I prefer best, really I like them every which way, in salads, tossed in pasta, sautéed with garlic, and my favorite blended in my morning smoothie.
Low in fat and cholesterol, Spinach acts as an antioxidant to keep cholesterol from oxidizing while also protecting your body from free radicals, particularly in the colon. It’s high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. The folate in spinach is good for your cardiovascular system, and magnesium helps lower high blood pressure. Studies also have shown that spinach helps maintain brain function, memory, and mental clarity. In another word, it’s loaded with a ton of good things for every part of your body!
NUTRIENT BREAKDOWN OF SPINACH
*per 1 cup raw spinach, 100g (source)
- Fiber | 2.2 g (9% DV)
- Protein | 2.9 g (6% DV)
- Carbohydrates | 3.6 g (3% DV)
- Vitamin C | 8.4 mg (77% DV)
- Vitamin A | 141 mg (28% DV)
- Vitamin K | 145 mg (223% DV)
- Folate | 58 mg (18% DV)
- Magnesium | 24 mg (7.5% DV)
- Potassium | 167 g (3.6 % DV)
- Calcium | 30 mg (3.75 % DV)
- Iron | 0.8 mg (10% DV)
HOW TO BUY
When shopping for spinach, you should always look for the same thing: Look for leaves that are crisp, bright green, smooth, and/or glossy. If you’re buying pre-packaged spinach examine the bag to make sure no leaves are wilted, crushed, or rotting. If it looks soft, mushy, and discolored then that means it has been sitting on the shelf for too long. Your best bet for good spinach or really any greens is at a local farmer’s market.
HOW TO STORE
When storing your spinach be sure to remove any damaged or wilted leaves. Store the rest in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer or near the top of the fridge in an air-tight container with the humidity set to high. Keep your spinach dry as added moisture will cause your spinach to go bad more quickly. Since spinach dramatically diminishes over time, the sooner you get into your belly, the better.
HOW TO PREPARE
Wash your spinach right before you plan to use it, this will keep your spinach fresh for longer. When washing your spinach use cold running water or mix it into a bowl of cold water, repeating with fresh water if necessary until properly cleaned. Spin dry or pat dry with kitchen towels. If preparing your spinach for a salad and you want to add crisper, put them in a bowl of ice-cold water for a few minutes. Removing the stems is optional; chop your leaves according to your recipe or use them whole.
Looking for more spinach recipes? Check out our favorites here!
WHAT’S YOUR FAV?
What ingredient do you guys want to learn more about? And if you have a favorite way to eat spinach, tag @livesimplynatural or #livesimplynatural so the LSN community can get inspired by your dish too :)