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Old 04-16-2009, 10:58 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Upstate NY
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Height: 5'11"

Lightbulb Veggie of the Month: Spinach!

So...I know we're all trying to add more veggies into our diets. We're not sure what might be out there...and even if we find a new veggie, we're not sure how to cook it, what it would go well with, and whether anyone in their right mind would even try it!

Here's a place to share all that info with each other! Each month I'll post a new veggie along with information on nutritional value, how to cook it, and at least one recipe using that veggie. Then we can all add on to the thread with our experiences with that veggie, recipes we like, and more! When the month is up (or activity in the thread dies out), I'll transfer the thread to the SBD Recipe Forum Sticky list and any recipes to their respective recipe forums. Remember, if you add a recipe, try to include at least the number of servings and the nutritional information, if you can. Posting the recipe in the forum and then linking to it in this thread gets you extra good karma.

This Month’s Veggie is: Spinach!

There's a ton of great information on spinach at , including this:

Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables. It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as "the Spanish vegetable" in England.

Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, a historical figure in the 16th century. When she left her home of Florence, Italy, to marry the king of France, she brought along her own cooks, who could prepare spinach the ways that she especially liked. Since this time, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as "a la Florentine."

Spinach grows well in temperate climates. Today, the United States and the Netherlands are among the largest commercial producers of spinach.

How to Select and Store
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.

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.

Tips for Preparing Spinach:
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.

Health Benefits
We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time.

Phytonutrient Flavonoids for Optimal Health
Researchers have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents. (Many of these substances fall into a technical category of flavonoids known as methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides.) The anticancer properties of these spinach flavonoids have been sufficiently impressive to prompt researchers to create specialized spinach extracts that could be used in controlled studies. These spinach extracts have been shown to slow down cell division in stomach cancer cells (gastric adenocarcinomas), and in studies on laboratory animals, to reduce skin cancers (skin papillomas). A study on adult women living in New England in the late 1980s also showed intake of spinach to be inversely related to incidence of breast cancer.
(tons more at website:

A wonderful way to add spinach to your diet is to put it in salads; even the pickiest eaters among my friends have been able to do this with no problem.

Eventually, work your way to having all spinach in your salad and try this recipe from Cooking Light for Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Goat-Cheese Bruschetta (P2 and 3)

A very easy way to add any type of veggie to your diet is to put it on a pizza! This is actually the first way I learned to eat many veggies, and it works especially well with spinach. Here's a recipe from Cooking Light to try, but feel free to just add spinach onto the pizza creations you make at home!
Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Feta and Spinach (P2 and 3) This is a vegetarian meal, as are many veggie pizzas.

Another easy way to try spinach is to have it in dip. Eat it with vegetables if in Phase 1 and with WW Pitas or crackers in Phase 2.

Here’s a hot dip:
Cheesy Spinach-Artichoke Dip (all phases)

And a cold one:
Creamy Feta-Spinach Dip (all phases)

Here’s a link to a slew of other spinach dip recipes (let us know if you need help making them SBD-safe).

When you feel ready, try eating cooked spinach in this dish, where the sweetness of the raisins will help balance the spinach’s bitterness: Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts (P2 and 3)

Another way to eat cooked spinach: Golden Spinach and Sweet Potato Healthy Sauté (P2 & 3)

Spinach is often a part of vegetarian recipes.
Here are some that could work for SBD:
Mushroom and Spinach Frittata With Smoked Gouda (all phases)
Curried Rice Salad with Spinach-and-Citrus Vinaigrette (P2 & 3)
Barley-Vegetable Stuffed Acorn Squash (P2 & 3)

More Information on Spinach:
Basic information on spinach at Produce Oasis

Some good facts on washing, preparing, and cooking spinach

Healthy Spinach Recipes and Cooking Tips from Eating Well

Spinach, a Healthy Source of Nutrients for Your Diet

Other information on Veggies:
Better Homes and Gardens Slide Show on using spring vegetables, including recipes and info on veggies

FAQ for the 5-a-day program on Fruits and Veggies

Tips on Fruits and Veggies from the CDC

Vegetables: How to cook, serve, and store these healthy foods from Mayo Clinic

Last edited by beachgal; 04-20-2009 at 11:11 AM.
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