Spinach Isn't Just for Popeye


Growing up in Wisconsin, we had a pretty extensive garden.  My favorite crop was the spinach. I’d go out to the garden, cut a big bowlful, wash my harvest, wilt it in the microwave and gobble every leaf.  I ate so much spinach that my parents had to plant more rows each season just for me!

Spinach is extremely nutrient-rich, but unlike many other fresh leafy greens, it doesn’t taste bitter. It is full of many nutrients, specifically good-for-the-eyes lutein plus vitamin K, beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) and magnesium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, iron, calcium, and manganese .

One cup of raw spinach contains only 7 calories. That means you can eat 10 cups of spinach and not even reach 100 calories.  

I am a huge Greek food fan, so one of my favorite ways to eat spinach is spanakopita, or spinach pie.  Spinach is also especially tasty in Italian dishes such as spinach lasagna or vegetable pizza.

Another tasty fix: Use leafy spinach as a colorful bed for fish, chicken and beef to replace higher-calorie pasta or mashed potatoes.  

To retain most of the nutrients in spinach, steam the leaves lightly or microwave them until just gently wilted. Or consider frozen spinach, which preserves nutrients through flash freezing. It’s convenient to keep on hand and quick to fix. 

How can you get kids to eat spinach?  Connect strength or energy to eating spinach.  My son flexes his biceps when we serve spinach , shovels in the spinach, running around saying he is strong because he ate his spinach.  If only all superheros had a favorite vegetable that gave them special powers!  Kids wouldn’t leave a vegetable behind on their plates!

Spinach Trivia: Have you ever wondered why dishes containing spinach often include  “Florentine” in the name?” In the 16th century, when Catherine de Medici married the King of France, she brought her own cooks from Florence, Italy, so they could prepare spinach just as she liked it.

Tara Collingwood
Tara is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness, and health promotion and is quoted in a variety of media including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

Comments are closed.