Spinach or Romaine? It’s a toss up…pardon the pun! While both greens are nutrient rich, spinach (and its cousin Kale) top the chart for many nutrients.
And now is the perfect time to make a giant main-dish salad for dinner. Who wants to cook when the heat index is 103?
We often have salad for dinner in the summer–it’s the perfect way to eat light, use up leftovers, and of course, have a super-healthy dinner. I love keeping a bowl of hard-cooked eggs in the fridge and adding those too. Some of my favorite additions include leftover grilled fish or steak, or black beans for protein; julienne carrots, cherry tomatoes, corn, green beans or other leftover veggie; cold cooked grains like quinoa, rice or pasta. Of course, avocado and some kind of nuts are a must and I like to put a little cheese and fresh or dried fruit too!
So, Why Eat Spinach?
- Vitamins: Popeye’s favorite really is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat. Just 1 cup contains 56% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A and 15% DV for folate. It gets a gold star more than 100% of the DV for vitamin K and 14% DV for manganese. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting but also plays a role in bone health and prevention of soft tissue calcification.
- Anti-inflammatory/antioxidant nutrients: Spinach contains two carotenoids—lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential for eye health at both ends of the age spectrum. Those nutrients are especially important if you’re pregnant–they are needed for the development of the eye.
- Grilling this summer? Grab some spinach. It’s a rich source of chlorophyll, which is believed to protect your body from possibly cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PCAs) and heterocyclic amines. Those are chemicals formed when grilling animal protein over high heat, especially when foods are charred.
- Calorie: nutrient ratio: Fresh spinach gives a lot of bang for the buck nutritionally. It has only 7 calories in one cup! Cook it up and the nutrients become even more concentrated!
Spinach is Versatile!
Eat it often with these ideas.
- In a smoothie. If you’ve ever tried a green smoothie, you know that both pineapple, banana and other berries mask the flavor of the greens very well. And you get all that nutrition with just the push of a button.
- In a wrap. It’s so easy to slap some fresh greens on your toast, sandwich, wrap—or even your burger!
- In a salad. Now that you can buy a large container of organic spinach at your local Walmart, there’s no excuse for not eating spinach salad at home! The perfect light and easy summer supper is a spinach salad with grilled salmon or canned tuna on top. It’s almost impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t have a spinach salad on the menu. In fact, you can even find it at your local Subway sandwich shop and probably mixed in with baby greens at Chick-Fil-A.
- Toss with pasta. For an incredible touch of green, toss it with your hot pasta just before serving.
- On pizza. One of my all time favorite pizza flavors is spinach with feta cheese. OK, so it’s not really raw when it comes out of the oven, but almost.
- In pesto. Out of basil? No worries, you can sub it in with parsley or any mix of green herbs. And what a delicioso way to get your spinach!
- Toss a few leaves in your scrambled eggs or omelet. More of an over-easy on toast type? Put the spinach leaves on your toast and slip the just-cooked eggs on top.
- In a wilted salad. Using a warm vinaigrette over a spinach salad with strawberries and pecans gives salad a new twist. Often the warm vinaigrette has bacon—use nitrate free if possible.
For more ideas on ways to eat your spinach and other veggies: