Spinach seems like a no brainer when it comes to healthy foods – I mean it’s what Popeye ate to get big and strong so it’s gotta be good for you right? Spinach has high amounts of beta-carotene, chlorophyll, and potassium.
For starters spinach is extremely high in vitamin A (one bunch contains over 600% of the daily requirement). It’s also high in vitamin C, iron, and calcium and contains vitamin E, fiber, riboflavin, calcium, copper, thiamine, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids.
It is also high in lutein (as is kale) which is one of the antioxidants that helps protect our eyes. Spinach contains folate and B6 which can aid in heart health and increase mental functioning.
Fresh spinach contains about 200% (and over 1000% for one cup of boiled spinach) of the daily requirement for vitamin K– which is important for bone health. It’s second only to kale when it comes to levels of vitamin K. It is also a good source of other helpful nutrients for bones, including magnesium and calcium. Spinach is high in flavanoids and carotenoids which act as both anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents.
Spinach has high anti-oxidant benefits as well. It’s a good source of zinc and selenium , which can help reduce risk of oxidative stress. It can also help lower blood pressure due to the peptides found in it.
Overall, spinach is an extremely versatile vegetable. It can be incorporated into many dishes and eaten on its own.
Cooking with Spinach
Add it to creamy pasta dishes
Juice it with other fruits and veggies
Throw it into a smoothie
Sautéed or steamed as a side
Mixed into soups
Topped with good stuff for a salad
This salad is a wonderful way to get your spinach and incorporate some of those gorgeous ripe pears that are popping up at the supermarkets. I really like this apple cider-sage dressing, it has the most beautiful caramel color and creates a nice balance in this salad.
Spinach and Pear Salad with Apple Cider-Sage Vinaigrette
For the salad
4 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
2 firm but ripe pears, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 ounces of crumbled goat cheese
For the vinaigrette
2 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
½ teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
To make vinaigrette
Bring the cider to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. reduce heat to medium and simmer briskly until the juice is thickened and has reduced to 2/3 cup, 25-35 minutes. Transfer reduced juice to a bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes. Whisk in cider vinegar, oil, honey, shallot, sage, salt and pepper until well combined.
To assemble the salad
Divide up baby spinach into 4 plates. Top each with pear slices, cranberries, red onion and goat cheese. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.
Source: Salad – Nicole original; vinaigrette – America’s Test Kitchens Healthy Family Cookbook