Pop-eye loved spinach and you should too!
Spinach is one of the most nutrient dense foods that is out there! It contains your daily requirements of both vitamin K and vitamin A, and includes a majority of your manganese and folate needs. In one cup there are only 40 calories, but is still packed with fiber, calcium, and protein. It also contains magnesium, which is beneficial for maintaining blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.
Spinach also contains compounds called flavonoids, which help to protect the body from free radicals in order to fight cancer. Numerous studies have been done that show a decreased risk of many types of cancers due to flavonoids and carotenoids found in spinach and other similar foods.
This leafy green has also been shown to protect the brain from aging and slow the negative effects on your mental ability. This occurs because spinach prevents this process of aging by preventing the damaging effect of oxidation on your brain.
How to easily incorporate spinach into your diet:
- Chop finely and add to your morning omelet.
- Add it to your pasta sauce.
- Use as a replacement for lettuce on your sandwich or in a wrap.
- Make a salad using spinach instead of iceberg lettuce.
- Add it to your lasagna recipe.
- Include it on a homemade pizza.
- Mix it in to one of your smoothies.
- Find a low-fat spinach dip recipe for when guest are over.
- Shred it and use to top a tower of homemade nachos.
- Cook it and add a splash of olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese.
Make it a goal to choose one of these options once a week in order to gradually add spinach into your diet!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 8 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed if needed
- 2 firm but ripe Bosc pears (do not peel), quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into long, thin slices
- 2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook’s Notes) and chopped
To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
Place the onions in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand for 30 minutes. This crisps the onion and takes away the raw onion taste. Drain well and pat dry on paper towels.
In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of the dressing to soften them. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or until ready to serve the salad.
To assemble the salad, place the spinach, onions, and pears in a large bowl. Give the remaining dressing a last-minute shake and pour over the salad. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange the salad in a large serving bowl or divide it evenly among 8 salad plates. Scatter the cranberries and hazelnuts over the top(s). Serve immediately.
Assistance by Morgan Hoover