ABC SUPERFOODS: S is for Spinach

Benefits

Many studies have shown an inverse relationship between the consumption of spinach and various types of cancer. This alone is a compelling enough reason to eat spinach like Popeye! He was on to something, by the way, since a recent study found that eating spinach may improve muscle efficiency. Of all vegetables, none boasts more in protein than spinach. One cup contains 12% of the DV of protein! It is also a great source of Vitamin A and K (second only to cauliflower in its content of the latter). If you are pregnant, nursing, or are anemic, eat spinach! This green leafy vegetable is pack full of iron, folic acid, Vitamin C, and magnesium. Spinach is also an anti-inflammatory, helps fight cancer, prevents diabetes and heart disease, and protects against age-related memory and eye-sight loss. Need I go on?

At the Market
-Choose spinach that is not wilted, but has crisp green leaves.
-Avoid spinach with brown or yellow leaves, that has started to become slimy.
-Be sure to consume the spinach 3-5 days after purchasing.

In the Kitchen
-Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, away from ethylene-producing fruit (apples and bananas) or else it will spoil prematurely.
-Do not wash until ready to use.
-To freeze: wash thoroughly, blanch (boil) for 2 minutes, plunge into ice cold water quickly, get rid of excess water, place into freezer bags. Store in freezer for 10-12 months.
-Should you eat it cooked or raw? Both. Cooking it releases beta-carotene and lutein (these play an vital role in our bodies defending against cancer) and kills off potential contaminants. But eating it raw allows you to maintain the benefits of Vitamin C and folate (which are very heat-sensitive).
-If you choose to cook, do so lightly and boil quickly for only one to two minutes to maintain its nutritive value.
-If you choose to eat raw, wash thoroughly beforehand.
-Use in soups, smoothies, salads, and more!

Recipe

Spinach, Avocado, and Orange Salad

8 cups fresh baby spinach
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 cup fresh raspberries or quartered strawberries
2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp granulated sugar or honey (I use stevia)

spinach salad

1. Place spinach on a large serving platter or divide among individual salad plates. Cut orange sections into bite-size pieces. Arrange raspberries, orange, and avocado on spinach.
2. For dressing, in a screw-top jar combine vinegar, oil, Dijon mustard, and sugar. Cover and shake well. Pour over the spinach mixture. If desired, sprinkle with ground black pepper.

Recipe taken from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

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