By Larraine Roulston:
For years we’ve been told to eat our greens — and for good reason. Dark greens are a good source of dietary fiber. In addition, they contain vitamins K, A (in the form of carotenoids), B1, B2, B6, E and C as well as iron, manganese, folate, magnesium, copper, calcium, potassium, zinc, choline and phosphorus.
Raw spinach is a great addition to a tossed salad; however, as Melissa Breyer reported for TreeHugger in 2016, cooked spinach has proven to be more healthful because certain nutrients become more bio-available. Besides making a spinach salad or following a recipe, there are several easy ways to incorporate spinach (and kale) into your diet. A few leaves can be tossed into a smoothie, used to top a stir-fry or pizza, or stirred into soups.
To make the most of spinach in recipes, these few ideas will help:
- PESTO lovers, who make their own with basil, can substitute half the basil with The color and texture will remain the same.
- SPINACH CHEESE BAKE, taken from Simply in Season (Herald Press, 2009), looks inviting. It’s a crustless quiche that can be served with a salad or soup.
- 1 pound of chopped spinach.
- Cook and thoroughly drain.
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup Swiss cheese or other shredded cheese
- 1 cup bread, cubed
- 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Combine in bowl and add cooked greens. Pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, or until set.
- SPANAKOPITAMade with phyllo pastry, it offers the splendor of Greek cuisine. Spanakopita can be baked in a flat casserole dish or folded into triangles. Large triangles provide part of a main meal, while smaller ones serve as hors d’oeuvres. Here’s a recipeto try, courtesy of Ina Garten. You can mix in some kale, use cottage and feta cheese, and add a dash of nutmeg and a few drops of lemon. A combination of olive oil and butter also works well. To freeze, lay them flat on a cookie sheet. When frozen, bag them into the portions you wish to prepare at one time. Pop them, frozen, into the oven and bake until lightly brown on top.
- SPINACH PANEER is a sauce with a flavorful combinationof spicy spinach. Paneer is located in the dairy section of most large supermarkets. You can also try making your own.
- SPINACH LASAGNA, as given in the link below, or a regular lasagna with its cooked spinach and cottage cheese center, always makes a great family dinner. Leftovers can be cut and frozen for another time.
- SPINACH CALZONES offer a full recipe here. The images of this dish are definitely company worthy and claim to be a hit with children.
- SPINACH DIP served warm on wedges of pita bread, crackers or in the hollow of a pumpernickel bread loaf is always a crowd pleaser at parties. Here’s a good recipe to try, via Epicurious.
Besides containing loads of nutrients and antioxidants, spinach may reduce blood pressure, help prevent cancer, lessen oxidative stress, and be of benefit to the health of eyes. It is estimated that Popeye the Sailor Man helped increase the American consumption of spinach by a third!
Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. Visit www.castlecompost.com