The Humble Spinach and its Noble Properties
The humble spinach is easy to grow and grows during the colder winter months. The wild origin of spinach is unknown, although the first crops were grown in Arab and Persian cultures 2000 years ago.
It was introduced into Spain and other parts of Europe during the Moorish invasion, who paid particular attention to its healing qualities and considered it the queen of vegetables for its finesse, uses, and properties. Today the United States and China are the leading producing countries.
They are composed of more than 90% water and tiny proportions of carbohydrates and fats, but it is one of the vegetables with the highest protein content. That is why it is beneficial in diets to control or reduce body weight because 100 grams of spinach only provides 20 calories.
Nutritional Value of Spinach
The nutritional power of spinach lies in its high content of vitamins and minerals. 100 grams of this vegetable provides two-thirds of the daily requirement of vitamin A, all the folic acid, half of the vitamin C, and a quarter of the magnesium and iron that the body needs every day.
A transcription error in the measurement of its nutrients led to the idea for many years that it had ten times more iron than it did. Even so, it can be considered quite abundant in this mineral, and its reputation as a healthy vegetable is well deserved.
Besides, it contains calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorophyll, trace elements, enzymes, and fiber. Its 2.8% protein content, although not abundant, is more complete than in other vegetables.
The correct fertilization of the crops is essential for the spinach to acquire the nutrients that characterize it. The excessive contributions of phosphate increase the harvest but diminish some vitamins, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Therefore, the accelerated growth of spinach is less nutritious than organically grown.
It is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E and is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids. That is why they provide good antioxidant action.
They also regulate the age-related quality of vision, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, by being a rich source of beta carotene, lutein, and xanthene.
They protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays, including ultraviolet, the mucous membranes, and the immune system.
Lutein also helps reduce the occurrence of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
It is suitable for preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer, including bladder, prostate, liver, and lung cancer due to its composition in folate, tocopherol, and chlorophyllin.
It participates in the formation of collagen and red and white blood cells, increases iron absorption, and resistance to infection.
Its high folate content prevents fetal malformations, especially in the first weeks of pregnancy. It is also suitable for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
They also play an essential role in bones and teeth’ structure due to their content of minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium.
They are beneficial for the proper functioning of muscles and nerves by improving the transmission and generation of nerve impulses and muscle activity.
As they have a higher proportion of potassium to sodium, they are beneficial for patients with high blood pressure, as potassium regulates blood pressure, and sodium increases it.
Its essential contribution in vegetable fiber fights constipation by providing the body with a mild laxative effect and helps reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis.
However, they should be consumed without excess due to their oxalic acid content. It is recommended to boil them briefly, which will reduce their oxalate content.
Spinach in Our Kitchen
When you buy spinach, choose those whose leaves are bright green with fresh, crisp stems.
They should be washed thoroughly in a well, changing the water as often as necessary to remove any soil before consumption. They can be eaten either raw or cooked.
With green, dark, and shiny leaves, they are valued for their tender texture and mild, slightly acidic taste, which suits a wide variety of recipes.
They are often used raw in the preparation of salads. In this way, all the properties and richness generously offered by the plant are enjoyed.
In the kitchen, they are usually steamed for only five minutes; thus, they retain most of their nutrients, as well as be fried, sautéed, baked, or shaken.
In general, tender leaves from the warmer season can be eaten raw in salads, but the large, smooth, winter leaves are usually fibrous and must be cooked. The volume of fresh spinach is reduced by about three quarters when cooked.
In Europe, it is made Florentine style or eaten with raisins and pine nuts in a recipe reminiscent of the Middle Ages. It is also combined with chickpeas and curdled into omelets.
In Japan, it is bleached and served with soy sauce, while other eastern countries use it as a filling for pasta and vegetables.
The truth is that spinach, as a classic vegetable, appears in recipe books worldwide.
Spinach in Nutritious and Delicious Recipes
Spinach and Lettuce Cream
1 1/2 pounds of potatoes
1 pound of lettuce
1 pound of spinach
2 onions, cut into julienne
3/4 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
A few chives leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the onions.
- Wash and chop the lettuce and spinach with your hands.
- In a pot, sauté the onion at low heat with the 4 tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes.
- Once the onion is fried, add the potato in pieces and cook for about 5 more minutes.
- Add the lettuce and chopped spinach, season to taste, and cover with 4 cups of water.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high, and when the potatoes have boiled for 20 minutes, add the sour cream and mix until the ingredients are incorporated.
- Turn off the heat and blend until fine.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve and let it rest.
- Serve the cream and add a little olive oil, a leaf of lettuce, and the chopped chives to decorate.
1 pound of spinach
2 pounds of potatoes
1/2 pound of flour
Ingredients for the sauce
1/3 cup of butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Wash thoroughly and boil the spinach in a little salted water for about 10 minutes, until it loses its firmness and becomes soft, then drain it.
- Blend them and set aside.
- In another saucepan, cook the potatoes whole and with the skin for 20 minutes.
- When the potatoes are cooked, let them cool down, peel them and put them through a potato masher.
- Mix the mashed potatoes with the spinach, add the flour and work until you get a homogeneous, somewhat soft dough.
- As the dough has little flour in it, it can fall apart if we don’t work it carefully.
- We form strips of dough and round them off with our hands into a sausage-like shape, about 1/2 inch in diameter, dusting the work table with flour so that they don’t stick together.
- With a knife, we cut into pieces of about 1 inch, and then we make the classic gnocchi lines by applying a little pressure on the gnocchi with the teeth of a fork.
- We cook in a pot with plenty of boiling water with salt.
- The gnocchi will be ready as soon as they come to the surface of the water. We remove them with a skimmer on a plate.
- Melt the butter and pour it over the freshly drained gnocchi.
- Add the grated cheese, stir a little, and bring it to the table.
Spinach and Banana Shake
2 cups of spinach
1 cup of almond milk
1 tablespoon of honey
2 ice cubes
- Place the banana and spinach in the blender glass and add the almond milk.
- Add the spoonful of honey.
- Beat until you get a thick, creamy mixture.
- Add the ice, and enjoy it.