Whether cooking spinach for a few minutes or eating it raw in a salad, it is important to know that spinach is one of the healthiest foods you can have, with more nutrients and a higher nutritional value than most foods.
• It is very rich in antioxidants, more so when raw, steamed or sauteed as boiling it for even five minutes will halve the nutritional value, and a good source of vitamin A and lutein, vitamin E, C and K, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, niacin, selenium, magnesium, manganese and Omega-3 fatty acids.
• It is a leafy green vegetable which is grown in the temperate regionsof the world and grows best during the cool and comfortable weather of spring and fall, when it is available everywhere.
• The most common type of spinach available in supermarkets is the dark green Savoy with curly leaves.
*Before we continue with ‘Cooking Spinach’, I’d like to tell you about my favorite diet program that uses a lot of the healthy lower GI foods:Isabel de los Rios’ ‘The Diet Solution Program’.
Selecting and Preparing Spinach:
• Spinach is quite versatile, you can eat it either raw in salads or cookedin the simplest or the most sophisticated recipes.
• You are better off with smaller – tender spinach leaves to add to salads, soups, pasta and dips and larger – fuller leaves for cooking.
• Avoid the yellowing spinach leaves with holes and tears as it probably means it is out of season. Look for bright spinach leaves that look fresh.
• First thing first, you just have to rinse the spinach a few times until the water is clear, as it grows in sandy soil and is known to be rather dirty.
• Fresh spinach tastes much better than the canned or frozen varieties so you won’t regret going into trouble of rinsing and cooking the spinach leaves from scratch but you should never cook it beyond the point it just wilts.
• When cooking spinach, always buy more than you think you need as a pound of fresh spinach can only make a cup of cooked spinach.
• Make sure to remove the especially tough stems of mature spinach, there is no need to stem the young – tender spinach.
How to Cook Spinach:
• Versatility of spinach means it goes very well with lemon juice or other tangy and sharp flavors and with egg, low fat sour cream, parmesan cheese or low fat plain yogurt.
• You can saute it in a pan for a few minutes with a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and onion and use it in your vegetarian lasagna to increase the total nutritional value of lasagna.
• Remember to remove the stems by hand before sauteing and cooking the garlic and onion to avoid unwanted smells before adding the spinach into the pan. You do not need to add lots of oil or water to cook it as the water on the leaves will be more than enough.
• Another way is to cook the spinach in a steamer over boiling waterfor six to seven minutes and adding a bit of butter, garlic and black pepper at the end.
• Blanch the spinach in plenty of water until it wilts then leave it in ice water to maintain its color, if you will use your spinach in a more sophisticated dish.
• What about cooking your spinach in a pan with olive oil, garlic, sultanas or raisins and pine nuts or simply adding it to your pizza without pre-cooking, with cheese, cooked onion and garlic, chicken pieces and lemon juice?