Friday’s Fabulous Food: Baby Spinach

I’ve decided to write about a different food each week: to share the nutritional information of that food and some good ways to incorporate it into your family’s diet. So every Friday get ready to stuff your noggin with information! I love learning about food and nutrition and how to feed my family better. I hope this information is fun and helpful to you!

Baby Spinach

You know those hugemongous (I know it’s not a word, but I use it) containers of spinach you can find at the Commissary or bulk shopping stores? I buy those. Every single week. We use a lot of spinach at our house! I realized this may not be normal so I thought I’d share a few tips on getting this oh-too-good-to-pass-up, vitamin-stocked veggie into your every day meals! First, a little about why I binge on baby spinach:

Baby spinach contains mega-doses of vitamin K, C & A and folate (B12). It’s also a fantastic source of minerals, such as magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. I really upped the spinach intake when I was pregnant with our daughter, because I knew folate (the natural form of folic acid) contributed to brain and spinal development in the womb. Folate is also good for grown-up brain function – and honestly, who can’t use a little boost?? Some even say that it is a natural way to ward off depression and even dementia. In addition to these brain benefits – it also helps in the production of red and white blood cells – contributing to a healthy heart. So, with all of these obvious benefits, who wouldn’t want a little bit of green baby spinach goodness in their diet?

Now, how to use it? I never really thought too much about what I was going to do with the huge container of spinach that took up half of my refrigerator shelf – I just bought it and started adding it to my meals. I’m really not the follow-the-recipe-to-the-T kind of person. I have been cooking since I was a little kid, so I know the rules. Now I’m in the “break the rules” part of my life. I like to get creative – and I like to use what I have on hand. It’s really easy to incorporate spinach into so many recipes! Here are a few that are super easy to add the green-goodness to:

  • Smoothies. We love smoothies at the Mahler house. And while a handful of spinach may turn your otherwise appetizing smoothie a viscous green color, it doesn’t really effect the flavor that much. Especially if you have banana, strawberry, or some other strong flavors going on. And in my mind, it’s worth it for the extra nutrient boost. Just pretend it’s St. Patty’s day :) .
  • Baked sweet potatoes – just throw some on top – chopped up or just whole leaves, along with a crack of sea salt & pepper, a little mozzarella, raisins, walnuts and a dollop of plain yogurt. Now that’s a healthy meal. And meatless, too.
  • Stir-frys – any stir fry – so super easy! Just throw some whole leaves in right before you’re ready to serve and stir it up. It’s not even necessary to heat it, the food in the pan is usually hot enough to wilt it down.
  • Spaghetti and lasagna – this is another good one. Even if I resort to a jarred spaghetti sauce, I still usually saute up some mushrooms, garlic, and ground turkey, and throw in a few handfuls of baby spinach.
  • Enchiladas, Mexican casserole, tacos, etc. I always throw a handful of spinach in with my cheese for enchiladas. And it’s really quick to add spinach into a layer in a Mexican casserole recipe. As for tacos – just chop up the spinach and use it instead of lettuce.
  • Soups and stews – as with the spaghetti – just add it right before serving!
  • Sandwiches! I hardly ever put lettuce on our sandwiches anymore (partly because, remember? I have that hugemongous container of baby spinach taking up space in the fridge!) This includes hamburgers, sloppy joes, turkey sandwiches, wraps – you name it. It’s especially good in pitas after you broil them in the toaster oven.
  • And lastly, of course, baby spinach is a great addition to any salad. We do lots of plain baby spinach salads, but we also mix it with other greens and lettuces. My favorites are a greek salad with baby spinach: kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, etc. and a strawberry spinach salad: with just sliced strawberries, some walnuts, and a nice balsamic vinaigrette.

So, this is how we fit baby spinach int0 our lives on a daily basis! I hope it inspires you to dream big for this little leafy vegetable :). Happy cooking! And happy St. Patty’s Day! A fitting food for this Friday!

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