Spinach is believed to be of Persian Origin. By the 12th century, it spread across Europe and became a desirable leafy green known for good health; a reputation that stands firm to this day. The name Florentine is often used to describe dishes containing and the Italian wife of France’s Henry II; Catherine de Medici. The unverified tale states that Catherine introduced spinach to the Court of France to honour her Italian heritage, she then decided to call any dish containing spinach Florentine.
Spinach is one green leafy vegetable which comes packed with amazing nutrition. One serving of spinach contains (30g) roughly about Vitamins A,B,C and K, very few calories, calcium, iron and beta carotenoids.
The Popeye effect:
Popularised by the famous cartoon show “Popeye-the Sailor Man”, spinach is a green, leafy vegetable with a high nutritional value. Scientifically known as Spinacia Oleracea, spinach belongs to the amaranth family and is related to beetroots and quinoa. It is rich in magnesium, iron and manganese. No wonder that eating this leafy green veggie may benefit eye health, reduce oxidative stress and reduce blood pressure levels among other health functions. Spinach is surely one veggie that you must include in your daily diet.
Here are some amazing health benefits of eating spinach:
- Strengthens your bones: Spinach is a rich source of Vitamin K which helps in promoting the production of a protein called Osteocalc in that is responsible for stabilizing calcium in the bones. Spinach is also a great source of calcium and vitamin D, dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C, all of which are important nutrients that are good for bone health.
- Strengthens your eyesight and immune system: Spinach contains beta carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein and chlorophyll- all of which are responsible for improving your eyesight and boosting your immune system. Lutein and zeaxanthin are stored in the macula, which is a part of the retina that acts as a natural sunblock, shielding your eye from damaging light.
- Repels bacteria and viruses: Spinach is high in Vitamin A which helps our skin and mucous membranes to repel various kind of bacteria and viruses effectively. Moreover, this vitamin is necessary for sebum productions to keep hair moisturised. Vitamin A is good for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. So load up on more greens to reduce the risk of hair loss and infections.
- Promotes heart health: Vitamin C in spinach is known to have the ability to prevent wrinkles and protect us from eye diseases, prenatal health problems and cardiovascular diseases. It is also the presence of lutein content that prevents thickening of walls of arteries, thus reducing the risk of heart attacks. Moreover, it contains nitrite that not only helps in preventing the occurrence of heart attack but also cures the heart diseases associated with fat deposition.
- Keep you energized: Spinach provides you with the required levels of magnesium in your body which helps you to generate energy for you day to day chores. Spinach is also great source of folate, a nutrient that helps your body turn food into usable energy. Spinach is also alkaline in nature.
Now you are well aware about the several health benefits of spinach, try your hand at these amazing spinach receipes:
1. Pineapple,Banana &Spinach Green Smoothie:
- 1 cup non-dairy milk ( coconut milk)
- 1 frozen banana
- 1cup baby spinach
- 1 cup pineapple chunks, (fresh or frozen)
- Blend all the ingredients in a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix.
- You can also add some raw nuts or seeds before blending.
2. Spinach Pasta with Cheese:
- 8 ounces Wheat Pasta
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- fresh parmigiano- reggiano shavings, garnish
- 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup milk
- Boil pasta for 12 minutes
- Melt better over medium heat in a large skillet or dutch oven.
- Add garlic and continue to stir and cook until fragrant; about 30 seconds.
- Add spinach; season with salt, pepper, and basil, and cook until spinach is wilted; about 1 to 2 minutes. Depending on the size of your skillet, you might have to cook the spinach down in batches.
- Drain cooked pasta and add to the spinach mixture; add cream cheese and milk.
- Min and stir until everything is well incorporated and cream cheese is melted.
- Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
- top with fresh Parmigiano -Reggiano shavings.
- Serve hot.
- You can also use olive oil in place of butter and fat free cream cheese.
3. Spinach Balls:
- 1 package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- 2 cups finely crushed herb-seasoned dry bread stuffing mix.
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- In a large bowl combine spinach, stuffing mix, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, black pepper, Italian seasoning, melted butter and eggs. Shape in round shaped balls and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until heated through and browned.
4. Dal Palak:
- 1/2 cup dal of lentils (use 1/4 cup toor dal & 1/4 cup moong dal).
- 1 1/4 cup water or as needed to cook dal.
- 1 tomato
- 2 cups palak
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoon Ghee or butter
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1 red chili
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 or 2 green chilies
- 1 pinch hing
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or amchur
- Add dal to a bowl or pot and rinse it very well a few times until water runs clear.
- If using tomato you can chop it and add it.
- Pour 1/4 cups water and cool in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles on a medium heat.
- You can also cook the dal a pot until they soften.
- If using instant pot, place the bowl and pressure cook for 8 mins.
- When the pressure releases naturally, remove the dal and mash it to suit your liking.
- Heat a pot with ghee or butter. Add cumin and red chillies.
- When the cumin begins to splutter add ginger, garlic and green chilies.
- Saute well for a min. Add hing.
- Transfer chopper palak or spinach. Saute for 3-4 mins on a medium heat.
- Add cooked dal, salt and turmeric. Mix and check the consistency. If needed pour some water.
- Next mix well and cook on a medium heat until palak wilts completely.
- Switch off when spinach dal reaches the desired consistency.
- Add lemon juice and mix. Serve dal palak with rice or roti.
While your everyday greens can help you stay healthy and boost your immunity, be sure to add a variety of them in your diet and not just stick to one. Staying physically active, avoiding junk food and keeping stress away are some of the additional things you can do to stay safe from illness.