Greening your health with spinach

Spinach offers tremendous health benefits.

June is just around the corner and with that comes spinach season. This dark, leafy green is a go to food for nutrition. Power packed with vitamins and minerals, spinach provides protection against many ailments. It is readily available in farmer’s markets and grocery stores.

Spinach is possibly the most nutrient dense food available. It is packed full of vitamins and minerals which protect against inflammation, oxidative stress, cardiovascular and bone problems and certain cancers. It has the highest number of flavonoids of most vegetables; which gives it anti-inflammation and cancer preventing benefits.

Spinach is available throughout the year but is at its peak from June through September. It is a tender, deep green, leafy vegetable and can be eaten both raw and cooked. In its raw form it is mild and sweet. Add raw spinach to salads or eat a salad made with only spinach. Baby spinach is the smaller of spinach leaves and is the best for salads. Cooked spinach tastes a bit stronger and more acidic, but makes a great side dish or addition to dishes, like lasagna. Adding a little balsamic vinegar or lemon (see recipe below) can give the side dish some zesty appeal.

Choose spinach leaves that are deep green, without signs of yellowing or bruising. Spinach will also become slimy as it decays, so avoid any signs of slimy edges. Do not wash greens before storing as this makes them spoil faster. Wash just before using. Store in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible, in the refrigerator for up to five days.

To assist consumers in selection, using and preserving many of the healthy produce choices available, Michigan State University Extension has prepared several fact sheets that can be accessed on the Michigan Fresh website. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ChooseMyPlate campaign assists consumers with the amounts needed and tips on making sure that half of the food plate is made up of a variety of fruits and vegetables. For raw leafy greens, two cups is equivalent to a one cup vegetable serving. Additional tips on how to include a variety of vegetables on the food plate can be found on this USDA MyPlate tip sheet.

Lemon Spinach

(To see the nutritional facts for this recipe follow the link to the USDA Recipe Finder)

Ingredients

1 bunch of spinach (1 pound, fresh)

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Instructions

1. Wash the spinach. Trim off the stems.

2. Put the spinach, black pepper, and lemon juice in a pan.

3. Cook over medium heat. Let the spinach boil for about three minutes, until just tender.

Cost

Per recipe: $1.41
Per serving: $0.35

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