In Praise of Spinach

Today is National Spinach Day, a day set aside to honor and consider all the delicious ways we can incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into our diets.

Here are 10 interesting facts about spinach:

1. During Catherine de Medici’s reign as queen of France, spinach was served at every meal. Many modern dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine” in honor of Catherine’s birth in Florence.

2. The earliest written record of the spinach plant was found in Chinese, suggesting the spinach plant was introduced in China via Nepal.

3. Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.

4. China is the world’s largest spinach producer with 85% of global production.

5. California accounts for almost three quarters of national production. Other spinach-growing states include Arizona, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Maryland, and Arkansas.

6. In the 1930’s, U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption.

7. Alma, Arkansas—the home of “Allen Canning Company” which cans and ships spinach—holds an annual spinach festival each April. Alma proclaims itself to be the “Spinach Capital of the World”…a title also claimed by Crystal City, Texas.

8. An excellent source of protein, calcium, folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K, spinach is also loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants.

9. A half cup of raw spinach counts as one vegetable serving.

10. Studies have found that eating cooked spinach and carrots – versus raw – results in much higher blood levels of beta-carotene, an antioxidant thought to guard against heart disease and lung cancer.

On a personal note…

I look forward to my breakfast smoothie. Here’s one of my favorite recipes:

I start with one scoop of Sun Warrior Vegan Protein Powder (vanilla flavor). Recommended by my nutritionist, this brand contains brown rice protein and works well for anyone who is sensitive to eggs, dairy, and soy. I add one-half cup of blueberries, one cup of baby spinach leaves, and one teaspoon of cinnamon. I then add six to eight ounces of water and blend.

Do you have a quick-and-easy spinach recipe to share?


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4 responses to “In Praise of Spinach

  1. Sautéed Spinach
    1 bag spinach leaves
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    4 oz mushrooms, sliced
    1T sesame oil
    Thin slices of fresh hot red pepper (1T) or red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp)

    Wash spinach and pat dry, leaving just a little moisture on the leaves. Sauté mushrooms in sesame oil until tender. Add garlic and pepper (fresh threads or flakes), cook for 30 seconds. Add spinach, sauté until just wilted (DO NOT OVERCOOK). Add 1T soy into hot pan. Remove spinach immediately so as to not overcook.

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