It's Spinach time! Brighter, hotter days - ideal for fresh, raw food and wonderful spinachThere is something about warmer weather that encourages us to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s a perfect time to clean up the diet and the body at the same time. Fresh wholesome fruit and vegetables help to prevent disease and improve vitality, increase energy levels and are necessary for a healthy immune system.
What fruit is best in November?
|Mangoes||Melons||Mulberries||Oranges - Valencia|
What vegetables are best in November?
|Asian Greens||Asparagus||Beans – green||Cucumber|
Food in Focus – SpinachSpinach has been cultivated for over 2,000 years and has often been used for medicinal purposes in many traditional medicine systems. It was thought to improve the quality of the blood, increase vitality and help to restore energy. Some of us will remember watching the comic strip hero “Popeye, the Sailorman” popping his can of spinach to give him strength in his pursuit of triumph over adversity.
What health benefits can be gained by eating spinach?
- The ever growing presence of processed foods in our diets is creating a more acidic balance in our bodies. Spinach is extremely useful in helping to regulate our body pH. It is one of the best alkaline foods available.
- Boost immunity – providing a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and minerals including zinc.
- Improve energy and nervous system – from the good source of B Vitamins.
- High in lutein it promotes healthy eyesight and helps to prevent macular degeneration.
- Anti-oxidant - rich in bioflavonoids and carotenoids.
- Anti-cancer – research has found that it may slow down division in human stomach cancer cells, reduce skin cancers and lower the incidence of breast cancer.
- Reduce bone fracture – due to Vitamin K.
- May help in the management of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders.
- Used topically – as an emollient it can help to soften skin and surface tissues.
What are the effects of oxalates in spinach?Spinach contains twice as much iron compared to most other greens and is popular in vegetarian and vegan diets. Some texts however will comment that the oxalic acid content in the spinach makes the iron unavailable. A study in 2008, by Bonsmann SS, et al, on “Oxalic acid does not influence nonhaem iron absorption in humans: a comparison of kale and spinach meals” found that the soluble oxalates in spinach had very little or no influence on iron absorption but did however influence the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc that was present in the spinach. Food combining with foods rich in Vitamin C will help to increase the absorption of these nutrients. As oxalates are indicated in the formation of kidney and bladder stones, people who are susceptible to bladder and kidney stones should take care of their quantity of oxalic acid containing foods.
What are the nutritional benefits of spinach?Spinach is a nutrient-dense food and often referred to as one of our super-charged foods. Half a cup of cooked spinach is low in kilojoules and provides:
- A good source of fibre
- Excellent source of vitamin K
- 60% of a day’s supply of Vitamin A
- Over 50% of recommended folate
- And good levels of
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Manganese, magnesium, vitamin B2, B6, B1 and vitamin E
What to look for when buying spinach
- Looks fresh and vital with no evidence of decay or wilting
- Medium to dark green in colour
How to store and prepare spinach
- Loosely pack spinach in a sealed bag in the refrigerator crisper, where is will stay fresh for approximately four days.
- Wash well. The leaves and stems easily collect dirt. Trim off any roots and separate the leaves. Place in a large bowl of water (you may like to add some commercial organic produce wash), swish the leaves around with your hands, remove from water and re-rinse.
- Only wash just before using as moisture will cause it to wilt and spoil.
- Spinach can be frozen after blanching for two minutes (do not completely thaw before cooking as it may become soft).
- Cooked spinach will not store well as leftovers for the next day.
- Cooking spinach (especially the larger leafed varieties) will help to free up and acids and allow them to leach into the boiling water. This will makes the flavour sweeter. Always discard the water after cooking because of its acid content.
Tips for serving spinach
- Spinach can be served cooked or raw.
- To cook – In a large pot bring water to boil. Add spinach and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Avoid over-cooking.
- Baby spinach makes a healthy and attractive plate decoration.
- Use spinach leaves instead of/or as well in salads.
- Chopped spinach is a healthy, raw way to supercharge Green Smoothies.
- Saute with a little garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with pine nuts.
- Layer spinach in your favourite Lasagne recipe.
- Lightly saute spinach, add thin slices of red onion and fresh orange wedges. Garnish with goat cheese or pine nuts and sprinkle with your favourite balsamic vinegar for a tasty warm salad.