All posts by Alyssa McDowell

January Vegetable of the Month: Spinach

The January Vegetable of the Month is Spinach!

Spinach is one of the few vegetables that are available year-round. It can be prepared and eaten in many different ways, but it has the most nutrients when eaten fresh! Spinach is a versatile vegetable that accounts for 100% of the daily value of vitamin A, which helps the health of your eyes, skin, and hair.

Spinach is a Great Source of:

  • Vitamin A—great for your eyes, skin, and hair
  • Vitamin K—builds strong bones by helping calcium adhere to your bones
  • Vitamin C—helps heal wounds and bruises and controls cholesterol levels
  • Vitamin E—helps keep your tissues healthy and supports immune system
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6—helps reduce stress and depression, and promotes healthy brain cells

Did You Know?

  • Popeye was on to something! Ounce for ounce—there’s more iron in spinach than there is in ground beef.
  • Spinach is one of the few vegetables that is available year-round. It grows best in cool, not freezing, moist conditions, especially during spring and autumn. It grows well in sandy soils.
  • March 26th is National Spinach Day. Celebrate with your favorite spinach recipe!
  • For many years in the 1930s and 1940s, spinach was ranked as the third most popular children’s food after turkey and ice cream.
  • California is the number 1 U.S. grower/supplier of fresh and processed spinach, accounting for almost 75% of the national production. You can find processed spinach frozen, puréed, canned, and in baby food!

How to Prepare and Store Spinach

Tear off the stem and separate the leaves. Place in a large bowl of water; let any sand drift to the bottom of the bowl and remove the leaves from the water. Repeat until the leaves are clean. To keep it fresh, store the spinach in an open bag in the refrigerator vegetable tray/drawer.

Realistic Ways to Get Children to Eat Spinach

There’s a reason why children prefer sweet-tasting foods over vegetables. Until late adolescence our taste receptors are more sensitive to bitter tasting foods, meaning many vegetables can taste unpleasant to children. So how do we get children to eat nutritious spinach?

Two strategies to try are:

  • Introduce spinach in small amounts continuously. Repetition is key. The more your child sees spinach, the more likely they’ll get curious and adventurous with the vegetable. Example: use a small amount in a homemade soup or salsa!
  • Hide spinach in other foods that generously help eliminate the natural bitter flavor. Example: use it in a fun fruit-based smoothie!

Ways to Eat Spinach

  1. Raw
  2. Steamed
  3. Microwaved
  4. Sautéed
  5. Stir fried

Let’s Get Cooking

Orange Sunrise Smoothie

Ingredients

  • ½ ripe banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup spinach leaves, rinsed
  • ½ cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients until smooth
  2. Serve and enjoy!

 

Spinach Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • ½ sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp tabasco (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients and serve with whole wheat tortilla chips

For more creative spinach-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Lemon Spinach, Grapefruit Spinach Salad (double dose of vitamins), and Spinach Stuffed Potatoes, there’s sure to be a recipe or two that will make any family smile.

 

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, South Dakota Harvest of the Month, Science 2.0, Famlii

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

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