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veggie of the month - spinach

January Veggie of the Month: Spinach

The January Vegetable of the Month is Spinach!

Even though spinach has been grown for decades, it wasn’t until the availability of pre-cut bagged spinach that its popularity was boosted and made it a common grocery store purchase.

The spinach plant can be grown all year-round, but does best in the spring and fall due to cool, hydrated weather conditions. It thrives in sandy soil. California is considered the number 1 producer in the US of this nutritious vegetable. It can be supplied fresh from the garden or processed by canning, freezing, or pureeing for baby food.

Salads are the most common way spinach is used, in a savory mix with onions and mushrooms or sweet with berries and glazed nuts (like pecans). Spinach can be stirred into casseroles, stacked on a sandwich, served as a vegetable, or added to a fruit smoothie. Spinach is often undetected in most smoothies that are made with berries as the deep color of the fruit covers the blended spinach leaves.

Why is spinach good for you?

It is chocked full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and only contains 7 calories per cup. The one cup portion provides 100% of your daily needs of lutein and zeaxanthin—carotenoids that work together to maintain eye health. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 105% of your daily needs and is only beat out by kale when it comes to vitamin K content. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting, so if you are on a blood thinner prescription, contact your doctor or dietitian before changing the quantity of leafy greens you consume. Other nutrients that are in spinach include folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and iron.

Challenge yourself to use spinach in a new way at mealtime. Your body will thank you!

10 Ways to Enjoy More Spinach  

  1. Stuffed Chicken
    Stuff chicken with spinach, low-fat cheese, and onions. After the chicken is baked, use the spinach combination as a flavorful side dish.
  2. Spinach Smoothie
    Spinach has no flavor, so you can add in the vitamins and minerals without changing the taste. Just a handful of fresh spinach will amp up the nutrition in your favorite smoothie.
  3. Spinach Pesto
    Use spinach instead of basil leaves in your traditional pesto recipe.
  4. Spinach Dip
    Cook spinach [according to package], then mix in Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and sliced cashews. Heat at 350°F for 10 minutes.
  5. Spinach Wrap
    Use spinach as a wrap. Place grilled chicken in a spinach leaf and dip into low-fat ranch dressing.
  6. Popeye-Approved Potatoes
    Mix cooked frozen spinach into mashed potatoes. Top with parmesan cheese for a twist on an old favorite.
  7. Omelettes
    Add spinach, mushrooms, onions, and low-fat cheese to make a nutritious and delicious filling for omelettes and frittatas.
  8. Spinach Fruit Salad
    Use fresh spinach to make a salad then toss in some strawberries, mandarin oranges, or apple slices.
  9. Spinach in Stir-Fry
    Cook spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli in a little olive oil on high heat for a delicious vegetable medley.
  10. Salad On-the-Go
    Tear spinach leaves and toss into a whole wheat pita with your favorite salad toppings. Add low-fat dressing for a quick salad on the go.

Sources: Harvest of the Month, LiveWell Sioux Falls, SDSU Extension, USDA, Produce for Better Health, and LiveWell Nebraska