World Champion Spinach!

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It’s a popcorn match. The fans are boo-ing. SpongeBob is no match for Popeye the Sailor. It’s going to be a slam-dunk preceded by humiliatin’ flips and flops on the mat for the yellow guy. The Sponge has been to the sugar shack, sucking up bubbles and junk food, whereas the vanquisher, Popeye, has been gulping down spinach. And we all know spinach makes you super-duper-strong and your arm mus-kles go “Boing!”

Spinach does have nutritional values that are off the chart. How about 181% daily value of vitamin K and 56% daily value of vitamin A? That may sound like cartoonish proportions, but it’s true. And while spinach does have a lot of iron, it’s not in a form easily absorbed by the body.

Spinach grows close to the soil, that’s why it has such vitality, and maybe a little sandy soil with it too. Rinse well a few times and spin. The stems are tender and can be eaten or pinched off if you prefer just the leaves. It’s best not to soak spinach too long, as water can zap some of the nutrients. That’s one reason fresh-from-the-field spinach is better than the triple-washed packaged spinach from the supermarket.

These tender leaves should ideally be steamed to retain the most nutrients possible. If you boil them, do so no longer than two minutes. To retain color, cook with the lid off. Fresh-cooked spinach reduces down to one-quarter of its volume. To wilt spinach, simply toss washed and still-wet leaves into a pan and heat and shake for a moment till done. Try a sauté by heating a tablespoon of olive oil and stock, adding a little chopped onion and garlic, then tossing in the spinach. Oh, Olive! Baby spinach is ideal for salads, but larger leaves may also be used in hearty salads with a complimentary protein such as eggs, bacon, or tuna. There are so many delicious ways to prepare this wonderful veggie, the Sweet Peas in your life will go “ga-ga.”

Preparation: These tender leaves should ideally be steamed to retain the  most nutrients possible. If you boil them, do so no longer than two minutes.  To retain color, cook with the lid off. Fresh-cooked spinach reduces down to  one-quarter of its volume. To wilt spinach, simply toss washed-and-still-wet  leaves into a pan, and heat and shake for a moment ”˜til done. Try a sauté by  heating a tablespoon of olive oil and stock, adding a little chopped onion and  garlic, then tossing in the spinach. Oh, Olive! Baby spinach is ideal for salads,  but larger leaves may also be used in hearty salads with a complimentary  protein such as eggs, bacon, or tuna.

Storage: Don’t wash spinach before storing as the exposure to water  encourages spoilage. Place spinach in a plastic storage bag and gently wrap  the bag around the spinach, squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in crisper drawer of fridge for up to 5 days.

 

- Heidi Lewis

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