I am a big fan of spinach and consume most of my spinach in the form of salads. Although it is considered to have many health benefits when eaten fresh or lightly cooked, some believe that nutrients can be lost when it is frozen. I always knew spinach was a healthy choice, but recently learned a bit more about spinach, its health benefits, and even a few cautions. Please read to the end of the post if you would like to check out our two favourite spinach salad recipes.
Spinach Warnings and Cautions
If you are like me, then you too probably love the idea of buying the pre-washed containers and/or bags of spinach and other greens. However, in recent years, there has been new information regarding these pre-washed packages.
- It is really important to wash all of your fruits and vegetables. Don’t be fooled by the “pre-washed” advertizing on the label. Generally, rinsing really well under cool water is enough, but there are other options available. Personally, I couldn’t live with out my salad spinner to remove the excess water after washing. For an extensive guide to washing fresh produce, follow this link.
- Spinach is one of the foods that was named on the ewg.org (Environmental Working Group) “Dirty Dozen” list of foods contaminated with pesticides. When considering buying organic, the “dirty dozen” list helps you to make choices that fit your pocketbook by highlighting those foods that are considered to be the most contaminated. They also provide a list of the “clean fifteen”. Again, their lists can help to guide your shopping and enable you to make well-informed choices when deciding whether to buy organic or not. Follow the ewg.com link to check out the lists.
- Some cautions have been noted for those with kidney or gallbladder problems as the oxalates in spinach may interfere with the absorption of calcium and could possibly crystallize.
- It has also been suggested that those with thyroid problems may find spinach more reactive (causing inflammation). This could possibly be reduced by purchasing organic and cooking your spinach.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Many deem spinach the most superior of all “super foods”. Spinach is a very nutrient dense food. Spinach:
- is a high source of vegetable protein
- has very high levels of both Vitamin K and A
- is good source of folate and folic acid
- provides 25% of the daily recommended values of iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin C
- is a good source of dietary fibre
- contains carotenoids and flavonoids (which act as antioxidants)
- also contains manganese, Vitamin B2 and B6, phosphorus, Vitamin E, zinc, copper, selenium, niacin and omega 3 fatty acids
You can see that spinach is jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. With all that spinach contains, it is no wonder that it is considered to be a super food. Some of the health benefits related to regular spinach consumption are:
- its anti-inflammatory properties (asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- its ability to help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration
- its importance for bone health (Vitamin K, calcium and magnesium)
- its ability to help manage cholesterol damage to arteries (Vitamin A)
- its properties that help protect against heart disease
3 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that not only serve as antioxidants but may also reduce the risk of cancer
Favourite Spinach Salad Recipes
The first recipe is a recipe I received from my friend Lise. I have made it many times and have also had it served by others at potlucks and dinner parties. It is a delicious blend of flavours and always a crowd pleaser. I don’t know the original source and thus can’t give credit, but here it is:
Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Poppy Seed Dressing
Spinach Leaves (organic and washed ~ please!!)
Fresh Strawberries ~ washed and sliced
Toasted Almond Slivers ~ toast lightly in a non- stick pan, stirring constantly until lightly golden in colour
Feta Cheese ~ optional (but a very good addition)
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of vinegar
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/4 tsp. minced onion (optional)
2 T. poppy seeds
2 T. sesame seeds
Place dressing ingredients in a jar or other container with a lid. Shake and pour over salad just before serving. Toss and serve.
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
Yum! Yum! Yum! This is one of our favourite dinner salads. The dressing is delicious and the presentation is truly gourmet restaurant style! You will love this. It reminds me of the Boston Pizza Spinach Salad. I found this recipe online at the food network. Don’t be grossed-out by the bacon drippings (fat) that is used in the dressing. Mark my words, that is the secret ingredient that makes this dressing a step above all others. Enjoy!