July has some fun national food days. There’s Ice Cream Day (7/15), Milk Chocolate Day (7/28) and of course Tequila Day (7/24). Though it might be fun to see how we could make tequila healthy, I thought the best approach would be to help you celebrate National Fresh Spinach Day-July 16th.
First, Why Eat Spinach?
Vitamins: Spinach really is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat. Just 1 cup of raw spinach contains 56% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A and 15% DV for folate. It gets a gold star for more than 100% of the DV for vitamin K and 14% DV for manganese. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting but also plays a role in bone health and prevention of soft tissue calcification.
Anti-inflammatory/antioxidant nutrients: Spinach contains two carotenoids—lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential for eye health at both ends of the age spectrum. Grilling this summer? Grab some spinach. Spinach is a rich source of chlorophyll, which is believed to protect your body from possible cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PCAs) and heterocyclic amines. Those are chemicals formed when grilling animal protein over high heat, especially when foods are charred.
Calorie to nutrient ratio: Fresh spinach gives a lot of bang for the buck nutritionally. It has only 7 calories in one cup! Cook it up and the nutrients become even more concentrated!
Spinach is Versatile!
Eat it every day with these ideas.
- In a smoothie. If you’ve ever tried a green smoothie, you know that both pineapple, banana and other berries mask the flavor of the greens very well. And you get all that nutrition with just the push of a button.
- In a wrap. It’s so easy to slap some fresh spinach on your toast, sandwich, wrap—or even your burger!
- In a salad. Now that you can buy a large container of organic spinach at your local Walmart, there’s no excuse for not eating spinach salad at home! The perfect light and easy summer supper is a spinach salad with grilled salmon or canned tuna on top.
And it’s almost impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t have a spinach salad on the menu. In fact, you can even find fresh spinach at your local Subway sandwich shop and probably mixed in with baby greens at Chick-Fil-A.
- Toss with pasta. For an incredible touch of green, toss fresh chopped spinach in with your hot pasta just before serving.
- On pizza. One of my all-time favorite pizza flavors is spinach with feta cheese. OK, so it’s not really raw when it comes out of the oven, but almost.
- In pesto. Out of basil? No worries, you can sub in spinach and parsley or any mix of green herbs with your spinach. And what a delicioso way to get your spinach!
- Toss a few leaves in your scrambled eggs or omelet. More of an over-easy on toast type? Put the spinach leaves on your toast and slip the just-cooked eggs on top.
- In a wilted salad. Using a warm vinaigrette over a spinach salad with strawberries and pecans gives salad a new twist. Often the warm vinaigrette has bacon—use nitrate free if possible.
For more ideas on ways to eat your spinach and other veggies:
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