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Spinach: Tips and Tricks

Follow along with SNAP-Ed NY Nutritionist, Caitlin, as she demonstrates how to save time, save money and eat healthy with these spinach tips and tricks!

Today we’ll be saving time, saving money and eating healthy with spinach. This tender, leafy green is a staple because it can be eaten raw or quickly cooked into many easy dishes. Plus, the benefits will add up over time, bite by bite.

In 1929, spinach was famously known for the vegetable giving Popeye his strength. As with many dark green vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, collards, and kale, these are sources of vitamin K. Eating just two cups of raw spinach gives you more than four times the vitamin K you need in a day. This nutrient is essential for healing cuts and scrapes and works with calcium to build strong bones.

Before being eaten in that famous cartoon, spinach originally came from Persia, which is now modern day Iran. You’ll see it in a variety of different cuisines, and you might see some different types too, mainly crinkly Savoy leaves. These are darker in color, popular in gardening and crisp in texture or smooth flat leaves, which are milder in taste and often grown for freezing or canning.

You might also find baby spinach, which is harvested very young and is more tender. No matter which type you like, whether found loose, or in a bag, always look for bright green leaves and avoid ones with coarse stems ,torn, dried, limp or yellow leaves. Fresh spinach may cost less in the spring months when it’s in season, but you can also find nutritious options in the frozen and canned aisle to as with any packaged food, don’t forget to check the best if use by date before buying and the nutrition facts label to limit saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.

Once you get home, how you store your spinach can help it stay fresher longer. Wet spinach tends to spoil quicker. So, it damp, dry first and remove any spoiled leaves. Then loosely place in your container or bag. Add in a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture and refrigerate for a 3 to 5 days. Before using, wash your hands with a warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

Since spinach is an easy vegetable to use, this is a great time to get kids involved in the kitchen. If bagged, check the package to see if it’s already been washed. If not, wash your spinach in a salad spinner, or a large bowl with cool water, swishing leaves around to remove any extra dirt. Then drain the water and repeat until clean. Finally, pat your leaves dry before using.

Now, spinach may be something you didn’t like when you were younger. But taste buds change, and you might like foods if they’re prepared the right way for you.

If you’re looking for some salad inspiration, check out our SNAP-Ed New York Recipe Bank. By adding different food groups, you’ll have a tastier and more nutritious meal that will fill you up longer. Simple recipes like these are easy to personalize with your favorite flavors and sauces. Cooked spinach will shrink, so we will need a two cups of raw leafy greens to equal our one cup serving of vegetables.

If you or anyone in your household isn’t a fan of spinach just yet, here’s a one way to sneak them in to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Instead of using whole spinach leaves in something like lasagna, tear, cut or mince some up and mix them into the sauce. And if needed, you can easily use a frozen or canned spinach in these cooked recipes too.

You can also freeze your own spinach if you aren’t able to use it all before it spoils. Before freezing, be sure to blanch it. To do this:

  • Quickly boil it in water for 30 to 40 seconds
  • Place it in ice water for about a minute
  • Strain as much liquid as possible

You can freeze spinach for up to a year can also store it in an ice cube tray for easy access to pre-portioned spinach. 

That’s spinach! It’s a small leaf with a lot of potential. Varying your veggies becomes a little bit easier when you know how to buy, store, and prepare them in affordable and tasty ways. And spinach is just one out of many nutritious and delicious options to choose from.

If you are looking for more ways on how to incorporate spinach into your meals, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. I hope you enjoy your next spinach dish! How else can you share your veggies

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