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Spring Vegetable Feature: Spinach

It’s spinach season!  Spinach is one of those vegetables you can forget has a season because it’s available all year. But if you load up your shopping cart or farmers’ market basket with fresh spinach now, it will be at its peak of flavor and nutrition.

And what a nutritious vegetable it is! Spinach may not make your biceps instantly swell like Popeye’s, but a one-cup serving of fresh spinach does provide:

· 181% of the Recommended Daily intake (RDI) for vitamin K, which the body needs for healthy blood coagulation and to metabolize calcium.

· 56% of the RDI for vitamin A, necessary for healthy vision, immune strength, and the integrity of skin and mucous membranes.

· 15% of the RDI for folate, a B vitamin that supports heart health, healthy aging, and proper fetal development.

· 14% of the RDI for vitamin C, which also aids immune function and is needed for the health of connective tissue.

· 13% of the RDI for manganese, a mineral that plays a role in bone, joint, and skin health.

· 1 g fiber, necessary for normal elimination and cardiovascular health.

· And just 7 calories!

Luckily, spinach is a snap to serve raw or cooked. Here are some ideas to help you get more of this leafy green into your family’s diet:

· Use it as a delicious base for salad. I love a nice spinach salad topped with strawberries and goat cheese.

· Toss a few handfuls into soups and stews. It goes wonderfully with white beans and butternut squash.

· Tuck it inside quesadillas. (Use a lot, it really cooks down.)

· Add some to your scrambled eggs. It cooks really quickly, making it super-easy to work with.

· Throw some into your fruit smoothie. (You won’t even taste it!)

· Incorporate it into dips, quiches, and lasagna.

If you’re looking for something a little different, try this chickpea, tomato and spinach curry. Or this stuffed eggplant dish.

This recipe for poached eggs over spinach is simplicity itself!

The great thing about spinach is that you can grow it yourself, even if you don’t have a green thumb. Spinach is easy to grow in the Tower Garden, an aeroponic growing system that lets you grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs on your patio, balcony, deck, or back porch.

Spinach is also one of the 20 fruits and vegetables in Juice Plus+ Orchard and Garden blends!

Worried about the oxalic acid in dark leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach? When consumed in large quantities, this plant constituent can bind to calcium, interfering with its absorption. The good news is that when spinach is lightly steamed, it releases any calcium bound to oxalic acid, allowing your body to use it. You can read more about oxalic acid here. There should be no problem with a few spinach salads a week, but if you really chow down on spinach, you might want to serve at least some of it cooked.

Do you eat more spinach in the spring? What’s your favorite way to serve it?

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