What’s on the Market – Spinach

Spinach and other goodies from the Urbana Farmers' Market.

Spinach and other goodies from the Urbana Farmers’ Market.

Finally! Spring is on its way in, and, with it come a whole assortment of delicious fruits and veggies to enjoy. This week I want to talk about one of my favorite veggies – spinach.

Normally spinach gets the yucky face, but it’s so extremely versatile that it’s nearly impossible not to like at least one preparation of it. In addition to versatility, spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. How about that as a reason to munch on some greens?

Spinach is extremely high in antioxidants, a rich source of vitamins A, C, E, K, B2, B6, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorous, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Phew. That was like half the periodic table right there.

Spinach has become increasingly popular in the United States (note all the various varieties of bagged/boxed spinach at the store). Although its popularity is on the rise, the United States still only accounts for 3% of world output. The country with the largest output? China, topping off at 85%!

California, Arizona and New Jersey are the top three spinach-producing states in the U.S., with another 12 states “reporting production of at least 100 acres” (Wikipedia) It prefers to grow in cooler temperatures, and can grow through the winter of places with temperate weather conditions.

Keeping a bag of spinach in the fridge is a great way to get your vitamins and add some green to your meals. Here are a few ways to incorporate spinach into meals:

  • Dig salads? Then instead of using iceberg, use baby spinach. It has a very mild taste and pairs great with some dried cranberries, goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette.
  • More of a pasta kind of person? Throw some spinach into the sauce while cooking to add some extra vitamins and color.
  • A Jamba Juice extraordinaire at home? Mix in some spinach with your smoothie. The sweetness of the fruit, juice or yogurt will overpower the spinach – leaving you with all the nutrients without the vegetable taste.
  • Want to start your day off right? Make scrambled eggs and while it’s cooking, throw some spinach in. Or, pour some olive oil in a pan and throw a few handfuls of spinach in to wilt (don’t worry about it not fitting in the pan, spinach cooks down tremendously). Then just season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice, toasted almonds or whatever seasonings you like! I like to throw some mushrooms and/or onions in as well and top with a sunny side up egg!
  • Having fiesta night with some friends? When chopping up the cilantro to put on top of your tacos, throw a little spinach into the mix too. It will be barely recognizable, but your body will thank you!

Getting your daily vitamins can be difficult, but by adding a couple handfuls of spinach into your daily life (if you cook it down, I promise it’s not more than a few bites), getting those vitamins is just that much easier.

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