S is for spinach

By guest blogger, Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

I’m old enough to remember Popeye the Sailorman (“strong to the finish, ‘cos I eat my spinach”) …spinach makes you strong! I am not too sure about that message, for spinach actually contains no more iron than any other green vegetable. However, research has shown that there is a relationship between spinach consumption and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, various cancers, age-related macular degeneration and even cognitive decline.

Spinach is said to be one of the most nutritious foods on earth, with its content of vitamins C and K, both with antioxidant properties, carotenoids and polyphenols. It may be worth buying organic, as spinach is said to absorb relatively large amounts of pesticides. You can get spinach all year round, of course, but it is at its peak in early Spring, when it is too cold for other salad leaves.

Spinach Surprise

There are so many recipes for juices including spinach that I don’t know where to start! If you want to keep it simple, try this:
Serves one

Bunch of spinach bought from a ‘two for £1’ stall
Two Granny Smith apples
One cucumber
One lemon or lime
Around one inch ginger, peeled.
Chop ingredients and juice.

Spinach and Avocado Salad

Use the best quality spinach you can find for this one!
Serves two
Bag spinach
Two chopped avocados
Handful of walnuts
25 grams or so of either dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds to add a touch of sweetness

Make a dressing by crushing a clove of garlic with mustard powder and/or some grainy salt till it forms a puree. Then add 1 tbsp cider vinegar, juice of half a lemon and 1 tbsp flax seed oil. Toss all the ingredients in the dressing.

Spinach Rice

I am not normally keen on rice with Indian food, but have had a fantastic spinach rice in a restaurant in Islington a few times and have tried to recreate it here.

Spinach and rice could be boring, so I suggest a spicy base and chopped herbs and lemon on the top. Also, go for an interesting rice, such as wild rice, brown basmati, red rice or mixed rice.
Serves two
One onion or two shallots
One bag spinach
100g frozen peas

Fry the onion/shallots in coconut oil with the spice mixture for around 10 minutes. Then add rice, stir, and add water. Cook for around 30 minutes, till rice is almost ready, but there is still a bit of liquid left. Then add the peas to cook, and spinach in handfuls, to wilt. When the rice is cooked, finish with a squeeze of lemon and chopped herbs.

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