Spinach is one of those vegetables that are available year-round. You can buy bagged baby spinach, frozen chopped spinach and, when it is in season, bunches of fresh spinach. It is usually very economical. I can buy a large bag of organic frozen spinach for about $2.00. The baby spinach bags are about $2.00 as well but less ounces.
Why is spinach such an excellent vegetable? Besides being high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A, it is beneficial for good gut health. Research shows that leafy greens, such as spinach, also contain a specific type of sugar that helps fuel growth of healthy gut bacteria. (Source: Hopkins Medicine) This sugar not only feeds healthy bacteria in our gut but it contains sulfur.
If we have too little sulfur, or a sulfur deficiency, it could lead to reduced protein synthesis. Without protein synthesis, we would have trouble making glutathione, which works as a potent antioxidant that protects our cells from damage. Also, sulfur is needed to create connective tissues that support our joints, such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Without enough sulfur we could have joint pain or disease. (Source: Study.com)
Since sulfur is so crucial in our bodies for so many processes, adding more leafy greens such as spinach is a really good idea. But when your gut is giving you trouble, it may seem like food is the enemy. Especially foods that are high in fiber. It may seem that eating fiber is only going to compound your symptoms and make you feel worse. However, eating something green everyday such as spinach, can help your gut. Why? Chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is the single most critical substance in plants that allows them to absorb light from the sun and convert that light into usable energy. (Source: Semantics Scholar) How do you know if a plant is high in chlorophyll? It is green in color, like spinach. Eating green foods everyday is just one way to support a healthy gut.
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Back to spinach! Fresh spinach is really versatile because it can be used raw in a salad or cooked. It can be a side dish or part of a casserole or the main dish for many meals. Spinach has a mild flavor which is what makes it such an easy ingredient and it goes with everything.
When using fresh spinach that is not in a bag, you will need to soak it in a bowl full of water to remove the sand & grit from it. This should not take long, only about 15 minutes. Frozen is a great way to always have it on hand and can be used in most meals.
Below are recipes including spinach to show you how easy it is to get more spinach into your routine. I hope you enjoy them!
5 Ingredient Spinach Parmesan Pasta from Two Peas and their Pod. Working on having a Meatless Monday routine? Or are eating vegetarian 3 to 4 days a week to improve your health? Here is an effortless vegetarian dinner dish that is simple and fast. Serve with a salad to increase veggie intake or substitute a chickpea based pasta. Click here for the recipe.
Sauteed Spinach, Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions by Julia's Album. This is a classic spinach side dish. I think caramelized onions make everything better! The onions become so sweet and really add flavor to any dish. Julia's recipe also has an optional cream sauce if you would like to add it. I would simply make it without it and serve on the side of grilled chicken breast or salmon. Click here for the recipe.
Crustless Spinach Quiche with Bacon from the Low Carb Maven. Quiche is the forgotten casserole in my opinion. It is a perfect blend of veggies and proteins with a little added fat (bacon). Quiche is perfect for breakfast, lunch & dinner and there are usually leftovers. For lunch or dinner, serve with an arugula salad. Click here for the recipe.
Blueberry Spinach Smoothie from Alaska From Scratch. Frozen spinach lends itself really well to smoothies. Combine spinach with healthy blueberries gives you a hearty breakfast with lots of fiber and antioxidants. Click here for the recipe.
Gluten-Free Spinach Muffins from DetoxINISTA. This recipe is great because it uses 1 egg but can be made vegan. It calls for fresh spinach but I would use defrosted frozen spinach of the same measurement. Who said veggies for breakfast couldn't be good? Click here for the recipe.
I hope you are inspired to add more spinach to your daily routine. It is a relatively inexpensive ingredient that can be used fresh or frozen. Spinach works well in a variety of recipes including smoothies and muffins. Eating green foods such as spinach delivers fiber and sulfur which are necessary for a healthy gut.
Do you think you will try any of the above? Let me know by leaving a comment below.