I’m quick to the finish, ’cause I eats me Spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man! (toot toot)”
Pop-eye loved it and so do we! But spinach does much more than simply boosting our strength to gain bulging muscles, it’s one of the world’s healthiest foods! It’s widely known for being one of the richest sources of iron amongst vegetables containing 3.5 mg per 100g (not as much as originally believed after German chemist Erich von Wolf accidentally misplaced the decimal point while writing up his findings to 35 milligrams!)
Consuming iron rich foods helps our bodies to continually produce red blood cells for oxygen transportation and prevent the iron-defiancy condition Anaemia. By adding a splash of lemon juice or orange juice to your spinach while cooking helps preserve and absorb the iron content more efficiently. Yet how else does spinach benefit us?
- It plays an important role in our eye health as they contain carotenoids, which are organic pigments found in plants. They help protect our retinas, provide protective light filtering properties, helps reduce eye tension, and fights against age related diseases.
- It’s one of the best vegetables for potassium content. 100g of spinach contains 558mg of potassium, which is 16% of our daily intake. This is important for bone health and reserving muscle mass.
- It’s full of antioxidants and vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, C and K. Vitamin K is incredibly important for brain health and helps reduce neural damage in Alzheimer’s patients.
Hightly versatile, Spinach is brilliant incorporated into any cuisine. Eaten fresh, it acts perfect as salad base. However if you prefer you spinach wilted, it’s amazing paired with feta or ricotta cheese for the Greek dish Spanakopita, or if topped with pine nuts and raisins if you’d prefer a Spanish take on it. My favourite is this vegetarian Indian dish using beetroot, chilli and peanuts for an added crunch and a sprinkle of spice. Our Indian Vegetarian cookery classes are a brilliant way of learning authentic Indian dishes that are meat free!
Spinach or Red Chard & Beetroot
2 tsp Coriander seeds – Roughly milled
2 dried chilli Red chilli
1 tbsp oil
1 medium finely chopped onion
2 tsp garlic
½ tsp turmeric
½ to ¾ tsp salt
4 baby plum tomatoes cut lengthways.
50g Beetroot cut into julienne strips if red chard is not available
250g Red Chard or Baby/young spinach leaves
30g or 2 tbsp red skinned peanuts roasted and roughly chopped
- Lightly roast the coriander seeds and the whole chilli for a few minutes either in a wok in an oven. Crush them in a pestle and mortar and then set aside.
- Roast the red skinned peanuts separately and when cooled crush them a little and blow away the excess skin shells, set this aside.
- Heat the oil in a deep pan or wok and add the crushed chilli and coriander sizzle for 30 seconds or until you smell the gentle aroma.
- Add the chopped garlic and onions and cook until lightly golden brown for approximately 5 to 6 minutes.
- Now add the turmeric, salt and tomatoes, stir in to blend the colours.
- Follow with the beetroot and then a minute later the spinach.
- Gently fold the spinach into the onion and spice mixture, turn the spinach over to take heat from the base of the pan, but careful not to over cook it or allow the moisture to release from the spinach.
- Just as the spinach is beginning to wilt – remove from the heat and sprinkle the peanuts, toss gently and serve immediately with some chapatti’s or potatoes.
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.