Spotlight on Spinach

“I’m strong to the finish ‘cause I eats me spinach!” Turns out Popeye the Sailor Man was right. With many essential vitamins & minerals and great health benefits, this fabulous functional food packs a powerful punch. 2 cups of fresh spinach has only 12 calories! So few calories, but so much nutrition, providing 16% of vitamin C, 25% of folate, 26% of vitamin A and 200% of vitamin K towards your daily recommendations!

Nutritional Benefits of Spinach

Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, destroying free radicals and reducing oxidative stress. This important vitamin is needed for immune function and wound healing. Additionally, vitamin C aids iron absorption, especially the type found in dark, leafy greens (like spinach!).

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body to all of your necessary tissues.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps to keep your vision strong and promotes good immune function.

Folate is an extremely important nutrient for DNA synthesis, normal cellular function and proper growth and development. Folate is especially critical for pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

Believe it or not, spinach is a great source of calcium. As we know, calcium is essential for bone health, as well as for cardiac and muscular function.

What to Look For

It is best to eat the freshest spinach you can find. Check the “best before” date on the bag or container to make sure it hasn’t passed the date. Fresh spinach should be bright green in color with perky leaves. If the leaves are brown, slimy, wilted or yellow, don’t buy it. Spinach absorbs water like you wouldn’t believe and causes the leaves to wilt and deteriorate faster. So, be sure to check the bag or container for extra moisture and pass it up if you see any. Another option is using canned or frozen spinach. This type of spinach may be easier to store and has a longer shelf life.

How to Store

Eat your fresh spinach within 3 to 5 days. Keep your spinach leaves in their original bag or plastic container and wash just prior to use. As mentioned, any extra moisture will cause your spinach to become slimy. After washing, pat the leaves dry with a clean tea towel or paper towel. If desired, you can even wrap your spinach in the towel prior to storing. Once opened and thawed, canned or frozen spinach can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Tasty Spinach Egg Bites

Makes 12 Egg Bites

Ingredients:

9 eggs

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup sweet potato, diced small

2 cups fresh spinach, torn into pieces

¼ cup green onion, diced

½ cup ham, diced

½ cup tomatoes, diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, cheese, salt and pepper together.

  3. Evenly distribute the sweet potato, spinach, green onion, ham and tomatoes among the muffin cups.

  4. Pour the egg mixture over the mix-ins, filling each cup about three-fourths full.

  5. Bake egg bites for 16-18 minutes, until the eggs set up and are cooked through. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes.

  6. Run a butter knife around the edge of each cup and pop out the egg bites. Serve warm and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

*Note: Egg bites can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container or freezer zip-top plastic bag for up to 2 months. Reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. You can also make your egg bites meatless or dairy-free. Experiment with all types of mix-ins to find what you like best! Other options include, but are not limited to: broccoli, red, green, orange or yellow bell peppers, bacon, and white or yellow onions.

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