1 October 2011

Get the Scoop with Foodwatch's Catherine Saxelby

The scoop on lutein-rich spinach

Catherine Saxelby
Catherine Saxelby

If you’re not adding spinach to your meals, you're missing out on a dark green leafy vegetable that’s chock full of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds (phytochemicals). It’s one of those vegetables that is always recommended for peak health. The trick is to find ways to incorporate it into your cooking.

What’s in it? It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, beta carotene (which is converted into vitamin A in the body) along with some vitamin E. An average serve (35g) provides 5 mg of vitamin C, one-eighth of the recommended daily intake.

Long famous, thanks to Popeye, for its high iron content, spinach’s iron is actually not well absorbed. It’s present but doesn’t get into the body in great amounts. Red meat, chicken and fish are better for absorbable iron.

It also offers many antioxidants and, along with other leafy greens like kale and silverbeet (Swiss chard), is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These two antioxidants can help protect our eyes as we age, so keeping macular degeneration at bay. I suggest eating spinach in some form – raw or cooked – at least three times a week if you have a family history of this form of blindness.

And it’s one food you can happily eat MORE of! It contains dietary fibre, virtually no fat and so few kilojoules/calories, you could eat as much as you wanted and not put on any weight.

Easy ways to enjoy spinach

  • Make a salad of baby spinach leaves and toss through toasted pine nuts and crumbled goats cheese. Drizzle over a good dressing with wine vinegar and olive oil.
  • Add 1 cup of well-drained frozen chopped spinach to your meat loaf or meat balls. It’s a great way of sneaking in vegetables to kids who won't eat any!
  • Toss a handful of baby spinach leaves into a curry or stir fry at the end of cooking. They will wilt in the heat of the dish, adding colour and nutrition.
  • Use cooked spinach as a base for eggs or fish. Think of Eggs Florentine.
  • Eat a baby spinach leaf salad every day or every second day.
  • Add chopped cooked spinach to lasagna and meatloaf.
Eggs in Nests with spinach

Or try Anneka Manning’s Eggs in Nests with spinach from The Low GI Family Cookbook. You can find the recipe HERE.

Catherine Saxelby is an accredited dietitian and nutritionist and runs the Foodwatch Nutrition Centre at foodwatch.com.au.


Anonymous said...

Daily, during the past 10 months we have been making green smoothies using our blender. We end up consuming quite a bit of greens; baby spinach, kale, parsley, collards, etc.. Varying the addition of blueberries, strawberries, apples, avocado, and other fruits and spices results in a smoothie packed with greens yet in which one usually cannot taste the greens. I wish we had started this decades ago.

hermin said...

excellent idea. i applaud your effort.

earle taylor said...

Spinach is very good for health and keeps away from diseases.
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Anonymous said...

Love this! I recently began a low GI lifestyle and work hard to eat 5 servings of veggies a day. I've found that spinach is the easiest veggie for me to incorporate because it doesn't have a strong flavor and can be mixed with almost anything. Here are a few more ideas for getting spinach in your diet.

You can add it to:
Your morning omelet.

A pot of beans (Seriously, chop it finely. It's likely you won't even taste it.)

Any sandwich - even a grilled cheese!

Almost any soup or stew.

Creamy pastas

I've become brave in my usage of spinach and am surprised at the amount of dishes I'm able to sneak it into without making the meal taste that much different. I've been recommending this to everyone I know because it has given me a lot more energy than I ever thought possible.

Catherine Saxelby said...

Hi there.

Thanks for your easy cooking ideas with spinach. Good ways to incorporate more into your meals! Agree with you on the creamy pasta dishes - they're easy to throw in some chopped spinach leaves!

I've got more on spinach on the Foodwatch website. Click on http://foodwatch.com.au/super-foods/super-foods-spinach.htm. Plus quick recipe links at the bottom. Cheers Catherine