Spinach - Green and Fine

"Eat your spinach and you'll be as strong as Popeye" - I'm sure many of us heard this phrase as a little kid. Popeye is known for his supernatural powers, which he gets from spinach and which help him to defeat his opponents. Spinach used to be seen as the tonic par excellence, as it was believed that the vegetable had an above average iron content of 35mg. In fact, spinach contains slightly less iron than previously thought. However, this does not make the vegetable worse, because with its healthy ingredients, spinach manages to cover our daily requirement of numerous vitamins and minerals.     

The origin, properties and history of spinach

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) belongs to the botanical family of goosefoot. In total, there are about 50 different varieties of spinach. In practice, however, the leafy vegetable is only distinguished on the basis of its growing season: Fresh spinach is available from March to November. Accordingly, a distinction is made between spring and winter spinach. Spring spinach has particularly tender and short-stalked leaves and is also known as leaf spinach. Winter spinach is much sturdier and is harvested with its root base as a whole rosette of leaves. The so-called root spinach is therefore perfect for blanching.  

The spinach originally comes from the Near and Middle East and was bred there from wild spinach. It is assumed that the cultivated form was brought to Spain by the Arabs, where they gave the cultivated spinach the name "espinaca". From this name was derived the current name of the leafy vegetable. From then on, spinach became increasingly popular in large parts of Europe. Today, spinach can be bought all over the world. However, the vegetable is mainly grown in China, France, Italy and Belgium.  

The ingredients of spinach

In the past, it was believed that spinach can replace half the pharmacy, and in fact it could, because spinach can help cover our daily needs for certain vitamins and minerals. Thus, the leafy vegetable is rich in vitamin C, K, B2 and beta-carotene. It also contains significant amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Probably the best known ingredient in spinach is iron. Spinach used to be considered the protein source par excellence and was therefore popularly served to children and teenagers in the past to meet their protein needs. It was believed that 100 grams of spinach contained a whopping 35 milligrams of protein. However, the protein content is not quite that high - spinach contains only 3.5 milligrams of protein per 100 grams. The belief that spinach contains more protein results from a transcription error made by researchers in the 10th century. With its 3.5 grams of protein, spinach is still richer in iron than many other vegetables. In 100 grams of tomatoes, for example, there are only 0.6 grams of iron.  

The effect of spinach on our body

The green leafy vegetable has some positive effects on our body. It strengthens our cardiovascular system, protects our cells from oxidative stress and reduces the risk of cancer and diabetes diseases. In addition, due to its high protein content, spinach promotes muscle development and growth.

Spinach in the kitchen

There are many ways to use spinach in the kitchen. Young spinach leaves are ideal in their raw form for salads, soups and smoothies, while winter spinach is good in stews, casseroles or as a filling for roulades or ravioli. However, in order to lose as little of the ingredients or flavor as possible, winter spinach should only be cooked or blanched for a few minutes. In addition, care should be taken during preparation to wash the spinach just before use, so that it tastes fresher and crunchier.  

Purchase and storage of spinach

Just like chard, spinach is not a friend of storage. Spinach doesn't like it in the refrigerator and won't last more than two days there. Therefore, it is best to process and consume it immediately after purchase.  

When buying spinach, pay attention to one thing above all - the leaves: if they are limp and have yellow edges, it's better to leave them alone, because a good spinach has crisp green leaves without wilted spots or stains. Also, we recommend you go for organic spinach, as it is less contaminated with pesticides. If you want to buy packaged, pre-washed spinach, take a closer look at the packaging and the smell of the spinach when you buy it. If the packaging looks bloated or the spinach smells slightly like sour milk, it is no longer suitable for consumption and should therefore not be purchased.  

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