“I’m strong to the finish cause I eats me spinach...” (: (recipe)
Ah, spinach....A food that can be either utterly delicious and refreshing or completely disgusting, all depending on how it’s prepared. I still don’t know how I feel about Popeye convincing me each Saturday morning that canned, slimy, sodium packed spinach was really a delicious treat, but I do know that now that I’m all grown up, Spinach is one of my favorite foods. Make that raw spinach, since I still can’t abide the cooked stuff. Raw spinach, especially baby leaves, has a refreshing, earthy quality. It can be slightly bitter and sweet at the same time. It also has an astringent mouthfeel that gets more prominent with maturity. Young spinach leaves have a minimal feel but mature leaves can taste almost chalky if eaten raw.
The chalky or astringent mouthfeel is due in part to the presence of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is the plants way of protecting itself against predators, so in a sense it is a minor toxin. In raw spinach, the oxalic acid binds with the available minerals and other phytonutrients, making them much less available. So, yes, spinach is good for you....and yes, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how you prepare it to insure all of its natural goodness. I like raw spinach so I help the cell wall break down which in turn begins to neutralize the binding effect of the oxalic acid, by massaging the leaves and breaking them up. Cooking also breaks down the impact of oxalic acid, so a quick dip in some boiling water or a quick sauté, would help the nutrient availability without over doing it and giving you a slimy end result.
From a health perspective, spinach is right up there with other green veggies, like broccoli and kale. It packs a nutrient power punch, with vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients that help with things like balancing blood glucose levels, minimizing oxidative stress, and increasing bone density. Research suggests that spinach is effective in blocking the carcinogenic impact of grilled foods....could be useful to add a handful of baby spinach leaves to that backyard bbq burger, or try one of these veggie burgers:
- 1 bag of thawed and well-drained chopped spinach (squeeze all the liquid out)
- 2 eggs
- ½ c shredded cheese
- ½ c rolled oats (I use organic rolled oats... I also tried using chestnut flour and it worked well)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 small shallot minced
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
- Shape into patties and cook over medium high heat
- Patties are done when crispy brown and firm (these are great for breakfast too...)