Spinach Is Now in Season
In Ontario, spinach is in season from June to October; therefore, this is a great time to review some facts about spinach.
There are three basic types of spinach.
- The type sold fresh in most grocery stores is called ‘Savoy’ – it has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves.
- Flat- or smooth-leaf spinach has broad, smooth leaves and is often grown for canned and frozen spinach. It is also used for soups, baby foods and processed foods.
- Semi-savoy is a hybrid of the previous two. It has slightly crinkled leaves, and the same texture as ‘Savoy’. It is sold fresh and also used in processing.
One Food Guide serving of spinach is equal to 1 cup (250 mL) raw or ½ cup (125 mL) cooked.
Spinach has a high nutritional content, while being very low in calories. It is a good source of dietary fibre, and it is free of fat and sodium. Spinach is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron, magnesium and manganese. It is also a good source of riboflavin and vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium and potassium.
Although spinach is high in iron, the type of iron found in spinach is not readily absorbed. Spinach also contains high levels of oxalate, which further inhibits iron absorption. To help increase the absorption of iron from spinach, it is helpful to pair it with foods that are high in vitamin C – vitamin C helps with iron absorption. For example, add mandarin oranges to a spinach salad.
The same goes for calcium – while spinach does contain a moderate amount of calcium, its absorption is decreased significantly by oxalates.
Spinach is very easy to prepare and enjoy.
- Use fresh spinach as a base for salads.
- Steam spinach and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Add a few slices of spinach to your sandwich.
- Blend a serving of spinach into your smoothly.
- Finely chop spinach and add to tomato or meat sauce.
- Add chopped spinach to stirfries – add near the end of the cooking time and cook until wilted.
- Add cooked spinach to omelets, frittatas and quiche.