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Spinach Recipes For Antioxidant Power

Updated on August 28, 2012
Savoy spinach leaves
Savoy spinach leaves | Source

Spinach was famous many years ago as the cartoon character Popeye's favorite food. He'd gulp down a can and get lots of power right away.

Now not only canned, but fresh and frozen spinach are available. And its status as a superfood has been confirmed again and again.

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Part of the same food family as beets and swiss chard, spinach shares nutritional benefits with them. Beta-carotine, vitamin C and E, folic acid, zinc and selenium are vitamins and minerals renowned for their antioxidant qualities.

The normal oxidation process in the body can lead to cell damage, and conditions such as hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and even stroke can result. Food with antioxidant properties protect cells from that damage and even help in repairing them.

But that's only part of what makes spinach such a valuable menu staple. With each 1 cup serving you get almost 25% of your daily requirement of calcium, about 35% of iron, plus good amounts of fiber and protein, all at less than 50 calories!

Proper storage keeps spinach fresh longer.
Proper storage keeps spinach fresh longer. | Source

Several different types of spinach are grown throughout most of the year, so you can find it at your local store pretty much any time. Savoy and semi-savoy have curly, crinkled leaves, while the flat-leaved variety are smoother and more delicate. Baby spinach, usually sold loosely rather than in packages, is harvested while still small and sweeter in flavor.

Storing Spinach - Put it in a resealable plastic bag, pushing out as much of the air as possible. It will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. Do not use leaves that are yellowing, bruised, or getting moist.

Cooking Spinach - The less spinach is cooked, the more benefit you'll get. Raw, steamed or lightly sauteed will bring out the best in its natural flavor and nutrition.

How to Add "Spinach-Power" to Your Day:

Breakfast -Cook spinach, onion and red or yellow pepper in an omelette or scrambled eggs; Stir a handful into creamed cheese to spread on a bagel

Lunch -Mix up a salad by putting chopped tomatoes and bacon bits to darker spinach, and top with some low-cal ranch dressing or vinaigrette; Put some chopped spinach into bean or minestrone soup

Dinner -Top pasta with spinach, garlic, olives and sun-dried tomatoes sauteed in olive oil; Use as a taco filling instead of regular lettuce

Spinach ups the nutrition on a batch of Risotto.
Spinach ups the nutrition on a batch of Risotto. | Source

Recipe: Spinach and Feta Pita Mini Pizzas

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed and drained) spinach, chopped

1/2 cup black olives, chopped

1 tsp garlic, diced

4 pita rounds (or mini-pizza crusts)

2-3 plum or roma tomatoes, sliced thinly

1 tsp dried oregano

grated parmesan cheese

Set the oven to broil.

In a saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil to medium heat. Saute the olives, garlic and spinach for 30 seconds (don't let the garlic burn), and remove from heat.

Lay the pita rounds or crusts on a cookie sheet. Brush each with the rest of the olive oil.

Spoon some of the olives, garlic and spinach onto each, along with a couple of tomato slices. Cover with the feta cheese, with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Place a pinch of oregano on the top.

Place the cookie sheet underneath the broiler for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is starting to brown.

Recipe: Spinach and Mushroom Risotto

4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped fine

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/4 cup white wine

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1 1/2 cups spinach, cut into small pieces or strips

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp butter (optional)

Bring the broth to boiling in a pot, then turn it down and leave to simmer.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or soup pot. Add the onions and mushrooms, letting them cook over low heat for about ten minutes. Pour in the wine. Put in the rice and turn the heat up just a little, letting it cook for 1 minute.

Put in a couple ladlefuls of the broth on top of the rice mixture, stirring it constantly. When the rice has soaked up most of the liquid, add more. Continue with this pattern, adding more liquid when the rice has soaked in the previous. The rice should cook at a good simmer.

As you add the last bit of broth, put in the spinach also. The rice should be fully cooked in 20-30 minutes. (The rice should be soft, but not mushy).

Note: If the rice isn't done when the broth is gone, add water by the 1/2 cup until it is the consistency you want.

Take the pot off the heat and fold in the parmesan cheese and butter, if using.


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    • profile image

      Heather63 5 years ago

      Do you ever make veggie smoothies? I've tried a couple, and liked them more than I thought. Spinach would add a lot to either fruit or veggie, though.

    • jenbeach21 profile image

      jenbeach21 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I love to throw spinach in my fruit smoothies and I also enjoy spinach salads with strawberries.

    • Heather63 profile image

      Heather Adams 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I never use canned, either. But I know people who like it that way. To each his or her own, I guess. Your dinner recipe sounds great!

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      I would never ever eat spinach out of a can, sorry. Why not use the real thing fresh in a salad. I mixed some baby spinach with asparagus and mushrooms tonight for dinner. Stir fried the lot, mixed some pesto in and served it with some pan fried salmon. A delight! Otherwise a great article.