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Spinach: Strong to the Finish

Spinach Strawberry Salad This morning I sautéed spinach in olive oil and ate it with a poached egg. It got me thinking about a “voice” from my past: Popeye the Sailorman! He was “strong to the finish ‘cause he ate his spinach!” Remember his girlfriend Olive Oyl? What a fabulous pair! Spinach is a beautiful, flowering plant native to Central and Southwest Asia. Supposedly, back in the 16th century when the famous, spinach-loving Catherine de Medici left her home in Florence, Italy to marry the king of France, she brought along her own personal cooks who knew exactly how to prepare spinach the way she loved it. Since then, popular spinach dishes are often referred to as “a la Florentine,” such as Eggs Florentine, Lasagna Florentine, etc. It took Popeye just one can of spinach to quickly provide his “musckles” with supernatural powers. While I can’t promise it can do for you what it did for Popeye, I can promise you this: Spinach is a no-brainer when it comes to good nutrition, simple preparation, versatility and delicious, delicate flavor. In fact, I’d say spinach is the most popular of all the “it’s not lettuce” leafy greens! It gets high marks on the nutritional scoreboard, packing a punch with vitamins A, C, K and folic acid. Remember that spinach, especially the large, mature leaves contain oxalic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of calcium and other minerals. When cooked, the oxalic acid is broken down and decreased. When cooking spinach, be sure to steam or sauté. Boiling is never a good idea as you lose too many nutrients. Here are some of my favorite ways to use fresh spinach leaves:
  • Quick Spinach Pasta SoupSauté and use as a bed for brown rice or quinoa.
  • Slice or chop and stir into hot cooked pasta – great with Parmesan cheese.
  • Add to hot soups or stews just before serving. Try Quick Italian Spinach and Pasta Soup
  • Try a spinach quiche, like this Spinach Quiche with Pine Nuts.
  • Sauté with eggs, or serve eggs over a bed of sautéed spinach.
  • Make a spinach salad with baby spinach leaves. Top with hummus and feta cheese. Here’s a favorite recipe for Spinach Salad with Figs and Feta Cheese.
  • Spinach with berries? You bet! Here’s a Spinach and Strawberry Salad.
  • Try a vegetarian quiche with mashed tofu and sautéed spinach; great in a whole wheat crust!
  • Steam or sauté and serve topped with grilled chicken or salmon.
  • Toss with your favorite salad dressing and scoop it into hot pita bread. Add tomatoes and Baba Ghanouj (roasted eggplant salad available prepared at our stores).
  • Make twice-baked potatoes and add sautéed spinach to the mashed up potatoes and cheddar cheese.
  • Add cooked spinach to lasagna. Here’s a recipe for Spinach and Cheese Lasagna.
  • Use the baby leaves in place of lettuce in sandwiches and wraps.
  • Mix hot cooked spinach with ricotta cheese, diced tomatoes, penne pasta and slivered sundried tomatoes. Bake until bubbly.
  • Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Make a spinach omelet with red peppers and avocado slices.
  • Mix any cooked whole grain or whole grain breadcrumbs with sautéed spinach, diced herbs or veggies and stuff into mushroom caps. Top with a little cheese and bake. Or try this recipe for Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms.
Final word of caution: Spinach, once eaten, loves to hang out in teeth — be sure to check your smile after a nice “green” meal! Love spinach? Got a favorite recipe or way to cook it? I’d love to hear!

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Sarah @ Semi-Sweet says …

There is always a big tub of baby spinach in my fridge - I use it for quick salads (think bed of spinach + protein (hard-cooked eggs, salmon from a pouch, tofu, beans + a little EVOO and vinegar of your choice), in smoothies (try a green apple, a generous dash of cinnamon, and lots of spinach + water), chopped in egg dishes, steamed with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, wilted into hot beans and brown rice for extra food value & greens . . . the possibilities are endless! A super healthy convenience food.

Margo says …

You already covered most of my favorite spinach recipes, like adding it to soups, salads, sandwiches. That spinach strawberry salad is divine too. Two more things I do with it are 1. add it to almost any microwavable entree. Just tear up baby spinach leave and put them in for the last minute of cooking time and you have just boosted your nutritional value immensely. Another yummy way to feature this as a vegetable is to saute a garlic clove in olive oil, then, after removing the garlic, saute spinach in this flavored oil. Oh yum! I just talked myself into adding this to tonight's menu.

screwdestiny says …

Mmm, I love spinach! But I tend to like it better raw than I do cooked. I guess I should find more cooked stuff I like it in. I loved the fun fact about why it's call something Florentine!

Barb says …

Wow, I never thought about it - Popeye ate spinach and his girlfriend is Olive Oyl! Too funny and yes, what a great combination!

Mark says …

One more for that excellent list: add spinach to Indian Dal (lentils with spice) for a nutritional blast of vitamins and protein.

anna says …

LOVE YOUR PAGES!! Great recipes, great plans... I always feel good when I'm reading and cooking your stuff. Thanks.

Leah says …

PLEASE REMEMBER that if you are taking certain medications like COUMADIN or WARFARIN that you need to limit your intake of spinach and other vitamin K containing foods. Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and can render coumadin less effective! Keep servings to 1/2 c. cooked and 1 c. raw.

Tiffany says …

I love spinach sauteed with a little soy sauce mixed with water (50/50 mixture) and lighly peppered. Delicious!

organicchick says …

Mmmm, I have an egg over easy on top of spinach, the whole thing topped with a few slivers of hard cheese, every day for breakfast. It's wonderful to know I've gotten so many vitamins and nutrients before 8 a.m.!

Kristen says …

You forgot to mention your awesome green smoothie! Berries and spinach rock.

Lisa says …

wow thanks for the recipe ideas for spinach. Spinach was the one thing I hated to eat as a kid. Well my mom boiled it in soup. AS an adult I thought that boiling it was the only way.

susan says …

How does everyone eat breakfast? I mean I just can't stomach all that food so early. If I do eat a late breakfast then I have no appeitie for lunch, and same if I eat lunch, I'm not hungry for dinner. So I can't believe people can eat spinach with eggs on top first thing in the morning. I would love to know how people eat all thoughs meals and snacks in a day??????

Vincent says …

Dr. Furhman says if you eat dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, collard's, raw, you should eat them with raw nuts (almonds/walnuts) because the nuts help you digest the greens better, and counteract the oxalic acid. I always pure` some raw almonds with some apple cider vinegar and fresh ginger and garlic to make a delicious and healthy salad dressing for my spinach. It's also really high in plant protein!


I frequent the Wellington,Fl. store and love the Dag Saal soup that they serve occasionally.Can I have the recipe for that?

says …

@Michelle Unfortunately, it seems as thought we don't hold that recipe in our catalog. However, I encourage you to reach out to your Wellington store directly. A Team Member there will be happy to get back with you regarding the recipe for Dal Saal. The link below will take you to the contact information for that store. Thanks for reaching out! http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/wellington/

Bev Harlan says …

Does anyone have the Whole Food's recipe for Chicken Florentine Soup?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BEV - I was unable to find a recipe that matched this on our national site. If this was a recipe you experienced in the store, it was probably an amazing creation by an in-store chef. Check with your local store, if they have a recipe they'll be happy to share it!