Living LifeWise: Spinach – A Love Story

Living Lifewise Sunday, July 7, 2013 Written by

Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Laura McLeod.

I was one of those weird kids who loved spinach. But only if it was previously frozen and with margarine melted on top. I wouldn’t eat it from a can but I still didn’t like it fresh. Today I’ll eat spinach fresh, frozen, creamed, buttered or blended – for any meal of the day, even as a snack. I’ll eat it hidden, dressed, steamed, whirred, baked or sautéed. Any way you can think of – but still not from a can.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, spinach is my favorite food. Just ask my partner. He’ll tell you I put it in everything. I add it to spaghetti sauce, pizza, egg dishes, salads, sandwiches, soups and stews – and fruit smoothies. Mostly, I like it lightly steamed or sautéed, with butter (make that grass-fed, please, for the healthy Omega 3s).

I eat it largely because I love the taste. But I increased my spinach intake when I realized what a nutritional punch it packed with hardly any calories. It’s an amazing food chock-full of good stuff: vitamins A, C and K; minerals like iron and calcium; antioxidants; carotenoids; flavonoids; and all kinds of things I can’t pronounce but know are super healthy. An added bonus is that it doesn’t lose much of its nutritional power when cooked.

Need more convincing? Spinach has a mild flavor. So it’s able to hide out and remain mostly invisible in a lot of dishes (unlike greens like kale). If it weren’t for the bright green color, it would be easy to hide in a smoothie. With kefir, berries, a little protein powder and coconut oil, it’s hardly detectable.

According to the Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide, fresh spinach is available in the Northwest from May through December. However, that doesn’t mean you only get to eat fresh spinach half the year. Pre-washed and packaged baby spinach maintains nutrients when frozen. So flash freezing means you can enjoy the just-picked taste of spinach year round. One word of warning: make sure you buy a reputable brand. Spinach is listed on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen due to high pesticide residue. My trick? Pick an organic brand. It’s just as tasty, and the cost difference is negligible.

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Laura_McLeodLaura McLeod is an internal communications manager at LifeWise, and is convinced that lifestyle trumps genetics. Because her genetics include many lifestyle-based illnesses, she strives to eat well, exercise and get regular check-ups. While she’s officially reached ‘mid-life,’ she believes you’re only as old as you feel.  Laura lives in Ballard with her long-time partner and her energetic, playful cat.