Oh, spinach. You’re so nutritious, but it’s not always easy to choose you over, say, chocolate or cheese.
But I’ve found there are a couple simple ways you can squeeze spinach into your meals or snacks and not even know it!
#1 Used as a “bed”.
I absolutely HATE the taste of cooked spinach. It’s so soggy and mushy and gross.
But, I’ve found that if you plop a huge helping of raw spinach on your plate beneath your main dish, it goes down much easier. Raw spinach doesn’t have a strong or overwhelming taste, so it’s easy to sneak it in this way.
One of our favorite ways to do this is under an omelet or an egg scramble.
(Sorry for the iPhone pics.)
Just throw down a couple huge handfuls of spinach, add the omelet or whatever else you’re eating and you’re good to go. You hardly taste the spinach, but it’s nice to know you’re getting some green in.
I’ve also layered it under chicken and other meat dishes at dinner and it works out great!
#2 Cooked in a smoothie.
I know green smoothies and green monsters are all the rage these days, but do you add raw or cooked spinach to your smoothie?
If you’re still rolling with raw, you should give cooked spinach a whirl. Like I mentioned, I can’t stand the cooked stuff on it’s own, but when you blend it into a smoothie, you never know the difference!
So, why cooked? Because if spinach is a super food when it’s raw, it’s a crazy awesome ridiculous super food when it’s cooked. Here’s the evidence:
A 1-cup serving of fresh spinach contains 0.81 mg of iron while the same amount of cooked spinach contains 6.43 mg. A 1-cup serving of cooked spinach supplies you with 11,318 mcg [of beta-carotene], while one cup of fresh contains 1,688 mcg. One cup of cooked spinach contains 20,354 mcg of lutein, compared to the 3,659 mcg in one cup of fresh spinach.
One cup of fresh spinach contains 30 mg of calcium, 167 mg of potassium, 8.4 mg of vitamin C and 58 mcg of folate. The same serving size of cooked spinach supplies higher concentrations of these nutrients, with 245 mg of calcium, 839 mg of potassium, 17.6 mg of vitamin C and 263 mcg of folate. — from LiveStrong
It’s easy to cook your spinach in the microwave while you’re preparing your smoothie, too. Just toss it into a large bowl and add water. Microwave until it’s wilted.
I generally use frozen fruit in my smoothies, so if you use fresh, you might want to throw in some ice cubes, otherwise your smoothie will be a warm one! 😉
Need a green smoothie recipe? Check out this cute graphic that my friend Elissa created to help you out:
What are your tricks for sneaking spinach or any other healthy greens into your meals?
Thanks for including my image! LOVE the post! I didn’t know that about cooked spinach, I always had heard that cooking veggies made them lose nutrients! I am going to have to try this!!! 🙂
I think you’re getting confused about your nutrition numbers. Cooking does not add nutrition to spinach. The reason the nutrition value is higher is that 1 cup of raw spinach takes up a LOT of room. When you cook it, it shrinks a lot as the water is cooked out of the leaves. If you cook 1 cup of spinach, what you have is the same nutritional value in about 1/4 or less of a cup of cooked product.
Measure it by weight and you’ll see that 1 cup of cooked spinach is nearly 5x as much spinach as 1 cup of raw, which is why the value is higher.
I think this is amazing. truly…… I wanted to know about spinach cooked/raw for my smoothies and i got the perfect answer here.
thing is i have frozen my spinach, do I still cook it prior to blending it into my smoothie.
That definitely makes sense 🙂 I didn’t really pause to think it through 🙂
This is directly from the USDA database:
1 cup of raw spinach = 30g
1 cup of cooked spinach = 180g
That is 26 times the volume of spinach. Cooking does NOT add nutrients. The laws of physics and nature make it impossible. 1 cup of cooked spinach has much more nutrients than 1 cup of raw because it’s much more spinach. 🙂
The nutritional values in steamed spinach are greater than 6 times the raw values. Shouldn’t they be exactly 6 if cooking didn’t enhance the nutrients? Either way, the smoothies are still more nutritious because you’re able to pack in more spinach, because, as you’ve emphasized, 1 cup of cooked is much large than 1 cup raw. Cooked spinach for the win!
Also, from your USDA links, compare the vitamins and minerals in both. The cooked is always much greater than 6 times the raw amounts. Cooking definitely increasing the nutritional value, the USDA links prove that.
Because it’s more compact. You’re removing the volume of water. Where do you thnk the nutrients come from? Does the microwave insert them into the food? I’m missing the logic here.
What you’re not realizing is that the body absorbs the goodies from different veggies differently. Many veggies including spinach and kale release their goodies much easier when cooked slightly. If you take 1 cup of raw spinach and eat it, then take another cup of raw spinach and cook it then eat it (portion will be smaller than a cup)…….you will get more of the goodies from the cooked portion because the body can get them out easier. It’s not that the goodies are added when cooking obviously…..it’s that the nutritional value of the cooked spinach is better.
Sorry .. typo. That should read 6 times the volume of spinach, not 26. 🙂
Use it instead of iceberg lettuce in salad and sandwiches! It tastes way better (also, never considered tossing that into my morning shake)
I used to eat spinach a ton using it as a bed, like you mentioned. But then I got sick of it and was pleased to find that romaine has a very good nutrition profile as well. So I’ve been using that for salads until I get my spinach palate back. I found that adding a hardboiled egg and some croutons to a salad makes me really enjoy eating them.
Have you ever tried flash-frying your spinach? Not sure about the nutritional value that way but OMG…it tastes amazing!
I also have a great, easy receipe for roasted swiss chard. So good for you and SO tasty!
We eat a lot of spinach in salads, too. And if we’re having homemade tacos or the like, we’ll often use spinach leaves in place of romaine, etc.
I’m sure you know that it is a FACT that cooked tomatoes (in sauce, etc.) give you WAY more nutrients than raw ones! So what up, all you no-cook naysayers! 🙂
Ok this may sound so stupid…but I never knew you could microwave spinach! Totally going to do this now!!
Love your ideas. I also put it in salads a lot. My favorite way is to mix spinach and romaine and dress with a vinaigrette.
that’s funny, i can’t stand raw spinach–and the only time i eat it raw is in my smoothie! haha.
i guess i will try cooking it now. one way i make it colder though is by sticking my banana in the freezer about an hour before i make my smoothie (so i do it first thing when i wake up, and then by the time i’m ready for work and to make my smoothie to go, the banana is frozen).
I can barely do spinach, too. I prefer to slather it in ketchup! If you must cook it, try sauteing it for literally only 2 minutes. That way is keeps some crunch.
I am the exact opposite. I love the taste of cooked spinach but can’t stand the taste of raw spinach. I eat it in salads but I have to make sure that the spinach is mixed in with mixed greens or topped with a yummy home made sale dressing. I love adding spinach to any pasta dishes I make. You can’t even tell it’s there. 🙂
These are all great ways and while I love spinach, I do the same thing that you do with the eggs. I’ll usually blend them in with an omelet or I will throw it in with my salad with some dressing. My ultimate favorite though is steaming it and at the end, I’ll add a little bit of vinegar with some fried bacon. Yes, I know the bacon doesn’t help, but WOW! So good.
I was always under the impressison that things microwaved removes nutrients. I’ve always steamed anything I can cause it retains the goodness. I was just wondering if it made a significant difference though. Don’t know how to figure this out.. Anyone?
What the heck? You are microwaving the spinach?thats a waste, many studies have shown that microwaving food kills a lot of the nutrients in them. Don’t be lazy people, steam it, don’t microwave it. You’re just defeating the purpose
Thanks for sharing the spinach smoothie infographic and linking to your friend’s blog. I have been looking for the source after finding it on Tumblr. I looooovvvvee food graphics sooooooo much, and hers are fantastic. <3