Some say that calorie for calorie, spinach is the world’s most nutrient-rich food. One cup of cooked spinach has only 41 calories but 987% of your daily need for Vitamin K, 24% for calcium 17% for fiber and 11% for protein, not to mention a significant percentage of 19 other vitamins and minerals (and a lesser percentage of some 40 other nutrients). It also offers powerful antioxidant protection, and it’s touted as helpful in dealing with problems related to inflammation, bone disease, oxidative stress-related problems, cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer (such as aggressive prostate cancer). With a husband who’s had a bout with one of these, I’ve been particularly interested in adding spinach to our menu! I grew up with cooked spinach, but I wasn’t particularly a fan of the strong flavor…even when my mom would try to mask it with bacon and onions. (Actually, it’s not bad that way.) Later, “Wilted Spinach Salad” dressed with a little bacon fat, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper (plus bits of bacon and hard-boiled eggs) became popular. I was more of a fan. Then, it became a popular additive along with other greens in “salad mix,” and I really became a fan of mild-flavored baby spinach, except I noticed that the spinach leaves would be the first to spoil in a container of salad mix. Recently, I’ve started buying fresh spinach as a base for salads in its own right sometimes, because I’m trying to change up the menus a bit and like to serve some type of cold salad every night with dinner. However, after doing a little research, I’ve learned that if I’m going to serve spinach 1-2 times every week, I should consider cooking it sometimes, because spinach contains oxalic acid, which in some people causes kidney stones. I’ve read that the best way to cook spinach is in a large pot of boiling water with no top (steam will also carry away some of the oxalic acid). Submerge the spinach in the boiling water for exactly one minute, drain, and squeeze out the excess water. Apparently this is the best way to dissolve out oxalic acid with the least loss of damage to other valuable nutrients that are also somewhat water-soluble. A little butter and salt, and voilà, it tastes…well, if not as great as it tastes fresh, it still tastes good! “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden” (Genesis 2:8-10).
Thank you, Lord, for all the nutritious plants you’ve created for us to enjoy!