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Build Up Those Muscles Like Popeye with Spinach

“I Eats All Me Spinach,
And Takes To The Finish,
I’m Popeye The Sailor Man!”

I cannot help but think of the wiry little sailor, Popeye, when I think of spinach. It was the magic food that got his muscles popping, so that he could save the day. His precious Olive Oyl would be in trouble, but as soon as he got his spinach, he would have super-human strength to fight off anyone. While it may have been a ploy by many a desperate parent to encourage their little ones to eat up their spinach, there are plenty of good reasons to eat this green leafy vegetable.

What’s the Story Behind Spinach?

Spinach has a long history and is believed to have originated in Ancient Persia.  The first written mention of it was its arrival in China from Nepal around 647 AD. It took some time, but by the 12th Century spinach had made its way to the Mediterranean. Catherine de Medici helped to firmly establish it in Europe, when she left Florence to become the Queen of France and had her personal chefs present it at every meal. Her love of the iron-rich leaves led to the coining of the term “florentine” (homage to her native land), meaning a dish served with spinach.

Nutritional Information for Spinach

Both Popeye and Catherine had something right when they fell in love with spinach. Spinacia oleracea is packed full of more vitamins and nutrients than almost any vegetable out there. It is rich in vitamins A, C, E, K, B2 and B6. Spinach also contains folate, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, niacin, calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc and yes, even iron.

This powerful little leaf can help to reduce inflammation and the risk of cancer due to the flavonoids found within them. Spinach is also packed full of antioxidants, which aid in the fight against atherosclerosis and high-blood pressure. The presence of the carotenoid lutein in spinach may also be linked to improved eye health, with studies suggesting a beneficial link between lutein and macular degeneration. Your bones will thank you for eating it too, as the high levels of vitamin K are a major factor in bone health. So a cup a day and it would seem you are on your way to better health overall.

Storage and Handling

Spinach may be a super food, but it still needs to be selected and stored properly. The brighter and more vibrant the color, the higher the calcium levels and the better it is for you. Avoid leaves that are beginning to yellow or look slimy.  Store spinach in the fridge in a tightly wrapped plastic bag and use within five days. While you want to wash spinach well before using it to rinse off sand and dirt, always wait until you are ready to use it, as it will degenerate quickly once washed.

Spinach Recipes

Spinach is a wonderfully versatile food to cook and eat. Don’t worry about how to cook spinach too much, as it is great raw in salad (baby spinach is ideal), boiled, steamed and can even withstand the microwave. It is also a great addition to soups. Note that it does contain oxalates and purines, so may not be beneficial for those suffering from kidney or gallbladder problems, as well as people prone to gout. As well, if you are on the fence about organics, you might want to consider going organic with spinach, as it is one of the vegetables where pesticides can be more prevalent. It is well worth the health benefits and taste, and doesn’t make much more of a dent on your pocket book. Now, on with some recipes;

Spinach Quiche

Ingredients:
4 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed well
1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 1/4 teaspoons onion dried, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
4 large eggs
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
1 pie shell (9 inch)

Directions:
Blend cheeses, onion, oil and seasonings until smooth. Add eggs, milk, and spinach.
Pour into pre-baked (according to directions on box) pie crust shell.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes and serve.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 pound flat leaf spinach, washed and well dried
3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
1 pint strawberries, trimmed and quartered or sliced
¼ cup slivered almonds

Sweet Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Place spinach in large salad bowl (a flatter bowl works best). Arrange kiwi slices and strawberries on top.
Combine all ingredients for salad dressing. Toss dressing with salad just before serving.
Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Enjoy this wonderful strawberry spinach salad!

Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups non-fat cottage cheese
1 (8 ounce) package part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
8 ounces lasagna noodles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large pot over medium heat saute spinach, onion, oregano, basil and garlic in the olive oil. Pour in spaghetti sauce and water; simmer 20 minutes.
In a large bowl mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and egg.

Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place 4 uncooked noodles on top of sauce and top with layer of sauce. Add 4 more noodles and layer with 1/2 sauce and 1/2 cheese mixture, noodles and repeat until all is layered, finishing with sauce.

Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Food and Nutrition are so important here at Premier Fitness Weight Loss Camp. We want what you eat to be the most powerful and nutrition dense foods you can find! We feed you great food, we teach you how to make better food choices, we give you the knowledge and experience that you can take back with you home to help you on your life-changing journey to a healthier you!

SOURCES:

Get Cooking…with Delicious easy and free recipes


http://allrecipes.com/
http://recipeland.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinach
http://www.naturally-healthy-eating.com

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