Green leafy vegetables such as spinach with its delicate texture and jade green colour provide more nutrients than any other food.
Although spinach is available throughout the year, it is best in spring and the beginning of winter, when it is fresh. Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran).
Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised.
Store fresh spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep fresh for about five days. Do not wash it before storing as the moisture will cause it to spoil.
Cooked spinach is an excellent source of iron, a mineral that is important for menstruating women, who are at risk for iron deficiency. When compared to red meats it is far ahead, as it provides iron for a lot less calories and is totally fat-free.
The anticancer properties of spinach flavonoids have been sufficiently impressive to prompt researchers to create specialised spinach extracts which help slow down cell division in stomach cancer cells.
The Vitamin K present in spinach is important for maintaining bone health.
So while spinach probably won’t make you super strong the minute you eat it, like Popeye, it will promote your health and vitality in many other ways.
Now, for a recipe.
Cold Spinach Soup
Plain yoghurt: 250 gm
Fresh spinach: 300 gm
Milk: 125 ml
Diced, cooked chicken: 20 gm
Chopped onion: 25 gm
Fresh dill, chopped: 30 gm
Method: In a blender, combine 3 cups of fresh spinach, 1 cup of milk, onion, dill and any additional seasoning. Cover and process until almost smooth, then pour into a large serving bowl. Again in the blender, mix the remaining milk and spinach with the yoghurt; cover and blend until smooth. Stir the new mixture into a serving bowl; stir in the cooked chicken. Refrigerate. Serve when ready.
BHOLANATH JHA ,Chef de Partie, Taj Connemara