Per Calorie, Spinach Has More Protein Than Beef!

Photo by timsackton from Flickr.com

I am so over Popeye. I mean, really, telling me to eat my spinach while puffing on a cancer-inducing pipe that may even be filled with an illegal recreational substance. Think about it. What else could cause those delusions and momentary episodes of crazy strength? So, there will be no Popeye quips as we consider spinach. Rather, we ask that you and Popeye put down the pipe.

Prepare yourself for a crazy fact about spinach. Per 100 calories, spinach has 12 grams of protein versus beef which has 10 grams. What the heck? Tis true, tis true.

But, you ask, “Well, how much spinach exactly is 100 calories?” 100 calories of the green leafy vegetable is about a pound. That, admittedly, is a lot of spinach. You may think there is no way you could pound a pound of spinach to get all that plant-based protein, particularly when it takes just a nibble of beef to obtain the same amount. So for now, you think it best to sprinkle your meals with spinach when possible to get the benefits of its protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, and vitamins A, C, K and B6! But, it’s not that difficult, lovely reader!

Buy yourself a pound of spinach and make the following wilted spinach recipe. If you are on a low-sodium diet, do be aware that spinach has a naturally high salt content. Much like you, me, and Popeye, spinach is great, but not perfect.

Grow your own! Photo by OakleyOriginals from Flickr.com

Jenna’s Wilted Spinach

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound pre-washed spinach (remove tough stems)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil and garlic. Saute garlic in oil 2 or 3 minutes. Add spinach to the pan in stages. Fill the pan with leaves and turn leaves in warm oil until they wilt. Add more spinach to the skillet and repeat the process until all of the spinach is incorporated. Season the wilted spinach with salt and pepper. I serve this dish either over brown rice with a splash of soy sauce, or as a side to salmon, or gasp, a bit of beef.

Consider:
Topping spinach with slivered almonds or sesame seeds. Some cooks use nutmeg, but nutmeg makes my stomach churn… so you’ll never get me to add it to something as good as wilted spinach.

Broccoli So Good It Should Be Stalked

Photo by Clara S. from Flickr.com

To be honest, I didn’t like broccoli for a long, long time. When I first went shopping as an adult, I was surprised to find the veggie green and crisp in its original form. They seemed alien – these green stalks that resembled trees as seen from an airplane. This form of broccoli, sprayed intermittently and stacked appealingly in the produce isle, was entirely unlike the veggie simmered limp and decidedly brown by my mother. (Sorry mom. But, you do have other skills other than cooking broccoli.)

Still, despite the fresh green that the broccoli offered from our local greenhouse even midwinter, I did not trust a vegetable that could turn out so horribly once applied to a pan. It wasn’t until my son, 18 months at the time and looking to use his newly sprouted molars on something other than the base of my thumb, happily ate a whole hor’s d’ouvre tray of fresh broccoli at an art gallery opening. I didn’t stop him as I figured the patrons and owners wouldn’t notice as long as he was quietly munching away. I bought my very first stalk as an adult after that. I was 36 years old.

Photo by Carolyn Coles from Flickr.com

Broccoli, In addition to its great crunch and fabulous looks, it has high amounts of potassium which is good for your nervous system, your brain, and your muscles. It contains vitamin C which is a natural antihistamine that can help you breathe clearly while fighting a common cold. It also contains elements that repair skin damage, aid your immune system, and maintain bone health. It even contains some vitamin A which our bodies use to form a light absorbing molecule necessary for low-light and color vision. And, as you crunch through your florets, remember that it also contains calcium and magnesium which regulate blood pressure.

A+ For Sweet Potatoes

Photo by Natalie Maynor from Flickr.com

My Auntie Misty gives foods grades. I never knew this til I sat down to a dinner with sweet potato at the helm and I thought she said, “Sweet potato is a plus food.” I laughed, “Yes, it is a food.” “NO!” She replied, “It is A+ FOOD!” Indeed sweet potato deserves high marks. They have a low glycemic index and make your body more responsive to insulin. They contain no fat, are high in fiber, and are also high in vitamin A and C as well as containing a fair amount of calcium and iron. The best part of sweet potatoes is that they are delicious! Apparently, Christopher Columbus found these edible relations of the Morning Glory vine so yummy that he brought the tubers back to Europe and they subsequently flourished across the globe even reaching China and Japan by the 16th century. Now, the Japanese even make a kick-you-cross-eyed booze out of sweet potato called shōchū.

To roast a sweet potato, no need to fuss with foil or whatnot. Just toss them on a cookie sheet straight from your grocery bag. Whack your hotbox up to 400F, and roast for about an hour or until the sweet potato is soft all around and oozing its caramelized sugars. Then, mush with butter and enjoy. Or, toss an onion on the cookie sheet and make the dinner I made Auntie Misty. It is dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, diabetic friendly, gluten free, and, gasp, tasty. If you are vegan, substitute a smaller amount of agave nectar to taste for the honey. If you are a meat-eater, the recipe as it stands is also the perfect accompaniment to a simply prepared chicken breast, slice of beef, or a even a tasty pork chop.