Obscurely referred to for years in England as “the Spanish Vegetable”, the name of this leafy green vegetable was later shortened to its present day form “Spinach”. It is thought to have originated in ancient Persia, Spinach cultivation spread to Nepal and by the seventh century, to China, where it’s still called Persian Greens.
From cartoons, to comic books, to television commercials, to online journals to newspapers everywhere you see this super food being mentioned. They all have one thing to say about how strong you’ll be after you consume this healthy food on a regular basis. Today i’ll share my knowledge with you about this winter super food’s health benefits and how this can be incorporated in your diet and yield its health benefits.
This nutrient base vegetable is humble yet versatile – you can use this as a base of salads, a smoothie add in, a curry paired with protein or veggies or simply as a sautéed side dish. It’s loaded with tons of health benefits which will make it stand out. Consuming spinach regularly makes a marked improvement in your overall health and fitness.
It can reduce hunger and cravings – Spinach isn’t just an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. It may also reduce hunger and carvings, according to a study published in the journal of the American College of Nutrition. It found that compounds in the photosynthesis cells of spinach promote the release of satiety hormones, probably the reason Popeye wasn’t fat after eating so much of spinach.
It can make workouts easier – Another research states that spinach makes your muscles more efficient during a workout. That improved performance is the increased efficiency of mitochondria which powers body cells.
It can prevent cancer – Spinach consumption can partially offset the damaging effects of cancer causing carcinogens. Spinach consumption nearly halved the incidence of colon tumours in laboratory animals in a recent study.
Cooking will increase its health benefits – Cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits. Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you thrice as much nutrient as one cup of raw spinach. That’s because the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach for its use. As an exception to this is to consume spinach in juice form, and is the healthiest way to consume it. Blend spinach with other vegetables of fruits to create a delicious glass of juice.
How to choose your spinach? It’s wiser to choose tender baby spinach leaves. The larger the leaves, the more mature they are and more likely to be tough and stringy. Also spinach leaves that are placed under direct sunlight in the stores have been found to obtain more nutrients than those stored in darkness. Do add spinach in organic shopping list because the leaf tends to be sprayed heavily with pesticides that don’t come off with normal washing. Talking about the storage – freezing spinach demolishes its health benefits. The way to get the best from the leaf is to buy it fresh and eat it in a day or two.
The following recipe is one of my favourite recipes which I created for an open air restaurant overlooking a lake in the beautiful city Udaipur. This recipe was a part of the shaker menu which featured dishes from the wild forest and game birds. The beauty of this recipe is the chopped spinach tossed with seasonings. The spinach tastes a bit bitter in this recipe as it is not blended beforehand and I cooked in the pan.
Khada Palak Makai
Spinach leaves 300 gm
Fenugreek leaves 100 gm
Corn kernels 80 gm
Mustard oil 2 tbsp
Garlic, chopped 2 tbsp
Ginger, chopped 1 tbsp
Red chili, flakes 1 tsp
Green chili, chopped 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Crushed black pepper to taste
Dried fenugreek leaves 2 tbsp
Clarified butter 1 tbsp
Heavy cream 2 tbsp
Wash spinach and fenugreek leaves under cold running water to remove any foreign particles
Drain the water and roughly chop the leaves and keep aside.
In a heavy bottom pan heat mustard oil and add cumin seeds to sputter.
Add chopped garlic, ginger, green chili and sauce till the mixture is light brown.
Add the spinach and fenugreek leaves and corn kernels.
Stir over high flame to cook the spinach.
Add chili flakes, and adjust the seasoning with salt and crushed black pepper.
Continue to cook the spinach till all the raw flavour is gone.
Add some water if spinach starts to stick to pan.
Once spinach is cooked, add clarified butter and heavy cream to finish.
Serve hot with choice of bread with salad on the side.
Note: You can cook this recipe without fenugreek leaves and also replace spinach leaves with mustard leaves. To make a non vegetarian version of this dish replace the corn with sautéed chicken dices. Add some moisture to the dish and simmer till the chicken is cooked and palak chicken will be ready in minutes.
* Chef Tarun Kapoor, Culinary Mastermind, USA. He may be contacted at [email protected]
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