Raw vs. Cooked Spinach

Good question right?

Do you know the answer to this. I did not know but was in a situation that caused me to research this very topic.

I had a large package of raw organic spinach in my fridge this week that was at it’s “best before date”. I knew that we were not going to be able to eat it all up in raw salads before it was past it’s date of freshness. So I decided I would use it up as a side dish knowing how much cooking spinach makes it shrink down into a very dense side dish.

I know that steaming spinach with a bit of water in a covered pot would work but I decided to do a bit of research to see if there was any way to “dress” the steamed spinach up a bit. Through my research I learned something new.

Cooked spinach is more nutritious than raw spinach…who would have thought that, as most veggies are more nutritious in their raw form. This is a reverse of veggie logic….

First of all raw spinach contains oxalic acid which interferes with the absorption of nutrients, calcium and iron. When you cook spinach this breaks down the oxalic acid so there is no interference with nutrient absorption.

Raw and cooked spinach contain the same nutrients but the nutrients in cooked spinach are better taken in by your body. Raw spinach contains folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin and potassium.

Cooked spinach will give you higher levels of Vitamin A and E, protein, fibre, zinc, thiamin, calcium and iron. Carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are more absorbable in cooked spinach.

Here is an interesting fact. Raw spinach contains 2.71 mg. of iron in a 100 gram serving. Cooked spinach contains 3.57 mg. of iron in a 100 gram serving.

I’m going to start tossing a handful of spinach into my cooking more often. It breaks down quickly so when I’m at the end of preparing a hot meal I will add the spinach to bump up the nutrients. For example, when using my crockpot for many recipes I will add spinach at the end. If I’m making a soup, I will add raw spinach to the finished product to increase the vitamin and mineral absorption.

I will continue to use raw spinach in my smoothies as it is still a powerhouse veggie. But now I’m going to incorporate spinach in many more evening meals as a cooked part of my meals.

Cooking spinach with cheese and cream makes it more “sinful” and more interesting to serve to my hubby…while still getting good nutrition from it.

SPINACH GRATIN:

2 pounds of raw organic spinach, stems removed

Himalayan salt

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 organic eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup cream or half and half..(my choice is from “grass-fed cows”)

1 cup fresh Parmesan, grated

Ground black pepper

2 tbsp EVOO or organic butter

1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use gluten free)

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Make a pot of boiling water on the stove with salt in it. Once at a rolling boil, add onion and spinach for one minute. Drain right away and cool. Squeeze out as much water as you can. Then chop it. In a large bowl add spinach and onion, garlic, eggs, cream and half of the Parmesan cheese. Stir this well. Then add salt and pepper to taste.

Use a little of the EVOO or a little of the butter to grease a baking dish with sides. Pour the spinach mixture into the baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese, the bread crumbs and the remaining butter. Or if you aren’t using butter, then drizzle lightly with the EVOO.

Bake for 20 minutes until the dish has set and the top is starting to brown.

Serve hot right out of the oven. Can even be served at room temperature and still be yummy.

Like Popeye….eat your spinach.

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