So recently my almost five year old has been going around and getting everyone to “feel his muscles” while he flexes his arm. He loves how strong he feels and was asking what he needs to eat to keep making him strong. I took this opportunity to show him an old school Popeye video and showed him how strong it made Popeye (or as my son calls him Papaya!) when he ate a can of spinach because of all of that iron spinach contains. He was impressed and told me that he needs to eat more spinach! So this has inspired me to feature the super mighty spinach as the latest Effortless Addition.
Here are some great quick and effortless ways to incorporate spinach into your family’s diet:
- Salad – probably the most obvious but not everyone likes the texture and I know my kids prefer a crunchier lettuce such as Romaine in their salads. I have found that blending baby spinach together with other crunchy lettuces or ripping it up and sprinkling it on top are great ways to get used to the texture. Even as an adult, adding a few pieces of ripped up spinach helped me to get used to the texture and eventually enjoy spinach salads.
- Smoothies – spinach has a very mild flavour and is very easy to add to a smoothie without compromising the flavour of the smoothie. The key is to blend the spinach with your liquid first…then add the rest of your ingredients. Check out my pump up the spinach recipes for some delicious smoothies that include spinach or add spinach to these smoothies from my spice up your smoothie with cinnamon post.
- Juicing – again the flavour is mild so it makes a great juicing green. Check out some of the juice blends we make in my pump up the spinach recipes.
- Popsicles, blend right in with fruit to add some of spinach’s super nutrients. It can easily be blended right into this popsicle recipe from my poolside snacking post.
- Anything chocolate! When you blend spinach with anything that includes cacao or cocoa, it’s super easy to just add it in without affecting taste or colour. Puddings such as avocado or chia are great but the sky is the limit!
- Add it to eggs (omelettes, scrambled, under a poached or fried egg), in mini egg muffins or add it to hot pasta with sauce right before you serve it.
- Green pancakes! Add to any batter to power up your pancakes and play up that fun colour to kids! Tell them the Incredible Hulk cooked breakfast and smashed up some green pancakes on the grill 🙂
- Soup – add spinach just before serving, this is great in vegetable soups/minestrones and would be delicious with this simple lentil soup from a past Effortless Addition post.
- Just a simple quick wilted spinach as a side with a little olive oil, salt and pepper (or any seasoning you like).
- Add spinach to sandwiches, wraps, homemade pizza, quesadilla’s, etc. etc. etc.!!!
Above I mentioned iron and wanted to talk a little bit more regarding the importance of iron. Some of the functions of iron include transporting oxygen in the body, energy metabolism, acting as an anti-oxidant (immune health support) and a key ingredient of hundreds of proteins and important enzymes. Providing energy means a nice strong athletic body which is important to most kids that I know (jumping high is very high on my son’s list of important things in life).
Please note that there is a difference in amount of iron in cooked spinach versus raw spinach. Raw spinach will provide about 0.8mg per cup while cooked spinach will provide about 6.5 grams per cup. There are benefits to both raw and cooked so don’t be fooled by the difference in iron. Some of the nutrients are lost during any cooking process so you will still get a lot of bang for your buck when you serve raw spinach (see all the other notable nutrients listed below) and adding almost a gram of iron with a cup of raw spinach as a salad or added to a smoothie, is a nice addition!
Other notable nutrients: Magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, Vitamin E, calcium, Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, vitamin B1, phosphorus, zinc, protein, choline, omega-3 fats, vitamin B3, selenium, pantothenic acid
I hope you found a couple of new ways to add spinach to your families meals and snacks. If your kids don’t believe how strong iron can make them, show them a Popeye video and see if that helps change their mind!
p.s. If you are looking for tips or suggestions regarding introducing new foods or meals to your family, please check out my Family Consultation package that I offer. I would love to help your family on their journey!