Nutrition Fact Friday: Spinach

Hey ya’ll! It is that time of the week again. Nutrition fact Friday. Definitely one of the best days of the week. I’m thinking of even revamping it more and making it a link party in which fellow bloggers make a recipe based on that weeks topic. That would be fun. Until then lets talk about today’s topic, which is one of my favorite vegetables: SPINACH! I seriously love spinach. You can do so much with it and it provides tons of nutrients, so lets get this nutrition education lesson started!

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Look at that delicious bowl of spinach. Doesn’t that make you hungry? When most people think of spinach, they think of two things: Popeye and a slimy green vegetable that tastes disgusting. What?!? Those people are seriously delusional because spinach is great. You can have it fresh, frozen, or from a can. It really depends on what you want to do with it and what your budget is. So lets check out the nutrients that are in spinach. One cup of spinach (fresh or cooked) packs a mean load of vitamins to meet our daily requirements. It meets over our daily intake for vitamin K and vitamin A. It is also a good source for manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, and vitamin C. It also has some significant amounts, 5-25% of our DI, of other vitamins and minerals. Therefore by just consuming spinach at one meal, such as in a salad, you are already getting a good amount of nutrients. It is always important to try to have a balanced diet to meet these daily requirements since each vitamin and mineral provides specific health benefits.

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Since spinach is packed with tons of nutrients that means that it also has a ton of health benefits associated with it. Spinach is pretty much a super food or as we nutritionists like to call it a functional food. So lets discuss all the things that spinach can do for you and maybe you will change your mind about this “icky” vegetable. Spinach contains a lot of flavanoid compounds, which means that it has an anti-cancer effect by providing an anti-inflammatory effect. Excessive amounts of inflammation can lead to the development of cancer, so therefore having something that fights against this inflammation means that it will help decrease the risk of cancer. These flavanoids also act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body against oxidative stress, which is a stress that leads to various problems throughout the body. For example, oxidative stress causes damage to our blood vessels, so the flavanoids from spinach come in to help decrease atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Spinach also contains carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which focus on eye health. With the consumption of spinach, you have a significant increase in lutein, which is good in prevention of macular degeneration. Also due to these carotenoids, spinach provides an immune protection function.

So what is the benefit of having way over the amount of vitamin K? Let me tell you! Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health, which is nice since most people think that only dairy products are used for bone health. Get in your spinach to help your bones. Specifically vitamin K helps prevent an overproduction of osteoclasts, which are specific cells that are used to break down bones. Spinach is one of the only vegetables that packs this much vitamin K, so therefore if your diet is lacking then spinach is the go to choice. Get on the spinach train now! Now time for the fun part: THE RECIPES!

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One of my favorite blogs, Skinny Taste,  has a delicious recipe of stuffed chicken with spinach and feta. A good way to make spinach more edible for those palates that don’t particularly like the texture or taste is to mix it with something creamy. Trust me when I say that these Skinnytaste recipes are amazeballs. Try this one out and then go through her blog to check out her other recipes because they are the bomb!

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Check out this delicious recipe from a Tasty Love Story. It is a recipe for creamy spinach with fried eggs. Once again the recipe is utilizing a creamy texture in order to make the spinach more edible, but I like that it uses spinach in other ways rather than just a salad or a topping on a sandwich. You can definitely incorporate spinach into breakfast. You can put it in omelets or even make some spinach pancakes. To make this dish healthier, instead of using the cooking cream, I would opt for greek yogurt. That way you are getting more protein and lower calories.

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A typical route to always go with spinach is through a salad. This is a delicious salad from Recipe Girl. This is a simple spinach salad with chicken, avocado, and goat cheese. The good thing about salads is that you can not only get tons of the benefits from spinach, but you can also add tons of toppings that pack a nutritious punch. Ideas would be pomegranate seeds, red onions, tomatoes, nuts, and avocado. You can get a source of protein by adding chicken or tofu and a source of fat by having the avocado, cheese, or a healthy oil for dressing.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks nutrition fact Friday! Now go out and buy some bags of spinach. You definitely won’t regret it and neither will your body.

What is your favorite way to use spinach?
What would you like to see for nutrition fact friday?

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Sweet Potato Nachos

Hey ya’ll! I have a delicious recipe in store for you. Now that I live in New York City, I’m pretty far away from my delicious Mexican food (although I live in a Dominican neighborhood, so I’m at least getting some Spanish food in my life). I decided that I wanted to make something Mexican inspired in honor of my home. However Mexican food is full of fat, calories, and food items that are not so healthy for you. That gave me the idea to “healthify” one of my favorite dishes: Nachos! I could have made tortilla chips from baking corn tortillas, but that is the easy way out. I ended up making my base or chips from baked sweet potatoes.

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Sweet Potato Nachos

2 small sweet potatoes
1-2 tsp of olive oil
1 pinch of garlic powder
any other spices or seasonings you want to add
Cheese of choice (I used fat free Mexican Blend)

Topping ideas:

Cilantro
Tomatoes
Jalapenos
Onions
Black Beans
Banana Peppers
Chives
Chicken/Beef

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1. Preheat oven to 350. Wash your sweet potatoes and peel them until there is no skin left.

2. Then slice both potatoes in thin round slices.

3. Place in a small container, pour in olive oil, and mix well.

4. Place slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle with garlic powder. If you have added other spices, sprinkle them on at this point.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

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6. Take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on. Then sprinkle on cheese. Depending on personal preference you can either add on the rest of the toppings now or wait until all the cheese is melted. Personally I put the toppings on then put the cheese on top because it made the toppings cheesier (ya’ll know I love cheese). Then place in the oven to monitor until the cheese is melted.

7. Enjoy!

This was the perfect dish. I wish I would have had more things to place on as toppings, but I had forgotten things such as avocado at the supermarket. Next time I will definitely be having black beans and avocado on top of my nachos. It would have been creamy and delicious. Plus including more protein would help you stay fuller. I added Greek yogurt on top of mine instead of sour cream. It was a much better option that putting sour cream on it. Sweet potatoes are a much better option than regular tortilla chips for a variety of reasons. Sweet potatoes are extremely high in vitamin B6, which helps reduce homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been connected to a variety of diseases and has even shown a role in heart attacks, so eating more sweet potatoes is definitely a good move for those that are heart health conscious. Other nutrients that sweet potatoes contain are Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron, magnesium, and potassium. While that is a long list, one of the most important and well known compounds that sweet potatoes contain is carotenoids. More specifically, sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, which helps with eye function and to boost our immune systems. Besides the many health benefits of sweet potatoes, they are extremely versatile to cook with. Just look at my recipe! You can make sweet potato chips. How awesome is that?!

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I just look at these and it makes my mouth salivate. Thank god I bought 2 lbs of sweet potatoes at Trader Joe’s! But actually I wont be making these anytime soon because I have a ton of different sweet potato recipes for ya’ll coming up sometime soon. I hope everyone had an awesome Sunday! Mine has been extra special since the University of Texas Longhorns won against no. 2 Stanford today in volleyball (not to mention that they also beat number 1 Penn State the day before). Hook em! Ya’ll know how much I love my volleyball. It has been hard not being able to go to the games, especially since they were extremely exciting this weekend. My mom and brother went, so at least they were sending me the scores, videos, and hilarious quotes from the crazy people in the audience!

See ya’ll tomorrow!

What do you like to do with sweet potatoes?
Do you eat other foods with carotenoids and Vitamin A in them?