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Spinach

What is Spinach?
Botanically termed as 'spinacia oleracea', spinach is a flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. This annual plant is one of the most popular green leafy vegetables of Southeast Asian Countries. It can grow upto the height of 30 cm. For centuries, this dark green vegetable has been widely used as a source of food in Asia, and it had reached Europe by the eighth century CE. It gains recognition when a celebrated cartoon character of 'Popye' uses this green vegetable as its power boosting tonic.

Spinach is used in variety of ways and is extremely popular in many parts of the world. A native to

Southeast Asia, this green is available round the year, and it can also be found in canned and frozen form. Acknowledged for its versatility and nutrition, spinach can be eaten raw or cooked.

A rich source of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients, this dark green leafy vegetable is regarded as one of the healthiest foods among all vegetables. In India and other South-Asian countries, spinach is prepared in combination with other vegetables like potato, etc. Palak-paneer (a combination of spinach and cheese) is quite popular in all parts of India.

 

Plant Description
Spinach plants are grown for their edible green leaves. This plant needs temperate climate and may survive over winter in temperate regions. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular-based, very variable in size from about 2-30 cm long and 1-15 cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, 3-4 mm diameter, maturing into a small hard dry lumpy fruit cluster 5-10 mm across containing several seeds. When allowed to grow unharvested, this annual plant will go to seed in the late summer, allowing the leaves to die off.

 

Spinach & Nutrition
Spinach is one of the most nutritious and healthy greens among all vegetables. Though low in calories, it contains higher concentrations of minerals, vitamins and other phytonutrients (natural plant chemicals with human nutritional value). Spinach also has a high calcium content. Recommended by many noted nutritionists and dietitians, this food contains lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fats.

It is also a good source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese

 

Types of Spinach
There are several varieties of spinach are cultivated in various parts of the globe. They are basically categorized as older and modern varieties. Older varieties tend to bolt too early in warm conditions. Newer varieties tend to grow more rapidly but have less of an inclination to run up to seed.

Generally there are 3 basic types of Spinach:

  • Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets.
  • Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad smooth leaves that are easier to clean than savoy
  • Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean.

Recipes
Following are the popular spinach recipes of the world:

  • Western Recipes: Baked Creamed Spinach, Bay Scallops with Spinach, Cheese Spinach Bake, Chicken and Spinach Soup, Cold Spinach Soup, Creamed Spinach, Creamy Spinach Salad, Easy Hot Spinach Dip, Lamb Roast with Spinach Stuffing, Spinach and Basil Butter, etc.
  • Indian Recipes: Spinach Tikkas, Spinach Soup, Spinach Enchiladas, Spinach Scramble, Spinach Pkhali, Crispy Spinach, Spinach Roti, Spinach Dal, Spinach Idli, Dal Palak, Spinach Raita, Spinach Kootu, etc
 
 
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