Great Greens: Spinach Health Benefits and Recipes

Here’s to your baby’s health!

Spinach has a legendary reputation as a healthy food – and for good reason! Spinach is low in calories and is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C, E and K, and minerals, including manganese, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and selenium. Although glorified as a strength-building source of iron by the infamous Popeye cartoons, spinach actually contains low amounts of this mineral and has minimal benefits to baby. But collectively spinach is one of the healthiest foods your little one can eat, as it promotes muscle development and enhances growth. It also helps to protect the body against various forms of cancer, lowers blood pressure, and guards against age-related brain decline later in life. Most pediatricians recommend introducing spinach into your baby’s diet at 10 months or older.

As versatile as it is healthy.

Spinach is typically plentifully available year ’round and has become a popular staple in baby recipes and dishes. When preparing spinach for your baby, it is important to wash it very carefully — even if it is pre-packed in a bag that says “washed and ready to eat.” This helps to eliminate any possibilities of E.coli. Next, trim off the roots and chop up any thick stems. Place the leaves in a cooking pot, but don’t add water. The water from the washing process should be sufficient for cooking. Cover the pot and cook until the leaves are wilted and still have a bright color — this should only take a few minutes. Now, chop well, puree, and lunch – or dinner – for baby is served! Consider adding spinach to meat or vegetable lasagna, cook with peas and pears, or mix with cream cheese for a delicious dip or spread.

Interesting spinach facts.

Spinach is a member of the goosefoot family, along with Swiss chard and beets. It grows quickly and can be harvested after just 37 to 45 days. Spinach also grows best during the cold winter months and can withstand temperatures as low as 20°F. California and Texas are the leading producers of spinach in the U.S. The popularity of the Popeye cartoon helped boost spinach sales by an eye-opening 33% during the 1930s and 1940s. The truth, however, is that the wonders of spinach portrayed in the cartoon were based on statistics published back in 1870, which mistakenly gave the iron content of spinach as being 10 time greater than it actually is!

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