Before kale took over in a frenzy, spinach was the healthy crowd-pleaser.
Leafy green vegetables are known to be a good source of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium vitamins A, C, K, folate (increases with cooked), antioxidant lutein etc. Canada’s Food Guide suggests 1 cup uncooked or ½ cup cooked as a serving (and recommends 7-10 servings of fruits/vegetables per day).
Well, If anyone can boomerang something back into style, it's Victoria Beckham. Now, I must admit, she might be taking it too far by ordering spinach and just spinach while at restaurants. Apparently, she’s been upsetting some serious high-caliber chefs in LA by requesting a plate filled with only steamed spinach - read the full story here.
Not that the “recipe” took much work, I went ahead and put Victoria’s simple restaurant order in Meal Garden to see what a plate of spinach comes up with on our health meter.
I’m going to blow your mind here and report that a plate of spinach came out as “healthy”.
Okay, you probably already knew that.
But take a look at the nutrition facts and macro analysis for this meal and it becomes painfully obvious just what’s missing...protein and fat! Both essential elements for a healthy and nutritious meal.
Something like this Green Powerhouse Pesto Plate is going to be a little more balanced...
As you can see, while this recipe has more fat, this fat is mainly "good" - with 22% of the calories coming from only monounsaturated fat (i.e. from the avocado and extra virgin olive oil). Furthermore, it offers a whole lot more dietary fiber (helps to keep your feeling full) and is still completely cholesterol free! Of course, it also offers protein which is extremely important as every cell in the body contains protein and is used in the formation of many molecules essential for life.
While Victoria is clearly missing some vital elements on her plate, there are still some useful take-aways here.
I reached out to Elena Stoiko from the Meal Garden Health Council for her take.
"A positive thing we can pull from this article is the cooking method for the spinach. In general, cooking vegetables breaks down the cells wall of the plant, and this can be beneficial in making nutrients more available for absorption. For example, as described by Leslie Beck, RD, spinach is high in calcium, but when raw it is bound to a compound, oxalic acid, which inhibits the amount available for absorption by the body. Therefore, cooking spinach will release the bound calcium. Cooking also improves the availability of iron and magnesium.
Similarly, steaming spinach would be preferred over boiling in water. The reason is that certain water-soluble vitamins may leach out of the food and become discarded in the water that it is cooked in. Examples are B vitamins (folate, thiamine, B6) and Vitamin C. The less water the food comes in contact with, the more vitamins retained."
In summary, Victoria - thanks for the cooking tips, but I think I’ll be adding a few more ingredients to compliment my steamed spinach thank you very much!