One of the health benefits of spinach is it can help you relax

More health benefits of this leafy green and a nutritious spinach recipe
By Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.
Health benefits spinach, recipe with spinach Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.

Spinach is the perfect way to green-up your winter menu. When it's really cold outside, it’s natural to crave carbs, but if you want to minimize weight gain in the frigid months, consider a Popeye boost.

Unlike many leafy greens, spinach is sweet and easy to use in any recipe, which is why it's so popular. Last year, the United States Department of Agriculture reported more than 60,000 acres of spinach were harvested. As we move deeper into winter hibernation, we have to get our vegetable intake from wherever possible and spinach is an inexpensive option you can keep in the freezer. I recently discovered an organic, frozen-vegetable company called Green Organic Vegetables Inc. that is available all across Canada.

Five reasons why you should add more spinach to your diet:


1. Spinach is an excellent source of calcium: By supplying 100mg of calcium in every 100g serving, spinach is an excellent alternative to dairy for its ability to support healthy bone growth and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

2. Spinach can help you relax: Spinach is one of the highest sources of dietary magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for smooth muscle relaxation of the arteries, as well as for hormone development in our adrenal glands to cope with high stress levels.

3. Spinach is high in folate: Folate is important for everyone, but necessary for expectant mothers to ensure proper neurological development of the fetus in early stages of growth. So stock up on spinach to nourish your baby’s nervous system!


4. Spinach is a great source of protein: There may have been some truth to the old Popeye cartoons. Spinach is one of the only vegetarian sources of protein that contains a complete amino acid profile to rebuild muscle tissue and support collagen growth, which helps to maintain healthy skin and mobile joints. 

5. Spinach can help protect your eyesight: Spinach is high in lutein, a phytonutrient in the carotenoid family. Lutein specifically targets the eyes to avoid the macular degeneration associated with aging. It's an antioxidant for the eyes that maintains healthy vision.

One of the health benefits of spinach is it can help you relax  

Saag chicken recipe


When you want a dish that can provide maximum spinach intake, few can outdo saag chicken. It takes 12 cups of fresh spinach to equal the 20 oz of frozen spinach that is in this meal. Typically, Indian dishes like this are loaded with dairy. This dish is much lighter, yet does not skimp on flavour.

6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, minced or very finely chopped
2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (454 g) chicken pieces, skinned and cubed
2 cups (500 mL) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons (30 mL) ginger, grated*
1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk
20 oz (600 g) spinach, thawed from frozen
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) cardamom powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pink rock or grey sea salt


*For spicier flavour and more health benefits, divide the ginger. Use 1 tablespoon (15 mL) while cooking and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) right before serving.

1. Using a large pot, sauté onions and garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes until transparent. Add chicken, reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 10 minutes until chicken is tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
2. Put the spinach, coconut milk and spices into a food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Add spinach, tomatoes, and salt to the chicken mixture for an additional 20 minutes on a low heat to blend flavours and ensure chicken is well-cooked. Add the extra ginger at this time if you want extra heat and health benefits.
4. Enjoy as a main dish on top of brown rice or quinoa.
Makes 6 servings.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon to be published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.


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