Spinach

Spinach is an amazing food. It is one I try to include in my diet every day.

It is low in calories and fat and yet packed with nutrients such as:

  • beta carotene: an antioxidant and precursor for vitamin A in the body
  • vitamin K: important factor in blood clotting
  • folic acid: important for heart health and the prevention of neural tube defects
  • vitamin C: an antioxidant, important for wound healing, and helps with the absorption of iron
  • iron: part of hemoglobin (which carries O2 in the body) and myoglobin (with carries O2 for muscles)
  • and many more!

Are you looking for ways to add this amazing food to your diet?

Let’s start with salads. You can start any salad with a spinach base (and kale too!), then add veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, cheese, lean proteins, and more. You could make a different salad every day for months just by adding different combinations of toppings. Here are some ideas of things you can add:

  1. veggies: peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, cucumber, mushrooms, onions, etc.
  2. fruit: apple, pear, mango, grapes, pomegranate seeds, avocado, blueberries, etc.
  3. nuts: almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  4. seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, or chia
  5. beans: dried or fresh soybeans/edamame, white beans, red beans, black beans
  6. other proteins: hard boiled egg, diced chicken, salmon, tuna, shrimp
  7. cheese: feta, goat, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, etc.

The toppings and combinations are truly endless!

While salads are a great (and easy) place to start, but there are so many more options as well.

  1. Shakes: add in fresh or frozen spinach (or kale) to your next shake/smoothie.
  2. Scrambled eggs: add a large handful of spinach and diced feta in just as the eggs are done cooking.
  3. Soups/Stews/Sauces: add in a handful at the end or as a topping if you want it to stay fresh; or add it in and blend everything together if you want the nutrients but not the texture.
  4. Lasagna: replace the meat layers in lasagna with layers of frozen spinach
  5. With sauteed veggies: I love to saute peppers, onion, mushrooms, and spinach together and then add a Tbsp of pesto and a sprinkle of goat cheese and pine nuts.  SO DELISH!!!!

Hope these give you some fun ideas to incorporate this “superfood” into your diet in the coming weeks.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

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Tip #7: Calcium and Vitamin D

Okay ladies, this tip is a bit more “nutrient” specific than the others. Are you getting enough calcium and vitamin D?

Did you know that we can only increase our bone density until we are 30? Beyond that we can keep it or lose it, but we cannot increase it.

Did you know that there is promising research that vitamin D could help to prevent and treat certain types of cancer including (but not limited to) breast cancer?

Did you know that calcium can aid in getting a good night sleep?

These are incredibly important nutrients!

So how can we get enough of them?

Calcium and Vitamin D can be found in Milk and Milk Products (milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese) and Fortified milk alternatives (Fortified soy/coconut/almond/cashew milk) as well as some other fortified products such as soy and coconut yogurt and tofu.

Calcium can also be found in broccoli, almonds, and through consumption of tiny soft bones of fish.

Small amount of vitamin D can be found in fatty fish. And of course, sunlight on our skin is one of the best sources of vitamin D, but not the safest due to the UV exposure.

So how much do we need? Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should aim for 1000 mg per day of calcium and everyone age 1-70 should aim for 600 IU of vitamin D. So can we do this with food alone? For calcium, it is quite possible if you have sufficient of the foods I listed above in your diet. For vitamin D, Health Canada recommends a supplement for all breastfed babies and those over 50 years of age. For everyone in between these stages it depends on dietary intake, but a supplement is often warranted.

How can you know if you are getting enough? You can read labels and/or talk to a local RD about a dietary analysis. Also you can ask your physician for blood work to be completed and/or a bone density test.

If you want to read more about this topic and recommendations, here is a great link: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php#a10

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at mealsformeandmyminis@gmail.com.

Until next time….stay healthy!