While spinach won’t instantly make you as strong as Popeye the Sailor, this leafy green definitely packs a punch when it comes to nutrition. Spinach — like many green leafy vegetables — ranks high on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI). The index ranks foods based on the amount of micronutrients they contain per calorie. Spinach has an ANDI score of 707, ranking just below bok choy (895) and kale, collard greens, mustard greens, watercress and Swiss chard (which all have a perfect score of 1,000).
So, what’s inside a spinach leaf that makes it so nutritious? Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K1, as well as folic acid, iron and calcium. These nutrients are reported to improve eye health, oxidative stress and blood pressure. This leafy green is also high in insoluble fiber, helping with digestion.
Spinach is a cool weather vegetable that is often harvested in the early spring and fall. For farmers who can keep their spinach crop cool in the summer, the spinach season can stretch from May to October in Ohio. When selecting spinach, look for fresh, young tender leaves with a healthy green color that are free of blemishes.
To incorporate more spinach into your diet, toss a handful or two into your favorite soup, pasta, casserole, egg dish or smoothie. Spinach can be sauteed with some extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to serve as a bed under chicken or salmon. For a more nutritious salad, use spinach leaves as a base instead of lettuce.
Spinach-egg breakfast pizzas
Makes four pizzas
- 1 loaf frozen pizza dough, thawed
- 1 tablespoon plus additional extra olive oil, divided
- 5 to 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
- ⅓ cup plus additional grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon plus additional coarsely ground pepper, divided
- 4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line two baking pans with parchment; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Cut dough into four pieces; stretch and shape into 6- to 7-inch circles and place on pans.
Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach; cook and stir until just starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Combine spinach with next five ingredients. Spread spinach mixture over each pizza. Leave a slight border of raised dough along the edge. Bake on a lower oven rack for about 5 minutes.
Remove from oven; break an egg into the center of each pizza. Return to lower oven rack, baking until egg whites are set but yolks are still runny, approximately 6-10 minutes. Drizzle oil oil over pizzas and top with additional Parmesan and pepper. Serve immediately.
The Athens Farmers Market Café is a collaboration between the Athens Farmers Market, OU COMCorps (a local Americorps program), and Athens County Children Services. Athens Farmers Market hours are Wednesdays (April-December) and Saturdays (year round), 9 a.m. to noon at The Market on State parking lot, 1000 E. State St., Athens. To help increase fresh food consumption, the Athens Farmers Market vendors proudly participate in the following social service programs: the USDA Food Assistance Program, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Participants can stop by the table at the southeast corner of the market to get SNAP tokens to spend at the market.