Immunity Boosters: Scintillating Spinach

Image courtesy of dietician Mac Singh

Immunity boosting foods have been the most searched topic during this pandemic and sometimes all you need is to look at your backyard for the perfect ingredient. One such ingredient is Spinach, a versatile vegetable which provides an array of benefits ranging from improving eyesight to improving immunity.

Health Hues

Loaded with the goodness of vitamins such as A, D and E, this green leafy vegetable helps fight infections and gives a boost to the immune system by replenishing the blood cells. Mac Singh, Dietician & Founder, Fitelo explains, “spinach also contains omega-3 fatty acids which contain phytonutrients which have anti-inflammatory properties, which help keep a number of diseases at bay. Raw spinach is a great source of potassium and vitamin C which help boost immunity naturally.

In order to enhance absorption of iron in the body, iron rich sources can be supplemented with vitamin C.” Varun M.B, Executive Chef, Novotel Hyderabad Airport adds, “spinach is packed with a punch of Vitamin C and has antioxidants which help us to boost our immunity levels. In order to retain the crispiness and nutrients of the leaf we should dip the leaves in salt and ice water before making the salad.”

spinach
Image courtesy of dietician Mac Singh

Owing to the potassium and iron content of spinach the hemoglobin content of the blood is improved, which helps in the prevention of anemia. Packed with antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein, spinach helps protect the eyes from damage caused by the sunlight.

These compounds also help lower the risk of developing cataracts. Spinach is packed with nitrates, which regulates and lowers blood pressure and Vitamin K, potassium and calcium aid bone growth and development. Low in calories, high in fiber, this green helps you lose weight too, as it keeps you full for longer times.

Myriad Uses

The ingredient itself is amenable to be used in many ways. Spinach and split chickpea Dal curry (Palak Dal) is another way of enjoying this superfood and consuming all its benefits. Sprinkling lemon on this recipe (a great source of vitamin C) improves the iron absorption in the body.

“If you don’t like eating your spinach, drink it. You can always make yourself a nice spinach smoothie, which will keep you full for longer periods of time. Pair it with banana to add sweetness. Add a little colour to your eggs by including spinach and enhance the nutritive value of your meal. This iron and protein pairing will help you fulfil maximum nutrition required by your body,” adds Singh.

Here are two recipes that use spinach. 

spinach
Lasooni Saag (image courtesy of Suvaranjan Banerjee, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure at Gopalan Mall, Bengaluru)

Lasooni Saag (courtesy: Suvaranjan Banerjee, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure at Gopalan Mall, Bengaluru)

Ingredients

  • Chopped Baby Spinach/Palak 450 grams
  • Fine Chopped Garlic 25 grams
  • Mustard Oil 1 Tbsp
  • Bengali Paanch Phoron 1 Tsp (available on Amazon)
  • Slit Green Chilly 3 nos
  • Salt to Taste

 Method 

  • Mix the chopped and rest it in cold water for at least half an hour so that any sort of grit in it settles down. Refresh the water at least twice in the process.
  • Take a skillet and heat mustard oil in it.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the Paanch Phoron, chopped garlic and the slit chilies and wait for the spice mix to start crackling.
  • Add the chopped spinach to the oil and mix well.
  • Add Salt to taste and continue cooking.
  • The spinach will start leaving water, continue to cook until the water dries up. Continue cooking on a medium flame
  • Once dried, check seasoning and serve hot. Its best enjoyed with homemade phulkas or tawa parathas with plain curd on the side.

Chef’s Tip: Ensure that tender leaves are used to avoid bitter after taste. 

spinach
Spinach and mushroom salad (image courtesy of Varun M.B, Executive Chef, Novotel Hyderabad Airport)

Spinach and mushroom salad (courtesy Varun M.B, Executive Chef, Novotel Hyderabad Airport)

Ingredients 

  • Mushroom boiled cut in half 100 grams 
  • Walnut 50 grams 
  • Baby Spinach leaves 50 grams 
  • Giloy leaves 30 grams (available on Amazon)
  • Feta cheese 25 grams
  • Pomegranate seed 15 grams for garnish 

Dressing 

  • Olive oil 75 ml 
  • Chopped garlic 15 grams
  • Lime juice 15 ml
  • Dijon mustard 10 grams
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method 

  • Prepare the dressing by using the above ingredients.
  • Prepare the salad by adding the salad ingredients in a bowl except pomegranate and feta cheese.
  • Toss the ingredients with dressing, transfer to a serving bowl, add walnut feta cheese to it and garnish with pomegranate seed. 

To check out the first bit of our immunity boost series, here’s Passion for Pomegranate