When you think of spinach, one of the first images that comes to mind is Popeye the sailor crushing a can and gulping it down in one go. This was a ploy by animators to encourage kids to eat their greens if they wanted to be like their seafaring hero. What’s more, spinach is packed with iron, and this play on the concept meant that Popeye had incredibly strong or ‘iron-like’ muscles.
However, this cartoon has lost a lot of traction in recent years so kids, and adults, may not be as familiar with this green leafy vegetable. But that doesn’t mean that you should miss out on the health benefits and taste of spinach. While a lot of people believe it to be unpleasant, trying spinach will demonstrate that this is an enjoyable and versatile food.
What Does Spinach Taste Like?
Spinach is considered to be a superfood which means that it has an impressive range of health benefits; but we will look at these in a little more detail later on. However, this leafy green vegetable has developed something of a bad reputation for tasting bad.
When eaten raw, spinach is surprisingly sweet and for this reason, it is often used in salads. You will find that, eaten this way, spinach is mild and incredibly refreshing. However, when you cook it, the taste will alter and this is where the vegetable tends to become less favorable to many people.
You see, once spinach is cooked, it develops a much more acidic flavor that has a very bitter edge. While it may be mild when it is raw, cooked spinach has far more robust and prominent flavor. That being said, when it is paired with the right foods, this strong flavor can be altered.
How To Make Spinach Taste Good
If you find that the bitter taste of cooked spinach is a little too much for your palette, the good news is that you may still be able to benefit from the many health advantages that it has to offer by adjusting the taste.
Most commonly, this is done by cooking the spinach in some sort of stock; which you choose is entirely up to you but in any case, this will infuse the leaves with your chosen flavor.
The reason that spinach has such a bitter taste when it is cooked is thanks to a type of acid known as oxalic acid. While there is no way to get rid of this, there are ways to avoid the spinach being too bitter.
How To Eat Spinach
One of the easiest ways to avoid that bitter taste is to choose your spinach carefully. There are three main types of spinach, as follows:
- Baby spinach which has a much milder taste.
- Savoy spinach which is very crisp and has spring, textured leaves.
- Flat leaf spinach whose leaves are smooth and, as its name suggests, much flatter than the savoy variety.
Most people would agree that choosing baby spinach will limit how bitter it becomes when it is cooked. However, the color of the leaves can also increase the bitterness. For example, spinach leaves that are much darker and larger tend to have a more prominent taste. That being said, the stems should be cut off regardless of the type since these are usually much stronger tasting than the leaves.
One of the most common mistakes made by people cooking spinach for the first time is that they will overcook the leaves. From the moment you pop the leaves into boiling water, you will need to leave them no longer than a few minutes. Once the leaves look as though they are starting to wilt, you should remove them. Even if some still look a little uncooked, the residual heat will finish them off. If you leave them for too long, more of the bitter flavor will come through and the leaves will develop a slimy texture which doesn’t feel very pleasant to eat.
Finally, if you want to counteract the overpowering taste, it is a good idea to add a squirt of lemon juice or other citrus fruit. You can also add a little zest to the leaves, tossing it through before serving. Other potent flavors like garlic will help to improve the flavor.
How Do You Hide Spinach In Food?
If you have children, you may need to hide leafy greens in their food to get them to eat them. However, this can be incredibly difficult and leaves a lot of parents pulling their hair out. The good news is that spinach is relatively easy to hide provided that you accompany it with the right foods.
For example, making a smoothie with your child’s favorite fruits and blending in a few spinach leaves will mean that they go completely unnoticed. However, if you would rather prepare something solid then it is possible to make a salad using some leaves that you know your child likes and replacing a handful of these with spinach. It can also help to add other things into the salad such as beans, chicken, or potatoes.
One of the best recipes for including spinach is to incorporate it into mac and cheese. This is a dish that many children love but it can be made more exciting by adding in things like chicken or bacon and a few select seasonings. Along with this, you may add some chopped spinach leaves that will go largely unnoticed thanks to how taste everything else is.
What Is Spinach Related To? Can I Sub It For Something Else?
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that comes from the amaranth family. In this family, you will also find things like quinoa and beets; so it is incredibly diverse. However, if you want to replace spinach in a dish with something else, you might try using chard or kale as a replacement.
While chard has a relatively pleasant taste, kale is similar to spinach in that it can be overpowering and unpleasant at times. Using the same cooking tips that we discussed earlier will allow you to improve its flavor.
Is Spinach Good For You?
One of the best things about spinach is that this is an incredibly health food; in fact, it has been labelled as a superfood so even if you aren’t too keen on it, it might be worth including it in your diet to reap the health benefits associated with it.
There has been a lot of research into what foods might help better manage diabetes and where spinach is concerned, the results have been very promising. For starters, spinach contains a compound known as alpha lipoic acid which is an antioxidant that might be able to lower your glucose levels.
While there is still an amount of work to be done on whether orally taking this antioxidant would be as beneficial as the intravenous administration during testing, there certainly is hope.
In addition to this, spinach is known to contain levels of chlorophyll which may be responsible for stopping the effects of heterocyclic amines. In layman’s terms, this is a result of grilling foods that is believed to contribute towards the development of certain cancers. Therefore, this research would suggest that spinach could help lessen your chances of cancer.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions in the world and yet by taking plenty of certain nutrients like beta-carotene, the symptoms of this condition may be lessened. Spinach contains a lot of beta-carotene so this could mean that it may benefit those suffering with this lung condition.
With high levels of Vitamin K, spinach could help towards improved bone health. It is known that the bones are more susceptible to damage without this vitamin since it boosts the body’s ability to absorb calcium, therefore strengthening the bones.
Spinach is one of the world’s most powerful superfoods but while it has a lot of health benefits, it can take on a very bitter and potent taste when it is cooked. For this reason, a lot of people are deterred from eating it. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can alter the taste of spinach using things like garlic and lemon as well as reducing the cooking time.