If eating more healthfully is in your New Year’s resolution, you are on the right track to provide your body with the right stuff to feel well and to be well. One of the tougher tasks is getting in more fruits and vegetables – and making them tasty! The American Cancer Society recommends 5-7 servings, or 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
Greens are especially beneficial, adding antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals to help keep our immune system strong. Spinach is available year-round and tastes great fresh. It offers plenty of phytochemicals, vitamin A, vitamin C and B vitamins. Spinach is high in one particular B vitamin, folate, which is essential for proper cell division, brain development/function and has been studied in relation to the risk of colorectal, lung, pancreatic, esophageal, stomach, cervical, ovarian, breast and other cancers.
Folate also has been studied in relation to response to anti-depressants. We can achieve adequate amounts of nutrients from the food we eat, rather than to depend on dietary supplements: Be sure to discuss any dietary supplement use with your physician/dietitian if you feel you are not consuming a balanced diet.
Try this tasty recipe for a change of flavors from the American Institute of Cancer Research’s Test Kitchen:
Mexican Spinach Salad
1 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
1 poblano chile pepper
6 cups baby spinach
3 Tbsp. finely crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/2 cup baked corn chips
For dressing, in small bowl, whisk honey, lime juice, vinegar and salt until salt dissolves. Whisk in oil. Set dressing aside for up to 1 hour, remixing it before using.
Set small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add pumpkin seeds to dry pan. Slip your hand into oven mitt, and lift pan, moving it in circular motion over heat to keep seeds moving so they do not burn. When many seeds are golden and some have popped, about 2 minutes, spread them on dinner plate to cool.
Using tongs, hold pepper over open flame and turn it until skin is charred all over, about 4 minutes. May also char pepper under broiler or over outdoor grill. When pepper is cool enough to handle, with your fingers, slip off charred skin. Halve pepper lengthwise, and use small knife to remove seeds and ribs. Chop half the pepper; set other half aside for another use.
In large salad bowl, place spinach. Add chopped poblano. Just before serving, pour on dressing and toss to coat spinach and pepper. Sprinkle on toasted pumpkin seeds and feta. A few at a time, lightly crush corn chips over salad. Toss, and divide salad among 4 individual salad bowls.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 130 calories, 8 g total fat, (1.5 g saturated fat), 12 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 210 mg sodium.