A Byte of Spinach History
Spinach is believed to be of Persian origin and introduced into Europe in the 15th century (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). Since the early 19th century, spinach has been a versatile and commonly used vegetable in the United States.
But because spinach contains oxalic acid -- which inhibits the body's absorption of calcium and iron -- the truth is that its nutritional value is somewhat diminished.
To retain the nutrient level in spinach, boil it in as little water as possible and for the shortest time. Boiling it in one cup of water instead of two will help the spinach retain almost 50 percent of its nutrients.
Spinach, which is usually very gritty, must be thoroughly rinsed.
Frozen and canned spinach is also available. Spinach may be used raw in salads, or cooked (usually by boiling or sauteing) and used as a vegetable or as part of a dish. Many dishes that use spinach as an integral ingredient are appended with the phrase a la florentine.
Drop leaves into a large pot of boiling water. Once the leaves slightly wilt, drain and squeeze out excess moisture. This method is used to quick-cook spinach or to prepare it for sauteing, braising, or stuffing, and usually takes 2 to 5 minutes.
If you plan to steam the spinach, do not dry leaves after washing. Steamed spinach makes a great side dish and usually takes only 5 to 10 minutes.
Varieties of sprouts are soybean, alfalfa, bean, radish, mung bean, sprouted oats, pea, lentil, red bean, adzuka, clover, daikon and sunflower.
Sprouts are not really that high in nutritional content, but adds zest and livens up salads.
Life giving sprouts contain live enzymes necessary for the digestive process. They contain few if any calories and no cholesterol. Sprouts are one of the highest sources of fibers. They may also be stir-fried or sauteed, but should only be cooked for 30 seconds or less; longer cooking will wilt the sprouts.
For optimum crispness, sprouts are best eaten raw.
Though you may grow your own fresh sprouts (refer to a general cookbook), they're available in most large supermarkets. Choose crisp-looking sprouts with the buds attached; avoid musty-smelling, dark or slimy-looking sprouts. Mung-bean sprouts should be refrigerated in a plastic bag for no more than 3 days. More delicate sprouts-like alfalfa sprouts-should be refrigerated in the ventilated plastic container in which they're usually sold and kept for no more than 2 days. Canned mung-bean sprouts-available in most supermarkets-do not have either the texture or flavor of fresh.
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