Super Spinach Alternatives
Other great greens deserve a place on your table.
Spinach has long been a nutritional darling of Americans. That's why, during
the FDA's recent warning about fresh bagged spinach, many people felt at a loss
as to what to serve in place of their favorite dark leafy green.
The spinach scare, which began after an outbreak of illness caused by a
strain of the E. coli bacteria, appears to be over. But if you're still trying
to think outside the spinach box or bag, there are plenty of lesser-known --
yet equally tasty -- greens that can replace spinach in your favorite
Spinach Alternatives for Cold Dishes
Arugula, which has a peppery, mustard-like flavor, can be a
great alternative to raw spinach, says Robert Schueller, public relations
director for Melissa’s Produce.
"It has many similarities to spinach, but you will find a lighter,
tender taste to these greens,” he says in an email interview.
Two cups of raw arugula leaves contains 10 calories, 1 gram of fiber, 14% of
the recommended Daily Value for vitamin A, 8% for vitamin C, and 10% for folic
Romaine lettuce is available loose or bagged. And if the
label says it's triple washed, you can use it right out of the bag. Use Romaine
in place of spinach in salads and sandwiches.
A 2-cup serving contains 16 calories, 2 grams fiber, 42% of the Daily Value
for vitamin A, 36% for vitamin C, and 38% for folic acid.
Escarole looks like sturdy, thicker butter lettuce with
curled edges and has a refreshing, slightly bitter flavor, Cathy Thomas notes
in her book, Melissa’s Great Book of Produce.
Curly endive has a stronger, bitter flavor and looks a
little like green leaf lettuce. Both escarole and endive contain about 17
calories, 29% Daily Value for vitamin A, 36% for vitamin E, and 9% vitamin C
per 2 cups of fresh leaves.
Watercress, an herb that's a member of the mustard family,
has small, peppery flavored leaves. Watercress contains 8 calories and 1 gram
of fiber per 2-cup serving, plus 46% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 39% for
vitamin C, and 8% for calcium.
Spinach Alternatives for Hot Dishes
While they may require slightly longer cooking times, there are several
readily available alternatives for spinach in cooked dishes.
Schueller recommends trying chard or kale.
"On top of the fact that both of these greens are nutritionally dense,
they can also make your recipe very colorful and creative," he says.
The leaves of red or green chard, when raw, have a beet-like flavor. A
half-cup serving of cooked Swiss chard has 18 calories, 2 grams fiber, 39% of
the Daily Value for vitamin A, 21% for vitamin C, 11% vitamin E, 24% for
magnesium, and 14% for potassium. One-half cup of cooked kale contains 18
calories, 1.3 grams fiber, 18% Daily Value for vitamin A, 46% for vitamin C, 9%
for calcium, and 12% for magnesium.