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 dishes.
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 acid.
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.