How to cook spinach or any soft greens

Among the World's Healthiest vegetables, spinach comes out at the top of our ranking list for nutrient richness. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection. Enjoy baby spinach in your favorite salads or make a salad made exclusively of baby spinach. Spinach is one of only three vegetables that we recommend boiling to help reduce its concentration of oxalic acid. We recommend boiling for just 1 minute to minimize the loss of nutrients and flavor.

Nutritional highlights

Spinach is available all year round but is in season during the spring (March - June). It is well known for its nutritional qualities and has always been regarded as a plant with remarkable abilities to restore energy, increase vitality and improve the quality of the blood. There are sound reasons why spinach would produce such results, primarily the fact that it is rich in iron. Iron plays a central role in the function of red blood cells which help in transporting oxygen around the body, in energy production and DNA synthesis. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health and it is difficult to find vegetables richer in vitamin K than spinach. Others include kale, broccoli, and green cabbage.


The dark green color of spinach leaves indicates they contain high levels of chlorophyll and health-promoting carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin). These phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties and are especially important for healthy eye-sight, helping to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.

Spinach has good levels of iron, but not quite as much as originally believed as rumor has it researchers placed the decimal point in the wrong place! It is important to note that there are two forms of dietary iron: 'haem' iron and 'non-haem' iron. Haem iron is found in animal products and is the most efficiently absorbed form of iron. Non-haem iron is found in plant foods (such as spinach) and is a little harder for the body to absorb in comparison. However, vegetarians, those who experience iron-deficiency anemia and those who are pregnant are encouraged to include green leafy vegetables such as spinach as part of a balanced diet.

How to select and store

Fresh spinach should be medium to dark green, fresh-looking and free from evidence of decay. It should be stored loosely packed in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge where it will keep for about four days. Do not wash spinach before storing, as the moisture will cause it to spoil, although do ensure it is washed properly before consumption as the leaves and stems may collect soil and chemicals. Raw spinach has a milder taste that some describe as metallic once cooked. If cooking, opt for steaming, sautéeing or microwaving spinach rather than boiling to preserve the nutrients.

A 100g serving provides:
23 calories3g protein0g fat4g carbohydrates2g fiber

Start by removing the stalks and cleaning the leaves under cold running water. Bring water to boil and make sure to add a generous amount of salt. As the water boils, add the greens to the boiling salty water. Don't worry about the overflow as the cooking will wilt the leaves, just dip the leaves into the hot water and allow to come to a boil.

Cook for about 2 minutes or until the leaves are soft then drain off the water in a colander. Quickly cool the greens by running cold tap water. The idea is to stop the cooking process and make sure it's completely cooled.

Squeeze off the water and either freeze for future use or if you want to cook. Cut into the desired style. It's much easier to cut the greens when partially cooked. Cut some onion as well and garlic you have some. With little oil, lightly cook the onion without browning. Add your cut greens. Stir and allow to heat up, adding your seasoning to taste. Turn off the heat when hot but take care not to overcook.

Serve with simply with ugali or serve with some meat of your choice.

Health Benefits of Spinach

Low in fat and even lower in cholesterol, spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. In other words, it’s loaded with good things for every part of your body!

Abundant flavonoids in spinach act as antioxidants to keep cholesterol from oxidizing and protect your body from free radicals, particularly in the colon. The folate in spinach is good for your healthy cardiovascular system, and magnesium helps lower high blood pressure. Studies also have shown that spinach helps maintain your vigorous brain function, memory, and mental clarity.

In order to retain the rich iron content of spinach while cooking – lightly – add lemon juice or vinegar.

Spinach Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
% Daily
Amt. Per
    Calories from fat
Total Fat
0 g
    Saturated fat
0 g
    Trans fat
0 mg
79 mg
Total Carbohydrate
4 g
    Dietary Fiber
2 g
0 g
3 g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
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