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Seasonal Eats: Time for Spinach!

Heirloom Spinach at the Farmer's Market (Heather Parlato/LAist)
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Spinach isn't necessarily a winter green, but in temperate winter areas like southern California, we get to enjoy it now. The spinach above is an heirloom variety that is quite toothy and probably best steamed or sautéed, but we also have sellers at the Hollywood Farmer's Market who specialize in young leafy varieties that are great for salads. Here are some great buying tips and preparation ideas.

Spinach is one of the edible flowering plants in the Amaranth family, and is thought to have originated in Persia, spread through Asia and was then traded to Mediterranean countries in the 10th century. Spinach is rich in antioxidants and retains them after light cooking or steaming. Though it's known for being rich in iron and calcium, it also contains oxalate, which can bind to both the iron and calcium, making it unavailable to the consumer. You can increase your iron absorption by eating foods rich in Vitamin C with your spinach. Adding to that, spinach is also mildly anti-inflammatory and has a glycemic load of 0. It's is a good source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

5 ways to enjoy spinach this season:

Ever heard of a breakfast salad? I had one at a restaurant recently and decided to recreate it at home.

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Mix spinach into dips for your appetizer spread. How about a spinach gunge or this super green goddess spinach dip.

Blend spinach into your soups this season. Try out spinach and green garlic soup or three greens soup with spinach gremolata.

Try out Sephardic Spinach Patties for a tasty Passover treat.

Make your own sag paneer from scratch, right down to the cheese!