Spinach, best grown in mild climates with an abundance of fertile, high quality soil and water, put Crystal City, Texas on the map in 1917. This southern area of Texas is best known as the Wintergarden region and is recognized by farmers for its long growing seasons. From 1930-1950, the Wintergarden region experienced a “spinach boom,” making Texas the top spinach producing state in the US. Over time, consumer demands influenced production in Texas, leading to varieties such as “baby” and “teen” flat-leaf spinach, according to Larry Stein, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulturist. From 2006-2016, Texas experienced a 29% increase in spinach production, jumping from 32,025 tons of spinach produced to 41,215.
Other than being a popular commodity in Texas, spinach has many nutritional benefits, including its high vitamin and mineral counts, caloric density, and its contributions to heart health. Nutritional facts for 100g (or 3 1/3 cups) of spinach:
- 86g of protein
- 63g of carbs
- 39g of fat
- 469mg of Vitamin A
- 9mg of Vitamin K
- 1mg of Vitamin C
- 194mg of Folate
And for all that goodness, it’s very low in calories – one cup of spinach equates to a total of 6 calories, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
While spinach is often served raw in salads, it can also be enjoyed in soups, pastas, and dips. AgriLife Extension’s Dinner Tonight has developed a plethora of recipes to incorporate spinach into your meals as a main ingredient, including Chicken and Spinach Lasagna, Spinach Quiche, Black bean and Spinach Quesadillas, and Spinach Pasta Toss. To find more nutritious spinach recipes, visit dinnertonight.tamu.edu/.