At the end of March, we celebrate National Spinach Day. This day reminds and educates us on the health benefits of this leafy green vegetable.
Benefits of Spinach:
• Nutrient Rich: Spinach is full of Vitamin K, A, and C
• Antioxidants: The consumption of spinach will provide many antioxidants that aid with inflammation and disease prevention.
• Disease Prevention: eating more spinach may help heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity
• Brain health: Spinach helps with cognitive ability, especially with aging
• Blood Pressure: Due to its source of natural nitrates, spinach aids to decrease blood pressure
• Eye health: Lutein is an antioxidant that is found in spinach. It has been shown to lower risk of eye disease and vision loss
• According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 100-gram serving of spinach contains 28.1 milligrams of vitamin C, 34 percent of the daily recommendation.
One cup of raw spinach contains:
- 7 calories
- 0.86 grams (g) of protein
- 30 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 0.81 g of iron
- 24 mg of magnesium
- 167 mg of potassium
- 2,813 international units (IU) of Vitamin A
- 58 micrograms of folate
Chyaya's Palak Paneer; Spinach and Paneer (fresh cheese) Recipe
• 1 cup firm paneer (recipe below) or substitute store bought or cubed sauted tofu
• 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
• 3 tablespoons ghee or mild flavored oil
• Pinch of hing (optional)
• 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds or powder
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
• ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds or powder
• 2 pounds spinach, coarsely chopped
• Pink Salt to taste
• Pinch of sugar
• Crème fraiche or yogurt (optional)
1. Slice paneer into cubes. Sauté in the ghee or oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Set aside.
2. Heat the ghee or oil in a large wok or pot. Add the hing, cumin, ginger and fenugreek, and sauté for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly. 3. Add the spinach and sauté until tender. Drain off excess water, add salt and the sugar and finely chop or puree.
4. Return spinach to the pot and gently stir in the paneer pieces. 5. Serve with a decorative drizzle of crème fraiche or yogurt if desired. Notes: For vata use more paneer and ghee, for kapha use less paneer and ghee and more fresh ginger
Notes: For vata use more paneer and ghee, for kapha use less paneer and ghee and more fresh ginger.
• ½ Gallon whole milk (we use local, organic milk from grass fed cows, pasteurized not homogenized)
• 1 cup organic yogurt or lemon juice
• Yields about 1¾ cups
1. Bring milk to boil.
2. Gently stir in the yogurt. Do not stir for more than a few seconds.
3. After a few more seconds, the curds and whey will separate. Separation is complete when the white curds are floating in yellowish whey.
4. If the liquid remains milky, stir in more yogurt or lemon juice and wait another few seconds.
• For soft or medium panir: pour the entire contents of the pot through a sieve or a colander. Scrape off any remaining panir in the bottom of the pot. Allow to drain until the whey is gone, but not more than 1 hour.
• For hard panir: Continue to simmer the coagulated panir for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for no less than 10 minutes. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth or unbleached muslin, allowing the edges to drape over the sides. Very gently ladle the curds into it without breaking them up and scrape off the panir at the bottom of the pot. Bring up the edges of the cloth over the cheese. Cover with something flat, like a pie pan. Place a weight on it like a brick or jar of beans. Allow to drain for several hours or overnight.
• Ideally, serve panir the day you prepare it or at lunch following an overnight draining. It will, however last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator if well wrapped.
• 100 gms of paneer made from cow milk provides 18.3 gms of protein, 20.8 gms of fat, 2.6 gms of minerals, 1.2 gms of carbohydrates, 265 kcal of energy, 208 mgs of calcium, 138 mg of phosphorous. It contains reasonably good amounts of fat and 45 ml cholesterol. It would be better to avoid it for those with hypertension and diabetes due to its high fat content. It can however be used in small quantities for such people, once or twice a week. It is suitable for all age groups.
• Paneer is also a great source of conjugated linoleic acid — a fatty acid which helps lose weight by increasing the fat burning process in the body. Linoleic acid belongs to one of the two families of essential fatty
acids which means that the human body cannot synthesize it from other food components, and it is typically low in food.
• Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that must be consumed for proper health. A diet deficient in linoleate (the salt form of the acid) causes mild skin scaling, hair loss, and poor wound healing in rats,
• While making paneer from milk, don't throw away the paneer water. This nutritious water can be used for making soft dough for chapattis or can be used to cook dals.
• One vaidya recommends yogurt as being more “natural” for the process. In my experience, it makes a better textured and flavored product as well. Paneer is somewhat unpredictable, how it turns out depends on the fat content of the milk, the sourness of the yogurt, the timing and temperature of just about everything involved in the process, the sun, moon and the stars.