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Whole Grain Benefits

9 Top Swaps for Spinach (and How to Sub Fresh and Frozen)

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Spinach is one of the most popular leafy green vegetables. It’s nutritious, has a mild taste that pairs well with most any savory dish, and is easy to find in most grocery stores and markets.

If you run out of spinach or can’t find it in your local store, you may wonder what greens you can use in place of spinach in your favorite recipes.

Fortunately, a number of other greens make excellent stand-ins for spinach in both hot and cold dishes.

This article lists 9 of the best substitutes for spinach.

Arugula, also known as rocket, can be spicy or mild, depending on the variety you use.

Although arugula has a different flavor profile than spinach, it makes an excellent spinach substitute in dishes such as salads, soups, and pastas.

Most arugula sold in grocery stores is quite mild, with a slight peppery taste. The texture of arugula is similar to that of spinach, so you can use it as a spinach replacement in recipes that call for cooked or fresh spinach.

Arugula contains a number of vitamins and minerals, as well as sulfur compounds called glucosinolates (GSLs).

When the arugula is damaged, like when you cut or chew it, myrosinase enzymes in the arugula break down GSLs into compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are released and activated (1).

These ITCs from arugula have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and have been shown to have anticancer effects.

GSLs are found almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables such as arugula and broccoli, and diets high in these vegetables have been linked to a reduced risk of disease, including a lower risk of certain cancers and heart disease (2).

Try subbing arugula for spinach in dishes such as salads, stir-fries, and egg dishes.

If you were planning to use spinach in a fresh salad, you might want to try certain types of lettuce instead.

Crunchier lettuce like iceberg and romaine won’t have the same texture as spinach, but softer lettuce varieties such as butterhead lettuce, also known as bibb lettuce, make excellent substitutes for spinach.

Butterhead is a tender lettuce that has a delicate texture like that of spinach. Plus, it looks similar to larger leaf spinach varieties.

Butterhead lettuce is a good source of folate and vitamin K, providing 10% and 46% of the Daily Value (DV) for these nutrients per 1 cup (55 grams), respectively (3).

Your body needs folate for critical functions such as cell division and DNA synthesis. Meanwhile, vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and bone health (4, 5).

You can use butterhead lettuce the same way you would use spinach in dishes such as salads and grain bowls.

Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable you can use as a spinach substitute in a pinch.

Raw watercress has a slightly peppery flavor, but cooked watercress is a bit milder. For this reason, watercress may be a good choice for recipes that call for cooked spinach, like egg dishes, pastas, and soups.

Watercress is a concentrated source of healthy plant compounds called polyphenols, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, carotenoids, and proanthocyanidins. These have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities in your body (6).

Studies have shown that eating watercress could help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage and boost your body’s antioxidant defenses, which may help reduce the risk of disease (7, 8, 9).

You can use kale as a substitute for spinach, but you’ll want to choose the right type depending on the recipe.

If you’re making a salad and plan on using kale as a substitute for raw spinach, it’s best to use baby kale because it’s more tender than mature kale. You can also massage mature kale with some olive oil to make it more tender if you’re using it in a raw dish.

When using kale as a spinach substitute in cooked dishes, you can use any type you like, including lacinato or dinosaur kale, a variety commonly sold at grocery stores. Because kale is usually larger than spinach, you could try chopping kale before adding it to your dish.

Kale is a highly nutritious green, providing folate, provitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, potassium, and a number of other vitamins and minerals, plus fiber (10).

Studies show that regularly consuming leafy green vegetables such as kale may help protect against a number of health conditions, including heart disease (11).

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the same plant family as spinach. People often refer to it as spinach beet.

Although Swiss chard has a slightly bitter taste when eaten raw, it takes on a milder flavor when cooked, so it’s an excellent stand-in for spinach in recipes that call for cooked spinach.

It’s also quite nutritious, packing high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, magnesium, iron, and more. What’s more, Swiss chard is rich in protective plant compounds such as carotenoids and flavonoids.

For example, a flavonoid called vitexin, which is found in Swiss chard, may help protect against heart disease (12, 13).

Try using Swiss chard in place of spinach in casseroles, stews, and frittatas.

Beet greens have an earthy flavor and a delicate texture. You can use them in place of spinach in most any cooked dish, including sautes, soups, and pastas.

Beet greens are nutrient-dense, providing more than 30% of the DV for vitamin C, copper, vitamin A, and vitamin K per cooked cup, as well as 28% of the DV for potassium (14).

Additionally, beet greens are rich in antioxidant compounds such as betalains and flavonoids, which may help protect against cellular damage (15).

Bok choy, also known as pak choy, buk choy, and Chinese white cabbage, is an Asian green that has a mild flavor and tender texture.

It’s delicious both when raw and when cooked and can be used in the same way as spinach in many recipes, such as soups and stir-fries.

You can leave bok choy whole or cut the leaves off the stem before cooking it. Cutting the leaves off the stem will make it look more like spinach.

This cruciferous vegetable is a good source of a number of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, folate, and potassium, as well as beneficial compounds like glucosinolates and flavonoids (16, 17).

Mustard greens can add a flavorful kick to recipes when you’re running low on spinach.

When eaten raw, they have a spicy, peppery taste. However, when cooked, mustard greens take on a milder flavor.

Keep in mind that, even when cooked, mustard greens are much more flavorful than spinach, so they might change the taste of your dish.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, mustard greens are a good source of nutrients such as vitamins C and K, as well as beneficial plant compounds, including the carotenoids beta carotene and lutein (18, 19).

Consuming a diet rich in carotenoids has been linked to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of certain cancers and a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (20, 21).

Although it’s not as well known as the other greens on this list, purslane is just as nutritious.

It grows wild as a weed in many areas of the world and is a popular vegetable among foragers — people who make wild, edible plants a part of their diet. It’s a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and people often enjoy it raw in salads.

It has a mild, slightly salty taste, which some say is similar to that of spinach.

Purslane is high in minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as vitamins C and A.

It also contains a number of plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, such as the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol (22, 23, 24).

If a recipe calls for fresh spinach but you have only frozen, or vice versa, it’s perfectly OK to sub one for the other — at least in most recipes.

You might not want to use frozen spinach in dishes that rely on the texture of fresh spinach, such as spinach salads, but you can use it in place of fresh spinach in dishes like soups and baked goods.

Frozen spinach shrinks a lot less than fresh spinach when cooked, so you can typically use a smaller volume of frozen spinach than you would fresh spinach.

Keep in mind that frozen spinach contains a lot of water and must be thawed and drained before you use it in most recipes. Fresh spinach also retains quite a bit of liquid when cooked down, so you may need to drain it before you add it to dishes.

Fresh and frozen spinach are delicious in recipes such as egg dishes, soups, pastas, stir-fries, smoothies, and baked goods.

Spinach is a mild-tasting green that’s a staple in many kitchens around the world.

If a recipe calls for spinach but you realize you’ve run out, you can use many other greens in its place.

Arugula, kale, butterhead lettuce, and Swiss chard are just some examples of nutritious and delicious greens you can use as spinach substitutes.

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News

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For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, theatre@parkland.edu or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at TKleparski@parkland.edu or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.

STEVICK CENTER ACTIVITIES

Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Bingo:

  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.

Bridge:

  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.

Euchar:

Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.

HOT LUNCH PROGRAM

The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.

Sunday:

  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.

Tuesday:

  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.

Tuesday:

  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.

Tuesday:

  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.

Friday:

  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at rsvpchampaign@gmail.com or 217-359-6500.

CURRENT NEEDS

Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at rsvpchampaign@gmail.com or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice

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By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?

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In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.

Summary

Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!

Summary

When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.

Summary

Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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