If “eating healthier” is on your list of things to do in the new year, do yourself a favor and make it EASY. Instead of focusing on ALL THE THINGS you have to do to eat healthier or feel better, why not try adding more fruits and veggies into your day? I’m talking about checking out the 800g Challenge, and more specifically, why you should add spinach to it.
For those of you who may not be familiar, the 800g Challenge was created by Optimized Nutrition and it focuses solely on eating a total of 800g worth of fruits and veggies every single day. No calorie counting, no macro-tracking, just weighing your fruits and veggies and eating them, too.
The premise of the 800g Challenge is to get people to make healthier food choices, and to nourish your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to perform at its highest level. A lot of times, people who do this challenge also experience weight loss because they’re focusing on feeding their bodies with healthy, whole foods versus relying on processed snacks and refined sugars to get them through their day.
3 Reasons to Add Spinach To Your 800g Challenge
Thanks to Popeye, we know that spinach can make us strong. But did you know spinach can also…
Spinach is Packed Full of Vitamins and Nutrients
Spinach is packed FULL of essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Things like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folic Acid, Iron, and calcium. People always think they need to take a daily multi-vitamin, but the truth is if you’re feeding your body with a variety of healthy, whole foods like fruits and veggies, you can get your daily needed vitamins straight from the food you’re eating.
Spinach Can Help Prevent Cancer
Spinach is full of antioxidants, as well as MGDG and SQDG, which studies have been shown can help slow down certain cancer growth.
Spinach Can Help Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease
Spinach is full of nitrates, which have been shown to help moderate and lower blood pressure levels and overall decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
Other benefits of spinach
Spinach can also help with our eye health; preventing cataracts and macular degeneration as we age, and can it also improve blood glucose levels in those with diabetes. That’s not all; at only about 7 calories per cup, eating spinach on a daily basis can actually help you LOSE weight.
All from eating a little green leaf.
I probably should confess I haven’t always been a spinach fan, and sometimes, yes even still, I sigh when there’s a big ole’ plate of the leafy greens in front of me.
Let’s be honest. Spinach isn’t like nachos. There are a few slight differences. I have never had problems eating nachos.
So, why the problem with spinach?
Well, for starters, it’s plain. It’s boring. It doesn’t have a lot of taste. And I’m not particularly fond of eating the stem.
Friends, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can dress up spinach and actually make it enjoyable to eat! And take heart; you don’t have to eat an entire bag of spinach to reap the benefits. About a cup or two will do ya.
Because spinach is so basic (on the outside, remember, its internal powers are magical), you can pretty much get away with adding it to just about anything.
Loving Spinach at Breakfast:
- I absolutely love sautéing up fresh spinach with mushrooms and onions and adding it to my scrambled eggs. (Don’t forget to add the hot sauce!)
- Another favorite is to add it to a piece of toast and covering with over-easy eggs.
Loving Spinach at Lunch:
- Throw it on a sandwich with your favorite meats
- Use it as a bed underneath your tuna salad, salmon salad, and veggies
Loving Spinach at Dinner:
- Sauté fresh spinach with sweet potatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, for a healthy vegetable mix as a side to your protein of choice (Don’t forget, if you’re going to sauté spinach you’ll need to add a little bit of water, and probably add MORE spinach to the pan than you think is enough, because it will dry up and evaporate a little) (snag a similar recipe here!)
- Salad: One of my favorite, quick, go-to salads involves using spinach and kale as the base, adding shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, black beans and garbanzo beans, and topping with salsa. It’s. Delicious.
Points to remember:
Always make sure your fresh spinach has been washed and is clean.
If you take any blood thinner medications, or other medications that may interact with certain fruits and vegetables, you might want to check with your doctor about the appropriate amounts, if any, of spinach you should be consuming.
Remember: I’m not a doctor. I just love food.
Favorite Spinach Protein Smoothie Recipe:
- 1-2 handfuls of fresh spinach
- ½ banana
- 1 handful frozen pineapple (You can also add mango, or any of your other favorite fruits to change the taste up a bit)
- 8 oz coconut water
- 1 cup ice
- 1 scoop vanilla protein (you choose your favorite brand!)
- Blend and Enjoy!
Have you been doing the 800g Challenge? Have you already been adding spinach to your 800g Challenge? I’d love to know your favorite ways of preparing your fruits and veggies! Drop a comment or let me know a recipe you’d love to see next time!
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.