Spinach truly is a superfood – it’s packed with nutrients, yet it has a shockingly low-calorie count. But most importantly, unlike most other leafy greens, spinach is an amazing pick for smoothies because of its mild taste. However, the issue with spinach is that it doesn’t have a long shelf life. Even if you keep it in the fridge, it will become all mushy and soon turn to rot, all within only a few days. Luckily, that won’t stop you from harboring all the good stuff from spinach in your smoothies – since you can freeze it as well!
Frozen spinach tastes surprisingly good if you do it right. Here, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting the most out of this veggie!
The real question here is – Why not? When it comes to leafy greens, there is a lot of healthy stuff to choose from. So, why choose spinach specifically?
While any leafy green you pick up will be beneficial for you, spinach is considered a superfood for a reason. It’s super-full of nutrients, yet it barely has any calories at all. Still, that’s not the most important reason why you should choose spinach above other greens for smoothies.
When it comes to smoothies, you want your mix of ingredients to taste well. Unlike other green veggies, spinach has a very mild taste, making it an amazing pick to mix with almost any fruit or veggie out there. Celery, chard, kale, cucumbers, and dandelion greens, they all have very dominating aromas, making it hard to mix them with other ingredients. Spinach, on the other hand, is barely noticeable in most smoothies. That’s why spinach is a perfect pick for smoothies. You can even add a bit of leafy delight into your berry, banana, pineapple, and any other smoothie out there.
Spinach Nutrition Facts
There is one great reason to add spinach to your smoothie – it’s simply so nutritious. Spinach is a great source of potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin A.
Approximately 98% of adults in the US don’t meet the daily recommendation for potassium intake, which is around 4,000 mg. Yet, only one cup (around 30 grams) of spinach contains 170 mg of this beneficial element. Along with bananas, spinach is among the plants that are richest in potassium, which helps your body regulate fluids, nerve signals, and muscle work.
Spinach is very rich in iron – a single cup contains 1 mg of iron, which is 5% of the recommended daily intake. Iron is very important for your body since it helps your red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout your body. Pro tip – combine spinach with fruit rich in vitamin C, such as lemons, pineapple, or kiwi. This vitamin helps your body absorb iron, plus these taste great together, so it’s a great combo!
Magnesium doesn’t get enough credit, yet it does so much for your body. This mineral helps your body maintain the normal function of your nerves and muscles, makes sure your heart beats evenly, and keeps your bones strong. It helps in the production of energy, and aids in controlling blood sugar. If you work out, magnesium will boost your muscle recovery and make you stronger. And guess what a great source of magnesium is? Spinach, of course. A 30-gram cup contains approximately 25 mg of magnesium, and adults need between 300 and 400 mg of this electrolyte per day.
Spinach contains a lot of calcium, but you can’t absorb a lot of it if you eat your spinach raw. That’s because this plant has a high amount of oxalate, which is bound to calcium, making it hard to absorb. In fact, oxalates can contribute to forming kidney stones if you consume too much. Luckily, there’s an easy fix – you can dramatically reduce the oxalate content by boiling or steaming your spinach.
Frozen or Fresh?
When it comes to choosing between frozen and fresh spinach for smoothies, it’s a matter of preference. There are pros and cons to both of these options, so my advice is to try each for a couple of weeks and see what suits you better.
Let me start by saying that there’s no difference in the nutritional values of frozen and fresh spinach. You’ll be getting your potassium, magnesium, and iron regardless of which option you prefer in your smoothies.
Fresh spinach is great, and it’s easy to just pick out a few leaves and toss them in your blender food processor combo with other ingredients. If your teeth are temperature sensitive, this might be the best option for you. However, fresh spinach goes bad quickly – after only a few days in the fridge, so you shouldn’t buy in bulk.
I personally use frozen spinach for my smoothies, and the reason for that is simple: it’s cheaper, and it can sit in the freezer for a long, long time. I simply had my spinach go bad in the fridge one too many times. However, frozen spinach can be tough to deal with if you just want to pick out a few leaves. That’s why most people prefer to blend spinach in bulk beforehand and make convenient little green ice cubes. Recipe incoming!
How to Freeze Spinach for Smoothies?
1. Spinach Ice Cubes
Spinach ice cubes are a fun and easy way to add a bit of green godliness AND cool your smoothie down at the same time. These are pre-blended, so you should just add them to your smoothie after blending.
Making these is super simple, and all you need is some washed spinach (you can make as much as you like) and ice cube trays.
- Add raw or steamed spinach to your blender
- Add a bit of water or coconut water
- Blend until you get a smooth puree, add more water if it’s too thick
- Pour into ice cube trays and freeze
-Note: You can add a bit kale, arugula, chard, or any other leafy green you like for extra delight. Simply add as much as you like to your spinach and blend it all together.
2. Frozen Leaves
Freezing whole leaves of spinach is even easier, though you will have to blend the frozen leaves together with other ingredients afterward.
You simply need to wash your spinach and drain it well. Then get a box or bag you want to freeze it in. It’d be best to spread spinach in thin layers so it’s easier to pick out just as much as you need. You can divide layers with freezer paper, or pack up smaller amounts into freezer bags. It’d be good to pre-measure spinach portions.
Make sure to get as much air out of your container as possible. If you press the air out of your freezer bag and seal it tightly, you can protect your spinach from getting freezer burn.
As I mentioned in the section about calcium, spinach contains a lot of oxalates – chemical compounds that bind to calcium and don’t let your body absorb it. If you want to increase the amount of calcium you get from spinach in your smoothie, you should steam or boil it before freezing. Boiling can reduce the oxalate content by up to 80%, while steaming gets rid of around 50% of oxalates. Still, I prefer steaming because it destroys less of other nutrients, especially vitamins.
Steaming spinach is quite simple as well. You need either a steamer or a stainless steel colander that can be set up inside a larger pot.
- Wash your spinach
- Pour a bit of water on the bottom of your steamer or pot and set it to boil
- Put as much spinach you can fit into your steamer or colander in the pot, and cover with a lid
- Steam for 1 or 2 minutes and move from the heat
- Let it cool down
- Pack into freezer bags, large ice trays, or box, and freeze
-Note: Make sure the spinach is cool before putting it in the freezer
As you can see, preparing frozen spinach for your smoothies is easy peasy, no matter if you prefer pre-blended ice cubes or whole leaves! Spinach is nutritious and it has a mild flavor, so it’s a perfect ingredient to add to your smoothies. Combine it with anything you like – whether that’s berries, pineapples, bananas (a yummy, potassium-rich meal), mango, or whatever it is that you love the most!