Spinach is one of those leafy green vegetables that children sometimes must learn to like. Delia Ephron from How to Eat Like a Child says, “On the subject of spinach: divide into little piles. Rearrange again into new piles. After five or six maneuvers, sit back and say you are full.”
For those old enough to remember the Popeye [the Sailorman] cartoons, kids could eat a can of spinach to gain super strength so we could battle the bullies.
Spinach is a cool-weather hardy crop commonly used in salads, soups, pasta dishes, and many other recipes. The ideal growing temperature for spinach is 55°F to 60°F, but it can withstand temperatures as low as 15°F to 20°F. If you are looking for our favorite spinach substitutes, here’s our top 10:
Top 10 Spinach Substitutes
= 1 lb amaranth or Chinse spinach (to replace tender baby spinach) is a substitute for 1 pound spinach
Amaranth is a small grain-like seed that is high in protein and fiber. It’s gluten-free, and can be used in place of rice, wheat or corn as a hearty side dish or added to soups and stews. Amaranth is also referred to as “pseudocereal,” because it is not technically a cereal grain like wheat or oats. Amaranth has been eaten for centuries by people around the world, with its origins believed to have been in Central America.
2. New Zealand Spinach
= 1 lb New Zealand spinach (flatter, more narrow leaves than spinach) can replace 1 pound of spinach
New Zealand Spinach is a leafy vegetable with a mild, nutty flavor. It’s popular in Asia and many parts of Europe, but it’s not very common in the US.
3. Spinach Beet
= 1 lb spinach beet (a variety of beet grown for the leaves; larger, broader, slightly tougher leaves) can be used in place of 1 pound spinach
Spinach Beet is a root vegetable that looks like a cross between spinach and beets. It’s usually sold in bunches with its greens attached, but the leaves can be used in salads and smoothies just like spinach.
4. Beet Greens
= 1 lb beet greens (these often have reddish-tinged stems) is a substitute for 1 pound spinach
Beet greens are the leafy green part of a beetroot plant. They’re often used in salads and side dishes, but they can also be cooked like spinach or Swiss chard.
The leaves are rich in vitamins A, C and K as well as iron and calcium. They also contain antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
5. Green Chard
= 1 lb red or green chard (slightly tougher leaves, thicker steams; and is somewhat sweeter) can be used in place of 1 pound spinach
Green chard is a vegetable that is closely related to beets and spinach. It is used in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, such as tabbouleh salad. The leaves of the plant are harvested while they are still young, before flowering occurs.
The leaves of green chard are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a slightly bitter taste but will soften when cooked. Most commonly, they are cooked by boiling the
6. Turnip Greens
= 1 lb turnip greens (smaller, teardrop-shaped, paler green leaves; more peppery flavor) can be substituted for 1 pound of spinach
Turnip greens are a leafy vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family. They are close relatives of broccoli and kale, and like these vegetables, they contain many vitamins and minerals.
The turnip plant can be eaten as a whole or juiced. The leaves are typically darker in color than their stalks, stems, and bulbs. They are also slightly bitter in taste.
= 1 lb kale (larger, tougher, ruffled leaves) is a replacement for 1 pound spinach
Kale is a vegetable that is a member of the cabbage family. It has thick green leaves and a mild flavor. Kale is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K as well as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron.
Kale can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like other greens. The leaves are more tender than those of collards or mustard greens but still need to be cooked before eating.
Kale can be cooked in any way you would cook other greens — boiled, sautéed or microwaved with some water or stock for 5 minutes. It can also be steamed quickly for about 5 minutes on high heat with some water added to the pan before covering it tightly with foil or parchment paper (to prevent water from splattering).
= 1 lb sorrel, especially the smaller sheep sorrel (more delicate, pale green leaves; more tart flavor), can be used in place of 1 pound spinach
Sorrel is a common name for a group of plants in the genus Rumex, in the buckwheat family Polygonaceae.
The name sorrel derives from sour, as the sourness of these plants’ leaves and stems resembles that of rhubarb.
= 1 lb arugula (smaller, more delicate, pale-green leaves; more bitter and nutty flavor) is a good substitute for 1 pound spinach
Arugula is a leafy green vegetable that’s often used in salads. It has a slightly peppery, mustard-like flavor and a distinctive, somewhat bitter taste. It’s also known as rocket salad, roquette (French), rucola (Italian), and rugula (Spanish).
Arugulas have small, dark green leaves that are divided into long, narrow lobes. The plants grow close to the ground and have large taproots that are harvested before they become fibrous and woody.
The leaves of arugula are used both raw and cooked. They can be added to salads or used as garnish on pizzas or pastas. The stems are also edible but must be removed before use because they’re quite tough.
= 1 lb watercress (smaller, more delicate pale-green leaves; more peppery flavor) can replace 1 pound spinach
Watercress is a leafy green vegetable that’s often used in salads and sandwiches. It’s got a peppery taste, which makes it a great addition to any meal.
Watercress is packed with nutrients and has been used as medicine for centuries. It may help with inflammation and boost your immune system. Some studies show it might help lower cholesterol levels, too.
Spinach Varieties to Substitute
Flat-leaf or garden spinach has small, flat, delicate pale green leaves – sometimes with two points near the tender stem – and boasts a mild bittersweet flavor. This type is preferred for salads.
Curly leaf spinach with large, wrinkled, dark green leaves has rather tough stems and a mildly bitter flavor. You will often find it sold in cellophane bags or frozen.
Spinach is known for its good source of vitamin K, C, A, E, and B-6. Cooked spinach has lower folate and vitamin C levels but has higher levels of Vitamin A and iron than raw spinach.
What are the health benefits of eating spinach?
Spinach is prolific with nutrients, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, folate, and potassium. As a provider of fiber, spinach is a wonderful choice.
Is spinach better eaten raw or cooked?
Raw spinach provides fiber and numerous vitamins [A, C, K, iron, folate, and potassium]. Cooked spinach may give as much as three times beta carotene, an antioxidant. Whether eaten raw or cooked, there are positive benefits from spinach.