While Popeye may have preferred the canned stuff, this season we're all about fresh spinach recipes. The Spring vegetable is actually more versatile than you'd think. Ever put spinach in your tacos? Probably not — until now. Ahead, check out some of our favorite and oh-so-savory green dishes.
Now that Spring is here, spinach is popping up at local farms everywhere. We couldn't be happier: this leafy green is an amazing source of iron and vitamin A and not too shabby when it comes to lutein and vitamin C. To get all the nutrients from spinach, it's best enjoyed raw and, when possible, at every meal. Confused about how spinach can make an appearance at breakfast and dessert? This meal plan puts the leafy green front and center for every dish of the day!
Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Perfect for those hectic mornings, this ultragreen smoothie is easy to take when on the go. Falling under 400 calories, besides spinach, it's made with antioxidant-rich avocados and hemp seeds, resulting in a fiber- and protein-rich breakfast.
Lunch: Strawberry, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese Salad
Avoid the classic midafternoon slump with our filling spinach salad. Made with in-season Spring veggies, it also harnesses the detoxing properties of asparagus. Pump up the protein factor by tossing some chicken breast or soft tofu to the mix.
See the dinner and dessert recipes after the break!
Like many children, much of my early exposure to the written word — and, at least in my case, inspiration to become a writer — came from a quirky lyrical genius: Theodor Geisel (also known as Dr. Seuss). Now, this childhood legend may not seem immediately connected to culinary pursuits, but I've always been fascinated with the idea of translating an iconic, and admittedly quite fanciful, dish of his to the table. This brings us to today's recipe: a fun take on green eggs and ham.
As I pondered how to tackle this slightly goofy task, potential variations came up aplenty: scrambled eggs with greens and prosciutto, or even pesto-drizzled eggs baked in ham cups. But I eventually settled on an option that was tucked away in my recipe binder all along: a spinach, egg, and cheese breakfast casserole that's easily transformed into green eggs and ham with the salty-smoky addition of crumbled bacon. It may not match up visually to Seuss's version, but its comforting flavor and ability to be reheated more than make up for it. My inner child is satisfied indeed.
Throwing some leafy greens into your smoothie is a great way to trick your taste buds into getting added fiber and calcium — it purees so well with the sweeter ingredients that you can't even taste it. I usually add whatever I have in the fridge — like baby spinach leaves or chopped kale — but does one offer bigger nutrition bang for your buck? Check out the chart below to see how these two veggies compare.
As you can see, they both offer the same amount of fiber and protein, but for fewer calories, spinach offers more folate, which is necessary for pregnant or nursing moms. Spinach is also higher in iron, which your body needs to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. It offers more magnesium — a mineral that if you're deficient in can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, and chronic fatigue. You'll also appreciate the higher levels of manganese needed to keep your blood sugar levels and thyroid functions normal. And who couldn't use a little extra potassium? This valuable mineral helps with bone growth and may reduce high blood pressure.
| 28 grams Spinach
(1 loosely packed cup) (%RDI)
| 28 grams Kale
(1 loosely packed cup) (%RDI)
|Total fat (g)||0||0|
|Sodium (mg)||22 (1%)||12 (1%)|
|Calcium (g)||27.7 (3%)||37.8 (4%)|
|Folate (mcg)||54.3 (14%)||8.1 (2%)|
|Iron (mg)||.8 (4%)||.5 (3 %)|
|Magnesium (mg)||22.1 (6%)||9.5 (2%)|
|Manganese (mg)||.3 (13%)||.2 (11%)|
|Potassium (g)||156 (4%)||125 (4%)|
|Vitamin A (g)||2,625 (53%)||4,305 (86%)|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||.1 (3%)||.1 (3%)|
|Vitamin C (mg)||7.9 (13%)||33.6 (56%)|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||135 (169%)||229 (286%)|
Keep reading to find out why you might want to choose kale.
Greens are the most vital secret to improving your health. Incorporating as many as you can, in a variety, is the best way to prevent disease and live a longer life. All types of greens can be beneficial, but it is the dark, leafy greens that hold the most fiber, iron, vitamins, and cleansing- and disease-fighting capabilities. Learn about the most-talked-about Winter greens and see how they measure up.
Everyone's enjoyed a pesto made with basil, but there's no reason to limit your knowledge of the condiment: you actually can make it with a variety of greens like spinach, arugula, and mint or other herbs such as cilantro or parsley. One of my favorites is spinach pesto; it works great on pasta, pizza, and as a spread for sandwiches.
The ingredients are simple: spinach, roasted pine nuts (although other nuts will work), and a little bit of grated Parmesan. The key here, though, is a really great olive oil; I use Sciabica's Mission Spring Harvest for its light, slightly buttery flavor. First, add all of the solid ingredients to a food processor on low, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
Keep your pesto in the fridge and use it over the next couple weeks in a wide range of delicious pesto recipes (if you won't be using all of the pesto, just place it in a jar and cover the top in olive oil to avoid oxidation). Still worried you won't use it all? Freeze it in an ice-cube tray for even smaller easy-to-use servings. Don't just limit your pesto to basil and keep reading for this incredibly easy recipe.
You've probably been told since you were a kid to eat your veggies, and perhaps none are as important as those leafy greens. And for good reason. Here are three important reasons to get more leafy greens in your diet.
They're packed with nutrition: Leafy greens pack a lot of nutrients in just one serving. For example, a cup of raw spinach gives you more than your daily recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is crucial for healthy skin, eyes, and teeth (if you think that's impressive, check out the rest of this chart — a cup of romaine lettuce gives you twice the amount of vitamin A!). Other important nutrients you can find in greens include magnesium (an essential mineral that helps keep your body and mind feeling alert, relaxed, and functioning properly), iron, vitamin C, and cancer-preventing phytonutrients. Not only that but greens like spinach, kale, and bok choy give your body a healthy dose of calcium.
They're versatile: You don't have to chow down on a salad every day; leafy greens can be added to any number of meals. Sauté leafy greens in a bit of olive oil and seasoning for a healthy warm side, or steam the leaves for a few minutes to maintain even more of the nutrients. You can even sneak raw leaves into a juice or smoothie to get much-needed nutrients without having to go the salad route. For an indulgent way to sneak leafy greens into your diet, try making these vegan brownies with spinach baked right in!
They help you detox: The nutritious benefits of leafy greens don't stop at disease-fighting vitamins and minerals. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and chicory contain high levels of chlorophyll, which help your body detox and alkalize. Cabbage and other cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, and turnips help detox your body by promoting better liver function.
Have we convinced you? Try these five fast and easy ways to sneak veggies into your diet.
Popeye may have been partial to canned spinach to give him his giant muscles, but we prefer the fresh stuff. Despite the numerous health benefits of spinach (it's loaded with antioxidants and vitamins), we love the earthy flavor that it brings to all kinds of recipes. The addition of a handful of spinach can take your morning smoothie up a notch, and it's the perfect bed for a piece of warm, perfectly cooked fish (like salmon), as it will start to wilt slightly and absorb all of the great flavors. For more of our favorite ways to eat up this leafy green, keep reading.
Fresh green juice might be the "next frozen yogurt" in terms of a trendy, healthy snack. What could possibly be better for you than a glass of homemade, fresh-pressed vegetables and fruits? This is a super easy, delicious, and addictive green juice recipe that you can happily indulge in to rake up your daily values. Apples are high in vitamin C and naturally sweeten the beverage. Antioxidant-rich spinach and parsley are also high in vitamin A and C and iron. Cucumber and lemon add flavor and immune-boosting phytonutrients. Warming and spicy ginger aids digestion.
See juice recipe.
Grating onions, hauling out trash, squeezing out frozen spinach — when it comes to least favorite kitchen tasks, these have all been at the top of my list. A new kitchen technique I've recently learned, however, might've just changed that. Thanks to my friend, cheesecloth, I no longer dislike wringing out spinach.
I hate the idea of squeezing the moisture out of chopped spinach. How is it possible to wring out a mass of minced greens? Inevitably, everything falls apart and results in a mess. Then I was looking up spinach dip recipes online and spotted a picture of someone using cheesecloth. My life will never be the same again.
Have you ever had a lightbulb-kitchen moment like mine?