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Old 04-16-2009, 11:58 AM   #1  
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Lightbulb Veggie of the Month: Spinach!

So...I know we're all trying to add more veggies into our diets. We're not sure what might be out there...and even if we find a new veggie, we're not sure how to cook it, what it would go well with, and whether anyone in their right mind would even try it!

Here's a place to share all that info with each other! Each month I'll post a new veggie along with information on nutritional value, how to cook it, and at least one recipe using that veggie. Then we can all add on to the thread with our experiences with that veggie, recipes we like, and more! When the month is up (or activity in the thread dies out), I'll transfer the thread to the SBD Recipe Forum Sticky list and any recipes to their respective recipe forums. Remember, if you add a recipe, try to include at least the number of servings and the nutritional information, if you can. Posting the recipe in the forum and then linking to it in this thread gets you extra good karma.

This Month’s Veggie is: Spinach!

There's a ton of great information on spinach at , including this:

Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables. It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as "the Spanish vegetable" in England.

Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, a historical figure in the 16th century. When she left her home of Florence, Italy, to marry the king of France, she brought along her own cooks, who could prepare spinach the ways that she especially liked. Since this time, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as "a la Florentine."

Spinach grows well in temperate climates. Today, the United States and the Netherlands are among the largest commercial producers of spinach.

How to Select and Store
Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.

Store fresh spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep fresh for about five days. Do not wash it before storing as the moisture will cause it to spoil. Avoid storing cooked spinach as it will not keep very well.

Tips for Preparing Spinach:
Spinach, whether bunched or prepackaged, should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves. Place the spinach in a large bowl of tepid water and swish the leaves around with your hands as this will allow any dirt to become dislodged. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually two to three times will do the trick). Cut away any overly thick stems to ensure for more even cooking. If you are going to use the spinach in a salad, you can dry it in either a salad spinner or by shaking it in a colander. If you are going to cook it, you do not need to worry about drying it well as the remaining water will serve to help it cook. Spinach is one of the few vegetables we suggest quick boiling (for one minute). That's because boiling will help to reduce the amount of oxalic acids found in spinach, resulting in a sweeter taste.

Health Benefits
We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time.

Phytonutrient Flavonoids for Optimal Health
Researchers have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents. (Many of these substances fall into a technical category of flavonoids known as methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides.) The anticancer properties of these spinach flavonoids have been sufficiently impressive to prompt researchers to create specialized spinach extracts that could be used in controlled studies. These spinach extracts have been shown to slow down cell division in stomach cancer cells (gastric adenocarcinomas), and in studies on laboratory animals, to reduce skin cancers (skin papillomas). A study on adult women living in New England in the late 1980s also showed intake of spinach to be inversely related to incidence of breast cancer.
(tons more at website:

A wonderful way to add spinach to your diet is to put it in salads; even the pickiest eaters among my friends have been able to do this with no problem.

Eventually, work your way to having all spinach in your salad and try this recipe from Cooking Light for Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Goat-Cheese Bruschetta (P2 and 3)

A very easy way to add any type of veggie to your diet is to put it on a pizza! This is actually the first way I learned to eat many veggies, and it works especially well with spinach. Here's a recipe from Cooking Light to try, but feel free to just add spinach onto the pizza creations you make at home!
Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Feta and Spinach (P2 and 3) This is a vegetarian meal, as are many veggie pizzas.

Another easy way to try spinach is to have it in dip. Eat it with vegetables if in Phase 1 and with WW Pitas or crackers in Phase 2.

Here’s a hot dip:
Cheesy Spinach-Artichoke Dip (all phases)

And a cold one:
Creamy Feta-Spinach Dip (all phases)

Here’s a link to a slew of other spinach dip recipes (let us know if you need help making them SBD-safe).

When you feel ready, try eating cooked spinach in this dish, where the sweetness of the raisins will help balance the spinach’s bitterness: Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts (P2 and 3)

Another way to eat cooked spinach: Golden Spinach and Sweet Potato Healthy Sauté (P2 & 3)

Spinach is often a part of vegetarian recipes.
Here are some that could work for SBD:
Mushroom and Spinach Frittata With Smoked Gouda (all phases)
Curried Rice Salad with Spinach-and-Citrus Vinaigrette (P2 & 3)
Barley-Vegetable Stuffed Acorn Squash (P2 & 3)

More Information on Spinach:
Basic information on spinach at Produce Oasis

Some good facts on washing, preparing, and cooking spinach

Healthy Spinach Recipes and Cooking Tips from Eating Well

Spinach, a Healthy Source of Nutrients for Your Diet

Other information on Veggies:
Better Homes and Gardens Slide Show on using spring vegetables, including recipes and info on veggies

FAQ for the 5-a-day program on Fruits and Veggies

Tips on Fruits and Veggies from the CDC

Vegetables: How to cook, serve, and store these healthy foods from Mayo Clinic

Last edited by beachgal; 04-20-2009 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 04-16-2009, 12:16 PM   #2  
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I usually saute mine in a little olive oil and some fresh minced garlic. Mmmmmm....
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Old 04-16-2009, 03:20 PM   #3  
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I have been putting spinach in my egg white omlets. I use the frozen, and thaw it, be sure to wring all the moisture out or you will end up with green colored eggs....not the most pleasant sight in the a.m.
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Old 04-16-2009, 03:27 PM   #4  
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I LOVE Spinach Fresh Frozen Anyway I can get it!!
For Breakfast this week I made a Spinach and Feta Quiche
16 oz bag of spinach
8-12 eggs I had 8 left
1/2 cup Parmesan
4 oz crumbled RF Feta
Dried minced onion
Steak seasoning (trust me)
Preheat oven to 350
Cooking spray a 9 X12 pan
SPrinkle onions on the bottom to cover
Pour bag of spinach (still Frozen) on top
Sprinkle with More onions Steak seasoning and Parm
Distribute Cheese over the top
Whisk eggs and pour over giving it time to settle into crevices in the spinach (can assist this with a spoon)

30 ish minutes in the oven Soooo good!!
Makes about 10 good sized slices

Last edited by KO; 04-16-2009 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:39 PM   #5  
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I go through several bags of fresh spinach every week. I use it in my Taco Bake, toss it into soups, pile it on flatbread with other veggies for wraps, use 1/2 spinach and 1/2 romaine in my salads, and I love to pile it raw on top of hot pizza.
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:22 AM   #6  
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I too enjoy the spinach....
I made spinach, mushroom, and turkey sausage egg muffins for breakfast this week. I love fresh baby spinach with scrambled eggs, onions, and tomatoes. I have a great recipe for a Turkey cutlet dinner where you use fresh spinach that eventually wilts from the heat of the brown rice and turkey. And lastly, I've also made a creamed spinach using laughing cow, Parmesan and a little FF half & half. YUM!!!!
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:32 AM   #7  
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This is not a new recipe, it was posted by pearshape a few years ago:

Creamy White Bean Pesto Soup with Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach

I love this soup & it's got so much good-for-you spinach in it! This is a great way to eat a lot of spinach if you don't care for eating it on it's own. I am not a huge spinach fan, although it has grown on me since going on SB.

Spinach puree works well mixed into hamburgers for extra nutrients. Not recommended in turkey burgers, they come out neon green. I also add it to pizza and sandwiches.

Last edited by beachgal; 04-20-2009 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:34 PM   #8  
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Spinich is my "main" vegetable...I ususally have it a couple of times of day at least...
in the morning with my eggs or turkey sandwich...
at lunch in a big salad...
as a snack with turkey and laughing cow on triscuits.....
love the stuff...
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:52 PM   #9  
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mmmm. This sounds so good. I love spinach and I love feta. This is a winning combo.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:05 AM   #10  
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Default Spinach and Cheese Squares

This recipe came from a local hospital newsletter. I believe because of the flour, it would be considered Phase 2. [but if you use arrowroot, it should be fine in Phase 1] I haven't made it without the flour, but I think it would work without it since it is such a small amount and then it would be Phase 1. I substitute whole wheat flour for the all purpose called for in the recipe and I also cut the margarine down to 2 tablespoons without a problem. The first time I made it, I mistakenly mixed the parmesan cheese in instead of sprinkling it on top. When I made it again, I decided I liked the cheese mixed in with a little on the top better. I also cut down on the pepper a bit. The taste is pronounced with a 1/2 teaspoon so add to your taste.

This goes together really quickly and makes a nice breakfast, side dish or snack. Just heat a serving in the microwave and you are good to go. It keeps well in the fridge for several days.

Spinach and Cheese Squares

2 10oz. packages frozen chopped spinach
1 pound small curd, low-fat cottage cheese
1/3 cup feta or cheddar cheese (I use low-fat)
16 oz. Egg substitute (Egg Beaters type) or 8 large eggs
1/4 chopped scallions or small onion
3 Tablespoons melted margarine (without trans fat)
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour (sub whole wheat) [In P1, just sub arrowroot to thicken]
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thaw, drain and press spinach in a sieve to squeeze out excess water. In a large bowl, mix egg substitute, cottage cheese, feta or cheddar cheese, and scallion. Add melted margarine, flour, pepper, and dill. Fold in spinach. Spray a 9 inch by 9 inch or a 12 inch by 8 inch pan with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool a bit and cut into 12 servings. Refrigerate leftovers. The calorie count is listed at 94 per serving, but that is with full fat cheese, so a little less with low-fat.

I enjoy this very much and I hope you will, too!

Last edited by beachgal; 04-20-2009 at 11:36 AM. Reason: The flour is just to thicken it: you can use arrowroot to thicken it in P1...
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:38 AM   #11  
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MJMS - That sounds yummy!!!!
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Old 04-18-2009, 12:33 PM   #12  
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How many real eggs equals 16 oz? That recipe sounds great!
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Old 04-18-2009, 04:51 PM   #13  
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I'm mixing spinach and lentils for dinner, haven't decided on the seasoning yet
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:18 AM   #14  
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Hi Chelby and all the other Chicks,
A quarter cup of egg substitute equals one egg, so the Spinach and Cheese Squares would use 8 whole eggs. I hope this helps you. I really like this dish a lot and I find it is filling enough to hold me for a while. I also like that I can whip it up on the weekend and have it ready to go during the week.
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:47 PM   #15  
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MJMS -- I just got a full time job about 3 weeks ago after being a SAHM for 5 years. I'm looking for recipes I can cook in advance. This one looks great! Thank you!
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