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Amie Valpone

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Five Ways With Spinach

Posted: 04/02/2012 11:11 am

Spinach is one of my favorite veggies. I enjoy eating it in my morning omelets, afternoon salads and evening stir-fry but I thought I'd condense the millions of ways I use this superfood to five simple ways you can whip up a healthy dish in no time and still reap the benefits of this leafy green.

This veggie is capable of enriching our lives in so many ways; here are a few of my favorites.

Spinach Juice
What better way to wake up in the morning than to a freshly squeezed juice with fresh spinach. One health benefit of spinach is that it's high in fiber and pairs perfectly with fresh pears and carrot for a juice.

Be sure to make ¼ of your juice from spinach and toss in your favorite fresh herbs, fruits and other vegetables. It is important to to use a cold press juicer; the pressing action, instead or grinding, will ensure that the fruits and vegetables aren't oxidized, which will help keep the nutrients and enzymes intact.

Try my easy spinach juice recipe by combining 3 carrots, 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 cucumber and 1 cup of spinach in your cold press. This juice takes a few minutes to prepare and will keep you energized and full into your mid-morning snack.

Get creative and experiment with a vast array of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables each time.

Spinach Muffins
The 11 o'clock rumble, is the name my clients anoint to the noise their stomachs make everyday at 11 a.m.; it that time after breakfast but right before lunch when we're ready for a little something to nibble on. We've all had this feeling, the feeling that maybe you didn't have enough breakfast, but that it's too early for lunch.

At this point, the temptation to scan for a vending machine and bite into something high in sugar, high in saturated fat and low in nutritional value is paramount. Instead, why not reach into your bag, peel back the foil you aptly wrapped around your snack this morning, and have a bite of a fiber-rich spinach muffin.

Spinach muffins can easily be prepared over the weekend and stowed in your handbag during the day; they're the perfect snack to nutritiously carry you through the morning hours.

Try this gluten free muffin recipe by combining 1 cup of organic buckweat flour, ⅓ cup of cornflour, 1 tbsp of gluten free baking powder, 3 eggs, 1 large grated carrot , 1 tsp. ground flax seeds, 1 cup of cooked spinach, 1 cup of Greek plain yogurt, 2 tsp. fresh basil, the juice from one lemon and a pinch of cinnamon. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, while combining all wet ingredients in another. Whisk the eggs with the yogurt before combining dry ingredients. Place the mixture in a muffin tin, bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F and enjoy. Just be sure to keep your muffins to one per day- you don't want to overdo it.

Spinach Salad
Fresh baby spinach works as a great base in any salad. By combining your favorite veggies and grains over a bed of spinach, you can enjoy a delicious meal while treating your body to a healthy serving of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant found in each bite of spinach.

Here is a quick and easy recipe for one of my favorite spinach salads. Feel free to adapt it however you like; I seem to change it every time depending on what veggies I find in my fridge.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups fresh baby spinach, 1 large diced tomato, ½ a chopped small red onion, ½ fresh avocado and 1 segmented fresh grapefruit. Add to that 2 cups of blanched broccoli, 1 cup of blanched snow peas and ½ a cup of cooked quinoa. Finish it off with a handful of protein rich almonds and season with the juice of one lemon, sea salt and pepper.

Green Tea Spinach Pesto
It's so easy to make your own dips and sauces. By making them yourself you get to see exactly what goes in and avoid chemicals found listed in the ingredients of many packaged products.

Spinach pesto is an easy sauce to make and is quite versatile. It can be enjoyed as the centerpiece to crudités of carrots and zucchini, the sauce to your favorite pasta dish, spread on crackers with some hummus, or tossed into an omelet with sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms.

For this hummus recipe, all you need is 5 minutes and a blender. In a blender, combine 2 cups of baby spinach and 1 cup of basil leaves with half a cup of green brewed tea and blend, add more tea as necessary. Once leaves are blended into a paste, add ½ cup of cashews and 2 tablespoons of olive oil; pulse until smooth and serve.

This pesto will keep well in the freezer, so place half in an airtight container in the freezer and look forward to a tasty nourishing treat for crackers, toast, salads or veggies in the weeks to come.

Spinach and Mushroom Soup
Making a broth-based soup for dinner will help hydrate you and keep you full. Soups also keep well in the fridge so you can easily make a batch early in the week and enjoy for the next few days.

To make this mouth watering soup, sauté 1 cup of chopped shallots, 1 chopped leek, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger and 2 diced long red chilies in olive oil. Once ingredients have softened, add 1 cup of low sodium vegetable broth, 3 cups of water, 1 cup of spinach, 1 cup of diced chicken or tofu and 2 cups of sliced mushrooms.

As soon as the soup begins to boil take it off the heat, season with Tamari sauce and serve. Be careful not to leave the soup on the heat for too long because the last thing you would want is for all the nutrients from those yummy ingredients to evaporate.

So there you have it; five of my favorite ways to use spinach in everyday simple, clean cooking. Go ahead, whip up one of these spinach recipes for your spring week ahead.

 

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