Cooking with Tammy Kelly: Reasons to love your spinach

Cooking with Tammy Kelly: Reasons to love your spinach

I love spinach! I love adding spinach to just about anything, for lots of reasons. One of the main ones is that spinach is really really good for you. Spinach offers extraordinary nutritional value and the health benefits of spinach are numerous. 

Spinach and other dark leafy greens like kale, collards, Swiss chard, turnip greens and bok choy are loaded with calcium, folic acid, vitamin K and iron. Spinach is also rich in vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids. 

What does spinach do for you? Spinach nutrition is amazing. The calcium content in spinach and the other dark leafy greens strengthens bones.

The A and C vitamins in spinach plus the fiber, folic acid, magnesium and other nutrients help control cancer, especially colon, lung and breast cancers. The flavonoids in spinach help protect against age-related memory loss.

Spinach's secret weapon, lutein, makes it one of the best foods in the world to prevent cataracts, as well as age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the elderly. Foods rich in lutein are also thought to help prevent cancer.

Fresh or frozen, add these greens to your food menu as often as you can. Here are ways to get more spinach in your diet.  Find fresh local spinach at the Lenoir County Farmer’s Market:

  • Add chopped fresh or frozen spinach to lasagna to up the nutrient content of this tasty comfort food

  • Add chopped or frozen spinach to your favorite vegetable soup recipe

  • Sauté spinach with a bit of garlic and cumin for a tasty super food combination. Try it on top of a baked potato

  • Use fresh spinach instead of lettuce to add a twist to your favorite sandwiches and salads

  • Add chopped fresh or frozen spinach to omelets and frittatas. Make sure frozen spinach is thawed and well drained

Spicy Sautéed Spinach

2 teaspoons extra light olive oil

3 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 bunches (2-3 cups) spinach, ends trimmed, washed, dried

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. 

 Add the spinach and cook, tossing occasionally, for 8 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat.   Taste and season with salt and pepper. 

Spinach and Sausage Baked Spaghetti 

8 ounces uncooked whole-grain spaghetti
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 ounces hot chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups chopped tomato
1 cup pre-chopped onion
1 (9-oz.) bag fresh spinach
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces shredded reduced-fat Italian-blend cheese (about 3/4 cup), divided
Cooking spray

Place an 8-inch round cake pan in oven. Preheat oven to 500°F (leave pan in oven as it preheats).

Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes or until almost done; drain. Place eggs in a large bowl. Add hot pasta; toss to coat.

Serves 4, each serving contains; Calories 401, Fat 10 g, Fiber 12 g, Cholesterol 117 mg, Sodium 571 mg, Carbohydrates 58 g, Protein 24 g.  

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts 

2 boneless skinless Chicken Breasts butterflied
2 slices Provolone cheese
1 5oz container of fresh Baby Spinach
4 clove minced Garlic
Dash of Paprika
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In large frying pan add Olive Oil and Garlic, sauté over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.  Add Spinach and stir frequently until Spinach is wilted and cooked, about 2-3 minutes.

Butterfly chicken breasts, slice lengthwise down the middle but not all the way through.  Place a slice of Provolone cheese over each chicken breast.  Add Spinach and garlic on top of cheese. 

Fold chicken in half like a sandwich keeping the stuffing in.  Place on greased baking dish.

Sprinkle top of chicken with paprika.  Bake uncovered 30 Minutes, Serves 2.  

Serves 2, each serving contains; Calories 467, Fat 20 g, Fiber 2 g, Cholesterol 191 mg, Sodium 554 mg, Carbohydrates 5 g, Protein 63 g.  

Easy Spinach Rice 

1 cup whole grain rice
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
2 tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canned pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cup low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water if vegan)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp avocado oil or other cooking oil
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat.   Add garlic and sauté until fragrant for about 30 sec

Add onion and sauté until translucent. Then add diced tomatoes and cook them until they soften for about 3-4 mins

Add spinach, beans, rice and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add water, chicken stock or vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil

Season with curry powder, salt and pepper. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste

Simmer the rice mixture for 18-20 min (or until rice is tender) on low heat with lid on

Serve warm, serves 3.  

Spinach and Egg Parmesan 

2 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups baby spinach
1–2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Crushed red pepper flakes 

Whisk eggs in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium. Add spinach and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 1 minute. Add eggs; cook, stirring occasionally, until just set, about 1 minute. Stir in Parmesan. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Serves 1, each serving contains: Calories 270, Fat 17 g, Fiber 10 g, Cholesterol 6 mg, Sodium 910 mg, Carbohydrates 10 g, Protein 18 g.

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