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The Veg Table: Spinach

September 18, 2011

Ah spinach… what comes to mind when you think of the word?

Turning up your nose as a child?

Images of deer grazing in a field?

Maybe this guy?

Although spinach is often thought of as the curse word of vegetables, I think that it’s image has improved in recent days. A trip through grocery store aisles reveals spinach added into many a dish, often with a somewhat “classy” vibe about it. But why should we face our childhood fears and enjoy this leafy green as part of our diet? Read on…

Benefits of Spinach

  • Nutrients – According to Wikipedia, “It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium,potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium andomega-3 fatty acids.” It is also very high in iron and calcium, although it is not the best source for these minerals, as they tend to be largely unabsorbed by the body from this source.
  • Antioxidants – From livestrong.com – “Spinach contains more than a dozen individual flavonoid compounds, which work together as cancer-fighting antioxidants. These elements neutralize free radicals in the body and thus help to prevent cancer.” These antioxidants can also improve cardiovascular health and improve brain function.
  • Fiber – One cup of spinach provides about 20% of your daily value of fiber. Compare that to 35% of your DV of fiber in a Fiber One bar, which is also full of 10 grams of sugar and a host of other questionable items in the ingredient list.
Check this out for a full nutritional profile of spinach. A quick google search reveals plenty more info on the healthy benefits of spinach, many stating it is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.
Take note that three of the big nutrients in spinach are fat soluble vitamins. This means you can throw silly things like low fat dressings and margarine out the door. You will get better absorption of nutrients using full fat accompaniments. Also, some people recommend a quick (1 minute) boiling of spinach to reduce it’s content of oxalic acid, although this can lead to a reduction in some nutrients.
Eating Spinach
One of my favorite things about spinach is it’s versatility. It is easily added into many dishes you already know and love. Because of this, it is one of our “always on hand” foods.Try chopping it up and throwing it in a soup, noodle dish, or scrambled eggs. Add it to your salad or on your favorite sandwich. You can’t really go wrong.
Later this week I will post a few of our favorite ways to eat spinach and I would love to hear of other’s favorite ways as well!
veg out,
Liz
Wondering what The Veg Table is? Check it out here.
Please note that, as much as I wish I was, I am not a licensed nutritionist, nor do I have hours a day to pour over scholarly journals. These are just my thoughts and findings, compiled from other blogs, google searches, and years of reading various books. 
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The Veg Table

September 18, 2011

I will admit it. Even with my great love for the vegetable world, when it comes to trying to veggies I am a little bit of a wimp. New recipes with familiar foods? No problem. But altogether new foods? Makes me a little nervous. How do I cook it? What if it turns out wrong? What if I make something and don’t like it? Honestly, I really admire people who didn’t grow up eating vegetables but have learned to incorporate them into their diet. And after not eating meat for ten years and then having to eat it again, I really started to understand what it would be like to be someone who doesn’t eat veggies, but has made the decision to begin adding them to their diet. It is hard.

So that is why I’m starting The Veg Table. Every week I am going to bring a new vegetable to the table. Sundays I will introduce the week’s veg and give a little info on it. Throughout the week you can then expect to see 1 or 2 (or more) recipes using that vegetable as the main ingredient. I’ll finish up the week on Saturday with links to a few more recipes that look interesting to try, opening up the comments for anyone else to add their recipe to the list.

My hope is that this will take a little bit of the scariness away from trying a new vegetable or encourage you to try something again that maybe you didn’t like when you were younger.

Tune in later today for the first veggie up on The Veg Table.

veg out,

Liz

 

 

 

 

 

Green Chili

September 13, 2011

As part of our local CSA, a couple weeks ago we got some tomatillos in our basket. Now, my last experience with tomatillos was growing them in our family garden way back in Jr. High, so I really had no idea how to use them. Then, just in time for the break in hot weather we had been having, I came across this recipe in my latest edition of Cuisine at Home – and, lo and behold, what was one of the main ingredients? Tomatillos!

The actual recipe is Green Chicken Chili with White Beans, and that is how I made it. However, no surprise, I think it would have tasted better sans chicken, and I wish I would have saved out a portion of it meatless. Ah well.

I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter, but I think that’s how soups are – just wing it if you don’t have all the ingredients!

Green Chili
Recipe from Cuisine at Home (Oct 2011)

Soak:
1 1/2 cups dry great northern beans

Add:
4 cups chopped tomatillos
4 cups seeded, diced Anaheim chiles (about 8 chiles)
2 cups each diced onion and jalepenos (about 5 chiles)
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. died oregano
1 tsp. ground coriander
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Stir:

4 cups shredded chicken (or not!)
1/4 cup masa harina (I used the same corn flour mix for making corn tortillas)
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste

Garnish:

Lime wedges, sour cream, and chopped fresh cilantro

Soak beans according to the package directions (I just did it overnight in the crock pot full of water); drain, then add to a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
Add tomatillos, Anaheim chiles, onion, jalepenos, garlic, cumin, oregano, coriander, and broth to the slow cooker. Cook chili on high-heat setting until beans are tender, about 4 1/2 hours (I did it on low while I was at work – over 8 hours).
Stir chicken and masa haring into chili; cook 30 minutes more. Stir in lime juice. Season chili with salt and black pepper.
Garnish each serving with lime wedges, sour cream, and cilantro.

Chili sans chicken -yum!

After adding the chicken and the masa harina, served with quesadillas on the side.

Just in time for fall! 🙂

veg out,

Liz

Starting Over

September 12, 2011

Once upon a time, a girl was on a mission to spread the love of vegetables. So, this girl started a certain food blog – she was not deterred by the fact that AT&T refused to provide internet to her duplex down an alley road. Although it was inconvenient, she trekked to the local library every time she wanted to post on the wonders of the vegetable world. However, one fateful day, her crappy beloved Dell laptop bit the dust. Dell’s customer service was entirely unhelpful and many weeks went by with a computer that was utterly worthless. Finally a decision was made to hand over the computer to the girl’s brilliant brother-in-law. Said brother-in-law fixed up the computer all brand new and was given permission to sell the Dell to the highest bidder so that the girl could use the money towards buying a new computer. Many months went by, waiting for the computerless girl’s husband’s loan money to come in so they could buy a new computer with the husband’s Apple student discount. Finally the day came, the computer was purchased, and a few days later a shiny new computer arrived at the girl’s front door. The girl immediately fell in love with her new computer and was ecstatic to continue her vegetable furthering mission.

True story.

Hello everybody, I am back. Lack of internet, and lack of computer, coupled with a crazy life and the fact that my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer last March made blogging near impossible. However, a lot has changed…

–My husband is in good health. Thank the Lord that his cancer is one of the most curable out there. After surgery and no further treatment he is 100% cancer free and back to his normal self. Going through that whole ordeal continually reminds me to pursue a healthy lifestyle, for myself and my family.

–I am no longer computerless. Need I say more?

–Okay… this is the biggie. Please hold onto your hats people.

I am no longer a vegetarian.

I know. Weird, right? 10 years of vegetarianism, abandoned. Well, I have a good reason..I did it for someone. This little someone…

Meet Hiccup. The little one growing inside me. Appropriately nicknamed after a hilarious bought of hiccups caught on screen during the ultrasound. Yes, I know it is possible to be a vegetarian and birth healthy babies. I’m not going to go into it too much, but I did some research and decided to go back to the omnivore lifestyle for the betterment of the health of little Hiccup. Due date is December 24th. Perfect timing, seeing as we view Hiccup as a huge gift after going through my husband’s health difficulties. Merry Christmas!

–So, how’s this going to work you ask? A vegetarian blog run by a meat eater? Well, I would like to start off by saying that I don’t actually like meat. I more tolerate it. Second, I’m not the cooker of meaty dishes, that would be my husband. Third, we eat a healthy amount of meat, a small serving with usually one meal a day, but not every day. Forth, the mission of this blog is unchanged – PR for veggies. The only thing you might see changed is a meat option for some recipes.

Well, if you made it through all that rambling, I congratulate you. Hopefully I’ll have some new recipes up soon – I’ve got lots of good ideas brewing.

veg out,

Liz

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

September 2, 2011
by

Okay. So I probably lost all 5 of the readers I had gained in the short life of this blog – but reasons for my absence are to be expounded upon at a later date.

I just wanted to say – I will be working on updating this blog over the next week or so and hope to have it up and running again soon!

I’m excited!

Pasta and Basil Pesto

April 24, 2011

Quite some time ago, before my life became crazy and I abandoned blogging, I made Basil Pesto for the first time. In fact, this was the first time I have ever eaten Basil Pesto. Let me tell you, it was delicious.

Pasta:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Water
Mix ingredients together. Add water/flour as needed. Kneed into ball for 15 minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Roll out as thin as humanly possible and cut into strips.
Boil to cook like you would any boxed pasta.

Basil Pesto:

I followed this recipe exactly: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/fresh_basil_pesto/. I used walnuts rather than pinenuts as they suggested, and it tasted great!

Enjoy! -Brenda

Perfect Thin Crust Pizza

April 9, 2011

This post should really be titled – “Turn you into a pizza snob, pizza.” I have tried various recipes for pizza dough over the years, and they were good and all.. but they still had that, shall we say, “homemade” quality to them. However, ever since I tried this pizza crust recipe from Tammy’s Recipes (are you noticing a theme of my love for Tammy’s Recipes yet?) it has been our go-to pizza. All of a sudden I could whip out a gourmet pizza in no time flat – and with probably the easiest method possible. A lot of times I will triple the recipe and use it to make two pizzas – resulting in a slightly thicker, but still thin, crust. You really must try it – eating restaurant pizza will never be the same!

Perfect Thin Crust Pizza
Recipe courtesy of Tammy’s Recipes

1/2 cup warm water (115 degrees)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast

To make crust, place warm water and salt into a medium mixing bowl. Add a cup of the flour and the yeast, and stir. Add remaining flour (1/3 cup) and stir or knead into a sticky dough, adding additional water if needed. Allow dough to rest, covered with a clean towel, for at least 10 minutes but up to 30-45 minutes. The dough will definitely be stickier than a regular bread recipe, but will still hold together in a nice ball.

If you have a bread machine, this first step can be done by putting all crust ingredients into the machine and using the dough cycle to knead for 10-15 minutes, until a soft, sticky dough is formed. Stop the machine and allow dough to rest for at least 10 minutes, or up to 30-45 minutes. I usually use my stand mixer with the dough hook.

Liberally butter a 16-inch round pizza pan, and then with your clean buttery hands, spread dough thinly over the pan. Be gentle and have patience, as this does make a perfectly thin crust! This is soooo much easier than rolling out a crust! Just get nice and buttery and smoosh that dough to the sides of the pan.

Spread the sauce over the dough/crust and allow to rest for 15 minutes or longer (up to 45 minutes).

Put the rest of your toppings on and bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or until it is your desired amount of crispness.

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The best thing about this recipe is the time factor – no waiting around for your dough to rise! Just mix it up and during that first 10 minutes prepare your sauce or cut up some veg. After you smoosh out your dough and put on your sauce, get the rest of your toppings ready while you are waiting for the second rise. Top and then bake that sucker – perfect Friday night (or any night) dinner!

Our favorite way to top this crust is by using a sauce made of melted butter, salt, garlic powder, and basil. (I think that a butter sauce tastes the best with this type of pizza because it is lighter – but a traditional tomato sauce will work too.) Then, we add some mozzarella and feta cheese, tomatoes and spinach. So. Good.

The last time I made it I experimented with an alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese, and spinach – that was pretty darn good too.

For the last time – I am not kidding – try this pizza and you will be happy.

-liz