Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spinach: A Love Affair

What has become of me? I suddenly reach out for the largest bins of spinach I can find. I shovel it in in an array of recipes: Spinach Benedict,  smoothies, scrambles, stir fries, pizzas - you name it, I'm throwing spinach in it. It feels good to easily enjoy a vegetable that is incredibly good for you. I turned 40 last year and this impending milestone had me obsessively focused on my health and the types of food going into my body. I hope I'm not too late; I did spend the first half of my life rolling around in a few bad habits.

Let's break down the many health benefits of spinach to make myself feel better:
  • Lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Abundance of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, calcium, folic acid and iron
  • Great source of fiber
  • Promotes strong bones
  • Contributes to healthy vision and limits cataracts
This little list above means more to me now at 40 than it would've at 20. It has inspired me to continue my love affair and share a few favorites:

SPINACH-EGG BENEDICT:
I like to add a little fluff to my already Dyn-o-mite Eggs Benny. (Only on special occasions do I include the cholesterol and fat-filled hollandaise sauce that's oh-so extra delicious.) There's just something to be said when you cut your fork into a perfectly poached eggs with steamed spinach.

Serves one:
  • One English muffin split in half. (Forget those weird wheat variety - I go straight for the sourdough. I can't stand the extra-chewy texture of a multi-grain English muffin.)
  • Two farm-fresh eggs, poached-to-perfection
  • Two handfuls of spinach
  • Two slices Canadian bacon or ham (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
Add Canadian bacon (if using) and spinach to a pan and add salt and pepper. Cook until spinach wilts down and ham is golden on each side. In a small sauce pan begin bowling water and add a teaspoon or two of vinegar. (Helps keep eggs whites together.) Once water boils turn heat down and crack eggs into water; cook for around 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, lightly toast your English muffins until crisp but still soft and add ham, a pile of spinach and your perfectly poached egg.

SPINACH SMOOTHIE OR FOR JUICING
Smoothies seem to be all the rave lately. Sometimes it gets annoying listening to folks explaining what THEY put in THEIR smoothies, but hey, you can't deny it's a savvy way of getting a whole lot of nutrients into your body. So here's MY specialty smoothie:

Serves two adults, one preschooler and one toddler:
  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh berry medley
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 long squirt of flax seed oil
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots
  • Few springs of parsley, Thyme or other fresh herbs
  • Couple leaves of basil
  • An inch or two of ginger
Blend and serve!

SPINACH STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS:

Serves four:
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless/boneless
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • Goat cheese
  • White wine sauce
Beat the hay out of each chicken breast with a tenderizer. Salt and pepper each chicken breast and set aside. Toss spinach, mushrooms and onion in pan and saut√© until soft. Take each chicken breast and spread spinach mixture on inside and sprinkle with goat cheese; roll up and secure with toothpicks or string and place in casserole dish. MAKE WHITE WINE SAUCE: Add cup of white wine, handful sliced mushrooms, cornstarch/water mix, S&P and any herbs you see fit and cook until mixture thickens. Pour wine sauce over chicken and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. DIVINE!!






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