Eat Your Vegetables: Spinach

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods (and you’ve got to trust a web site with that name):

Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach — with its delicate texture and jade green color — provide more nutrients than any other food.

Spinach is a great source of:

  • iron
  • calcium
  • anti-oxidants
  • vitamin A (and lutein)
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K
  • magnesium
  • folic acid (Vitamin B9)

But enough of that science crap. Let’s talk about Popeye!

He was created by Elzie Crisler Segar and appeared for the first time in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theater on January 17, 1929. He was only a minor character but soon became so popular he was given a larger role, and in the 1950s, he got his own strip: Popeye the Sailor Man.

One of Popeye’s most identifiable traits was his spinach-popping habit. The theory is that Segar had Popeye eat spinach to get stronger because of an 1870 study by Dr. E von Wolf that claimed it had a miraculously high iron content. Sadly, the German scientist had misplaced a decimal point in his calculations and mistakenly attributed 10 times as much iron to the vegetable as it actually contains. The error was discovered in 1937, but Popeye’s spinach habit stuck.

Crystal City, Texas — the “Spinach Capital of the World” — was so grateful to Popeye and his creator for boosting the local spinach-growing economy, the town erected a statue in their honor. And every year, on the second weekend of November, Crystal City holds a Spinach Festival to celebrate the leafy green.
Three Ways to Get Your Spinach
Since eating creamy, gooey, cheesy spinach dip with tortilla chips and pita wedges is not Zone-friendly and, therefore, out of the question, I’ve got some other tasty spinach ideas to help you channel Popeye.

#1. Spinach Bed
This is so easy, it feels like cheating. Place 1-2 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves on a plate and top it with whatever hot food you’re eating. The heat of the rest of the food wilts the spinach to just the right degree. And bam! instant nutritional wallop. Tastes great under just about everything… a stir fry, curry, grilled meat and steamed veggies… everything.

#2. Mediterranean Spinach
Also ridiculously easy. Steam or sautée fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach. Toss with a clove of pressed garlic, a spritz of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of crushed oregano. Add healthy oils with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp=1 block), some sliced black olives (5=1 block), or pine nuts (1.5 tsp=1 block).

#3. Spinach Muffins
I played around with my original delicious-but-not-good-for-me recipe to turn this into a Zone-friendly, Paleo-friendly, Weight Watchers-friendly snack. The results aren’t bad. The original includes bread crumbs and whole eggs. Boo! I challenge you to name another food as utterly useless as dried bread crumbs.

Anyway, these suckers are pretty good. I like them best cold or at room temperature. The recipe makes 12, and if you eat them two at a time, you’ll get 1 block each of protein, carbohydrates, and fat — which makes them an ideal snack for a “medium female” like me. (Two muffins is about 1 Weight Watchers point, too.)

  • 3 16-oz. bags frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg whites
  • optional seasonings: salt, pepper, Penzeys Italian herb seasoning, Penzeys Greek seasoning, lemon juice (If you don’t have Italian or Greek herb blends, you can replicate the flavors by using oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil… don’t be afraid if you think you don’t know how to cook. You really can’t screw up with herbs — just add them a little at a time ’til it tastes the way you want it. Start with about 1/2 teaspoon dried… I just sprinkle and mix ’til it tastes right. )

1. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT: Squeeze excess water from the defrosted spinach. My trick: Cut a corner off the bag, and squeeze the spinach inside the bag, letting the water drain out the hole. Much easier than dumping the green stuff out and squeezing.

2. Put the spinach in a bowl and add seasonings, to taste. Today I made mine with salt, pepper, and Penzeys Greek seasoning — and they taste totally rad.

4. Add eggs and mix until everything is completely blended.

5. Grease a muffin pan with coconut oil or no-garbage organic olive oil spray and scoop the spinach mixture into the cups. I filled mine all the way to the top and packed it in pretty tight. They puff a little when they bake, then deflate when they cool.

Ready to go into the oven.

6. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 35-40 minutes.

7. Eat to your heart’s content and be ready to hold your own with Bluto or the WOD.

Ready to eat. Mmmmmm.

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19 Responses to “Eat Your Vegetables: Spinach”

  1. Christy says:

    Have you ever tried these with whole eggs? I just can't pitch all that yummy yolkiness. ;o)These really sound wonderful.

  2. Brandy says:

    I am wondering if I did something wrong. I made these today and they came out kinda smooshy. Dont know if I didnt get enough of the moisture out in the beginning or if I need to bake them longer – my oven is a bit slow in that way.

  3. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Brandy, you have to really, REALLY squeeze out all the water when the spinach is defrosted… make it as dry as you can. Also, you can bake them longer without worry to get them to the consistency you like. If they start to get too brown, just reduce the oven temp to, say, 325 and leave them in a bit longer.

  4. Valeda says:

    Made these for my first day of Paleo today, and they truly solved the breakfast crisis! I added in a can of crabmeat, and used a few bunches of fresh greens I had in the house – spinach, beet greens, and kale. Turned out delish, and for maybe the first time ever I WASN’T HUNGRY all morning!!! Thanks so much Melissa!

    • Mel says:

      Love the crabmeat modification! I have a revised version for the cookbook with meat and seasonings that TOTALLY kick ass. I love them cold for breakfast. Glad you like them!

  5. I eat like 2398478973428973 cups of spinach a day, but have YET to make them into muffins!!! OMG, I must try! :)

  6. Cassie says:

    I have to admit, these do not look very appetizing or exciting…however one mustn’t judge, these were great. I miss eating cereal and am at a loss for breakfast. This was very good and am looking forward to the next batch with meat.

    Also the pork carnitas were AMAZING! My 7 year old daughter asked if I can cook that again!

  7. [...] first, I’m going with Spinach Meat Muffins. They bat leadoff as I hope they can transition into a quick breakfast.  Came out a bit spinach [...]

  8. [...] all week: Meat Muffins – I get SUPER tired of the muffin tins, so this week I just cooked it in a 9×13.  I [...]

  9. Skyy says:

    Do you think you could make this with fresh spinach rather than frozen? Its hard for me to find frozen organic and when I do its pricey.

  10. eva says:

    Will these freeze well? I’m about to cook up a batch but would like to freeze them so that we don’t have to eat them all in one go. I seem to remember something about defrosting spinach and then not freezing it again?

  11. [...] paleo tomato bisque, and tried my hand at some meat muffins from Well Fed. They were a lot like this, but with pork, Chinese five spice, coconut aminos, and red onion for an Asian taste. Yetiman was [...]

  12. Maggie says:

    My latest use for these oh-so-versatile muffins: over on HealthBent, they have a recipe for making a pizza with a half of a baked sweet potato, then layering on the toppings. I had leftover Italian style muffins in the fridge, so I crumbled one on top of the sweet potato (along with tomato sauce, of course) instead of making toppings from scrach. Super fast and really great. I find I never run out of ways to eat these!

  13. Tina says:

    I was thinking you could perhaps use these as a “crust” to use with marinara and top with meat and veggies to make a mini pizza.

  14. Joy says:

    I love ALL of you recipes. On the spinach muffins I am not near a penzy’s. what are the components of the Greek seasoning? I have many food allergies and am wondering if I could make my own blend. Also I am allergic to eggs, what about the powdered ” egg replacer?”

    • Mel says:

      The Greek seasoning includes garlic, lemon pepper, and oregano — so you might just play around with those seasonings to make your own.

      I’m not familiar with powdered egg replacer, so I don’t know if it will work. Basically, the egg holds the muffins together, so i you can use egg replacer in baking, you can probably use it here.

  15. Patti says:

    Would be nice if you just had a “print recipe only” on your recipe pages. I have your book but I don’t want it slopped over in my kitchen so I try to copy the recipes without printing the photos but I have to copy and paste and do other things.

    I love your taste in food and you are really creative with many ideas and tastes!

  16. […] time, but are easy to customize, super tasty, full of spinach power, and great to pack for lunch: I like my meat muffins with some soup, and this tomato bisque is […]

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