Welcome to Creative Veges 101 where I take you on a journey of learning how to:
- Get creative with vegetables
- Experiment with delicious quick recipes
- Easily get them into your meals everyday
This week is spinach, a well-known superfood.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, 2 powerful antioxidants that stop free radicals in their tracks and prevent them from damaging your cells and potentially causing cancer.
Spinach is high in iron BUT contains oxalates that block iron absorption, so it needs to be cooked if you are relying on it as an iron source, cooking also boosts the availability of the calcium and magnesium in the spinach.
Plus these leafy greens contain folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium, so aim to eat BOTH raw and cooked so you maximise the nutrition in these super greens.
Silverbeet and swiss chard are the same species and have large leaves and thick stalks. Spinach, sometimes referred to as English spinach is a different species, has smaller leaves and contains more calcium, beta-carotene, a third more iron and folate than silverbeet.
I have used spinach and silverbeet interchangeably in my recipes – so just use what you have or what is available, because at the end of the day we just want to be eating more luscious leafy greens!
Spinach Smoothie Bowl
One of my daily goals is to eat veges at every meal. For breakfast, my current favourite is blending a banana, a stick of celery and 1/2 cup of water, then pouring that over a blend of soaked steel cut oats, buckwheat and ground flaxseeds. If I have some spinach, kale or fresh mint, I add that as well. Sure you can blend the whole lot but I love the different textures when you mix a green smoothie with your whole grains and healthy fats. You could also add a handful of almonds, to make your own almond milk and add another great whole-food healthy fat.
Spinach Basil Pesto
This is a sneaky way to get more super greens into a traditional pesto. No one will ever know! I also never add oil to any of my dips. Even when I make hommus, I just add water to achieve the desired consistency. Plus I use nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavour. This can be used as a dip or stirred through zucchini zoodles. Pesto freezes well, so you could freeze serve sized portions, that can be easily defrosted to stir through any steamed veges for a quick and easy meal.
This dish really is about getting creative! Minty spinach can be a great side dish or served over a whole roasted sweet potato. In all my cooking I have gone back to using water and not liquid oil – to reduce my overall intake of healthy fats to whole food sources like avocadoes, nuts & seeds and olives. Start with about 1/4 cup of water, in a hot pan and saute the onion until it’s cooked and slightly caramelised. You may need to add more water depending on how much you are cooking and the heat of your pan.
To be honest this recipe is about show casing my favourite salad dressing! With a desire to eat all foods ‘whole’ and take advantage of all the fibre and nutrients in foods, I have used a whole, peeled orange, tahini and a herbamere. Blend well and pour over any salad you like! I love this particular combination of vegetables because the colours are so vibrant.