Beyond Green Smoothies: Take the Spinach Challenge

~ Spinach is a great way to amp up nutrition for the entire family! We’re taking you way, way beyond the ever-popular green smoothie! Here are easy ideas for adding this versatile superfood into the meals you’re already making! ~

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Green smoothies are all the rage on blogs and Pinterest – and for good reason! The “green” in those green smoothies often comes from spinach – a superfood that’s low in calories, yet loaded with antioxidants, fiber and even a little protein. It’s also jam-crammed with vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamins A and K, manganese, and magnesium. The list goes on and on!

Spinach is even thought to help fight some signs of aging – it’s no wonder Popeye looked so young!

Yep – just a handful of spinach blends a whole lotta nutrition into your favorite, already-healthy smoothies, and you can’t even taste that it’s in there. No, really! It’s just brilliant!

And sure – here at THK, we love green smoothies as much as the next guy (or … gal). Maybe even more! But spinach goes way, way beyond smoothies!

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Raw baby spinach has such a mild, almost unnoticeable flavor, that it easily melds itself into all sorts of recipes without creating even a little commotion.

In fact, you might have noticed that our last three recipes (Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad, Creamy Tomato and Sausage Pasta, and our Healthier Take on the Shamrock Shake) all had baby spinach quietly lurking in them – it’s a snap to incorporate this health-food hero into recipes without disrupting other flavors and textures!

And you actually don’t even need a recipe! It’s so easy to tuck spinach into impromptu meals, snacks and warmed-up leftovers.

THK Spinach Challenge8So, try this challenge:

Next time you’re at the store, simply grab a bag of baby spinach to keep in the fridge. Then see how many ways you can find to work some into what you’re making that week. You’ll be amazed at the result! By the end of the week, that bag of spinach will likely be empty … and you’ll have effortlessly ramped up your nutrient and veggie intake without even realizing it! High-five to you!!!

To get you started, here are eight super-easy ideas. Not new recipes – just inspiration on how to amp up the nutrition of things you’re already making and eating anyway.

We see lots of Spinach Challenge victors on the horizon!

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1) Of course – salads are a spinach no-brainer! Remember our battle of the salads, with Shelley’s Spinach Salad with Cashews, Feta and Cranberries? Any time you need to fill out a meal with some extra veggies, or even want a little snack … toss some of your spinach with any other handy ingredients … and call it a salad! Easy! And, if you’re re-warming leftover proteins like chicken, salmon or steak, serve them on a bed of spinach to turn them into a healthy, hearty salad. Leftover fajitas or taco fixin’s from last night’s dinner? Sounds like you’re having a Mexican-inspired taco salad for lunch today (mmmmmmm …)! You get the idea!

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2) If you read our series of posts on Tips for Picky Eaters, then you know we’re not huge fans of constantly hiding veggies to “trick” kids. Still, there’s no harm in adding some spinach in with other ingredients that look just like it! Anytime you’re stirring chopped fresh herbs (especially basil) into recipes for pasta salads, casseroles, lasagna, or sauces (like in our Creamy Tomato and Sausage Pasta), chop up some baby spinach right alongside, and mix them both in together. Veggie-suspicious kids will generally just assume all the green stuff is basil (as will adults who swear they don’t really care about healthy eating!). Peek-a-boo … hello there, spinach!

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3) Similarly, you can even chop up some spinach (maybe along with a bit of basil) and stir it into jarred pasta sauces to amp up the nutrition and add some great fresh taste and color. Spinach just seems to have a magical way of disappearing into foods – you can add a surprisingly significant amount of spinach without it taking center stage.

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4) Toss a handful of spinach into soups at the end of cook time, or as you re-warm leftover soups, stews and chilis. It wilts down so much, you end up stirring in more … and more … and even more …

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5) Want a power breakfast that can totally go portable? One of Shelley’s faves is a breakfast wrap: some scrambled eggs layered with a little reduced-fat cheese and whatever veggies are on hand … onions, peppers, tomatoes, corn … and SPINACH (of course!). If you’re not in a hurry, you can change things up by using corn tortillas and, instead of wrapping them up, leave them flat … breakfast quesadillas! Serve with tons of antioxidant-rich salsa for dipping (yum!).

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6) Or, tuck some spinach into your favorite omelet. You can even stir it into scrambled eggs, or create a big-bowl breakfast scramble with eggs, veggies (including spinach!), and maybe a little bit of low-fat cheese or turkey sausage.

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7) One totally easy swap is to sub spinach into sandwiches or wraps any time you’d normally use iceberg lettuce. Spinach beats iceberg in a nutritional showdown, and adds even more gorgeous color! Bonus! Also, when you order a sandwich at a sub shop or restaurant, tell them to skip the iceberg lettuce (they’re happy to pile that on, since it’s a really inexpensive ingredient that takes up lots of room and makes the sandwich look big) … and ask for extra spinach instead. Skip iceberg and reach for spinach and other more nutrient- and antioxidant-rich, darker greens when filling your plate at salad bars and build-your-own-salad restaurants, too.

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8) Feeling totally crazy? Try blending some spinach into milkshakes for a healthier dessert. No kidding! Just like when you blend it into green smoothies, spinach has very little flavor to interact with the flavors in milkshakes. When we developed the recipe for our Shamrock Shake, we were blown away by just how much spinach we could blend in (3 cups!) without anyone tasting it at all!

So come on! What are you waiting for? Take our Spinach Challenge and let us know how you use up that bag of spinach!

Just scroll down to our comments box and type in your comment! E-mails are never published (we respect your privacy too much!) and last names are optional! We’d love to hear from you!

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Comments

Beyond Green Smoothies: Take the Spinach Challenge — 32 Comments

  1. Manservant and I just agreed to start a diet when we return after Passover. He informed me that I needed to buy a giant bag of spinach because he hates that kale “stuff”. I informed him that he will be eating it in everything, so this post sure helps!

    • Abbe, you are always just hilarious! Seriously, though … we’re so excited to give you some inspiration for your new healthy eating plan! Tell us how it goes, and let us know if you dream up other ways for “Manservant” to eat spinach in everything – lol!!!! Have an awesome weekend, friend! 😀 G&S

    • Oh, Mireya – you’ve gotta try that spinach salad! It’s such an easy, no-brainer to throw together, yet it’s always a hit, whether I take it to a dinner party or just toss it in a bowl for a quick side dish for my family’s dinner! Mmmmmmm … and mango banana smoothie?!? That’s what I need to try! 😀 ~Shelley

    • Thanks, Jessica! We seriously are surprised sometimes how effortlessly spinach can just work its way into so many other things we’re making. You don’t really need to hide it, just be sure to add it … and *POOF!* a whole bag of baby spinach is magically empty! Love it! Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you have a wonderful weekend! 😀 ~G&S

  2. Hello Gretchen and Shelley,
    This is a great shout-out for spinach and a good reminder about how many different dishes it goes well in. I actually like the taste of spinach, especially when it’s fresh and raw and prefer to be able to taste it, not hide it!

    • Hi, Helen! Spinach really does go well with so many things – surprisingly so, if you’re just a little creative about it! So, hey – grab it by the throat on this one – pile on a giant triple layer of spinach in those sandwiches and wraps, toss a couple extra super-huge handfuls into the soup … girlfriend, we’re thinking you’ll be our Spinach Challenge Champ, for sure! Hip hip hurray for spinach! 😀 ~G&S

    • Wow! One of your favorite foods, huh?!?!? That’s fantastic, and given the amazing recipes you concoct for your blog (with all sorts of delicious and healthy ingredients), that’s really saying a lot! 😀 Hope your week was super and the weekend ahead is even better! ~G&S

  3. Yes, I love all the spinach ideas…I too always have spinach in the fridge and try to add it wherever I can…
    Thanks for the inspiration…have a wonderful week ahead 😀

    • Oh, Kelly – we’re betting you’re an ace with spinach! And … ummmmm … is it rude of us to ask if you could maybe invite us next time you’re having a hummus/spinach/veggie lunch? That’s kinda right up our alley! A quick plane ride and we’ll be at your door. You won’t mind, will you? 😀 ~G&S

  4. This is such an awesome post! A really useful example of how spinach can be incorporated into so many every-day foods! I’m going to try your suggestions with kale, too. Thanks for the inspiration! x

    • Wow – thanks, Laura! That really means a lot! 😀 We’re so glad we inspired you! And yes – lots of these ideas could be adapted for kale! Yum! We’d love to hear some of the ideas you try and how they work out! ~G&S

  5. I just love your blog posts and all the easy, nutritional tidbits you give to us readers! You make healthy look so good. Spinach for the win! I’m taking on the challenge…my brain is already scrambling to think of other ways to get some spinach in during the day.

    • Wow, Kara! You sure know how to make our day!!! What an incredibly sweet comment! We’re so excited you’re tackling the challenge! Pop back and tell us all the other fab ideas you come up with – we know you’ll have some good ones! 😀 ~G&S

    • Oh, Pamela, I bet you do have lots of wonderful, homegrown spinach! I am soooo jealous! I used to garden a lot – I loved it, and I also loved that it helped my little ones understand and feel more connected to the growing process and to where their food comes from. I was always so excited to page through seed catalogs in anticipation of spring, and to find wonderful heirlooms to try each year! Sadly, year after year, I finally realized it just wasn’t worth the effort because the place that I have available for a garden simply doesn’t get the sunshine most veggies need to really thrive. No matter how I cared for my little garden, the yield was always puny. 🙁 Luckily, living in Ohio, we are nestled among lots of wonderful farms, with fabulous farmers’ markets and even lots of locally grown produce in the grocery stores. I have to admit, though, it’s utterly impossible to walk by all those gorgeous veggie plants at the nurseries every spring, and I still enjoy the luxury of growing lots of herbs in pretty pots on my deck, and hanging some lovely cherry tomato planters where the deer can’t reach them! Thanks so much for stopping by to leave us a comment … and if you ever find yourself with waaaayyyyy too much spinach, you for sure know where to send it (‘cuz Gretchen and I need to try some spinach cupcakes!!!). 😀 ~Shelley

  6. This is a fabulous post! So many ideas! We use spinach in our house any time we have hamburgers (instead of lettuce). I love spinach salads! I throw it is soups. I eat it with eggs on a tortilla. Love these. Thanks so much! Pinning!

    • Awww, thanks so much, Debi! Great idea for the hamburgers – so glad you passed that along. We’re totally with you on how easy it is to simply toss some in soups or roll some up in a tortilla! And isn’t spinach somehow just really, really good with eggs?!?!? Thanks a million for the pin! 😀 ~G&S

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