Tag Archives: spinach

Easy Spinach & Mushroom Pasta Sauce

Sometimes, when you just need a quick dinner and don’t feel adventurous, it is easy to discount pasta as “too easy”, or feel guilty about all those carbs. But the good news is, pasta is a great blank canvas on which you can paint all sorts of tasty, healthy flavors.

You can use generous amounts of pesto, which can be made in a blender and contains easily 2 servings of vegetables per plate. You could also whip up a white bean alfredo sauce, which is essentially watered down hummus, and is super healthy and filling.

Or you could make my favorite veggie-packed sneaky healthy red sauce of all time: spinach and mushroom sauce.

mushrooms and spinach

The beauty of this is its simplicity. You only need spinach, mushrooms, some spices, and a giant can of crushed tomatoes.

You can easily substitute in a jar of pre-made sauce, and add the veggies; or use diced or even whole tomatoes, just whir them in a blender before simmering. Canned or dried mushrooms would work just fine as well. You can also use frozen or canned spinach, but it will make the sauce much waterier and it would be best to simmer the sauce for an hour or more to thicken.

homemade pasta sauce ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pint of any type of mushrooms
  • 2 heaping cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp dried onion/onion powder
  • 2 tbsp Italian spice mix
  • Garlic salt, pepper, to taste

spinach and mushroom pasta sauce ingredients

Step 1: In a pan, add the mushrooms and a bit of water, wine, or stock. Cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Cook 5-7 minutes, and then add the spinach. Cook another 3-5 minutes until wilted.

simmer tomato sauce for pasta

Step 2: Add in all the spices, and the tomato. Bring to a gentle simmer, and place the lid on, slightly askew so that the steam can escape and your stovetop isn’t covered in sauce bubbles. Simmer until thickened to your liking, usually about 15 minutes for me.

spinach mushroom pasta sauce

Serve with or without meatballs, sausage, or any other sauce additions you like. The flavors all work together beautifully, and most people won’t even notice there are extra veggies! If you want to really fool them, you can puree the sauce with a blender or immersion blender before serving.

 

What’s your favorite way(s) to sneak more vegetables into your diet?

Creamy Peas and Panchetta Pasta

 

Nothing is quite so satisfying and delicious as enjoying a brief crop of produce in its prime.  Spring peas are a great example.  They burst into bloom in the early spring, swell to full pods, and then quickly disappear, leaving round seeds to dry and protect until next year.

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The beauty of frozen produce is that you can lock in all the enzymes and living nutrients of a fresh item and keep it for use many days or weeks or even months later.  Flash frozen vegetables can be the next best thing to right-from-the-dirt produce, and maybe even better because it is washed and minimally processed. This way, you can enjoy this fresh taste of spring any time of the year!

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The cream sauce is made with a minimal amount of fat. I used some half and half and some regular 2% milk. Add fresh grated Parmesan cheese and if you desire a tbsp or so of flour for a thick, creamy, salty sauce that tastes like velvet and will satisfy any Alfredo lover.  You can use other types of cheeses too, don’t be shy about trying mozzarella or reggiano, asiago or feta.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup torn greens of choice (kale, swiss chard, collards, spinach)
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon (optional, you can omit for a vegetarian recipe or use turkey bacon instead)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated hard cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound cooked fresh pasta, drained

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Step 1: Boil and drain your pasta.  In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain all but about 2 tsp of fat*, and crumble the bacon.  Cook the peas and greens in the bacon fat for 5-10 minutes, until softened.

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Step 2: To the pan, add the milks and bring to a slow simmer.  Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well until thickened, add flour 1/2 tbsp at a time if desired.  Pour it over the hot drained pasta and top with a sprinkle of fresh grated cheese!

 

*If you want a vegetarian dish, omit the bacon and use vegetable of coconut oil instead!

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Sausage & pepper quiche

 

This recipe is so simple, you can make it for one person or a dozen, using only a plastic cup & frying pan, or the fanciest of oven-safe cast iron cookware. I used one turkey sausage link and a few slices of bell pepper, plus bagged spinach. But feel free to use whatever veggies you have in the fridge, like onion, carrots, broccoli, etc.

Scale up by multiplying the ingredients list by however many people you are wanting to serve. You could also put bread in the bottom of an oven-safe pan and pour this over it to create a breakfast strata, or just scramble it all in a pan if you don’t have a stove-top-to-oven pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sausage link
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: sprinkle of cheddar cheese

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Step 1: In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, brown the sausage link. (You could also use a 1/4 cup of ground sausage or a patty). Cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces.

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Step 2: Break the eggs into a bowl or cup. Scramble them well with a fork, until fluffy.

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Step 3: In the skillet, using sausage oils, cook the peppers 5-6 minutes until softened, then add spinach. Cook just a few minutes, until wilted. Add the sausage back in and mix.

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Step 4: Pour the scrambled eggs on top, and distribute evenly around the pan. Let cook on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes, until the eggs are halfway cooked.

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If using, sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, and add the seasoning.

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Step 5: Assuming you are using an oven-safe pan, put the entire pan into the oven (carefully!) on 350 F for 10 minutes to fully cook the eggs. Alternatives here are to scramble it, or make it into an omelet by flipping it in half.

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Cut into pizza slices, and enjoy! This is a great brunch recipe, could be breakfast for dinner, and is even fast & easy enough to make for yourself on a weekday morning. Feel free to omit the sausage for a quick & delicious vegetarian breakfast as well.

 

Sausage & pepper quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 sausage link
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: sprinkle of cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, brown the sausage link. (You could also use a 1/4 cup of ground sausage or a patty). Cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl or cup. Scramble them well with a fork, until fluffy.
  3. In the skillet, using sausage oils, cook the peppers 5-6 minutes until softened, then add spinach. Cook just a few minutes, until wilted. Add the sausage back in and mix.
  4. Pour the scrambled eggs on top, and distribute evenly around the pan. Let cook on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes, until the eggs are halfway cooked.
  5. If using, sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, and add the seasoning.
  6. Assuming you are using an oven-safe pan, put the entire pan into the oven (carefully!) on 350 F for 10 minutes to fully cook the eggs. Alternatives here are to scramble it, or make it into an omelet by flipping it in half.
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/less-than-5/sausage-pepper-quiche/

Power Greens & Beans Salad

 

If you’re looking to fill up, super-charge your cells, up your fiber intake, and feel AWESOME for around 300 calories a plate, look no further!

This phenomenal salad uses a strong base of mixed greens (romaine & spinach) combined with the vegan four-bean salad from a previous post, and topped with fresh green onion to create a super heart-healthy, cholesterol-reducing, vitality-restoring super salad!

(Claims not investigated by the FDA. I made all this up so far.)

But seriously folks, this is delicious, and there is so much gorgeous color and fiber here, it might be a challenge to finish the whole plate! And with the vinaigrette from the four bean salad, you don’t even need dressing, which is where a lot of salad calories tend to come from.

So you can feel really super awesome about eating this.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 romaine leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup vegan four bean salad
  • 2 green onions, chopped

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Step 1: Create a giant bed of greens on your plate. The more the merrier!

“Oh no, not more green leafy vegetables!” — Said no one’s internal organs ever.

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Step 2: Smother the greens in the bean salad. Chop the green onions on top and that’s all there is to it. Enjoy your phenomenally healthy and tasty lunch/dinner/whatever.

Optional substitutions: Use any kind of leafy green here, kale would also work, even iceberg if you must. If you don’t like green onion, use any other fresh herbs. You can also add other toppings like raw nuts or seeds, croutons, olives, sliced peppers, etc.

 

Power Greens & Beans Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes one huge plate of salad

2-3 cups greens and beans

Ingredients

  • 4-5 romaine leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup vegan four bean salad
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Instructions

  1. Create a giant bed of greens on your plate. The more the merrier! "Oh no, not more green leafy vegetables!" -- Said no one's internal organs ever.
  2. Smother the greens in the bean salad. Chop the green onions on top and that's all there is to it. Enjoy your phenomenally healthy and super tasty lunch/dinner/whatever.
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/vegan/power-greens-beans-salad/

Under 100 Calories per Bowl: Cruciferous Vegetable Soup

 

I’m always a big fan of recipes that help “clean out the fridge or pantry“, and if they are healthy as well then bonus! We all have some assorted cans, boxed, half bag of frozen mixed vegetables, etc. that have been sitting around since approximately we moved into whatever abode we inhabit.

Even the most strict, list-making, meal-planning, leftover-eating of us have odds and ends we need to try to use up before expiration dates. It is especially hard with produce. I have a bad habit of buying everything that’s on sale, I want to cook eventually, sounds healthy… and then I have a fridge packed full of five-day-old veggies beginning to wilt and lose nutrients. Sad face. 

That’s why this soup is fantastic! You can mix and match what vegetables you add based on what you have waiting to be used, and choose whatever protein and grain is in the half-empty box in your cupboard. There is of course a few caveats.

You need a huge ratio of veggies to other stuff, and a large portion of it must be water IF you are going for a filling, vegetarian, healthy, low-cal, low-fat soup.

Try to choose mostly cruciferous vegetables and/or leafy greens, as those pack the most nutrients and fiber for the least carbs and calories. Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. Limit the beans and grains to one cup each to keep calorie counts low. If you have a “meat tooth” feel free to throw in some cooked shredded chicken or steak.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Garlic salt
  • Lots of water (stock or bouillon for extra flavor)

Step 1: Chop all your veggies and add to the crock pot. Add the grain (barley) and protein (beans) as well as diced tomatoes. You can sub fresh chopped tomato or tomato sauce, or forget the tomatoes. I just super love diced tomatoes in all the things.

Step 2: Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until veggies, barley and beans are tender. Add any other seasonings you like. Enjoy for under 100 calories per bowl as often as you are hungry!


*Disclaimer: I do not recommend crash diets like the cabbage soup diet where this is all you eat all day, but I do believe that soup before a full meal will help dampen hunger and make it easier to eat healthy and manage a healthy weight, and broth based soups should be incorporated into your meal plans to keep total grocery costs for the week low.

Vegetarian Breakfast Strata

I’ve said many times, and I’ll say it again, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I’ve also said many times that I love easy, make-ahead meals. This breakfast strata could be put together or baked the day before and stored in the fridge if needed. It is super simple and could incorporate any type of veggie or bean you prefer. You can make it completely vegan by using egg substitute and no cheese too.
 
Ingredients:
3 slices bread
1 can beans, slightly mashed
1/2-1 cup vegetable (spinach here)
8-10 eggs, beaten
sprinkle of cheese

Step 1: Lay the bread in an oven-safe pan sprayed with oil. Layer on the mashed beans, cheese and spinach.

Step 2: Add the egg mixture.

Step 3: I sprinkled more cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked.

Mmmmmmm! Hot, healthy, and protein packed breakfast. Actually this doesn’t necessarily have to be for breakfast, you could have this any time of the day.

 
What are your favorite strata ingredients?

Make your own pizza, male and female style

You may think I’m weird for saying this, but I don’t like pizza that much. I know, how un-American of me. I will eat it if it’s around, and I get an occasional craving for a weird one like chicken bacon ranch, but in general if asked what I want for dinner, the answer will not be Little Caesars.
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My current S.O. could literally live off pizza and burritos. So we found a compromise, making our own pizza. That way I can have the things I want on it (veggies) and control the sauce, and he can have what he wants (as much meat as possible) at the same time. This is our version of men are from Mars, women are from Venus, in the kitchen.
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Ingredients:
1 tube pizza dough (about $2 at grocery store)
1 jar pizza sauce (~$2)
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Toppings of choice: Female half
Spinach & mixed greens
Onions & peppers julienned
Zucchini
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
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Toppings of choice: Male half
Deli ham
Ground beef (pre-cooked, left over from burritos actually)
Bacon
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
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Step 1: Cook the meat if needed, spray a 9×13 oven safe pan. Roll the pizza dough out flat and press to the sides of the pan.
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Step 2: Spread on as much sauce as you like. I don’t like most pizzas because I end up scraping a cup of sauce off my slices, so I put it on thin.
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Step 3: Layer the toppings.

Step 4: Cover in as much cheese as you can handle. Because cheese is sent from heaven to make all foods taste better. Some calories are just worth it.

Step 5: Bake at 425 for ~20 minutes or until crust is brown and crispy and cheese is bubbling.

This recipe is as varied as your imagination, nearly any meat or vegetable can be a pizza topping, so if you like it then go crazy! You can use veggies left over from other meals. It’s easy to make a vegetarian (or even vegan without the cheese) pizza.

You can fold the dough in half to make a smaller deep-dish pizza. Try a bunch of variations and find what you like best.  No matter what you put on yours, its likely to still be much cheaper and healthier than a purchased one.

Spinach fruit & nut salad

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Well as you may remember, I am eating healthier this year. Working out has been kind of off and on due to sickness, school visits, and I admit, laziness. I have been pretty good about eating better overall though. So today I decided to make a super healthy salad.
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Spinach is one of the best greens out there, with tons of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Then I added some fruit for natural sweetness, and nuts & seeds for healthy fats. The only thing that could make this better is some grilled chicken breast to top it off!
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Ingredients:

2 cups fresh, washed spinach
1/2 kiwi
4-6 strawberries
1 roma tomato
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
Balsamic vinegar & olive oil

Step 1: Cut the peel off the kiwi and cut into slices. Slice the strawberries as well.

Step 2: Put a big pile of spinach leaves on a plate, cover with diced fruits & nuts. Add dressing, enjoy!
Here’s to eating healthy and enjoying it for life!