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raw power greens

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art. – Duc Fransois de La Rochefoucauld

Duc Fransois de La Rochedfoucauld, aka Prince de Marcillac, was a writer of mildly cynical and somewhat pithy maxims. He was born in Paris in 1613, hung around the royal court and spent most of his time making snippy comments about what he saw as the disturbing state of human affairs. Considered an intellectual harbinger of the Enlightenment – I imagine him as a 17th century Dennis Miller with an over-the-top, hoity-toity name. Much more uppity and not as funny as Dennis, but concise, satirical and witty nonetheless.

While I don’t always eat intelligently, I like this general maxim. It’s a good reminder and is there a better way to eat intelligently than to choose nutrient-dense, vibrant, unprocessed, living plants? Like the ones featured above. Look at the colors. You can literally see the phytonutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll.

Okay, maybe seeing vitamins and enzymes is a stretch, but you can guess by looking at these greens that they’re full of nourishing goodness. Plus, they’re low in calories and alkalizing to the body. This is perfect food.

Now compare that to a donut or a plastic-wrapped sweet-roll from a gas station vending machine.

Which one is the artfully intelligent choice?

This photo is of the 3 cups of mixed greens I used to make power smoothies this morning, wonder woman and super man food. It’s a smart way to start the day, even if it doesn’t match up with the new USDA MyPlate thing the government designed to help us figure out how to feed ourselves?


We’ve “evolved” to the point that we need a plate icon with food on it to show us what to eat?

I’ll bite my tongue, keep my snippy, food irony comments to myself and offer you a power greens guide to ease your transition into the world of nutrient-dense green food.

Power Greens Flavor & Nutrition Guide
This is the abridged version. If I included every green I could think of and all the nutrient goodness, this post would be a mile long. What’s your favorite power green and how do you like to serve it? Add it to the list in the comment section.

Swiss chard
Chard has a slightly bitter taste, so when I use it raw in smoothies I add something sweet like a Fuji apple to counterbalance the bitterness. It also has a very salty taste to me when pulverized in my VitaMix, so I like cinnamon mixed in. One cup of chard is off-the-charts high in vitamin K, A and C, along with a host of other botanical wonders. All for a measly 35 calories.

Spinach is mild, slightly bitter and versatile. It’s a good power green to add to kid-friendly smoothies as it’s fairly easy to hide if you add a pear or ripe banana and a little goat yogurt into the mix. Speaking of vitamins K and A, one cup of spinach has 1110% (K) and 377% (A) of the recommended daily values. Add in the high concentration of folate, iron, vitamin C, potassium, etc. and there’s a lot of bang for your 41-calorie-buck in a cup of spinach.

Kale is a little confusing. It has a mildly bitter taste, but it can also taste slightly sweet. It’s hearty (and hardy) and full of volume, if that makes sense. The power green nutrition profiles just keep getting better. One 36-calorie cup of kale gives you almost 200% of the daily value of vitamin A, close to 100% of vitamin C and a whopping 1328% of vitamin K. It even contains a jolt of omega 3 fatty acids.

Mustard Greens
Swiss chard tastes salty and mustard greens have a strong, peppery taste. If you use these in a smoothie, mix a small amount in with some lighter greens like romaine lettuce or spinach. Warning: don’t use raw arugula and mustard greens together! Whoa, that makes for an intense smoothie with a peppery kick. You get the idea on the nutrition part. Most leafy greens are ridiculously high in all kinds of powerful nutrients and mustard greens are no exception.

Turnip Greens
I’ll admit, not my favorite. Especially raw, turnip greens have a intense and bitter taste. They’re very high in plant-based calcium, which may account for the bitter bite. Only 26 calories per cup, they’re worth adding to your arsenal of power greens, but go easy on them and mix them in with some milder vegetables and sweeter fruits to mask the bitterness. Turnip greens are great sautéed lightly in a little broth.

Collard Greens
Aside from the “rubber glove” texture of collard greens, I like these greens for their mild and somewhat smoky flavor. They’re absolutely wonderful blanched quickly, cooled, dried and used as a wrap for chicken salad. You can also add some chopped collard greens to smoothies, but do it in small doses to see how you like them.

Romaine Lettuce
Mild, crisp and somewhat sweet. I love Romaine. This is a perfect “beginner” green and blends in well with other veggies and fruit for a nice mellow smoothie. It’s perfect raw, but I’ve also lightly sautéed lettuce before and it tastes great. Romaine is the low calorie winner at 15 calories for 2 cups and while it’s not the power-house that kale or Swiss chard is, it’s a rich source of plant nutrients.

Arugula, also called rocket or Italian cress, is a touch spicy with a hint of mustard. It’s best mixed in with some milder greens for a salad as it tastes bitter by itself. It can also be used in small doses in smoothies and is wonderful sautéed or thrown into a soup at the last minute. I like it on pizza with olives and sliced tomatoes. Like the rest of these greens, arugula is very low in calories, high in antioxidants, is low glycemic, anti-inflammatory and even has a little protein, calcium and iron.

Tatsoi is part of the bok choy family and although it’s slightly bitter (not bad), it’s excellent in a tossed salad, lightly sautéed or as part of a green smoothie mix. Because of it’s dark green leaves, like the rest of these, it’s rich in antioxidants and is even a good source of calcium and iron. Sauté it with some onions and garlic and serve it with brown rice. It makes for a wonderful “Buddha bowl.”

Frisée is that curly, lighter green lettuce that is often added to mixed salad greens. It’s not as hardy as kale, spinach and the other more intense greens. It will even wilt if you put vinegar on it, so wait until the last minute to dress your salads if frisée is part of the mix. It has a mild, very slight peppery taste with a nutty hint to it. It pairs well with bananas and berries in a smoothie (I’m sounding like a leaf sommelier). For a delicious summer salad, try a bed of frisée topped with roasted and sliced beets, pecans, crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of vinaigrette. Divine.

Here’s a great resource for greens and herbs, complete with pictures so you’ll know which green is which.

You might also like
Green Lemonade from Elana’s Pantry
Spicy Kale Salad with tomatoes and chiles from Tasty Eats At Home
Raw Super Green Salad from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

Peace, love and power greens!

gluten-free spinach beet zucchini pizza

Pizza — laden with roasted golden beets, zucchini and vitamin-K-packed SPINACH.

I picked up my CSA delivery box this past week and guess what I found inside?

Whoa, how did you know?

Spinach, glorious deep-green spinach. And lots of it.

I’m not complaining because it’s the best spinach on the planet. It’s just that you have to get very creative with your recipe development when you’re in the deep-end of spinach season. Beet, zucchini and spinach pizza, anyone? Trust me, this was over-the-top delicious. But, before I launch into the recipe, please humor me (or skip this part) and let me wallow in my geek-ness.


I have a theory about hearty greens (like spinach and kale) and celiac disease and gluten-intolerance.

Celiac disease is a genetically predisposed autoimmune disease in which gluten (the main storage protein in wheat, barley and rye) wreaks havoc on the small intestine, inhibiting nutrient absorption. That’s the super-duper, shortened definition. If you want the unabridged version, leave me a comment and I’ll fill you in on anything and everything you might want to know about celiac disease and gluten-intolerance. But for now, my theory about spinach and it’s role in healing.

Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense (calorie for calorie) foods available. I bet the deep-green, leafy, organic stuff I get from Grant Family Farms is on the far-side of pharmaceutical grade. It’s packed with vitamin K – 1110% of the recommended daily value. It also contains a zillion other health-promoting nutrients, but to keep this post from becoming a thesis paper, I’m going to focus on vitamin K and celiac disease.

Without getting into the poopy (literally) details, unmanaged celiac disease can cause nutrient malabsorption. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), iron, folic acid and a large part of our calcium are absorbed in the proximal section (the top part) of the small intestine. That’s the area that receives the most damage when you have celiac disease. If you have a trashed small intestine and you’re not breaking down your food adequately or absorbing your nutrients efficiently, you won’t be absorbing your fats (to make a long story short). If you’re not absorbing your fats, you won’t be absorbing your fat soluble vitamins. If you’re not absorbing your fat soluble vitamins, you won’t get the full benefit of vitamin K.

This is a generality. Our bodies are amazing and we compensate in many different ways, but if you become deficient in vitamin K, your blood may not clot properly. Isn’t it interesting that our blood has this amazing ability to flow quickly throughout the body; up and down and all around? Think about it, it remains a flowing liquid. But if you cut yourself, it can become a solid within seconds. Whew, that’s a good thing. If blood didn’t clot, one pinprick could drain the entire body of all its blood. Imagine a water balloon with one tiny little hole in it. Eventually all the water would slowly drain from the balloon.

Does anyone out there bruise or bleed easily? Anyone with celiac disease? Hmmm?

Vitamin K also plays a role in the synthesis of bone proteins. Without adequate vitamin K, the bones produce a funky protein that can’t bind to the minerals that normally form bones. You see, it’s not just the calcium you need for strong bones, it’s also vitamin K (and a bunch of other things, including exercise).

Anyone with osteopenia or osteoporosis? And celiac disease? Hmmm?

One more geeky thing (maybe two) and I’ll get on to the pizza recipe. Vitamin K can also be obtained from a nonfood source. GI tract bacteria can synthesize vitamin K, but you need to have a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria for that to happen. Antibiotics also kill the vitamin K producing bacteria, so there are lots of ways to become deficient, especially if you have celiac disease.

Now, don’t go taking vitamin K supplements unless your doctor prescribes them. Fat-soluble vitamins aren’t excreted as easily as water-soluble vitamins, so the risk of toxicity is much greater. I’m a big fan of getting my nutrients from high-quality food. This kind of focus is called nutrition therapy – this is what I do and this is how I live (most of the time, anyway).

So, let thy food be thy medicine and go eat some spinach!

gluten-free, spinach, roasted beet and zucchini pizza
what you need

1 gluten-free pizza crust (I used an Udi’s pre-made thin crust on this pizza)
1 & 1/2  tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of honey (maybe 1-2 teaspoons)
2 small golden beets, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes (no need to peel)
1 zucchini, washed and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
2 cups spinach, washed, stemmed and chopped
grated cheese (I like a mix of  shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago)

what you do
1. Because the beets and zucchini take longer to cook than the pizza itself, I like to roast them first. It also adds a nice taste to the pizza. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared beets and zucchini in a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Gently mix to cover with oil. Spread out the veggies on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast on center rack of the oven for about 15 minutes. Watch closely and flip using a spatula to make sure they’re roasted evenly. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. While the veggies are roasting, melt the butter over low heat, add the garlic and honey and stir until blended.
3. Brush the melted butter-garlic-honey blend over the pizza crust. Add chopped spinach first, then beets and zucchini. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and cook in 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Cut into 4 slices and enjoy! Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are.

* I’ve also made this pizza with red beets, but I kept the beets separate while preparing them so that everything else didn’t turn pink (not that it matters).

Udi’s is a local company. The pizza crusts are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free and delicious. Gluten-cootie-eaters don’t even know they’re gluten-free. No apologizing, no explaining needed!

Peace, love and vitamin K!

swamp scum smoothie

Well, that’s what it looked like. Murky, camo-green and all.

Plus, I’m hooked on alliterations, and those “s” words flowed together so well. Although I must say, swamp scum probably isn’t the most keyword-worthy phrase. Not that I’ve ever cared much about keywords. In my own blog world, anyway. If I write copy for you, I’m TOTALLY into keywords. TOTALLY.

I suppose if I’m going to take this blogging thing seriously, I should start thinking tagline options, SEO, keywords, analytics and metadata. Don’t you think? After all these years?


Just the mention of metadata gives me brain freeze. And without the accompaniment of a huge bite of ice cream, that’s just not fun.

Okay, on to the serious business of figuring out what to do with all this spinach. I’m almost sure someone at my CSA pickup location slipped some of their spinach into my box.

Fine. If anyone can manage an abundance of spinach, it’s me. I’ll take on the challenge.

Nancy Drew meets the Green Goddess (ooh, that would have been a great title).

swamp scum smoothie
what you need

SPINACH (if you don’t have any, I’ll share), washed with stems *
1 golden beet unpeeled, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped *
1 small apple unpeeled, scrubbed and chopped *
1 cup vanilla goat yogurt
a handful of frozen cherries
a handful of pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
coconut water

what you do
1. Place all ingredients in your VitaMix and blend well. If you have a regular blender, shred the beets rather than chopping them.

* The skins of beets and apples contain all kinds of beneficial nutrients and fiber, so choose organic and leave the skin intact. Scrub well, but don’t peel. If you don’t go with organic, then you might want to get rid of the skin as it’s probably been sprayed with an assortment of icky chemicals. Spinach stems contain some nourishing goodies as well, so throw some of them into the mix.

Go forth and celebrate spinach (again and again). No complaining. This is what “eating local” is all about. Especially in Colorado.
Peace, love and green stuff!

Spinach, spinach and more spinach

Are you having an evolutionary flashback?

Belonging to a CSA means eating according to the natural, local growing cycles. Back in the olden days, this was the only option. No avocados if you lived in Colorado. No tomatoes in the winter unless you canned them. No spinach in December.

Here in the Rocky Mountains, you can count on the possibility of snow into May (maybe longer), so June and July mean LOTS of greens (seriously, like a ton). Right now my CSA share box is overflowing with spinach. My crisper drawer is jammed. I can’t shove another leaf into it.

That’s the perceived downside to belonging to a CSA. No variety. Spinach, spinach and more spinach. Hey, we have too many options in life as it is, enjoy the simplicity. Sometimes less is more (or something like that).

Just think “primitive diet” with a contemporary twist. Spinach is our main ingredient, we simply need to resort to some creative accessorizing. How about some maple syrup to sweeten things up? Those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time might recognize a pattern here. Pure, organic maple syrup is often my answer to life’s dilemmas.

warm maple spinach salad
what you need

10 cups washed, stemmed and gently torn spinach
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 cup (or more) chopped pecans
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda

what you do
1. Toast pecans in a small skillet over low heat until fragrant (3 to 5 minutes). Stir often. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
2. Toss spinach and cucumber in a large bowl.
3. Heat oil in small skillet over low-medium heat. Add shallot and cook 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Stir often. Don’t let the shallot burn. Add vinegar and maple syrup and increase heat until almost boiling. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Immediately pour the dressing over the spinach and cucumber. Toss well and sprinkle with cheese and toasted pecans.

Makes 4 large servings or 6 small ones.

As for the abundance of CSA spinach, if all else fails, make a bouquet-ish arrangement out of it. See photo above.

Go forth and eat spinach! Over and over.
P.S. Cid, I’m counting on you to set me straight on my cheese choice. I’m guessing there’s a more fashionable accessory than smoked Gouda.

CSA Season begins (hallelujah)

Farm-fresh food lovers, start your engines (salad-spinners, blenders, stovetops, VitaMixes, ice-cream makers, juicers, dehydrators). CSA season is upon us!

Okay, so we’re a little behind out here in Colorado. It’s that pesky snow thing. But, we’re a hardy bunch. We don’t let cold weather ruin our fun or our growing season. Last weekend was Grant Family Farm’s spring farm tour and CSA kick-off celebration. It was cold, rainy, dreary and muddy, but in true Woodstock tradition, spirits were high, the beer was flowing and the farm-fresh food abundant.

As I did last year, I’ll be posting recipes according to what I receive in my share box each week. Please join me in eating our way through the season.

spinach pesto
what you need

2 cups fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
2 – 3 tablespoons parsley, washed and stemmed
1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

what you do
Place all ingredient in a food processor and pulse. Salt and pepper to taste. Serving ideas: drizzle over roasted chicken, serve with crackers, use on pizza, substitute as a condiment in wraps or sandwiches, use as a pasta sauce. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Kirsten Akens, Food & Drink writer for the Colorado Springs Independent. Please follow this link to Kirsten’s article about Grant Farms Spring Farm Tour (more photos included). Thank you, Kirsten!

Peace, love and farm-fresh food.

the princess and the pea(s)


Katherine (my friend’s daughter) has the right idea. Eat peas while they’re farm-fresh as the sugar quickly converts to starch, compromising the sweet, delicate flavor. Peas are the all-purpose, wonder food. Kids love shelling them and popping them directly into their mouths. Grandmas serve them for every holiday. They’re good in soups, stews, smoothies, stir fries, wraps, spring rolls, salads and rice. Peas are perfect lightly boiled, steamed or sautéed and topped with a touch of butter and sea salt. Use your imagination, you can’t go wrong with farm-fresh peas.

simple cheesy peas
what you need
2 cups peas (or adjust according to how many you have)
grated parmesan cheese

what you do
Bring a saucepan of water to a soft boil (not raging). Add a dash of salt and the shelled peas. Watch it carefully. You only want to cook the peas for a short time (no longer than 45 to 60 seconds). Cooked, fresh peas are best when they’re tender, but still firm. And definitely not mushy. Drain in a colander, place in a bowl, top with dollop of butter and gently toss. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. These are wonderful paired with rice or mixed into risotto.

mostly raw veggie burritos (inspired by Tara, cute & quirky Denver hair artist at Salon No Dice)
what you need

roasted, chilled and sliced beets *
peeled and thinly sliced kohlrabi
freshly shelled peas
washed and dried spinach, cabbage or lettuce leaves
roasted sunflower seeds
crumbled goat cheese
dressing of your choice
tortilla (teff or brown rice for the gluten-free version)

what you do
Stack your ingredients in a row on your tortilla. Drizzle with dressing of choice and fold. Check here for various folding methods. My favorite for this wrap is the “open ended” method (#3).

* This is a perfect way to make a quick, tasty meal and use up various veggies. I like the texture of roasted, chilled beets in a recipe like this, but shredded or thinly sliced raw beets work fine. When I’m in the midst of beet harvest time, I roast several and store them in the refrigerator for salads, wraps and sandwiches. Yes, they’re great on sandwiches, they replace the tomatoes.

I’m off for a few days of camping, hiking and mountain biking in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, so I won’t be posting recipes or responding to comments on my blog until the end of the week. I’m not ignoring you — I’m just enjoying the wild blue yonder, complete with homemade dehydrated kale backpacking soup (more about that on Shirley’s GFE “happy camper” carnival at the end of the month).

P.S. Photo credits and cuteness courtesy of my friend, Megan. Thank you!

warm kohlrabi & spinach (salad?)


If the beet is intense and deadly serious, the kohlrabi is off-beat and free-spirited. It’s the plant version of a 17 year old boy with a skull and crossbones tattoo on one arm and a skateboard under the other. Ahh, but I like colorful people and unconventional vegetables. Kohlrabi is included in that cast of characters.

Nutrition information and tips

Kohlrabi is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage and is a relative of broccoli. It’s high in vitamin C, low in calories, contains a good amount of fiber and serves up some calcium, potassium and iron. I’m not big on peeling my veggies, so other than trimming away the funky parts of the skin and the tough base end, I don’t bother (wash and scrub well). You can use both the globe part and the leaves, but it’s best to store them separately. The leaves don’t last long; use them quickly as you would any other green. The globe can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or more. Both have a mild, slightly sweet taste. You can eat it raw, sauté it, use it in stir fry recipes, or cook it and mash it.

Spinach (one cup) provides a whopping 1110% (no mistake, that’s thousand) of the daily value of vitamin K, 294% of vitamin A, 84% of manganese, 65% of folate and 35% of iron. It also has plenty of vitamin C, B2, calcium, potassium, B6, dietary fiber, protein and on and on. Even some omega 3 fatty acids. This is all packed into one cup of spinach, which carries with it a measly 41 calories. Lots of bang for your buck!


warm kohlrabi & spinach (salad?)
1 washed and scrubbed kohlrabi globe, chopped into strips
2 cups washed, dried and chopped spinach
roasted sunflower seeds
vegetable or chicken broth *
course sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

* I like keeping a small carton of chicken or vegetable broth in my fridge to use for sautéing veggies. Pacific Natural Foods has small (1 cup serving size each) 4-pack containers of organic broth, which lasts me 2-4 days.

Using a large skillet, heat about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of broth over medium heat. Add kohlrabi and simmer until semi-tender, 5-8 minutes or so. Add spinach and a splash more broth if needed, stir gently until spinach is slightly wilted. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Salt and pepper to taste. (This was my lunch, make a much larger amount for more servings.)

Caraway seeds also go well with this warm salad. I toast them in the pan before adding the other ingredients. I was thinking garlic scapes would be great with this, but I wanted to save mine for a salmon salad (I’ll post that recipe in a couple days).

Raw kohlrabi, carrot, jicama, apple and/or radishes cut in matchstick pieces makes a wonderful raw salad. Top with an olive oil/honey mustard dressing. You can also grate kohlrabi into any green salad or stir fry. Although it may look intimidating, it’s really quite friendly and versatile.

Go forth and embrace off-beat veggies!

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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