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Ask the Expert Archive


Yesterday, March 26th, was National Spinach Day.  So, I’m a day late celebrating, but in my opinion you really never need a special day to celebrate this amazing veggie.  Spinach is really quite impressive, as it’s classified as “high” or “excellent” in a number of nutrition benefits.  It is fat free, saturated fat free, cholesterol free, high in dietary fiber, high in vitamin A, high in vitamin C, high in iron, high in folate, along with being a good source of magnesium.


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


Potato Spinach Lasagna from Fruits & Veggies–More Matters uses sliced potatoes instead of noodles for layering.  Fresh, baby spinach, chopped onion, non-fat ricotta cheese, part skim mozzarella cheese, and sodium-reduced pasta sauce are the remaining ingredients of this savory dish.


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


Pesto is a great sauce that can be used for pasta, as a topping for chicken, or to as a dip for bread.  Spinach pesto is a variation on the traditional recipe.  You’ll need fresh spinach, dried basil, cloves of garlic, olive oil, toasted pine nuts, sea salt, lemon juice, sugar, and Parmesan cheese.  Ingredients are blended until smooth in a food processor and stored in your refrigerator.


Courtesy of Nellie Bellie


Spinach and White Bean Soup is a delicious and hearty meatless meal option.  An added bonus is you can pull this together in 30 minutes!  Cannellini beans, orzo pasta, baby spinach, diced onion, garlic, olive oil, vegetable broth and herbs like basil, thyme, and parsley make up this soup.  Right before serving you’ll add the juice of a lemon for extra zest.


spinach and white bean soup
Courtesy of Damn Delicious


I’m back next week with a look at soyfoods and some ways to incorporate them into your diet.


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Today is The Great American Meat Out, a day which is celebrated across the globe to encourage people to give veganism a try and educates the public on the benefits of eliminating animal products from their lives.  While I am not a vegan, nor am I a vegetarian myself, I do try to work in meatless meals a few times a week.  Why?  For a few reasons:

  1. I believe making a couple of my weekly meals meatless because fruit and vegetables tend to be lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories than meat.
  2. Eliminating meat from a few meals each week helps to cut my grocery bill down.  Let’s face it, meat is one of the most expensive items in the grocery store.

To celebrate The Great American Meat Out, I’ve collected some recipes that can be prepared as vegetarian or vegan–however you prefer.  In case you’re not yet familiar with the difference, vegetarian means no meat is used in the recipe.  Vegan means no animal products of any kind (this includes dairy, eggs, and honey) are used in the recipe.


Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has a Rolly Veggie Cannelloni that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Lasagna noodles are wrapped around chopped spinach, grated carrots, and ricotta cheese.  A savory tomato sauce is spooned over the cannelloni and they are baked for 30 minutes.  To make this recipe into a vegan version, substitute seasoned tofu for the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale is a dish packed with goodness.  Roasted spaghetti squash is combined with sautéed shallots, chickpeas, and kale in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, chili flakes, sun dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper,


spaghetti squash
Courtesy of Love and Lemons


Enchilada Stuffed Grilled Portobello Mushrooms are perfect for the Mexican food fan.  These meaty mushrooms are very filling, especially when combined with the black beans and corn.  Enchilada sauce is drizzled on top of each mushroom and you can top each with shredded Monterey jack cheese or seasoned tofu to make the recipe vegan.


Courtesy of Sweet Peas and Saffron


If you like something with an Asian flare, you’ll love this Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai with Peanuts and Basil.  For the Pad Thai you’ll use brown rice noodles, zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, carrots, peanuts, oil, egg (or arrowroot powder to keep it vegan), and fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, and green onions.  For the sauce you’ll need fish sauce (or a vegan fish sauce substitute), brown sugar, vegetable broth, white vinegar, soy sauce, and chili paste.  You’re going to spiralize the veggies and cook everything in a stir fry pan, adding the peanuts at the very end.


Courtesy of Pinch of Yum


I hope you’ll add these and other meatless recipes to your menu lineup.  I’m back next week with some recipes in celebration of National Spinach Day.


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Yes, I know I’m one week early, but since we changed the clocks yesterday to “spring” forward, I’m ready to launch into a new season!  This time of year is perfect for fresh, new meal ideas.  Think lighter fare, packed with plenty of healthy fruit and veggies.  As we usher in spring, we also see a whole new variety of fresh produce come into season.  To kick start your healthy eating habits, I’ve got a few perfect recipe ideas that take advantage of fruit and vegetables that are or will be at their peak of flavor during the next few months.


Balsamic Spring Vegetable Salad is hearty enough for a dinner entrée.  Red potatoes, asparagus, arugula, avocado, artichoke hearts, and chickpeas are the basis of your salad.  A dressing is created from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  An added bonus is how beautifully this dish presents.


balsamic spring vegetable salad
Courtesy of Pumpkin and Peanut Butter


This healthy Spring Veggie Frittata is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Egg whites, eggs, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, garlic powder, dried thyme, and salt are combined and then baked for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Serve this dish with fresh fruit at breakfast or a side salad at lunch or dinner.


Courtesy of Pancake Warriors


Spring Confetti Salad is a delicious mix of flavors, colors, and textures.  Sauteed asparagus, shallots, arugula or mixed greens, kale, shredded red cabbage, sliced watermelon radishes, chickpeas, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and pistachios create your salad.  A simple dressing is made from olive oil, lemon juice, plenty of ground black pepper, and salt to taste.


Courtesy of Edible Perspective


Next week I’ll have some terrific meatless recipes to celebrate The Great American Meat Out (3/20).


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