Posts tagged ‘spinach’

September 12, 2011

Iron Woman

Who had a good weekend? I did! It wasn’t the best ever, but no weekend is a “bad” weekend. Clemson sure could have played better, but let’s not get into that…

Go Tigers!

I had a relatively healthy Friday, but that went right out the window on Saturday. It could have been much worse, and I don’t feel guilty at all. Kev and I split quesadillas for snack/dinner while watching football, and we split this frozen pizza for a late dinner after the GA vs. USC game.

Beer n' Pizza

I don’t generally like thin pizzas or white pizzas, and this was both. However, we agreed that it was pretty darn good for the price.

Pizza may not be the healthiest option, but you know what is healthy? Iron. (Sweet transition, right?) I purchased lots of spinach, sprouts, salmon, and beef at the store Sunday, so it got me thinking about this vital nutrient.

Women’s Health Magazine said that iron eliminates free radicals from the body “and helps protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.” Iron also strengthens your immune system and keeps your thyroid running smoothly.

Stella Lucia Volpe, PhD, RD, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, told Fitness Magazine, “Only heme iron — found in animal foods like beef, lamb, or poultry — is directly absorbed into the body… Vegetable iron isn’t absorbed as efficiently.”

Spinach Salad (Only Part of Dinner)

No matter your diet (carnivore, flexitarian, or vegetarian/vegan), you can boost absorption by consuming iron-rich foods along with Vitamin C. According to Fitness Magazine, calcium interferes with iron absorption. I guess fortified cereal doesn’t help so much with milk!

We should get 18 milligrams of iron per day, but that can be difficult – especially on a plant based diet. Up to 62 percent of women fail to meet the recommended minimum.

To check the iron levels in common foods, check out these handy lists from FitSugar and WebMD. A few of the listed entries are:

  • Half a cup of cooked chickpeas = 3.4 mg
  • Half a cup of steamed kale = 2 mg
  • 3 oz of steak = 4 mg
How was your weekend? Did you catch any great football games? Do you keep track of your iron intake?
August 9, 2011

Tuscan Tomato Rice Bowl

It has been a loooong time since I’ve shared a recipe, or at least it feels that way.  When Trader Joe’s didn’t have what I needed to make a lentil curry dish for lunch this week, I was forced to go against the list.

Regular readers probably know that I’m a stickler to my store list.  My handy-dandy list limits impulse buys, ensures I remember (most) things, and keeps me from wandering around like a lost and very confused child.  Yes, the list is a must, so you can imagine how devastating it can be when my little TJ’s is missing 3 of the 5 ingredients I need for a recipe.

I improvised.  TJ’s – 1, Tiff – 0.  But my improvisations helped me make something awesome.  TJ’s – 1, Tiff – 1.  It’s a tie; I’ll leave it at that.

rice bowl of yum

Tuscan Tomato Rice Bowl

the yums


  • 5 servings of brown rice
  • 3 cups low-sodium veggie broth (best if it’s got a fair amount of tomato in it)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • small handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, chunked/diced/whatev
  • 1/2 cup fresh, thinly sliced basil
  • 1 bag fresh spinach (looking back, I think I’d buy a frozen box of it next time)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 oz sliced, sun dried tomatoes NOT in oil (I used 5/6 the full 3 oz.  I ate 1/6 in a sandwich.  Recommended!)


  1. Cook rice according to package directions in broth.  Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients.
  2. Heat oil in pan.  Add onion and saute until soft.
  3. When rice as 10 minutes remaining, gradually fold or stir in spinach.  It will wilt and cook down significantly.
  4. To onions, add fresh tomatoes and basil.  Cook and stir 3 minutes or so, then remove from heat.
  5. When rice is done cooking and needs to rest, stir in any remaining spinach, chickpeas, and sun dried tomatoes.  Then stir in the onion, basil, and tomato mixture.  Let all ingredients cool slightly.  Serve into 5 containers for a week of awesome lunches.
ready 2 go

This comes to approximately 310 calories per serving if you divide it into 5 servings.  It really depends on which ingredients you choose, but that’s about what mine equaled.

Note 1: I would have loved to have added a little more fresh spinach and some toasted pine nuts.  However, I cook on a budget.  I also cook simple meals.  I think you all will appreciate both aspects.  If not, go buy yourself some pine nuts.  I bet they’re lovely.

Note 2: I would have also loved to add feta cheese.  That’s no surprise.  I’m also keeping an eye on calories, and I think many of you will appreciate that as well.  If not, go buy yourself some feta.  I bet it’s lovely.

By the way… I named this “Tuscan” because of this funny “news” article from The Onion:

Area Woman Will Eat Anything With ‘Tuscan’ In Name

MARCH 2, 2009 | ISSUE 45-10

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, NJ—Veterinary assistant Lauren Millardi, 27, will eat any dish prefaced with the word “Tuscan,” sources reported Monday. “Tuscan shrimp, Tuscan garlic chicken, it doesn’t matter,” said Millardi’s boyfriend, Tim Vernacini. “I’m not really sure if she even knows what makes food Tuscan, but there’s something about that region-specific culinary modifier that she finds inordinately appetizing.” Vernacini added that Millardi likely would have loved the 2003 movie Under The Tuscan Sun had it not failed to meet her strict film criterion of having taken place between the years of 1743 and 1919.

This dish would actually be much more “Tuscan” if it included white beans and orzo instead of chickpeas and rice.  Close enough though, right?

June 2, 2011

Asparagus Veggie Bowl with Basil

I have good news, bad news, and a recipe for you today.  The good news is that I gained zero pounds on vacation last week.  Of course, if you read posts like this one you might have guessed that I lost weight.  However, if you checked out other posts, such as this one, you might have assumed I put on a couple.  Muahaha… calorie credits and debits at work!

The bad news is that I already failed on my Real Food June challenge.  Ummm… I think I made it one day because I started May 31.  I found this to be more comical than discouraging.  The guys left one lonely portion of meatloaf last night, so I ate it.  Since it was my mommy’s recipe (ultimate comfort food), was made with lean beef, included fresh basil and real Wisconsin white cheddar, I’m pleased with my decision.  The only downfall was the overly processed and totally unnatural breadcrumbs.  Ooops!

As promised, here’s the recipe for this week’s lunch bowl.  I must admit, it isn’t quite as yummy as my last lunch bowl, but it’s very filling and vegalicious.  I might like it more if I actually enjoyed eating asparagus.  It’s not that I don’t like the stuff, but it’s one of my least favorite veggies.

At least it's pretty!

At least it's pretty!

Kevin’s an asparagus fan, so I made lunch for him too.  Hurray for 8 pre-made lunches!  He can consume loads more calories than I can (by loads, I mean approximately 1,100 per day), so I told him to bring an extra snack and top his veggie bowls with cheese.  I recommended parmesan or asiago, but he requested mozzarella.  Whatever.  For my readers, I still recommend parmesan if you feel like adding more to your lunch.


  • 6 servings of quinoa
  • 1 TBS olive oil and 3 more TBS olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced (white or red)
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 oz fresh basil (not so sure dried would work this time)
  • 2 cans cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 12-oz packages of frozen asparagus (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1 16-oz package of frozen spinach

*Note: 2 10-oz packages of asparagus and 2 10-oz packages of spinach would also be great, but it all depends on your grocery store’s offerings.


  • Heat 1 TBS olive oil in frying pan.  Fry/sauté onion and bell pepper in pan until soft.  Add garlic powder, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Continue cooking until super soft.  (Is “super soft” a Martha Stewart approved cooking description?)  Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions.


    So Colorful!

  • Allow onion and pepper mix to cool while you tear basil in smaller pieces.  While cooling, you can also defrost spinach and asparagus in your microwave according to package directions.
  • Place basil in food processor.  Place onion and pepper over basil.  Add the three extra TBS of oil as you process this into a sauce-like paste.  This is similar to a pesto, but it lacks the hard Italian cheese and pine nuts.  (Pine nuts don’t fit into my calorie or money budget.)


    A Work in Process

  • When quinoa is finished cooking, add the “sauce” from the food processor.  It won’t cover much, but the onion and basil contribute strong flavor.  Gently stir in the beans, asparagus, and spinach.
  • Stir, divide, and re-heat before serving.  Kevin added cheese daily before microwaving it.

    The Great Divide

    The Great Divide

I’d like to add a note about the red bell pepper.  Quinoa and spinach are great sources of iron, but the body absorbs iron better when it is served with a little vitamin C.  I doubt half a red bell pepper (a vitamin-C powerhouse) really added enough to matter over the course of 8 lunches, but I do what I can.  Next time, I might be inclined to omit the red bell pepper and have a little Clementine orange as a side or dessert.  The orange gives you the C, but it would also freshen your breath.  Garlic + Onion = Watch Out!

One last thing to watch out for… asparagus is a natural diuretic.  This is helping me feel less like a whale after vacation.  You may want to drink an extra glass of water every day that you have this for lunch.  Necessary?  Probably not.  Good for you anyway?  Sure.

The recipe is easily halved, but as-posted: serves 8, approx 325 calories per serving

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