AskChefDonnaHow exciting! Fresh baby spinach is coming into our kitchen from Stony Point Center farms’ greenhouses! Although we are currently closed to guest groups at this time, our members of the Community of Living Traditions (CLT) who live here on the Stony Point Center campus are enjoying the opportunity to prepare our fresh spinach in so many delicious ways. Spinach is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. It contains a high amount of vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, calcium plus more.

My favorite way to enjoy our fresh spinach is for breakfast. I love to add it to my eggs or stir-fried tofu. Since spinach cooks so quickly, I add spinach at the end to the dish I am cooking. Spinach is a wonderful addition to soups, stews, lentils, beans, quinoa, potatoes, pasta, stir fries and more. In fact, I honestly find that most savory dishes are enhanced when I add fresh or frozen spinach. Just a reminder, since spinach is one of those vegetables which contains a large amount of water, it will all but disappear into your dish if not added just at the end of preparation. I will make a soup and when it’s done, I will add spinach directly to the soup. The heat of the soup will cook the spinach perfectly.

As I attempt to limit my trips to the grocery store, I’m even more cautious not to waste food. I love bananas and eat one almost every day, but sometimes they will ripen faster than my family and I can consume them. Once my bananas get very spotty, they become sweeter and grainy. I peel and freeze them for future banana bread baking days — taking care to label freezer bags or containers with quantity because once frozen, it can be hard to distinguish how many there are and especially for baking, that’s important information to know!

The frozen bananas are great to have on hand for baking, but another awesome use for them is for making smoothies. Raw spinach is a delicious and healthy addition to my smoothies and yes, just like bananas, you can freeze fresh spinach for future smoothie use. When using spinach which I freeze myself, I do not defrost it. I use it straight from the freezer otherwise it is watery and mushy. At home, I often buy a 16-ounce box of spinach from the grocery store which is substantially less money per ounce then the small bags. If it looks like it’s going to wilt soon, I’ll just put some in the freezer. I sometimes freeze it fresh if I know ahead of time that I won’t be able to use it all before it starts to go bad. Fresh spinach will usually last in your refrigerator 5-7 days. These days as I’m trying to limit my trips to the market, I’ll sometimes buy a large container for using fresh and a small bag for the freezer.

Here is a quick and simple recipe which I created to use up my spotty bananas and fresh spinach.

Spinach and Banana Smoothie

yields one smoothieSpinach Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • One large handful fresh or frozen spinach (straight from the freezer)
  • One large or 2 small fresh or frozen banan
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Directions:

  • Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Here are some substitutions/additions to make it your own:

  • Add ins: chia, seeds, flax seeds, nuts, fresh or frozen berries, protein powder, nut or peanut butter
  • Instead of almond milk: soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, whole or lowfat cow's milk
  • Instead of spinach you might want to try kale

If you have specific questions regarding the recipes and tips I share, or other questions about meals and ingredients, I invite you to reach out to me at askchefdonna@stonypointcenter.org. Let's start cooking!