Spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing recipe

spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing | pamela salzman

What are you up to this weekend? Lots of plans? No plans? Is it finally good weather where you are? In classic Southern California beach tradition, our unseasonably warm winter has transitioned into a slightly chilly spring. Translation: it was 70 degrees two months ago and it’s 70 degrees today! Not quite bathing suit weather, but also not complaining at all, because I am not quite bathing suit-ready either if you know what I mean!  The unofficial start of summer is a double-edged sword, now isn’t it? Exciting because I can start dreaming of laying on the beach with magazines and watermelon while listening to the waves crashing at my feet.  But summer also means shorts and bikinis and I need to start kicking it into high gear.  Salads to the rescue!

honey-mustard dressing

When I put this spinach salad on my meal plan for this week, it dawned on me I had never posted it on the blog.  I taught the recipe several years ago in my classes and I realized I never got around to photographing it.  But it was really popular with my students and with my family too, so I thought better late than never and I think it’s perfect for Memorial Day weekend.  This is a very simple salad which you can make much more fancy or more substantial if you want. The basic bones of it is fresh baby spinach, stone fruit, nuts and a classic honey-mustard dressing.  You can add cooked chicken or goat cheese, radishes, shaved carrots, avocado, and/or sprouts if you want. The honey-mustard dressing is the first dressing Mr. Picky ever liked, so the recipe holds a place near and dear to my heart. Truth be told, he likes it more as a dip for raw veggies than as a salad dressing, but I’m cool with that.

grilling apricots

I think this salad would be great next to a burger, especially a turkey burger, or chicken with barbecue sauce. So if you’re entertaining this weekend or you need to bring a dish to a potluck, I think this salad would be perfect.  I also love the idea of balancing out a burger with something much more healthful like spinach salad with a clean dressing.  Even though kale salads have been in the spotlight the last few years, I think spinach is just as nutritious. Check out this comparison of nutrients from Prevention Magazine. Spinach is incredibly rich in iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin K, as well as the obvious Vitamin C and fiber. Most people find raw spinach a bit more palatable than raw kale. Kale however, has the advantage at a potluck since it holds up much better already dressed than spinach.  I have two fantastic kale salad recipes on my site if you’re interested:  one with a citrus dressing and one with a creamy lemon dressing.  Both favorites of mine.

sweet and spicy pecans

However you are spending your weekend, there is always room on your plate for something healthy!  Enjoy!

spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing | pamela salzman

spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing | pamela salzman

Spinach Salad with Grilled Apricots and Honey-Mustard Dressing
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • Dressing:
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons raw mild-flavored honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz baby spinach leaves
  • Suggested add-ins:
  • 3 fresh peaches or apricots, ripe, but firm
  • Olive oil or melted coconut oil for brushing peaches/apricots
  • ¼ cup nuts such as sliced almonds or toasted pecans of walnuts (I used Trader Joe's Sweet & Spicy pecans in these photos)
Instructions
  1. To make dressing – place mustard, honey and vinegar in a mini-food processor or blender and process until combined. With the motor running, pour oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. (You can also do this in a bowl with a whisk, just take care to fully incorporate the honey.)
  2. Preheat a grill to medium. Cut peaches in half and remove pit. Cut into quarters if they're large. Brush with oil and grill until just charred, about 3-5 minutes. You can grill the other side if you like.  I like to grill apricot halves and cut in half again after they're off the grill.
  3. Place spinach in a serving bowl or platter and toss with just enough dressing to coat lightly. Top with grilled fruit and nuts. Drizzle with any remaining dressing, if desired.

Turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa recipe

turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa | pamela salzman

I know you are all in major Thanksgiving prep mode.  But I wanted to post this recipe for the day after if you are planning that far ahead.  And if that is the case, you and I are probably good friends, or should be.  One of the reasons I absolutely love the day after Thanksgiving is because I sit in my pajamas until noon like a lady of leisure and make everyone bring me things like tea and slippers, and fetch me the remote control because I slaved over that meal for days and days and I deserve to sit on that couch for as long as I feel like it.  Ha!  Once a year, it’s nice to be queen for the day.

salsa prep

I also love the day after Thanksgiving for the leftovers.  Leftovers mean I don’t really have to cook, but I do need to figure out how to repurpose turkey and potatoes and such in a tasty way.  I used to just literally reheat everything and we would have another Thanksgiving dinner the next night with some fresh turkey vegetable soup from simmering the turkey bones all day.  But personally, I have tired of that sameness two days in a row and have begun to look for ways to redo leftovers that don’t seem like leftovers.  I have made turkey shepherd’s pie and turkey pot pie (use turkey instead of chicken in this recipe), as well as Southwestern turkey and black bean chili and turkey, butternut squash and wild rice soup and so on.

cooking green onions

cooking the quesadillas

But this year, I am really going off in a different direction with these Turkey and Spinach Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa. Has this New Yorker been in Los Angeles too long?  By the sound of today’s post, you might think so.  Or maybe it’s because as I write this, it’s 75 degrees and my mind isn’t going toward something heavy like turkey stew.  I like this recipe for a variety of reasons, the first of which is that it’s tasty.  Another reason is that it’s so easy and I don’t need multiple pots and pans and cutting boards.  I am kind of not into cooking this Friday.  Lastly, I like the twist of a different, fresh flavor.

or try with avocado instead of cheese

My family all had different opinions about this recipe which is why my life stays interesting.  Mr. Picky still will not eat cheese because he thinks it’s the devil and I won’t eat it often because it’s not great for me, so the two of us tried the turkey quesadilla without cheese and with avocado instead.  Delicious!  The creamy from the avocado was a perfect replacement for the melted cheese, in our opinion.  As for the salsa, my husband likes cilantro 50% of the time and in the cranberry sauce was not one of those times.  One of my daughters put plain cranberry sauce on her quesadilla and liked that just fine and thought that would be a better way to present this recipe since there was no extra work involved there.  True.I also loved the cooked green onions, but there’s a good chance you might not have those lying around, so if you could easily sub cooked regular onions if you’re motivated.  No judgment from me if you’re not, though.

Hope you have an amazing holiday!  We all have so much for which to be grateful!

turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa | pamela salzman

turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa

Turkey and Spinach Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa
Author: 
Serves: 4-8
 
Ingredients
  • Salsa:
  • 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped green onion or finely diced shallot
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Quesadillas
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup 2-inch pieces of green onion
  • a few teaspoons unsalted butter or more olive oil
  • 8 (8-inch) whole grain tortillas (I like Rudi’s whole spelt and Food For Life sprouted grain)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
Instructions
  1. Prepare the salsa: combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare quesadillas:  heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.  Warm olive oil and sauté the green onions for a couple of minutes until tender.  Remove the onions and lower the heat to medium.
  3. Add a little butter or oil to the pan, place a tortilla on the pan and sprinkle cheese over the tortilla, Top the cheese with ¼ of the onions, ½ cup turkey and a handful of spinach leaves.  Cover with a tortilla.  Cook until the underside is lightly golden and flip over.  Cook until cheese is melted.
  4. Make remaining three quesadillas in the same way, adding a little extra butter to the pan if necessary to prevent sticking.
  5. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges and serve with prepared cranberry salsa or plain cranberry salsa.

Italian Fried Rice Recipe and * VIDEO *


I ate an excessive amount of pasta growing up.  My mom prepared it about three times per week and then we usually had it also on Sundays when we went to spend the day with my mom’s family or my dad’s.  Pasta was part of our heritage, not just an easy dinner and not eaten plain with butter the way I know many kids prefer it.  (Coincidentally, my father is visiting this week and on Day 2 he was already asking for a plate of spaghetti!)

Italian Fried Rice made with brown rice and seasonal veggies | Pamela Salzman

Ironically I don’t make pasta much for my family, and not because we don’t like it.  We do!  And it’s not because pasta is a processed food, because it is and I try to limit those.  But, I don’t eat much pasta because I can’t stop myself from overeating it!  Did you know 1 serving of pasta is 1/2 cup?  Basically, I try to keep my carbohydrates to 2 servings per meal to avoid blood sugar spikes and to attempt to maintain a healthful weight.  Unfortunately, overeating pasta for me is very, very easy.  I think I can consume 4 cups of pasta no problem.  I know I can make a dish with mostly veggies and some pasta, but I always end up eating seconds.  And thirds.

Whole grains like farro, barley and brown rice I don’t overeat as easily.  A few years ago I ate a fried rice dish at Ammo in LA that was a game changer.  I always assumed fried rice to be Asian-inspired, but this one wasn’t.  And it’s not fried, by the way.  Just sautéed. It just had lots of seasonal market vegetables and brown rice all sautéed in olive oil.  It made me think about all the possibilities for fried rice and I have enjoyed making versions of that dish since then.  My favorite combination I came up with is this one here, which has an Itailian twist.  I am crazy for it because it makes me feel like I’m eating all the yummy flavors I would put in pasta and it feels more satisfying because the brown rice has so much more fiber than pasta.

But just like regular fried rice, this is a great way to use up bits of leftover veggies or any kind of grain, for that matter.  And it is super quick (as in minutes) to throw together.  I probably eat a version of this recipe for lunch more than anything else if I am working at home.  Now that I think about it, I am going to make this for my parents this week!

Italian Fried Rice with brown rice and veggies | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Italian Fried Rice
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 or 2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced thinly
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a few leaves of fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cups baby leafy greens like chard, kale and spinach or 6 stalks of kale, stemmed and leaves chopped or more
  • 3-4 cups COOKED short grain brown rice
  • chicken stock, vegetable stock or water, if necessary
  • optional accompaniment ideas: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, poached or fried egg, toasted, chopped nuts, hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and when warm, add the garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until the garlic is just starting to turn golden on the edges, about 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until the tomatoes just start to lose their shape and the asparagus and mushrooms are tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the fresh basil and sauté until wilted.
  3. Add the cooked rice, the greens and another pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until the rice is warmed through and the greens are wilted. If the rice and vegetables are sticking to the pan, add a splash of water or stock. Serve immediately with or without suggested accompaniments.
Notes
Cooked quinoa, millet or lentils can be subbed for the rice.  You can also use part grain/part chickpeas. Or omit the tomatoes and basil and use different quick-cooking vegetables like thinly sliced fennel, diced zucchini, shredded carrots, blanched cauliflower florets, peas, scallions.  And use different ingredients to add in later, such as cooked beets, sliced oranges, avocado, olives and so on.  There are unlimited combinations!

Mexican-style Sauteed Greens Recipe

Mexican-style sauteed greens | Pamela Salzman

You know what never happens?  I never make at home for dinner something that I am currently teaching in one of my classes.  Why?  Because I normally eat it several times a week and I am not super motivated to eat it any more than that, no matter how good it is!  This is even more true towards the end of the month after I have taught the same recipes a dozen or more times.

kale

Well, never say never because I have been teaching this Mexican-style sautéed greens recipe all month and I made it for dinner Monday night.  Why?  Because there is never any left after my class!  Everyone has just gone crazy for this recipe and finished every last morsel before I had my chance.  I look forward to these slightly spicy, tart greens and then….none for me.

jalapenos

I am really obsessed with Mexican food.  I love the bright, fresh, punchy flavors.  And the ingredients are easy to come by in Southern California.  I do find it hard, though, to come up with a wide variety of vegetable side dishes to complement whatever Mexican main dish I am making.  I have a lot of salads in my repertoire.  If you haven’t tried my Mexican Chopped Salad or my Avocado, Jicama and Mango Salad or the Cilantro Lime Slaw, those are just fabulous and deliver a lot of nutrition at the same time.

add the cherry tomatoes

But when I stumbled up this recipe for Quelites, I knew I found a new favorite Mexican side dish.  Quelites actually refer to a type of weed, also known as lamb’s quarters, but in the above mentioned recipe, mustard greens are used.  Mustard greens are a tad bitter for my husband and Mr. Picky, so I tried this recipe with lots of combinations of milder greens, like spinach, baby kale and chard, as well as dinosaur kale.  Love, love, love, love, LOVE!

Mexican-style sauteed greens

What I like best about this recipe is how the acidity from the lemon juice and the sweetness from the tomatoes tone down any bitterness from the greens (if you’re using mature kale, for example.)  I don’t think this recipe is very hot, even with an entire jalapeño, although I do remove the seeds, which is where the heat is more concentrated.  But it’s hot enough for my heat-averse guys.  I just add a few shakes of hot sauce to my greens and I’m happy.

Mexican-style sauteed greens | Pamela Salzman

I have eaten these Mexican-style greens with rice and beans (so simple and so good!), as well as chicken enchiladas and tacos.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you saw that I made them for dinner this week with a veggie paella (Spanish, not Mexican, but so what) and then the next day with scrambled eggs and a corn tortilla.  Whatever you’re making for Cinco de Mayo, this will be the perfect, healthful side!

Mexican-style sauteed greens | Pamela Salzman

5.0 from 5 reviews
Mexican-style Sauteed Greens
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (remove seeds to make it milder)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound kale, stems removed and leaves cut into strips or 10 ounces baby greens such as baby kale, Swiss chard and spinach
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until onion is tender and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes, or until tomatoes just start to lose their shape.
  3. Add the greens and a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, until greens are wilted and just tender.  Sturdier greens will take longer than baby greens.
  4. Pour lemon juice on top and taste for seasoning.  Serve immediately.

Caldo Tlalpeño Soup Recipe (with quinoa!)

Caldo Tlalpeno Soup |Pamela Salzman

I think I was 19 years old when I tried avocado for the first time.  No joke.  In my defense, I was living on Long Island and we ate according to the seasons, and fairly locally, in the old days.  I don’t remember ever even seeing an avocado in our supermarkets, let alone my mom buying one and knowing what to do with it.  Even when I went to college in Philadelphia, I don’t recall any Mexican restaurants on campus or avocado at the dining hall salad bars.

saute the aromatics

But I do remember visiting my college boyfriend in LA over Christmas break sophomore year.  There was a new fast-food-style Mexican restaurant that had just opened up in his neighborhood called Baja Fresh.  I was open-minded even though I had never had Mexican food before.  I didn’t eat meat then, so I ordered a rice and black bean burrito with salsa and guacamole on the side.  (I seriously can’t remember where I put the new lip gloss I bought on Saturday, but I always remember food.)  LIFE CHANGING MOMENT.  It was like the time my son tried a Slurpee at 7-Eleven when he was 4 years old and said to my husband, “Why I not have this before?”  Exciting, but at the same time, a little depressing to think of all that you have missed out on.

add tomatoes, oregano and chipotles

Since then, truly since then, I have become obsessed with Mexican food.  Not gross, greasy, cheesy, heavy Mexican food.  I am more drawn to fresh flavors, salsas, rice, beans, cilantro, and one of my favorite foods EVER, avocado.  Maybe I didn’t move to LA after college graduation to be in the same city as my boyfriend.  Maybe I did it for the Mexican food.  I was young and crazy.  Who knows.  Crazy enough that I’m still here 20+ years later and I’ve never said no to a taco.

simmer until carrots are tender

Long story short, I am always looking for new and different Mexican recipes to try on my family.  There are only so many fish tacos and chicken fajitas that they’ll put up with. When I saw a recipe for Caldo Tlalpeño soup, I knew right away that this would be a keeper.  There are so many variations on this soup, which I think of as a slightly spicy, smoky Mexican chicken soup.  Chipotles, which are dried, smoked jalapeño peppers, are always the star of the show.   Without them, this would just be a chicken and vegetable soup.  Although the ingredients in Caldo Tlalpeño vary from region to region and restaurant to restaurant, you cannot make this soup without the chiles.  I have also seen versions with diced zucchini, green beans, chayote, or rice.  Epazote is a traditional herb used in this soup, but it’s not easy for everyone to find, so I often use orgeano in its place.  Not an exact, perfect sub, but good enough.

Caldo Tlalpeno Soup

One of my favorite things about Mexican food is adding all those great toppings and condiments.  So many of my favorite dishes are incomplete without salsa or guacamole or cilantro or radishes or all of the above.  The topping bar is also my secret weapon with Mr. Picky.  He’ll eat almost anything if he is allowed to top it with corn tortilla chips or diced avocado. Caldo Tlalpeño is great on its own, but I make this a full meal with a little cooked quinoa (not at all traditional, but amazing here), a pinch of sheep’s milk feta (also nontraditional, but delish,) and a squeeze of lime and some fresh cilantro.  So light, fresh, healthful and delicious.

Caldo Tlalpeno Soup with a twist | Pamela Salzman

Cinco de Mayo is coming next Monday, why not make this fabulous soup with a side of quesadillas or my Mexican chopped salad?  For some other great ideas for the perfect fiesta, try these recipes:

Tortilla Soup

Chicken and Avocado Soup with Lime

Mexican Chopped Salad

Turkey or Beef Tacos

Avocado, Mago, Jicama Salad

Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas Verdes

Fajitas

Perfect Guacamole and Baked Tortilla Chips

caldo tlalpeno soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Caldo Tlalpeño Soup
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce jar diced tomatoes (I like Jovial tomatoes in glass jars.)
  • 4-6 whole dried chipotle chiles (use fewer for less heat*), or 2 canned chipotles in adobo (I much prefer the dried chiles.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt (1-3 teaspoons according to whether or not your stock is salted)
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 cups baby leafy greens
  • Optional accompaniments: lime, fresh cilantro, crumbled cojita or feta cheese, cooked quinoa or rice, shredded and cooked chicken, diced avocado
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chiles, and oregano and sauté for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas, sea salt and stock. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook covered until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the greens and turn off the heat. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Serve with suggested accompaniments if desired.
Notes
*4 chiles makes this soup about a 2-3 on a heat scale of 1-10.   Eating them whole however, is quite spicy.  You can dice them up or puree them with a little broth when the soup is finished and  serve them with the other condiments/toppings for an extra kick.

 

Green Muffins Recipe — Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day

green muffins! | pamela salzman

I am too excited about this muffin recipe to wait until St. Patrick’s Day!  I’ve had great luck in the past using pureed spinach to turn pancakes green, so I knew I could make a green muffin.  Not only do I think these turned out fantastic, even Mr. Picky loved them, too.  Although I did tell him a little lie and said I used green food coloring and he just lit up, eyes wide, “Really?!  You did?!  Really, Mom?!  Like the unhealthy kind?!”  Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that my son actually thinks I would use food coloring in a muffin.  And just as disappointed that he would be excited to eat that same muffin.  I had to lie again.  Actually, buddy, it’s a natural green food coloring which gets its color from spinach.  Bummed out face.  I know for a minute there he thought I suddenly turned into an exciting mom, one who would take risks and dare to use carcinogens!  “Oh.  They’re still good, I guess.”

whole wheat pastry flour

puree coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, egg, milk together

And they are good!  These muffins are lightly sweet, moist, simple and BRIGHT GREEN because they are loaded with spinach!  St. Patrick’s Day is a HUGE opportunity to get green foods into your kids because they are expecting them.  You’re showing your spirit.  On any other day, green muffins are you just trying to sneak leafy greens into your kids who are not fooled.  But the closer we get to March 17th, green muffins are part of the fun!

batter made green from pureed spinach

fill about 7/8ths full

This is a very basic muffin recipe.  The spinach is undetectable and the banana is very subtle.  But if you hate banana, you might be able to sub 1/2 cup of applesauce.  I think adding walnuts or chocolate chips would be great, too.  One of my daughters suggested cream cheese frosting, although then these become cupcakes which is fine, too.  These tasted best the day they were made and the next day, too.  They lasted just fine a few days on the countertop in a sealed container, but I would freeze what you don’t think you’ll eat within a couple days.  Let me know if you make these and if you get lucky!

Green muffins! |Pamela Salzman

green muffins | pamela salzman

4.5 from 12 reviews
Green Muffins
Author: 
Serves: makes 12
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour or spelt flour (or use 2 cups of King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour + 1 teaspoon xanthan gum)
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup (Grade A or Grade B)
  • ¾ cup dairy or non-dairy milk (such as almond milk)
  • ¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 5- or 6-ounce bag of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with unbleached parchment liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a blender add egg, maple syrup, milk, oil, vanilla and spinach.  Process until pureed.
  4. Add spinach mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in the mashed banana.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin, filling cups about ¾ full.  I like to do this with a large ice cream scooper.  Bake about 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Store at room temperature up to 3 days.  These freeze nicely!

Savory Muffins with Spinach, Roasted Peppers and Feta Recipe

Savory muffins with spinach, feta and roasted peppers

If you read my last post, you know that we haven’t gone out for Mother’s Day in several years and this Sunday will be no different.  Truth be told, I couldn’t be happier for several already mentioned reasons.  I am, however, definitely not cooking on Sunday, but instead leaving that to the men for this one and only day.  But if I were cooking, I would make these fabulous savory muffins and serve them with a very veggie frittata.  Can you tell I am pushing a low-glycemic agenda this week?

dry mix

Have you ever had too much sugar and carbs at brunch that the entire rest of the day you just felt “off?”  Done it, hate it.  I always have a hard time bouncing back after starting the day with chocolate chip French toast, a blueberry crumb muffin, fruit salad and a mimosa.  No, friends, that is not a balanced meal.  Instead, I make a concerted effort to balance out the token coffee cake with plenty of protein and hearty, savory fare.

wet ingredients

If my husband brings in bagels, I make sure there’s wild smoked salmon and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.  Yogurt gets placed next to the homemade granola and there’s always a savory egg dish of some sort.  Even if I’m serving a crowd, I’ll double frittata recipes and bake them in large rimmed sheet pans.  Yes, you can do that!

spinach, feta and roasted peppers

savory muffins with spinach, feta and roasted peppers

Muffins and quick breads are very popular for brunch, and I have several recipes on this site, but I think these with spinach and roasted peppers are so delicious and a fresh change of pace from the ones you would normally expect.  They’re also fairly easy to put together.  In fact, you can combine your dry ingredients the day before and have your spinach, feta and peppers prepped and ready to go, so that all you really need to do is stir everything together and bake the morning of Mother’s Day.  Like most muffins, these are much better fresh out of the oven, but if you have leftovers, just store them in the fridge and warm them in the oven for a few minutes.  These are also the perfect match with any egg dish, whether simply scrambled or baked in a fritatta.  My most favorite frittata is this one with Swiss chard, but the one I just posted the other day with asparagus and artichokes is a close second.  Certainly, these muffins aren’t just for brunch, but make a great little extra something with a bowl of soup or in the next day’s lunchbox.

savory muffins with spinach, feta and roasted peppers

In the same way I love looking at what’s in people’s grocery carts (is that creepy?), I love hearing about your menus for holidays and special occasions.  Do share with me what you’re planning or what you would love someone to make for you!!  Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful mamas!

Savory Muffins with Spinach, Feta and Roasted Peppers

Savory Muffins with Spinach, Roasted Peppers and Feta
Author: 
Serves: makes 12 standard muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (or a combo)*
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¾ cup whole milk or unsweetened plain, hemp milk
  • ½ cup unrefined olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup thinly sliced spinach leaves
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers or drained mild Peppadew peppers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups with unbleached parchment paper liners (or cut parchment paper squares to fit.)
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, paprika, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk milk, oil, maple syrup and eggs in a large bowl and combine well.
  4. Add dry mixture to wet and stir until just combined. Fold in spinach, feta and peppers.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. I use a large ice cream scoop to do this.
  6. Bake muffins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack or eat warm. Best eaten the same day that they’re made.
Notes
*To make these gluten-free, substitute wheat flour with 2 ¾ cups King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour + 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum.

Healthful Vegan Mint Chip Smoothie Recipe

I quietly went dairy-free recently which made me a little bummed out because I love yogurt and feta and Pecorino Romano cheese.  My acupuncturist was begging me for years to break up with dairy once and for all so that I might be able to stop complaining about this and that.  Sure enough, without getting too personal, going dairy-free (even sheep and goat) has been a positive move for me and I am pretty motivated to keep it that way.

I still give Mr. Picky raw milk and the girls eat their yogurt and cheese all the same.  But when I make something for all of us to share, I’ve been using lots and lots of almond milk, like in porridges and smoothies.  I haven’t gotten around to making almond milk yogurt yet, but I’d love to try.  In the meantime, I just made this crazy delicious mint chip smoothie that will keep my dairy cravings at bay forever!  Mint chip was always my favorite ice cream flavor and I love fresh mint in salads so how could I go wrong in a smoothie?  I took my Leprauchan Smoothie from last year with a few tweaks and a couple drops of peppermint extract, presto!  It’s so darn good, it tastes like a dessert even though it’s totally healthful enough to eat for breakfast.  Except for the chocolate chips.  Who cares!  It has 4 cups of spinach which you can’t even taste and a couple of dates for sweetness.  Not bad at all.  In fact, so stinkin’ good!

My kids were even freaking out.  This is one of those things you’ll make for St. Patrick’s Day because it’s green and you won’t stop making it.  The only thing I don’t love about it is that it’s cold.  And cold first thing in the morning when the weather is still a bit chilly is a bummer for your digestive system which has to work extra hard to bring up the temperature of your stomach to where it likes to be.  I try not to give the kids cold smoothies first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and definitely not in the winter.  Serving this with warm oatmeal or porridge is a better idea, or after a workout, or when the weather warms up a bit.

But I’d rather see you drink a cold smoothie in the middle of winter than anything with gross green food coloring.  I just cringe when I see cupcakes with artificially-dyed frosting or green bagels.  If you need some convincing, please read this article from Healthy Child Healthy World about why you need to go dye-free.  In the meantime, go get yourself a giant bag of naturally green, chlorophyll-rich, nutrient dense SPINACH and enjoy some delicious St. Patty’s Day pancakes with a mint chip smoothie to wash it all down!  🙂

Healthful Vegan Mint Chip Smoothie
Author: 
Serves: makes 2 medium sized drinks
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice*
  • 4 pitted dates or sweetener of choice to taste
  • 4 cups spinach leaves
  • ½ ripe avocado, pitted and peeled (optional, but good if you are trying to eat more high quality fats)
  • 1 frozen ripe banana, cut into chunks (this should be peeled before it’s frozen--click here for tips on freezing fruit)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups ice
  • 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips or raw cacao nibs
  • To garnish (optional): 2 mint sprigs and some shaved chocolate (I used a vegetable peeled on a dark chocolate bar.)
Instructions
  1. If you have a high-powered blender, such as a Vita-Mix, place all the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips into the blender and process until smooth.
  2. If you do not have a high-powered blender, the dates may not get blended completely and may leave tiny little bits of date in the smoothie. If that bothers you, blend the almond milk and dates together and then strain the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender (EXCEPT the chocolate chips) with the strained almond milk and blend until smooth. Or just use honey or maple syrup to sweeten instead of dates.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and pulse just a couple of times to break them up a bit. Divide between 2 glasses and garnish with a mint sprig and chocolate shavings, if desired.
Notes
*If you want to use a sweetened vanilla almond milk or other sweetened vanilla milk, you can omit the dates and vanilla extract and sweeten to taste.