What to do with Spinach?

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Spinach isn't just for Popeye; it's for all boys and girls, men and women, who want to be healthy and enjoy a good green! However, if you think it's packed full of iron and will make your muscles big, you may have been misled. History has it that a German chemist misplaced a decimal point and listed a 100-gram serving as having 35 milligrams of iron rather than the true amount of 3.5 milligrams. Nonetheless, spinach is highly regarded in the nutritional world and is considered a powerful superfood.

This dark leafy green is an excellent source of vitamins A and K. It's also a good source of folate and fiber. There are different varieties of spinach, but most are familiar with flat or smooth-leaf spinach, which have flat, spade-shape leaves. Baby spinach is very young and usually the flat variety. Always wash fresh spinach right before use. Spinach can easily be sautéed in a small amount of oil for a rapid 3-minute side dish. Of course, you can also use it in a spinach dip, put it on a pizza, layer it in a lasagna, or throw it in a quiche.

March is National Nutrition Month and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging people to "Put Their Best Fork Forward" by cooking more meals at home. The versatility and quick-cooking make spinach an easy ingredient in a home cooked meal.

Smothered Chicken (Printable PDF)

2 teaspoons olive oil

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

½ large onion, chopped

2 Tablespoons chopped pecans

3 cups fresh baby spinach

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 oz. each)

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 slices reduced-fat provolone or mozzarella cheese, halved

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onions, and pecans; sauté until vegetables are tender and pecans are toasted. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove spinach mixture from skillet and cover to keep warm. In the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Rub chicken with pepper and garlic powder and add to skillet. Cook chicken breasts for 10 minutes; turn each breast over and cook an additional 10 minutes until internal temperature read with a thermometer is at least 165°F. Top with cheese; cover skillet with lid and cook until cheese is melted. Top chicken breasts with spinach mixture.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 260 calories, 11 grams fat, 160 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 31 grams protein