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Our Blog: April 13, 2023

Give Mealtimes a Boost with Spinach

Providing an early veggie variety is key to raising adventurous, healthy eaters.

This month, we’re highlighting SPINACH as a great powerhouse option! The leafy green is rich in fiber and a good source of multiple vitamins and minerals. It can be consumed raw or cooked, giving you many options for using it in meals and recipes. Through exposure, kids can learn to love all kinds of vegetables. We hope you will join the Veggies Early & Often campaign at home by being a role model for children through cooking and eating a balanced, plant-forward diet. 

Spinach can be purchased fresh, frozen, or canned. Fresh provides a few additional nutritional benefits, but canned and frozen are both still excellent choices. Because canned and frozen spinach is pre-cooked, you’ll want to look for no-sodium or low-sodium options. Once drained, rinsed, and squeezed out, canned spinach can be added to scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, soups, and casseroles to boost your nutritional intake. Select plain frozen spinach rather than in a sauce to ensure you’re getting all the benefits without added ingredients. When prepping frozen spinach, you’ll need to defrost it on a plate or run it under cold water. Once thawed, squeeze the excess water out. It can be added to smoothies, scrambled eggs, casseroles, pasta, etc.  

When purchasing fresh spinach, look for dark green leaves, a crisp texture, and a fresh aroma. Avoid spinach that is wilted, spotted, or slimy. Baby spinach has especially tender leaves. It’s delicious in a salad or in one of our recipes below!  

Spinach & Cheese Quesadilla (Serves 2)


1 tsp. olive oil
5 oz. fresh baby spinach
7 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 green onion
1 Roma tomato
2 large whole-grain tortillas
½ cup salsa


  1. Dice the Roma tomato and chop the green onion.  
  2. Add ½ tsp. olive oil to a large non-stick pan and begin warming on medium-low heat.
  3. Put the spinach in the pan and let soften. It will only take a minute or two. Remove from pan and let cool.
  4. Increase heat to medium. Add a tortilla to the pan and add half of the cheese to the tortilla, spreading evenly. Top with spinach, tomato, and green onion followed by the rest of the cheese.   Top with the other tortilla and brush the remaining ½ tsp. of olive oil on top.
  5. Allow the quesadilla to cook for approximately 2 minutes before flipping. It should be browned and crisp on the bottom.  
  6. Once flipped, cook the other side for another minute or two. Remove after it browns.
  7. For young assistants: Once cooled, have children assist you with cutting the quesadilla into quarters using a pizza cutter. A serrated knife could also be used by an adult.     
  8. Serve with salsa (optional) and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Love & Good Stuff.

Sauteed Lemony Spinach (Serves 2-4)


1 lb. raw baby spinach
¼ cup pine nuts
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lemon


  1. Preheat a medium sauté pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add olive oil.
  3. Add about a third of the baby spinach at a time, cooking it down until it’s soft and wilted.
  4. Add minced garlic and pine nuts. Stir to combine until pine nuts are slightly browned.
  5. Cut the lemon in half. For young assistants: Have children squeeze juice from lemon over a bowl or use a lemon juicer if you have one. 
  6. Lightly dress the spinach mixture with lemon juice and serve. 

*This recipe is veggie-forward and approved by the Partnership for a Healthier America to meet the Veggies Early & Often guidelines. Approved 3/3/23.   

Chana Saag (Serves 6)


1 onion
1 Tbsp. ginger, grated
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. curry powder (mild or hot)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tomato
1 lb. frozen chopped spinach
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas
½ cup water
1 can (13 oz.) coconut milk (light)


  1. Dice the onion and grate the fresh ginger.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and ginger to a large pan with the olive oil and sauté over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
  3. Dice the tomato (removing seeds).
  4. Add the curry powder and cumin to the pan and continue to stir and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the diced tomato and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes or until the tomato starts to break down.
  6. For young assistants: Have children help you drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander.  
  7. Add the chickpeas and frozen chopped spinach to the pan. Add ½ cup of water. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let the mixture simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the coconut milk. To thicken, allow the sauce to simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.
  9. We recommend serving Chang Saag over brown rice or with whole-grain naan bread.

Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes

This recipe is veggie-forward and approved by the Partnership for a Healthier America to meet the Veggies Early & Often guidelines. Approved 3/3/23.