Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spinach Artichoke Dip Rediscovered

As of late, my taste for spinach has been showing itself. Aside from being delicious and bright green, this little leafy vegetable packs a real protein punch. Per 1c serving, it brings 5g of fiber (18% DV), 6g of protein, and a whopping 366% DV of Vitamin A. There's also 14% DV of Vitamin C, 20% DV of calcium, and 16% DV of iron to be reckoned with. Talk about a power vegetable!

Dr. Praeger's Spinach Pancakes got my mind going in this direction. If you can make pancakes out of it, what else can you do? I decided to start with a favorite -- Spinach Artichoke Dip. In restaurants, this dish is served literally brimming with fat; it's not unusual to see oil surrounding the sides of the serving dish. A 2 oz. serving of Don Pablo's Spinach Dip generously gives 14% DV of fat, and a mind-boggling 25% saturated fat.

One night that I was between getting prepackaged TGI Friday's spinach dip and ordering some from a restaurant, an epiphany hit me: I could either purchase the frozen stuff, brimming with preservatives and chemicals, pick it up from a restaurant soaked in grease, or avoid both pitfalls by making it myself. I Googled a few recipes to get the idea, and wound up creating my own significantly lighter version. Enjoy!

Spinach Artichoke Dip (serves 6)

1 package frozen chopped spinach
8 oz neufchatel cheese or fat-free cream cheese
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts (canned works as well, marinated is just better)
1/3-1/2 c grated Asiago
2 tbsp fat free sour cream
salt to taste

1. boil a saucepan of water; add block of spinach and garlic.
2. while spinach thaws and boils, drain artichoke hearts and chop into smaller pieces.
3. strain spinach and garlic, add neufchatel and artichokes. stir over medium heat until cheese starts to soften.
4. add remaining ingredients; let the dip heat to a bubble while stirring.
5. serve hot, garnish with a lemon wedge.

Nutritional Info per Serving:
8g protein, 9.6g fat, 2g fiber, 3.3g carbs, 136 calories overall.

Traditional Spinach Dip:
17g fat, 3g fiber, 12g carbs, 282 calories overall.

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