Trick and Treat with Homemade Spinach Powder

I am always trying to come up with ways to make food healthier. Even healthy food. I increasingly want to push the envelope to see what I can conjure up. The problem with some recipes is that the healthier you try and make them, the more “healthy” they taste. We all understand what the meaning of “tastes healthy” is right? Here’s an example: When I first started experimenting with vegan food several years ago, I wanted to make cookies. They came out ok, but definitely didn’t taste like a fresh baked normal cookie. I was proud of them (and slightly defensive…) because they were good for me, and while I wanted so badly for someone else to like them, something about them was just, well, off. I think my coworker actually used the term ‘horse treats’ to describe the flavor. She was right, they did taste like horse treats. They tasted too “healthy.”

Over the years I have definitely refined my recipes to be healthy, without tasting “healthy.” So in my quest to amp up the good-for-you-ness of what goes into my mouth, I have decided to trick myself…and others. Yep, that’s right, good ol’fashioned trickery. There are many different ways you can add things to your food, not taste it, and get amazing benefits for your body. One such ingredient is spinach powder. Spinach is full of Omega-3 not to mention a slew of other great nutritional benefits. For more info on the benefits of this green wonder-food, click here. When added to the right recipe, it goes virtually un-noticed. If you think about it, there are so many places we could add a dash of spinach powder…to our breadings, muffins, eggs, smoothies, noodles, even dark chocolate fudgy brownies. That’s right. I said brownies. Are you drooling yet? I am :)

The only problem I have found with spinach powder is the price and availability.While you can buy most anything exotic at the health food store, I have yet to find spinach powder at any of my local retailers. The price can get also get very expensive and you don’t always know if there are any preservatives added to it. Fortunately because it is so concentrated, you don’t have to use very much to get the health benefits. One tablespoon of spinach powder is equivalent to about 98 grams of spinach, which is about one third to half a bag of fresh spinach. Something I love about spinach powder is how cheap and easy it is to make! I usually will wait until fresh spinach goes on sale by one get one free and then make it in batches. With halloween right around the corner, I think I will trick and treat myself to some wholesome sneaky spinach foods.

 

What you’ll need:

1 bag pre-washed spinach (preferably organic if it’s available)

Preservative free olive oil spray

 

Kitchen equipment

Food Dehydrator

Food processor

Magic Bullet or coffee grinder (optional)

 

Directions

Spray dehydrator trays with a light coating of olive oil spray. You can skip this step, but your spinach may be harder to remove at the end of dehydration and cleanup isn’t as fun either.

Open bag of regular sized spinach leaves (pre-washed).

Place leaves overlapping on dehydrator trays. I can usually fit one bag of spinach throughout the entire dehydrator by spacing the leaves out on the trays evenly. It is ok if they are touching and on top of one another.

 

Place the top on and dehydrate on vegetable setting for about 4-5 hours.

When spinach is done, the leaves should feel dry and fall apart when handled, much like dry leaves on the ground during the fall and winter.

Remove spinach from dehydrator and place in a bowl. Let cool completely.

When completely cool, in batches, chop spinach in a food processor for about 1 minute. It will turn into tiny spinach flakes.

These are the spinach flakes, you can stop at this step and use in recipes, they will just be slightly more noticeable to the eye in some recipes.

Or you can go one step further and grind them down in a coffee grinder or magic bullet for 2 minutes until soft and powdery.

I usually make a few batches of this back to back while I have my dehydrator out. It lasts for quite a while too. Stay tuned for upcoming recipes where we will be putting this powder to the test. I look forward to helping you fulfill your propensity for sneaky spinach shenanigans :)

 

Grown-up Chicken Fingers with Honey Dijon sauce

 

Mint Walnut Brownies with a Secret…

 

 

Xoxo,

Tiffany

 

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Comments

  1. Eric says:

    I know that spinach actually loses almost half of it’s “magical” nutritional value after being stored, especially at room temperature, for more than a few days (see the Wikipedia article). I wonder if by dehydrating the leaves, you’re just eliminating the vitamins altogether. . .

    • Tiffany says:

      That was a very good question and prompted me to do some research on it for all of us. I definitely don’t want to add something to my food that is a waste!!! It seems that spinach cooked or dehydrated in any way will lose some nutritional value, as does most cooked, canned, and frozen vegetables. The only way to get the true nutritional value of a food is to eat it in it’s whole, uncooked natural state. That being said, we can’t do that with all things (unless you eat as a raw vegan…they have some amazing recipes to keep food as close to the original nutritional value as possible). Raw vegans do sometimes use a dehydrator though, which usually uses a lower temperature than the regular heating of food, so not as many nutrients are lost. A few things you can do to help keep the nutrients in the powder as long as possible is blanch the spinach before dehydrating, and store your dehydrated vegetables correctly (airtight container and dark environment). This should give you 4-6 months, or even up to a year before they begin to decline in nutritional value and just become plain leaves in your food. Check this link out for more info http://www.livestrong.com/article/340307-do-vegetables-retain-nutrition-when-dehydrated/

  2. Jackie says:

    That’s so cool! This will be a weekend project. Have you tried other veggies? I bet the colors for beets and carrots would be pretty cool too.

    • Tiffany says:

      I haven’t but I really want to try carrots and tomatoes! A combo of tomato powder and garlic or onion powder gives recipes a great cheesy flavor without adding the cheese. Can’t wait to try more!!

  3. Ed says:

    Living in Arizona where the air is very dry almost all year, I make onion and garlic powder by just letting the onion and garlic slices sit spread out on trays in my kitchen for 2 or 3 days, and then grind them in my coffee grinder. You don’t even need to put them outside in the sun, though that would get the job done in a day. Do you see any reason why that method wouldn’t work for spinach leaves, which contain less moisture than onions? I prefer to avoid wasting electricity whenever possible.

    • Tiffany says:

      I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I would think if onions dry out then spinach definitely will! Just make sure they are crunchy dry (like leaves) so you can grind them up correctly without moisture turning it into mush. If you try this, let me know how it turns out! I live in Florida and we have a ton of moisture, so I don’t think that would work for me here lol.

  4. Aidan says:

    I stumbled upon your blog after this post was referenced on The Kitchn. While this is a great idea(!) and I am super excited to try it (!), I just wanted to point out one thing.
    You mention that spinach is full of omega-3s. While spinach is a great source of other things (vitamins K, A and C, folate, etc) I would not categorize it as being full of omega-3s, which are, by definition, fatty acids. Spinach, not being a fatty food, is not a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. There are trace amounts (granted with a concentrated source like spinach in a powdered form, you will obtain more than in the fresh form).
    Just wanted to clarify and be sure to promote spinach for it’s true excellent properties!

  5. Im obliged for the article. Really Great.

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  7. Beth says:

    I had a lot of spinach that I found on sale and decided to dehydrate it. I stumbled across your quest to process it to powder form. Thank you! I use a bunch of spinach for smoothies, soups, eggs etc. It is good to know I can process it. I have dehydrated powder tomatoes from my garden this year and I have read several different places, that if stored properly it can last up to 10 years. I bet dehydrated spinach could last a lot longer than 4-6 months. Not in my house, because I use a lot of it. Thanks for a fab article and all the comments.

    • Tiffany says:

      Thanks so much for the comment! I always love it when people find my articles useful. I haven’t tried dehydrating tomatoes yet. That sounds like a great idea! I will try it soon :)

  8. Rachel says:

    Would it be possible to dehydrate the spinach in the oven? I don’t have a dehydrator but I’ve been able to make jerky by letting it sit overnight in the oven with the temp turned to low and the door cracked slightly open. Wondering if that will work here?

    • Tiffany says:

      I have never dried it that way, but there is no reason it shouldn’t work just fine. I did some research on oven drying and the temp needs to stay in between 120-140 degrees fahrenheit to prevent bacteria from growing, and the food from burning. Spinach is thinner than other veggies, so it may not take overnight. If you plan to do it while you are sleeping, I would set an alarm to check on it just in case. When it looks and feels like crispy dried leaves, you are good to go! Good luck! Let me know how it turns out!!

      • Rachel says:

        Alrighty, I gave it a try and it worked out just fine :-) I laid out the spinach on backing racks and put them in the oven on low with the door cracked about an inch. My oven goes from “low” to 200, so I set the dial right in the middle, I figure that’s the 120-140 range. Right around 5 hours was perfect – and I did it during the day so I could check on it. I’m making another batch as I type, I’m having so much fun experimenting with sneaking the powder into various recipes :-D

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