I have a real thing for spanakopita, to the point where it occasionally takes over my brain until I do something about it. Does anyone else feel this way sometimes? I rarely give in to it entirely (although, sometimes I definitely do) but I realized at some point, that it was less about the actual Greek pastry and more about the cooked, flavourful, dense amounts of lemony greens.
So this is what I have been making to fill that triangular pastry void, and it’s totally been working.
I think this craving comes on when I’m a bit anemic, something that is very common for women in general but also for men and women with cancer (to be clear, I don’t have cancer, but I am a woman). The greens are full of iron and the lemon juice makes the iron in the greens easier to absorb, so this is a good iron-replenishing recipe (without the phyllo and the feta).
Our bodies are pretty smart, so it’s not a bad idea to pay attention to our cravings. The tricky thing is that they often require some translating, ie –fast food cravings can = fat cravings (not so much French fries), so stick to healthy fats and this should alleviate it. And major chocolate cravings can = a magnesium deficiency, something found in high amounts in raw cacao (but not so much in m&m’s) but also nuts/seeds and leafy greens. There are usually less obvious, healthier ways around random cravings.
Whether or not you are craving spanakopita (or even know what it is) you’re going to love this. It is full of greens (not just spinach but also Swiss chard), lemon juice (to help absorb the iron and because it just tastes so good) lots of garlic, leek and green onions (all allium cancer-crushers), fresh herbs galore (dill, parsley –the spanakopita classics, mint is nice too) and chickpeas and almonds to give you healthy fats and protein to make this a satisfying and lasting snack or meal.
All of that and it tastes delicious and is a great transition from all of the raw salads of summer into more cooked veggies (I was going to say cooked salad, because it kind of is, but that doesn’t sound very appetizing, and this totally is).
Worth mentioning re the almonds: they are soaked. This removes the enzyme-inhibitor and makes the nutrients more bio-available. We try to do this all the time but often it is not that much fun because it makes the nuts soggy (great for Almond Milk, not so great for salad additions). In this case, they’re going to get soggy in the cooked greens anyway, so it works out really well. And they don’t taste bland, they absorb the surrounding flavours and almost taste like an almond-like, rich and flavourful legume.
I made this recipe to take pictures of it and literally ate it every day for 1-2 meals for the next four days (my husband doesn’t eat almonds or chickpeas). I had it hot, cold and room temperature, with raw veggies dipped into it, on its own with a fork, in a wrap with Homemade Nut-based Ricotta, in a baked sweet potato (pictured), stuffed into a tomato and baked, on top of salad, on top of rice etc etc. It was a pretty fun-filled few days, and let me tell you, this dip/cooked salad is up for anything and can do no wrong.
- 1 tsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1 Leek, finely diced
- 3-6 Garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp dried Chili Flakes (optional -leave out for nightshade-free)
- 2 c cooked Chickpeas
- 2 small bunches Swiss Chard, de-stemmed and roughly chopped (chop up stems and add them in too, or reserve for another recipe/juice them.)
- ½ lb fresh Spinach (1-2 bunches or one small box), roughly chopped.
- ½ c fresh Dill, finely chopped
- 2 c fresh Parsley, finely chopped
- 1 bunch Green Onions (5-6), finely sliced
- ½ c Almonds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 2 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 Lemon, zested
- 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a pan with the coconut oil and a splash of water, sauté the leek, garlic and optional chili flakes until very soft.
- Add the Swiss chard and continue to cook until soft.
- Add the spinach (it cooks faster) and cook until wilted.
- Transfer contents of pan into a colander and strain off any excess liquid.
- Return the cooked greens back to the pan and add the chickpeas, nutritional yeast, fresh herbs, green onions and lemon zest, continue to cook until wilted. Adjust seasoning (sea salt).
- Turn off the heat and add the almonds, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Serve warm or room temp as a dip with fresh veggies, in a wrap or serve on a baked sweet potato or on your sweet potato 'toast' (optional: with our plant-based ricotta!)