Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mr. Helen Ate Spinach

Mr. Helen is quite an adventurous eater and as well as being a pleasure to cook for because he enjoys good food, he's easy to cook for because he will dig into a hot dog with the same relish (Ha!  I crack myself up!) as he does a nice Porterhouse steak.  However, as he has aged he has developed some odd food dislikes that he never had before.  One thing he can be funny about is tomatoes.  Not if they're sauced as in spaghetti sauce, but pieces of tomato in a salad for example. Sometimes he'll eat it, sometimes he won't and I can never tell so I just throw them in there and let him pick around them.  On the other hand, he loves Caprese Salad which is nothing more than sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices, basil, and balsamic.  Another item he's funny about is spinach.  He'll eat a spinach salad - in fact my Bermuda Spinach Salad is one of his favorites.  But he doesn't want anything stuffed with spinach or having spinach floating around in soup, nor will he eat simple sautéed spinach.

I LOVE spinach and eat it almost daily in one way or another.  Last week while reading one of my new favorite pseudo Paleo blogs, Mulitply Delicious, she posted a recipe for a breakfast casserole that I knew I would try.  Sunday, before I set out for my walk, I made it - my way.  It was one of those things as I got into the recipe, I just felt I could do it better and make it a bit lighter than she had.  One of the ingredients in the casserole is chopped baby spinach.  As it makes a 9x13 pan, I figured I'd be eating it by myself all week and then freezing half of it.  When it came out of the oven, Mr. Helen walked by and said, "That looks really good, am I allowed to have some?"  "Why yes you are, but you do know that green stuff is spinach?"  "Oh, I thought it might be basil.  Well, I'm going to try it anyway because it looks like the pieces are big enough it might not bother me." See what I mean?

He loved it!  I did too and it fits my Paleo food plan perfectly.  This casserole would be delicious any time of day, although I'm eating it as a breakfast item this week.  I especially love how the diced sweet potato gives a pop of sweetness against the savoryness of the other ingredients.

Sausage, Sweet Potato and Spinach Casserole

1 lb. reduced fat pork breakfast sausage (like Jimmy Dean)**
3 cups cubed sweet potato (~2 smallish or 1 large)
1/3 cup chopped onion (~1 small)
4 cups baby spinach, rough chopped
16 oz Egg Beaters
4 large eggs
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 glass dish with olive oil cooking spray and set aside.

Put cubed sweet potatoes into a microwaveable bowl, cover and microwave for 4 minutes. Set aside.

Crumble the sausage into a large skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and cooked through. Put into a large bowl, leaving drippings in the skillet.

Put chopped onion and potato cubes into the skillet and sauté until onion begins to go clear, about 5-6 minutes. Salt and pepper as you sauté.

Put into the bowl with the sausage then stir in spinach. Add the rest of the salt and pepper and stir then spread mixture into prepared pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together Egg Beaters and eggs. Pour over sausage mixture. Put pan in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.

 Let cool a bit  to set before cutting into 8 servings.

255 calories, 13g fat, 13g carbohydrates, 1.7g fiber, 19g protein per serving.

**You could use other types of sausage with this but if you use something really lean like turkey sausage, you would need to add a couple of tsp. of olive oil to sauté the onions & potatoes.


  1. It looks very good and delicious Helen although I would prefer this for dinner or lunch.

    R. only eats "children" spinach which I buy frozen. He doesn't like it fresh which I prefer. If we eat spinach he gets the baby stuff :) and I stir fry mine for example.

  2. I am sure its because my parents didn't have a lot of money growing up - my Dad was an artist so it was either feast or famine, but we always had canned veggies - have you ever smelled a can of canned spinach? It's nasty.

    I love the fresh stuff - and sans the onions this is totally going on my menu next week - great idea!

    p.s. I am the same way with tomatoes, I love bruschetta, but I could never eat a tomato slice on its own - the tomato seeds gross me out!

  3. It's funny to read about all of our odd food predilections...for me, the only way I'll eat cottage cheese is in lasagna. But kudos to Mr. H. for trying that yummy-looking meal!

    1. When cottage cheese is put in lasagne, we call it "poor man's lasagne." I'm rich enough now that I always use ricotta but I've eaten many a lasagne made with cottage cheese.

  4. It must be something about their taste buds changing as they get older because my hubby has always been an easy guy to cook for but in recent years he too has come up with some things he longer cares for. I find it very strange!

    This dish looks like something I would love! I am so happy you are sharing so many recipes with us - many of your paleo recipes fit pretty well into my 17 Day Diet food plan.

  5. Now that egg recipe appeals to me! I might have to try it, but cut it in half. That's a lot of egg stuff for one person to eat. Good stats on it too!

    1. This would be an easy recipe to cut in half Debby, go for it!

  6. Wow - that is my kind of recipe. This weekend, baby! Thanks for sharing it.

  7. A friend of mine will eat certain foods on their own but will not touch them if they are mixed with other foods even though they like all foods in the mix.. some people are strange :)

  8. Oh, yes! I do love spinach! And sweet potatoes! It looks like I'm gonna have to make this! Thanks for sharing!

    That's funny about Mr. Helen and his "food issues". Maybe he was interested in this because the sausage and eggs trumped the spinach!


  9. That looks really good! Hmmm....may have to give it a try.

    I'm weird with tomatoes! Sauce is ok. But no chunks please. LOL

  10. Delicious!

    I am very weird with my tomatoes, too. I blend my salsa to make it smooth, same thing with tomato or pizza sauce.

  11. Looks delicious!! Ingredients are going on the grocery list today!!

  12. haha, that is funny! My hubby won't eat mushrooms, but if I puree it in things, he never knows! Must be a texture thing I guess .. I love breakfast casseroles, this looks so good!

  13. I am with Mr. Helen on the tomatoes! Hate them raw or in pieces in food, love them in sauce or soup.

    Ha, I just Googled Multiply Delicious (where is the link, Helen?) and saw that same breakfast casserole. LOVE the idea of adding the sweet potatoes; I need a burst of carbs in the morning but I get tired of toast or granola. I like your variation on it too!

    1. I didn't link it because I changed the recipe so much. I figured if people wanted to see her version they could do exactly what you did, Google it.

  14. That looks so good! I would have never thought of the sweet potatoes. I like to make this stuff in a muffin pan and have individual servings for the week. Totally trying this. BTW you totally saved me with that FridgeSmart Tupperware suggestion. It practically paid for itself in the first month since I didn't throw any produce away! THANK YOU!

  15. my MizTerFit is no mister helen.
    he will NOT eat the greens...

  16. I love spinach too but am not too fond of sausage. I think sausage is dangerous. haha

  17. This sounds awesome! My hubs won't eat spinach either. At least he THINKS he doesn't! :-)