When Barbie D., a mom of five from Scotch Plains, NJ, sent us her recipe for Spinach Goo and asked us to give it a healthy makeover, we couldn’t say no. With a name like “goo,” we knew the recipe was sure to be rich and well, gooey. Barbie told us that Spinach Goo (AKA Cheesy Spinach Casserole), is a favorite at family gatherings, but given the ingredients, she always felt a twinge of guilt when serving it. “I originally got the recipe from my 90-year old mother, and for years, I’ve been serving it at parties as a side dish. It’s been in the family for a long time,” Barbie said.
This family classic is made in the slow cooker so it’s oh-so easy. The recipe calls for spinach, eggs, cottage cheese, half a stick of butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and nearly half a pound of American cheese. When we crunched the numbers, we found that each small serving (it serves 12 as a side dish) has 180 calories — not bad — but 7 grams of saturated fat and nearly 800 milligrams of sodium … not so good.
Experts suggest eating no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day and no more than 20 grams of saturated fat. When you consider that half a cup of regular cottage cheese has over400 milligrams of sodium and that the butter and American cheese contributed about 6 grams of saturated fat to the dish, you can see why this recipe needed a rescue!
For the fix, we switched from regular cottage cheese to a no-salted added, lowfat version. We also swapped reduced-fat Cheddar cheese for the American cheese and nixed the butter and salt all together. Admittedly, our makeover was a bit on the extreme side, so we added grated Parmesan cheese for a kick of flavor. The result is a healthy vegetable side dish with less than half the fat and sodium.
Cheesy Spinach Casserole
Makes 12 Side Dish Servings (or 6 Main Dish Servings)
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- One 16-ounce container 1% lowfat, no salt added cottage cheese (2 cups)
- One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry
- 1 ½ cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
1. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, flour, and pepper until well combined.
2. Spray the bowl of your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add the spinach mixture, and use a spatula to smooth the top.
3. Cover and cook on low until set, 3 hours.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 120 calories, 5g fat (2.5g saturated), 340mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 13g protein, 120% vitamin A, 25% calcium
Overall, Barbie was happy with the new recipe. While clearly the dish was less salty and not nearly as rich, she said she was “pleasantly surprised” as was her husband. “I think I could pass this off at the next party!” Barbie suggested adding a pinch of nutmeg next time for added flavor. We agree and also think this dish would be great as a vegetarian main dish.
Check out our Flickr page for more photos of the Cheesy Spinach Casserole. Let us know if you try this recipe and be sure to post your comments right here to our blog.