“Popeye was right about spinach: dark green, leafy vegetables are the healthiest food on the planet. As whole foods go, they offer the most nutrition per calorie.”–Michael Gregor
“You’re not going to believe what I ate, Mom!”
I was talking with my daughter, Madelyn, on the phone. She is attending graduate school, and she was describing a dinner that a friend had prepared for one evening during a break from her studies.
“Spinach and artichoke dip! Not only that, Mom, but it was vegan, and it was surprisingly good . . . and you know how funny I am about texture and taste.”
Maddie went on to insist that I would have to make this dip when she was home for the holidays. In fact, she had already asked her friend to share the recipe with her, so she could send it to me. She went on to explain how her friend has lupus, and eats an anti-inflammatory diet that focuses heavily on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a few select whole grains in order to reduce her inflammation.
As I listened to her continue to describe the dip, my mind was already thinking about the ways I could adapt the recipe. I was eager to, ahem, dip into reading various plant forward recipes and techniques in order to create my own version. Not only did I want to make the dip in honor of my daughter’s request, but also because the dip is largely made up of two of my favorite vegetables: spinach and artichokes.
Maddie’s friend was on to something. Both artichokes and spinach are highly anti-inflammatory. Spinach, specifically, is chock full of vitamins, such as A, K and C, and it also contains folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, and small amounts of other B vitamins. It is high in fiber and low in calories. Spinach is also high in antioxidants, supports brain and eye health, has been shown to protect against certain diseases, and helps to lower blood pressure when regularly consumed.
Artichokes are no joke either. They, too, are full of vitamins, including folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, as well as vitamins K and C. Like spinach, artichokes are high in fiber, full of antioxidants, and have been shown, when consumed daily, to help regulate blood pressure. Additionally, artichokes promote liver health and are a unique source of prebiotics, which are beneficial gut bacteria that can boost immunity, assist in digestion, and benefit mood.
Of course, I can share all the benefits of these two nutritional, anti-inflammatory powerhouses, but let’s be honest, for most people, myself included, it’s all about the taste. Does this dip taste good, in addition to being made with beneficial ingredients? Is it worthy of being shared with others?
I had my favorite taste tasters, and pickiest eaters, Maddie, and my husband, John, taste the dip, and miracle of all miracles, they both liked it! Maddie, the pickiest of the two, said she loved it just as I made it. Her only wish was that we had baguette crackers like her friend served it with. John, typically not as picky, filled up and ate a big soup bowl worth of dip; however, he added both parmesan and mozzarella cheese to his bowl because he, “wouldn’t want to eat too healthy over the holidays!” Meanwhile, I served up the dip on a plain baked potato for my dinner, and let me just say that was one tasty dish!
Whether you make it with, or without dairy, you’re still packing a healthy punch of powerful, propitious plants. Serve it up for your next favorite gathering and watch it disappear. No one ever has to know the dip benefits their health too!
From my home to yours, may you have a prosperous and healthy 2023.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Plant-based with dairy-free and gluten-free options
1 cup (raw) cashews, soaked overnight or at least 4+ hours
1 ¼ cup Greek or plant-based Greek yogurt (can substitute with mayonnaise)
¼ cup water
12-16 ounces (1 package) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 14 ounce can artichokes, drained and chopped
⅓ cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon
1 teaspoon braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce, if don’t need gluten free)
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon pepper
Optional additions: Mix in up to 4 ounces or ½ cup of any of the following ingredients:
cream cheese (or vegan variation), parmesan/romano/pecorino cheese, soft goat cheese, and/or mozzarella cheese, if desired
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Coat a small casserole dish with cooking spray (2 quart size).
In a food processor or high speed blender, blend cashews, yogurt and water until creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
Add cashew mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Spread dip evenly in the casserole dish.
*Bake 20-30 minutes, or until top turns golden brown
Serve warm with veggies, tortilla chips, crackers, smear over your favorite toasted bread, or even a baked potato.
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, or baguette chips
*Serves 6-10 as appetizer