Creamed spinach gets a healthy makeover. Less fat. Fewer calories. More flavor.
When I think of creamed spinach, my mind wanders back to the 1950s and 60s. I’m not sure why, but creamed spinach has a certain, shall I say, retro feel about it. It’s also loaded—and we mean loaded—with more saturated fat and calories than a nutrient-rich vegetable like spinach deserves! A few weeks ago, Facebook fan, Cindi, sent me her family’s favorite creamed spinach recipe and asked me to give it a makeover, so I did what I usually do and got cooking.
Cindi’s recipe, made with half & half, full-fat cream cheese, and lots of butter, needed a slim down (and a bit of a flavor boost). To that end, I created a cream-less base for the spinach using 1% low-fat milk, a roux made with olive oil versus butter, and a bit of light cream cheese. For added flavor, I turned to sauteed onion, nutmeg, and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Serves: 6 to 8
- Serving size: ⅓ cup
- Calories: 150
- Fat: 9g
- Saturated fat: 2.5g
- Carbohydrates: 11g
- Sodium: 300mg
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 7g
- Two 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups 1% low-fat milk
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- A few generous pinches ground nutmeg (use fresh if you have it)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup light cream cheese
- Cook the spinach according to package directions. Once cooked, drain in a colander, and press with the back of a large spoon to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and golden, about 2 minutes.
- Whisk the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese and cream cheese until the cream cheese melts. Stir in the cooked spinach, and season with additional salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Place over low heat and reheat if necessary.
For comparison sake, Cindi’s creamed spinach is a lot higher in the numbers: 210 calories, 17 grams fat, and 10 grams saturated fat (that’s about half a day’s worth).
My healthy “creamed” spinach recipe is a keeper for sure. Perfect for the holidays … or any time of the year as far as we’re concerned.
Tell me about your most delicious food adventure this holiday season. And if you try my Crazy-Good Cream-less Creamed Spinach, let us know what you and your family think of it.
For other healthful recipe makeovers, check out:
Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Mini Berry Cheesecakes
Impossibly Easy Vegetable Pie
Farah Messa says
Do we substitute the flour with gluten free flour or cornstarch?
You can sub with gluten-free flour. If you use cornstarch, use just 1 tablespoon.
Farah Messa says
Thank you, I look forward to trying this recipe!
This recipe is ok but not enough kick to the flavor
Thanks for the feedback. How about adding garlic (you can sautee with the onion) and red pepper flakes?
The cream-less creamed spinach recipe is fantastic!!! This is definitely a keeper and one to share! Thanks ❤
It’s a favorite around here. So happy to hear you loved it!
It came out very nice! Thanks for the recipe.
Happy to hear you loved it!
I added a touch of thyme and pinch of garlic flakes came out amazing complemented the parmesan chees
I love those tweaks. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Can this recipe be frozen
I’m not so sure about that. Cooks Illustrated did an experiment where they froze a block of cream cheese and when thawed, it was grainy and hard to spread. Whether that would have a negative impact on this recipe, I don’t know. I might suggest that you make a bath and freeze half a cup (enjoy the rest!). Then thaw it the next day and see how it turns out. Keep me posted!
Leon Feder says
I love this recipe!
I went a few steps further. I used fresh baby spinach, skim milk, whole wheat flour, fat free cream cheese. I needed to have a cup of milk on the side to add slowly to make sure I got the right consistency. It came out pretty awesome and I think I cut the calories by a lot.
I love your makeover. I will try what you did … but I’ll use cornstarch instead (my son is gluten-free)! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Pretty awesome sounds good to me…
Fat free anything is unhealthy; read up on benefits of full fat product and the chemicals found in fat free food. Doesn’t make sense in 2020 propensity eat fat free products and preservatives.
I agree. And that’s why I often opt for low fat, reduced fat, and light dairy products. I’m not a fan of fat free. I strive to lower saturated fat when possible. I am a fan of healthy fats. In this recipe, I call for 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. So most of the fat in this recipe is monounsaturated, which research shows can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Thanks for weighing in!
This has been the best healthy creamed spinach I’ve tried! I always used to try to throw it together in my own way, but always ended up with flour chunks. This was perfectly creamy with just the flavors I wanted, thank you!
I’m SO happy to hear you loved the recipe. Thanks for weighing in!
This was stunningly good. I’ve adored creamed spinach everywhere from Musso & Franks to Boston Market yet just shrink and run screaming from the room on seeing the ingredients. This tastes rich and packs flavor and you don’t regret it later. This is a new go-to. Thank you!
I’m so happy you love the recipe! It certainly is a lot lighter! Did you see my latest recipe on the blog for lightened-up cheesecake? If you loved the creamed spinach, the cheesecakes are for you 🙂
Looking delicious! I am going to prepare it tomorrow for dinner. However, I wanted to ask you if it’s possible to use fresh leaves of spinach? love spinach and I even grow some on my balcony so it would be amazing if I could use it. In autumn/winter I grow this one: https://gardenseedsmarket.com/spinach-giant-winter-seeds-spinacia-oleracea.html as it is more resistant and cool-weather ‘friendly’. Liz, so I am waiting for your answer. If fresh one cannot be used I will go and buy frozen one!
Stick with frozen. If you go w/ fresh, you’ll need to cook down quite a bit of spinach. But it should be fine. I just have not tested it with fresh!