Meat & Spinach Muffins

http://www.MelJoulwan.com/2008/10/26/eat-your-vegetables-spinach/

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods (and you’ve got to trust a web site with that name): “Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach — with its delicate texture and jade green color — provide more nutrients than any other food.”

Spinach is a great source of:

  • iron

  • calcium

  • anti-oxidants

  • vitamin A (and lutein)

  • vitamin C

  • vitamin E

  • vitamin K

  • magnesium

  • folic acid (Vitamin B9)

Three Ways to Get More Spinach Into Your Belly

Since eating creamy, gooey, cheesy spinach dip with tortilla chips and pita wedges is not Paleo-friendly and, therefore, out of the question, I’ve got some other tasty spinach ideas to help you channel Popeye.

#1. Spinach Bed
  • This is so easy, it feels like cheating. Place 1-2 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves on a plate and top it with whatever hot food you’re eating. The heat of the rest of the food wilts the spinach to just the right degree. And bam! instant nutritional wallop. Tastes great under just about everything… a stir fry, curry, grilled meat and steamed veggies… everything.

#2. Mediterranean Spinach
  • Also ridiculously easy. Steam or sauté fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach. Toss with a clove of pressed garlic, a spritz of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of crushed oregano. Add healthy oils with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some sliced black olives, or pine nuts. Need a real recipe for this? Try this one.

#3. Meat and Spinach Muffins
  • These suckers really good. I like them best cold or at room temperature. The recipe makes 12, and if you eat them two at a time, you’ll just about the right amount of protein and veg — unless you’re a giant like my husband. Then you should eat four.

Meat and Spinach Muffins | meljoulwan.com

Meat and Spinach Muffins

 Makes 12 | Prep 30 minutes | Cook 40 minutes | Whole30 approved

Ingredients:
  • 3 (16-ounce) bags frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 3 large eggs

Directions:
1

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2

This is a crucial step! Squeeze the excess water from the defrosted spinach. Here’s my trick for removing excess water: Place all the spinach in a colander or wire sieve and press out the water with the bottom of a bowl that fits inside the colander, then squeeze individual handfuls of spinach to wring out the remaining water. You should have about 4 cups of spinach when you’re finished with the squeezing process.

3

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt. Toss the onion in the pan and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it’s crisp-tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.

4

Crumble the meat into the pan, breaking up lumps with the wooden spoon. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and cook until the meat is browned. Stir in the spinach until it’s combined. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.

5

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl with a fork, and when the meat is cool, add them to the meat; blend well. The easiest way to combine everything is to mix with your hands. Dig in!

6

Place muffin papers in a 12-count muffin pan; they prevent sticking. Pack the batter into a 1/2- cup measuring cup, then transfer it to the muffin pan, using your hands to pack the spinach tightly into the muffin paper. It should be slightly mounded on top – the muffins puff a bit when they bake, then slightly deflate when cool. Bake for 40 minutes until the tops are lightly browned. Remove the muffins from the pan, cool, and store covered, in the refrigerator.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Omit the meat to make an unexpected spinach side dish that looks (and tastes) great alongside roasted meat or grilled steak – like popovers with more nutritional punch. Or… follow the directions above and add the following seasonings.

Italian!
Tex-Mex!
  • ground beef + 1-2 tablespoons chili powder + 1 tablespoon lime juice

Indian!
  • ground lamb + 1 tablespoon curry powder + 2 tablespoons raisins

Middle Eastern!
  • ground lamb + 1 tablespoon cumin + 1 teaspoon dried mint leaves

Greek!
  • ground lamb + 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves + 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Asian!
  • ground pork + 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder + 1 tablespoon coconut aminos

Moroccan!
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Comments

  • Christy says:

    Have you ever tried these with whole eggs? I just can't pitch all that yummy yolkiness. ;o)These really sound wonderful.

  • Brandy says:

    I am wondering if I did something wrong. I made these today and they came out kinda smooshy. Dont know if I didnt get enough of the moisture out in the beginning or if I need to bake them longer – my oven is a bit slow in that way.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Brandy, you have to really, REALLY squeeze out all the water when the spinach is defrosted… make it as dry as you can. Also, you can bake them longer without worry to get them to the consistency you like. If they start to get too brown, just reduce the oven temp to, say, 325 and leave them in a bit longer.

  • Valeda says:

    Made these for my first day of Paleo today, and they truly solved the breakfast crisis! I added in a can of crabmeat, and used a few bunches of fresh greens I had in the house – spinach, beet greens, and kale. Turned out delish, and for maybe the first time ever I WASN’T HUNGRY all morning!!! Thanks so much Melissa!

    • Mel says:

      Love the crabmeat modification! I have a revised version for the cookbook with meat and seasonings that TOTALLY kick ass. I love them cold for breakfast. Glad you like them!

  • I eat like 2398478973428973 cups of spinach a day, but have YET to make them into muffins!!! OMG, I must try! 🙂

  • Cassie says:

    I have to admit, these do not look very appetizing or exciting…however one mustn’t judge, these were great. I miss eating cereal and am at a loss for breakfast. This was very good and am looking forward to the next batch with meat.

    Also the pork carnitas were AMAZING! My 7 year old daughter asked if I can cook that again!

  • Skyy says:

    Do you think you could make this with fresh spinach rather than frozen? Its hard for me to find frozen organic and when I do its pricey.

  • eva says:

    Will these freeze well? I’m about to cook up a batch but would like to freeze them so that we don’t have to eat them all in one go. I seem to remember something about defrosting spinach and then not freezing it again?

  • Maggie says:

    My latest use for these oh-so-versatile muffins: over on HealthBent, they have a recipe for making a pizza with a half of a baked sweet potato, then layering on the toppings. I had leftover Italian style muffins in the fridge, so I crumbled one on top of the sweet potato (along with tomato sauce, of course) instead of making toppings from scrach. Super fast and really great. I find I never run out of ways to eat these!

  • Tina says:

    I was thinking you could perhaps use these as a “crust” to use with marinara and top with meat and veggies to make a mini pizza.

  • Joy says:

    I love ALL of you recipes. On the spinach muffins I am not near a penzy’s. what are the components of the Greek seasoning? I have many food allergies and am wondering if I could make my own blend. Also I am allergic to eggs, what about the powdered ” egg replacer?”

    • Mel says:

      The Greek seasoning includes garlic, lemon pepper, and oregano — so you might just play around with those seasonings to make your own.

      I’m not familiar with powdered egg replacer, so I don’t know if it will work. Basically, the egg holds the muffins together, so i you can use egg replacer in baking, you can probably use it here.

  • Patti says:

    Would be nice if you just had a “print recipe only” on your recipe pages. I have your book but I don’t want it slopped over in my kitchen so I try to copy the recipes without printing the photos but I have to copy and paste and do other things.

    I love your taste in food and you are really creative with many ideas and tastes!

  • Cb says:

    Im.currently on my 2nd whole 30 and I made these for the first time last week. My boyfriend and I were practically fighting over the last 2! Hes been grabbing them for breakfast and they are perfect for me to eat cold while I’m working (I’m a server so no lunch break). My second batch is in the oven (with ground turkey this time) and I’m sure I’ll be making these over and over again. Of course I like everything you make (chocolate chili is a staple in my life, and I just made coconut almond green beens last night and wanted to lick the pan), so I shouldn’t be surprised. Thank you for everything!

  • Joan says:

    I’m on day 15 of Whole30 and am thrilled to have found this recipe. I made them as written, except for upping the garlic and cayenne–because I do. In addition to using your trick of a bowl pressed onto a colanderful of spinach, I squeezed the spinach forcefully in an old, clean dishcloth. I was skeptical that the muffins would hold together, but they did. Perfectly. I can only assume that, as you’ve said, those who had problems didn’t dry the spinach sufficiently. Can’t wait to try them with lamb and mint. Great recipe.

    • Right on! Good to know you liked them! They’re really versatile — have fun with the different seasonings.

    • Joan says:

      Day 35 of Whole30 and just made my third batch of muffins. First batch was beef, second batch was lamb with Middle Eastern flavors, and this last batch was ground turkey with Asian flavors. The ground turkey was a bit more work to break up than either the beef or the lamb, but the recipe otherwise worked exactly as written. This recipe has been a God-send for me. Thank you, Melissa.

  • Andrea says:

    I am currently in the middle of making these and have more mixture than the 12 1/2 cup servings that it said it would yield. I really packed the mixture down too. I double checked all my measurements and have the correct amount of meat and spinach. I am curious how they will turn out because it did seem like 3 eggs weren’t going to be enough to bind all of the mixture together. Has anyone else had this experience?

    • I suspect that there’s too much water in your spinach — you REALLY need to wring that stuff out. Options:
      1. Baked them as-is, then when the time is up, turn the heat down to 250 and let them sit in the warm oven for additional time until they’re dry enough.

      2. Return the spinach mixture to a big bowl and add another egg or two so it binds together better.

      Let me know how it turns out!

      • Andrea says:

        Thanks for the suggestions! I just wanted to circle back and let you know they were a big hit with the fam. I have them on the menu again this week! I think this time I will add another egg to help bind it all together a little better. I had really wrung out the spinach as much as humanly possible so it didn’t need any drying out time. I’m looking forward to playing around with the different versions you suggest. Thanks!

  • Joy says:

    I’m excited to be giving this recipe a try, but I’m wondering if I should strain the fat once my ground beef cooks?

  • Judy says:

    I bought a potato ricer years ago just for the purpose of squeezing moisture out of thawed frozen spinach…it works great!

  • Matthew Kreger says:

    Yesterday I made your awesome Stovetop Carnitas and after removing most of the fat from the pan, there was the usual deep crust of deliciousness just daring me to scrape it off and toss it out. So this time I heated it up slowly, added some bone broth, then onion, ground beef and pork until all the crusty fond had dissolved, the meat was cooked and most of the liquid had evaporated. From there it’s just 3 lbs of spinach and 3 eggs away from the BEST version of the Meat and Spinach Muffins yet!

  • Andrea says:

    I’ve been wondering, why do you brown the meat first and then bake it for 40 minutes? I know absolutely nothing about cooking, but couldn’t you save a step by skipping the browning part — just mix the raw meat with all of the other ingredients and bake?

    • There are a few reasons to brown the meat first. Browning it adds flavor that makes the muffins taste way better than they would if the meat was raw when it goes into the oven. Also, the meat releases moisture when it cooks. If it wasn’t browned first, that extra liquid would end up in the muffins, which would make the soggy and/or not hold together. I don’t add extra steps to a recipe without a good reason 🙂