Recipe for Health: Garlicky Spinach & Watercress

by Lourdes Castro, MS, RD on Nov 01, 2012

Food for Thought

Professional chef, cookbook author and nutrition instructor at New York University Lourdes Castro, MS, RD, brings dark-leafy greens to life in this delicious and easy dish.

In addition to providing intense aromatic flavor, garlic is rich in antioxidants. Here, Castro pairs it with watercress and sautés them both with spinach to tame the intense flavors. The chef suggests that this type of preparation will help you increase your consumption of leafy greens “since you can consume five times the amount when they are cooked!”

Try this simple method with any of your favorite greens for a vegetarian, gluten-free side dish that is low in saturated fat. “This is a great way of using leftover leafy greens,” Castro says. “Mix and match spinach with other lettuces and any other green you may have on hand.”

Note: This recipe can sit at room temperature for an hour or two with very little effect on its quality. However, be careful with acids like lemon juice or vinegar coming into contact with cooked greens; the acid will cause their green color to turn dark-brown.

3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces spinach
1 bunch watercress

Create garlic paste: Place garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon salt in mortar and crush into paste with pestle. Alternatively, use cup and back of wooden spoon or simply chop garlic and salt with knife.

Place garlic paste and olive oil in nonstick pan and set it over medium high heat. When garlic begins to sizzle, add spinach and watercress—in batches if necessary—and remaining salt. Cook until all greens are wilted. Serves 4.

Per serving: 44 calories; 3.6 grams (g) total fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat); 0 milligrams (mg) cholesterol; 330 mg sodium; 2.4 g total carbohydrates (1 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar); 1.7 g protein; 6% iron; 36% vitamin C.

Source: Original recipe by Lourdes Castro, MS, RD.

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© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Lourdes Castro, MS, RD

Lourdes Castro, MS, RD IDEA Author/Presenter

As a registered dietitian, Lourdes is an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health and holds a Masters degree in nutrition from Columbia University. She is the author of three cookbooks Simply Mexican; Eat, Drink, Think in Spanish and Latin Grilling and is the director of the Biltmore Culinary Academy. Visit her website at