, Muskogee, OK

May 1, 2013

Fresh spinach among wares available at farmers’ market

By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market

— There’s a good reason Popeye ate spinach. Like many other dark leafy greens, spinach provides abundant muscle-building nutrients with few calories and no fat. It’s also packed full of vitamins A and K, along with high levels of vitamin C, folate and manganese.

Fresh spinach is now readily available from local growers at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market, which is open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and Wednesdays in front of the Muskogee Civic Center.

The farmers’ market also boasts a wide variety of other springtime produce, including strawberries, asparagus, green onions and garlic, radishes, turnips, lettuce, baby carrots, arugula, cilantro, collards, swiss chard, mustards, microgreens and other leafy veggies.

Other food items expected at the market Saturday are farm-fresh eggs, honey, sorghum molasses, handmade tortillas, tamales and burritos. Hot dogs, polish sausage and hot links with grilled veggies will be available, as will fresh-brewed coffee, yogurt parfaits, homemade granola and a variety of dips, spreads and other goodies.

Growers will offer a variety of tomato, pepper and other vegetable and herb transplants for the garden or patio, as well as lots of bedding plants and hanging baskets.

Vendors will market handmade crafts, candles, soaps, natural body care products and pet treats.

SNAP benefits (food stamps) are gladly accepted at the farmers’ market. To buy eligible foods, including food-bearing plants, with an Oklahoma Access card, swipe the card through a reader in the farmers’ market tent and receive tokens for the specified amount. Then use the tokens to pay the vendors.

B.J. Charbonneau of the Muskogee Swim and Fitness Center will teach free tai chi classes near the band-shell and lawn area next to the market about 10 a.m. most Saturdays, if weather permits.

For more information, call Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012 or send email to

Healthier Spinach Artichoke Dip


8 – 10 ounces fresh spinach

6 ounces (3/4 block) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

6 ounces (3/4 block) fat-free cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt

1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella, shredded

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/4 cup green olives, minced (optional)

3 garlic cloves, crushed (not minced)

6 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Tear or cut spinach into bite-size pieces, removing thick stems. Rinse in a colander, leaving a little water on the leaves. In a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven, sauté the spinach over medium heat very briefly until wilted. Drain in the colander, pushing a little of the extra water out.

With a potato masher, combine the cream cheeses in a large mixing bowl. Add yogurt and mash more. Add spinach, mozzarella, artichokes, green olives, garlic, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Pour mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan on top. Bake 30 minutes, or until parmesan is melted and dip is bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two. Serve with baked tortilla chips.