Does creamed spinach have a lot of carbs?

Creamed spinach is a popular side dish, often served alongside steak, chicken, or fish. With its rich, creamy texture and flavor, it’s easy to see why people love it. However, some wonder if creamed spinach is high in carbohydrates due to the cream and possible added thickeners.

The short answer

Creamed spinach can have a moderate amount of carbs, but not an excessive amount. The carbs in creamed spinach come from a few sources:

  • The spinach itself contains some natural carbohydrates.
  • Added ingredients like flour or cornstarch used as thickeners.
  • Milk or cream used to make the sauce creamy.

However, the total carb count remains relatively modest at around 5-8 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup serving. This carb count can fit into a ketogenic diet or a low-carb diet without too much trouble. Those following very strict low carb or keto diets may want smaller servings or creamed spinach made without flour/cornstarch.

Nutritional profile of creamed spinach

Here is the typical nutritional profile of creamed spinach per 1/2 cup serving:

Calories 60
Fat 5g
Carbohydrates 4g
Fiber 2g
Net carbs 2g
Protein 2g

As you can see, a typical recipe has only 2 grams of net carbs per serving. This carb count can fit into a ketogenic diet which limits carbs to 20-50 grams per day. It can also fit into a low-carb diet with a carb intake of around 50-130g per day.

Spinach itself is low carb

Spinach itself is very low in carbohydrates. One cup of raw spinach contains only about 1 gram of carbohydrate with almost 1 gram of fiber. When cooked, the carbs remain about the same at around 1 gram per cup.

This means that the spinach itself lends only a few grams of carbs at most to a creamed spinach dish. The additional carbs and calories come from other added ingredients.

Cream and cheese add some carbs

To make spinach creamy and rich, standard recipes call for ingredients like heavy cream, milk, cream cheese, and/or cheeses like Parmesan. These dairy products do contain some carb content:

  • Heavy cream – Around 0.4g net carbs per tablespoon
  • Milk – About 5g carbs per cup
  • Cream cheese – Around 1g net carb per ounce
  • Parmesan cheese – 0.5g net carbs per ounce

In a typical creamed spinach recipe, the dairy elements add only a few grams of carbs total.

Thickeners add the most carbs

The ingredient that bumps up the carb count the most in creamed spinach is thickeners like flour or cornstarch. A typical ingredient list includes:

  • 2-3 tablespoons flour (15-20g carbs)
  • OR 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch (8-16g carbs)

This accounts for most of the carb content in heavier creamed spinach recipes. Lighter recipes skip the flour or cornstarch and rely on the cream cheese and spinach alone to thicken the sauce.

Net carbs in creamed spinach recipes

Based on standard ingredient lists, we can estimate the net carbs per serving of creamed spinach:

Recipe Net Carbs/Serving
Creamed Spinach with Cream Cheese 3g
Creamed Spinach with Parmesan 4g
Creamed Spinach with Flour-based Sauce 8g
Creamed Spinach with Cornstarch-based Sauce 7g

As you can see, recipes that skip the flour or cornstarch tend to have fewer net carbs. But even flour-based versions stay under 10g net carbs per serving.

Low carb substitutes

To make creamed spinach lower carb, you have a few choices:

  • Use coconut flour instead of regular flour – Coconut flour is higher fiber and lower carb than wheat flour.
  • Use xanthan gum instead of cornstarch – Xanthan gum is a low-carb thickener.
  • Skip thickening agents entirely – The cream cheese and spinach should naturally thicken the sauce.
  • Use low-carb dairy – Opt for heavy cream over milk, and full-fat cream cheese.

With these substitutions, you can bring down the net carbs in creamed spinach to around 3-5g per serving.

Keto creamed spinach recipes

Here are some tasty keto/low-carb creamed spinach recipes to try:

Keto Creamed Spinach with Parmesan

This recipe skips flour and uses cream cheese and Parmesan to thicken. With 4g net carbs per serving, it fits great into a keto diet.

Get the recipe:

Coconut Flour Creamed Spinach

With coconut flour instead of regular flour, this creamed spinach has just 3g net carbs per serving.

Get the recipe:

Easy Keto Creamed Spinach

Here’s a 5-ingredient version using frozen spinach for an easy weeknight side dish.

Get the recipe:

Is creamed spinach keto-friendly?

Creamed spinach can definitely fit into a keto diet as long as you keep servings modest and avoid flour-thickened versions. Keto diets limit carbs to 20-50g per day.

A 1/2 cup serving of creamed spinach made with cream cheese or Parmesan adds less than 5g net carbs – fitting easily into keto macros. Just be mindful of portions, as the carbs can add up quickly if you overindulge.

Does creamed spinach fit into low-carb diets?

Creamed spinach can be included on a low-carb diet without problem. Low-carb diets allow slightly more carbs than keto diets – typically 50-130g carbs per day.

At around 5-8g net carbs per serving, creamed spinach stays well within low-carb guidelines. Someone following a low-carb diet could likely enjoy a larger portion than a keto dieter could.

Health benefits of spinach

Creamed spinach provides an extra dose of nutrition from the spinach itself. Spinach provides many important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including:

  • Vitamin A – This antioxidant supports eye and skin health.
  • Vitamin C – Key for immune function and collagen production.
  • Vitamin K – Important for blood clotting and bone health.
  • Folate – Crucial for cell growth and preventing birth defects.
  • Potassium – Helpful for controlling blood pressure.
  • Lutein – This antioxidant benefits eye health.
  • Zeaxanthin – Works with lutein to support the eyes.

Beyond these nutrients, spinach provides manganese, magnesium, iron, and more. Adding creamed spinach to your plate contributes to your daily recommended veggie intake and stacks on some extra benefits.

Precautions with creamed spinach

Creamed spinach makes a tasty side, but there are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • Allergies – Those with dairy allergies will want to avoid creamed spinach recipes with milk, cheese, and cream.
  • Kidney stones – The oxalates in spinach may contribute to kidney stone formation in those prone to them.
  • Acid reflux – The cream and fat content may trigger acid reflux symptoms in some people.
  • FODMAPs – Some people with IBS may react poorly to ingredients like garlic and onion.

Provided these aren’t concerns for you, creamed spinach can be safely enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Just control your portion sizes if also limiting carbs.

Bottom line

Creamed spinach delivers around 5-8 grams of net carbs per serving. This puts it in the moderate carb range – not too high, but not extremely low either.

People on keto or strict low-carb diets may want smaller portions or creamed spinach recipes light on thickeners. But for most low-carb and keto eaters, creamed spinach can fit into the daily carb limits without problem.

To make creamed spinach especially low carb, opt for versions with cream cheese or Parmesan instead of flour. And amplify the nutrition with plenty of fresh or frozen spinach.

So dig in and enjoy this creamy green side, whether you’re cutting carbs or not!

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