Spinach pie, also known as spanakopita, is a classic Greek dish that is both delicious and nutritious. It is typically made with a filling of spinach, feta cheese, onions, egg, and seasoning baked between layers of phyllo dough. With its combination of vegetables, cheese, and pastry, spinach pie provides a variety of nutrients but is also high in calories due to its ingredients and preparation method.
The number of calories in spinach pie can vary greatly depending on the size of the piece and specific recipe, but a small slice (around 3″ x 3″ or 75g) contains approximately 285 calories.
Calories in Different Types of Spinach Pie
There are many different variations of spinach pie recipes from the traditional Greek spanakopita to more modern interpretations. The type of phyllo dough, amount of filling, and baking method can all impact the calorie count. Here is an overview of calorie ranges for different kinds of spinach pie:
- Traditional spanakopita made with regular phyllo dough – 250-350 calories per 3”x3” piece
- Spanakopita made with whole wheat phyllo dough – 200-300 calories per piece
- American-style spinach pie made with shortcrust pie dough – 300-400 calories per slice
- Lazy spanakopita without phyllo (casserole-style) – 150-250 calories per serving
- Mini spanakopita appetizers – around 50-100 calories each
As you can see, phyllo-based versions tend to be higher in calories than lazy spanakopita or spinach pie casseroles due to the added calories from the phyllo layers.
Calories in Spinach Pie Filling vs Phyllo Dough
To understand where most of the calories come from in spinach pie, it helps to break it down into the two main components:
Calories in the spinach filling
Most of the calories in the spinach pie filling comes from the feta cheese and egg. A typical filling made with sautéed spinach, onions, feta, egg, parsley, and spices contains approximately:
- 1 cup raw spinach – 7 calories
- 1/2 cup onions – 64 calories
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta – 228 calories
- 1 egg – 71 calories
- Parsley, spices – negligible
Total estimated calories for entire filling: 370 calories
Calories in the phyllo dough
An average piece of spanakopita made with 4-5 sheets of phyllo contains:
- 4-5 sheets phyllo dough – 150-190 calories
So the phyllo dough itself adds a significant amount of calories to spinach pie. The flaky layered dough is where most of the added calories come from in a traditional Greek spanakopita made with regular phyllo compared to a lazy bake spinach pie.
Factors That Impact Calories in Spinach Pie
As the filling and phyllo dough breakdown shows, the ingredients and preparation method for spinach pie can cause the calorie count to vary. Here are some of the factors that play a role in the calories per serving:
Size of the piece
Larger pieces of spinach pie will have more calories than smaller pieces. A typical serving size is around 3 inches square or 75g.
Thickness of phyllo layers
More sheets of phyllo will increase the calorie count compared to fewer layers. Standard spanakopita recipes call for between 4-6 sheets per piece.
Type of phyllo dough
Whole wheat or vegetable-based phyllo is lower in calories than regular phyllo dough made with refined flour.
Amount of filling
Recipes with higher ratios of filling to phyllo will be higher in calories than those with more phyllo and less filling.
Ingredients in filling
The specific ingredients used in the filling impact the calories. For example, spinach pie made with ricotta or cottage cheese instead of feta will be lower in calories.
Fried spanakopita is higher in calories than baked due to the added oil. Brushing phyllo with butter or olive oil before baking also increases calories.
Additions to the dough
Ingredients sometimes mixed into the dough like butter, oil or eggs add extra calories per serving.
Nutrition Facts for Spinach Pie
To get a full nutritional breakdown, here are the nutrition facts for a 75g serving of traditional baked spanakopita made with regular phyllo dough:
|Nutrition Facts||Per 75g serving|
As you can see from the nutrition information, a spinach pie is high in calories, fat (primarily from the cheese and phyllo), and sodium. It provides some protein as well as a small amount of fiber and carbohydrates. The high calorie and fat content come from both the phyllo dough and the cheese-based filling.
Tips for Lightening Up Spinach Pie
If you want to enjoy spinach pie but reduce the calorie content, here are some tips for lighter versions:
- Use whole wheat or vegetable-based phyllo dough instead of regular
- Reduce the number of phyllo sheets per piece
- Make smaller sized pieces
- Use lower fat cheeses like feta or ricotta in the filling
- Increase the spinach ratio compared to cheese
- Replace some of the cheese filling with sautéed vegetables like mushrooms or zucchini
- Bake instead of frying
- Avoid adding extra butter/oil to the phyllo
- Serve smaller “appetizer” size portions
With some simple adjustments, you can still enjoy the wonderful flavors of spinach pie while reducing the calorie density.
Healthy Spinach Pie Recipe
Here is a recipe for a healthier version of spinach pie using whole wheat phyllo and part-skim ricotta to lighten it up:
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1⁄4 cup feta cheese
- 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4-5 sheets whole wheat phyllo dough
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Squeeze thawed spinach to remove excess moisture. Roughly chop and set aside.
- Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Allow to cool slightly.
- In a bowl, combine spinach, onion/garlic mixture, egg, ricotta, feta, parsley, oregano, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Lay 1 sheet of phyllo in prepared baking dish. Lightly spray with olive oil spray. Top with another sheet and spray again. Repeat with 2 more layers.
- Spread spinach filling evenly over phyllo.
- Top with remaining phyllo sheet and spray with olive oil spray.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until phyllo is golden brown.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 6-8 pieces.
This healthier spinach pie using part-skim ricotta is lower in calories and fat than traditional spanakopita. Each piece comes out to around 220 calories and 7g fat.
Spinach Pie Nutrition Facts
Spinach pie made in the traditional Greek style with regular phyllo dough is high in calories and fat. A small 3 inch square piece (75g) contains about:
- 285 calories
- 16g fat
- 26g carbs
- 8g protein
The high calorie and fat content come mostly from the phyllo dough and cheese filling. Feta cheese and phyllo are the biggest contributors of calories.
You can reduce the calories in spinach pie by using whole wheat phyllo, decreasing the amount of phyllo, and substituting lower fat cheeses in the filling. Healthier versions provide around 220 calories and 7g of fat per serving.
While not low in calories, spinach pie does deliver a nutrition boost from the spinach. It provides protein, calcium, antioxidants, vitamin A, and iron. As an occasional treat, it can be part of healthy Mediterranean-style eating pattern.
Spinach pie is a indulgent dish that is high in calories, fat, and sodium, with a 3 inch square piece providing around 285 calories. Traditional Greek spanakopita made with regular phyllo dough and feta cheese filling contributes the most calories. You can create lighter versions by using whole wheat phyllo, less dough layers, lower fat cheese, and increasing the spinach. With some simple tweaks, you can still enjoy the delicious taste of spinach pie while reducing the calorie density.