When I first told Lola it was national spinach day, she immediately started mimicking the cartoon character Popeye by holding an imaginary can of the famous vegetable and opening it up with her teeth. When the can was opened, she tossed the spinach through the air into her mouth. I could almost hear the music as the imaginary spinach landed in her mouth and her biceps turning into battleship guns. To me, the typical Popeye scene involves Popeye just squeezing the can so the spinach pops right out. I suppose most of us, at least of our generations, have Popeye as our first frame of reference for spinach. That’s a pretty powerful message for any youth – that eating this vegetable will give you instant super strength. It’s a wonder why every lad and lassie don’t scream for it. Maybe they do, but then they eat it. They get their first whiff. Their first look. Their first taste. Then they make the wise decision of passing. No, thanks. I don’t need to be like Popeye. I can hope to be bitten by a radioactive spider for super powers. That would be more pleasant than eating this crap.
I don’t hate spinach. It’s actually pretty good, but I find it works best when it’s mixed with something else. By itself, when cooked, I find it a little bitter, a little mushy, a little stinky. But I can choke it down without making funny faces. In raw form, it’s still ok but it gets a little too leafy for me. It makes me crave regular lettuce. I know it’s good for you. It’s packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals. It’s a superfood. It’s actually pretty amazing. I happened to just read an article from National Geographic how scientists at WPI are using spinach leaves to create a beating heart. Apparently they have not been able to recreate a functioning vascular system in the world of tissue engineering. But, by studying and using the leaves of spinach, they have created an actual beating heart. This science thing is kind of amazing. Wait until the Viagra folks start working on their tissue engineering by experimenting with carrots.
I got a recipe for a smoothie that was made with spinach from the folks at Nekter Juice Bar. They are a West coast operation that create some serious good for you and good tasting drinks and smoothies. I’m not sure when people started drinking leafy vegetables, but they do now, and when you are making juice from vegetables, spinach is always the go to choice because of all the nutrients. The founder of the company, Alexis Schulze, actually wrote a children’s book called Sneaky Spinach which was a way for her to get kids to eat more spinach, by hiding it in other foods. That’s were the Sneaky part comes in. Spinach is also a habitual liar and part-time confidence man, but that comes out later in the story. (Ok, I made the last bit up.) Her book is actually just a fun way to introduce kids to the idea of getting all the goodness of spinach in their diet and the importance of a balanced life. It’s actually a cool idea. (The book is available for purchase on their website or on Amazon and part of the proceeds go to the Festival of Children Foundation.) It also encourages you to make the smoothie, so here is that recipe:
Sneaky Spinach Smoothie Recipe
5 Frozen Strawberries
½ cup Frozen Blueberries
½ Frozen Banana
1 ½ tsp Agave
8 oz 2% reduced fat or 1% skim milk (or alternative)
Sneaky Spinach: add 3-8 spinach leaves
I made a smoothie for Lola today which was pretty much made with these ingredients, however I had no fresh spinach. I’m not sure how Lola would have felt about me sneaking fresh spinach into her smoothie. She probably would have noticed. She’s got a pretty good palate for things like that. She has made juice using spinach leaves, but it’s never mixed into her sweet smoothies. Maybe I’ll start doing that. We could all use more antioxidants in our diet where we can get them. Of course, I’ll have to tell her or we could have a situation like this:
I actually had this picture in my phone because I sent it to her one day when she had something in her teeth. I like to think of creative ways to tell her when this happens. She has made it clear that it is my duty to make sure her grill is clean and I take it very seriously. Nobody wants to have food in their teeth, and when you do, you need to let them know. There’s nothing worse than being in public for hours and then looking in the mirror and seeing food in your teeth. How long was it there? Did anyone notice? Telling your friends something is going on in your mouth is part of the social contract. I recently used the new iPhone feature of Tapbacks where you can draw something. I drew a picture of a smile and then added in the piece of food. That sent a clear message which was thankfully greeted with a belly laugh.
To be honest, I was having a lazy day today. The ride to New Hampshire and back kind of tired me out, plus it was just a long week. It was overcast and everything in my body was telling me to take it easy, so I did. Everyone’s allowed a lazy Sunday. I tell you this because when I woke up I was full of ideas for how to honor spinach. I was going to make Eggs Florentine for brunch, then maybe some spinach dip for our afternoon snack. Maybe even some creamed spinach for dinner. Pretty soon I lazed through the brunch hour, so I took the eggs of the menu. Then I wasn’t very motivated to make spinach dip. Then I didn’t feel like going to the store to get spinach for creamed spinach. Yep, I lazed my way right out of celebration. Not to brag, but I’m pretty good at lazy days. When it came time for dinner, I realized that I still had to get some spinach. I was walking around the house going “Where’s me spinach? Where’s me spinach?” Then I found the menu to the local pizza place up the street, Northend Pizzeria. They happened to have something available called the Spinach Pizza: their own blend of Caramelized Onion, Garlic, & Sauteed Chopped Spinach, mixed with Feta , & piled to the edges with Mozzarella. I had found my answer.
First off, they said it would take about 45 minutes for delivery. They were here in twenty and the pizza was fresh and hot. There are so many times when you wait longer than expected, I thought I would cheer their efforts here because it was super fast. Second, this was a really good pizza. It’s not one I would normally order, but when you have a spinach hankering, you’re in for a treat. It was actually loaded with spinach which had been cooked in the onions and garlic, so it was super flavorful. The cheese mixture was great too with cheese in every bite. I may have opted for more parmesan rather than feta, but it was good either way. Spinach and cheese go great together in any form. I love the crust from Northend. It’s crunchy and doughy. I grew up on thin crust pizza and to get a version that has more to it is a treat. I still like thin crust, but I like this kind of crust every now and then. It was the prefect way to sneak spinach into my day.
Never underestimate the joy of a lazy Sunday. Sure, you feel guilty about taking them, but sometimes they have just what you need. In this case, it was spinach, albeit in pizza form. Spinach fills your body with all kinds of great minerals and vitamins. Vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and more. I’m sure cheese and pizza dough counteracts most of that, but not all of it. Did it cause me to jump up in the air and beat up on Bluto who was getting a little too frisky with Olive Oyl? No, not exactly. But it did make me smile after a pretty enjoyable day. I may start trying to sneak spinach into more places in our daily routine. You never know what you will end up enjoying, plus I hear it keeps you strong to the finish. Toot, toot.
Next Up: International Whiskey Day