Healthy Foods: Popeye was right all along!

I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eats my spinach . . .

Popeye was a smart guy. Well, if you can look past the chain-smoking, the violent tendencies he had towards Bluto, and the way he objectified Olive Oyl. But anyway, the iconic cartoon sailor has been helping to make spinach cool for decades.

Everyone knows spinach is good for you, but there are lots of folks who’d rather chew on shoe leather than this leafy green wonder veggie. And that’s a shame!

Spinach is chock full of vitamins and nutrients. It has a very mild taste, it’s easy to prepare and it can be eaten cooked or raw.

I wouldn’t be caught without a box or two of spinach in my freezer and I always have some fresh baby spinach in my refrigerator so I have some to toss into salads and smoothies. (Yes! Throw spinach in your smoothies-you won’t even know it’s there!)

Now, if you aren’t a fan of spinach, chances are you just haven’t been doing it right. If you’ve tried it cooked and hated it (let’s face it, there’s not a lot to love about plain old wilted spinach), try it raw. If you can’t choke it down raw in a salad or on a sandwich, I can guarantee you that there’s a way you can sneak spinach into your diet so that you’ll enjoy (or at least not hate) eating it.

First of all, let me build my case and explain why you should add spinach to your diet.

1) It’s a vitamin powerhouse. Just like beet greens (which I wrote about the other day), spinach is full of vitamins K, A, and C.
2) It helps with weight management. Spinach is great for helping you keep your girlish figure because it slows down the rate at which your body digests food, keeping you full for a good long time.
3) It has nutrients galore. Spinach is a great source of iron, fiber, and folate.
4) It’s high in nitrates (naturally occurring, not the sodium nitrates they put in hot dogs). Leafy green vegetables and their nitrates (a derivative of nitric oxide) help boost energy. Nitrates can also lower blood pressure, improve circulation and open up blood vessels. They can also increase muscular function (See, Popeye was right!).
5) It has anti-aging properties. If you eat spinach every day, you might actually slow down the effects of aging. Yes, you heard me right! When you eat spinach regularly, it will help the collagen in your skin to rejuvenate.
6) It’s good for your heart. Spinach contains compounds that can prevent your arteries from hardening. Its high amounts of folate also lessen your chances of developing heart disease.
7) It might help to fight cancer. Spinach has flavonoids—antioxidants—that help to get rid of inflammation in the body. Flavonoids have also been known to shrink tumors and to help prevent the risk of developing lung, ovarian, and colon cancers.

I could literally go on for pages and pages about the benefits of spinach, but that’s not really what I’m here for. I’m here to help you put good food on the table.

So now that we’re all in agreement that spinach is good for you, let’s talk about how you can sneak it into your diet and into the bellies of your green-resistant family members if they won’t eat it simply wilted or in a salad.

Try these tips:

* Put it in a frittata with some bacon and cheese and they shouldn’t have any problem eating it.
* Put it on a pizza.
* Rethink your salads. If you can’t stand the onions and hardboiled eggs in a traditional spinach salad, toss your spinach with fresh fruit and goat cheese and some homemade vinaigrette.
* Add it to your family’s favorite soup.
* Thaw frozen spinach and add it to your casseroles.
* Add spinach to your favorite stir-fry (try garlic and pine nuts or almonds for extra yum).

What’s your favorite way to eat spinach? Tell us here!

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