1. I’m strong to the finish, ‘cause I eats me spinach…
Popeye’s amazing powers were predicated on a misplaced decimal. In 1870, a German dyslexic, Emil von Wuff, had a problem period that was placed so that the iron content of spinach appeared to be 10 times as strong as it actually is. This error persisted until the 1930s. But perhaps spinach is still a little over-hyped. There are 3.6 mg of iron in 150 g of spinach – then again, there are 15 mg in 100 g of pumpkin seeds!
2. Super hair if not superpowers.
Spinach has many redeeming qualities, notwithstanding its mobile decimal point. It’s so full of good things that it promotes strong hair, good skin and stout bones. Some people recommend a spinach hair pack once a week: 1 cup spinach leaves, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp olive oil. Blend in blender and apply to hair. Leave on one hour then wash off with regular shampoo. Apparently it will stimulate hair growth and reduce hair fallout as well as make your hair look healthy and beautiful.
3. Dishes à la florentine.
Catherine de Medici of Florence, who married King Henry II of France and reigned as his wife from 1547 to 1559, loved spinach and introduced it to her new country when she arrived as a bride. French dishes that incorporate spinach are therefore known as la Florentine. Spinach was about the only thing they liked about Catherine – well, besides the artichoke hearts, which she also introduced to the court.
4. Iran really deserves the credit.
Persian (now Iranians) brought spinach to the attention of the Western world. It and its virtues travelled from Iran to India, to China and finally back to Europe. A famous Persian agronomist, whose name you won’t be able to pronounce, called it “the prince of leafy greens”.
5. A little red wine laced with spinach…
Wounded soldiers in the First World War were given wine fortified with spinach to help them through their trauma. Chances are it did little good, but the motto of the physician is Primum non nocere, “First, do no harm”, so…
6. Another miracle food.
Spinach, while not as potent as thought by Popeye and his followers, still packs a pretty hefty wallop. It is high in Vitamins A ,C, K, the Bs, E and potassium, manganese, magnesium and folate.
7. Keeps insulin under control.
Spinach is able to stimulate insulin from the pancreas thanks to its concentration of magnesium. It also protects against cancer due to the many flavonoids, and high blood pressure (thanks to its level of potassium and magnesium). It is also good for the brain… oh heck! Just eat your spinach!
8. Keeping it clean.
Wash spinach yourself. All you have to do is hold it under a running tap, perhaps giving a little extra attention to the edges of the leaves. Do not immerse it in a sink full of water (the sink probably has all kinds of bacteria in it) but put it in a bowl of cold water and sluice it through. Water, not all the chemicals we are told to put in it, kills or disposes of the bacteria that may concern our health. And cold water is just as effective as warm water. Only boiling water does more.
9. Cool weather crop.
One reason for the popularity of spinach was its early arrival after a long winter. Spinach is a cool weather crop. Plant seeds two weeks before the last frost. For a second crop, plant seeds again four to six weeks before the first freeze up.
10. Fresh, fresh, fresh – or at least flash frozen.
Spinach loses much of its potency after picking. Four days later, it is basically just green stuff. Refrigerated, give it four days more, then it’s not worth the green stamp it leaves on the table. Freezing and cooking retains the nutrients longer, but harvesting it straight from your garden will give you the absolute best return.
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