According to the World’s Healthiest Foods (and you’ve got to trust a web site with that name):
Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach — with its delicate texture and jade green color — provide more nutrients than any other food.
Spinach is a great source of:
- vitamin A (and lutein)
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- vitamin K
- folic acid (Vitamin B9)
But enough of that science crap. Let’s talk about Popeye!
He was created by Elzie Crisler Segar and appeared for the first time in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theater on January 17, 1929. He was only a minor character but soon became so popular he was given a larger role, and in the 1950s, he got his own strip: Popeye the Sailor Man.
One of Popeye’s most identifiable traits was his spinach-popping habit. The theory is that Segar had Popeye eat spinach to get stronger because of an 1870 study by Dr. E von Wolf that claimed it had a miraculously high iron content. Sadly, the German scientist had misplaced a decimal point in his calculations and mistakenly attributed 10 times as much iron to the vegetable as it actually contains. The error was discovered in 1937, but Popeye’s spinach habit stuck.
Crystal City, Texas — the “Spinach Capital of the World” — was so grateful to Popeye and his creator for boosting the local spinach-growing economy, the town erected a statue in their honor. And every year, on the second weekend of November, Crystal City holds a Spinach Festival to celebrate the leafy green.
Three Ways to Get Your Spinach
Since eating creamy, gooey, cheesy spinach dip with tortilla chips and pita wedges is not Zone-friendly and, therefore, out of the question, I’ve got some other tasty spinach ideas to help you channel Popeye.
#1. Spinach Bed
This is so easy, it feels like cheating. Place 1-2 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves on a plate and top it with whatever hot food you’re eating. The heat of the rest of the food wilts the spinach to just the right degree. And bam! instant nutritional wallop. Tastes great under just about everything… a stir fry, curry, grilled meat and steamed veggies… everything.
#2. Mediterranean Spinach
Also ridiculously easy. Steam or sautée fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach. Toss with a clove of pressed garlic, a spritz of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of crushed oregano. Add healthy oils with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp=1 block), some sliced black olives (5=1 block), or pine nuts (1.5 tsp=1 block).
#3. Spinach Muffins
I played around with my original delicious-but-not-good-for-me recipe to turn this into a Zone-friendly, Paleo-friendly, Weight Watchers-friendly snack. The results aren’t bad. The original includes bread crumbs and whole eggs. Boo! I challenge you to name another food as utterly useless as dried bread crumbs.
Anyway, these suckers are pretty good. I like them best cold or at room temperature. The recipe makes 12, and if you eat them two at a time, you’ll get 1 block each of protein, carbohydrates, and fat — which makes them an ideal snack for a “medium female” like me. (Two muffins is about 1 Weight Watchers point, too.)
- 3 16-oz. bags frozen spinach, defrosted
- 2 eggs or 4 egg whites
- optional seasonings: salt, pepper, Penzeys Italian herb seasoning, Penzeys Greek seasoning, lemon juice (If you don’t have Italian or Greek herb blends, you can replicate the flavors by using oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil… don’t be afraid if you think you don’t know how to cook. You really can’t screw up with herbs — just add them a little at a time ’til it tastes the way you want it. Start with about 1/2 teaspoon dried… I just sprinkle and mix ’til it tastes right. )
1. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT: Squeeze excess water from the defrosted spinach. My trick: Cut a corner off the bag, and squeeze the spinach inside the bag, letting the water drain out the hole. Much easier than dumping the green stuff out and squeezing.
2. Put the spinach in a bowl and add seasonings, to taste. Today I made mine with salt, pepper, and Penzeys Greek seasoning — and they taste totally rad.
4. Add eggs and mix until everything is completely blended.
5. Grease a muffin pan with coconut oil or no-garbage organic olive oil spray and scoop the spinach mixture into the cups. I filled mine all the way to the top and packed it in pretty tight. They puff a little when they bake, then deflate when they cool.
6. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 35-40 minutes.
7. Eat to your heart’s content and be ready to hold your own with Bluto or the WOD.
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