So You Want To Grow Up Big & Strong . . .

Spinach PlantThen you must eat up all your Spinach (pronounced spin-atch) Used in almost every cuisine around the world, spinach is an enormously popular green vegetable, the leaves of which can be either flat or slightly ruffled. Bright green when young it deepens to a more intense colour as it grows older.

Like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. The distinctive bitter flavour complements dairy products such as eggs but also features in Indian and Italian cuisine.

Spinach PastriesThe younger, milder, leaves tend to be eaten raw in salads and suchlike, while the older ones are tend towards being cooked.

The main problem with cooking spinach is that it has one of the shortest cooking times of all vegetables and reduces dramatically during cooking. A large (1lb) bag will be just enough for two when cooked!

Spinach first appeared in England and France during the 14th century, via Spain. It gained popularity quickly because it appeared in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce and when Lenten dietary restrictions discouraged consumption of other foods.

Spinach DishesSpinach is mentioned in the first known English cookbook, The Forme of Cury (1390), where it is referred to as spinnedge or spynoches.

When, in 1533, Catherine de Medici became queen of France she so loved spinach that she demanded it be served at every meal! To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as Florentine, reflecting Catherine’s birth city of Florence.

spinach1The cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man is portrayed as having a strong affinity for spinach, becoming physically stronger after consuming it. But it has since been proven that this portrayal was based on faulty calculations of the iron content.

It was discovered that the German scientist Emil von Wolff misplaced a decimal point in an 1870 measurement of spinach’s iron content, leading to an iron value ten times higher than it should have been. But this faulty measurement was not noticed until the 1930’s by which time the misconception that spinach is high in iron and makes the body stronger, was widespread.

Spinach also contributes to a very healthy smoothie, a vibrant (or vile, depending on your viewpoint) green concoction created from avocado, cucumber, spinach and kale. Blitz all together with fresh pineapple and coconut water.

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