Electrolytes: Spinach

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When I think of spinach…
I think of an extra green to add to my smoothie or salad.
I think of Popeye.
I do not think – electrolytes.

How about you?

What is the first image that comes to mind? Is this a go-to-food for you? A staple? An afterthought? Is it something you eat without much thought? Or the why? Or how it impacts your body? Do you smile or crinkle your face when you think about spinach?

If you eat Spinach – do you eat it raw or cooked? Do you have a favorite recipe?
If you exercise, do you eat spinach to replace your lost electrolytes?

I love the taste of spinach and it has become a staple for me, but that wasn’t always so.

The journey to present

As a child, I ate vegetables and knew on some level that they were important but as I became an adult, hit my teen years, my focus changed to calories and fat, and as a result my nutritious food was replaced with processed food that looked awesome on the package, promised nutrients, was low in fat and calories (yet high in sugar and hidden sugars), but in reality, did damage.

College was about how little I could eat.

Calorie and/or fat counting, or how to eat cereal and other foods that were cheap, and not gain weight. College was little to do with internal health and wellness, and a lot to do with shortcuts and fast, cheap food, plus a sprinkle or two of exercise.

Shortly after college, I became a vegetarian and at least started eating more veggies and fruits, but I also ate more chips and chocolate. I exercised often but later learned …. exercise is only one part of wellness and health, with the other part being food.

So, in 2013, I invested in internal health and wellness, and decided to cook.
I bought cookbooks, spices and real food.

Leafy greens, such as spinach, became a staple. At that time, I still didn’t think about spinach as something other than a green food I liked and that I added to my salads, smoothies and warm winter pot dishes.

I knew it was good for me but I didn’t know why. And while I’d never thought of it in terms of vitamins, minerals or electrolytes, I did start to become aware that it kept me regulated …. (think poop – 💩).

And somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind there was this inkling of thought but it lacked words, description, frame of reference, or connection. Today that inkling is turning into awareness and understanding about the link between my body and its health to nutritious food. Spinach is just one food that satisfies and strengthens that link.

A seasonal vegetable 

Did you know?

September is the month to buy Spinach because, in DC, it is in season! September is a good time to learn about electrolytes because of fall sports. September is also the month Say No To Food Waste launched Cooking with Grams.

Grams made it easy, quick and yummy to cook with spinach and eggs.
The detailed recipe is in the post above, but you can see the video below.

Electrolytes Facts 

Did you know they keep you hydrated? That exercise and illness are two ways your body loses electrolytes? And that spinach is a food high in electrolytes?

Electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity and pressure, and help rebuild damaged tissue. The seven major electrolytes are:

  1. Sodium (Na+)
  2. Calcium (Ca++)
  3. Chloride (Cl-)
  4. Potassium (K+)
  5. Magnesium (Mg++)
  6. Phosphate (HPO4–)
  7. Bicarbonate (HCO3-)

I was always aware of sodium but because of drinks to replenish electrolytes thought sugar was also one. It isn’t.

Also – Bloomsdale Long Standing, Anna, Tyee, Crocodile, Avon, Renegade, Palco, Giant 157, Space, and Regiment are all varieties of spinach!

Here are some other facts:
– half a cup of raw spinach counts as 1 of the 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables
– spinach is a member of the goose-foot family, making it a relative to beets and chard
– medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint
– spinach is best eaten fresh because it loses nutritional properties with each passing

For more, check out:
https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/5-weird-facts-about-spinach/
– http://fillyourplate.org/blog/surprising-facts-spinach/
– https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-25572/6-things-you-never-knew-about-your-favorite-leafy-green.html.

For recipes, check out:
– https://www.thedailymeal.com/artichoke-spinach-strata-recipe
https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/best-spinach-recipes-gallery/list.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the most famous Spinach Icon –

Hint: “He’s …. the sailor man, he’s …. the sailor man and he is strong to the finish because he eats his spinach, he’s …. the sailor man.”

Seems strong to the finish is more than muscle bulk, it is also about muscle hydration.

Answer ….

Popeye!

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Two fun facts about Popeye:

1) In the 1930’s U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption.

2) The spinach growing town of Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of Popeye in 1937.

Until next week, enjoy your spinach and please share your recipes or thoughts on spinach and/or electrolytes.

By Elizabeth Fischer

References: 
1 –  https://www.backyard-vegetable-gardening.com/spinach-varieties.html
2 – http://topfoodfacts.com/10-interesting-facts-about-spinach/

 

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