Thursday, July 12, 2007

Spinach on my Mind

I am humbled and rejoiced by spinach. I am humbled when I clean it. I feel so primitive standing next to the sink clipping the leaves off the stems with scissors. The leaves are caked with dirt and I rinse them with warm water. I rejoice in the proof that, for once, I am buying food delivered to me straight from the earth.

I buy the Spinach heads. I've tried the already cleaned, already cut loose leaves, but they are at least twice the price and go bad much faster. It takes a little bit of labor to prepare spinach leaves for the week, but it's worth it, and they are so good for you.

Spinach contains twice as much iron as most other greens. Spinach is also one of the most alkaline-producing foods, making it useful in helping to regulate body pH (Murray). In general, we eat over acidic foods which decrease our pH levels. Low pH levels are linked to cancer and other diseases.

Fitting "super greens" as Ruth Yaron calls them into our diet isn't easy. It isn't complicated but I just never thought about it until I started cooking for my baby. The way I cook and think about ingredients has completely changed. Feeding my baby good food is in my control. Just as I want to protect my baby from a speeding car, I want to charge his body with all the vitamins and nutrients that he needs so he gets the best start possible.

Spinach is the answer for me right now. I add it in scrabbled eggs
that I serve every other morning (eggs are high acidity by the way but good for baby for other reasons, remember "balanced diet"). I throw it on pizza. I make a salad. And if I still have some left over by the next Monday, I puree and freeze it for my spinach loaf, a Super Baby Food recipe (p.303).

I have gone back and forth weighing whether the time to labor over my spinach is worth the two dollars that I save and I've officially decide that yes it is worth it. I think the tipping point was freshness. I need my spinach to last a week to a week and a half. I also see the value in eating healthy foods and I am willing to use the little time that I have preparing it.

I swish the leaves around in the water with both hands. An image of women around the world bending over wash tubs comes to mind. Then, I let the dirt settle on the bottom of the sink and pull the leaves out so not to disturb the dirt from the floor of the sink. The water is a yellow green. I have already lost some valuable nutrients in the washing. I drain and rinse the sink, and then I do a quick wash again to make sure that I am not going to bite into a spinach leaf that tastes like a sandy hot dog on the beach. I take two plies of paper towels (attached) or one dish towel and slide it into a ziplock bag. The dish towel or paper towels should make a little pocket. Then, I slip the leaves in the middle. The water from the leaves is absorbed into the the dish towel or paper towels and that moisture keeps the leaves fresh. It always looks like a ton of spinach but spinach always shrinks when you cook it.

To add the spinach to my baby's scrabbled eggs, I take a large handful and roll the leaves into a big taco. Then, I chop them up and add them into the mixing bowl with the raw cracked eggs. Poor everything into a fry pan and breakfast is served in 10 minutes. My baby gobbles it down and so do I. I have peace of mind that I've started the day with spinach.

When I add the spinach to my pizzas, I like to steam the leaves first. My husbands hates the extra dishes, but I think it's better. If you just add the leaves to your pizza, they get a little burnt. But when you steam them first, they are nice and moist and cook very well. After I steam them, I chop them because I always like everything nice and small for my baby.

  • Murray, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria Books, 2005.
  • Yaron, Ruth. Super Baby Food. Peckvilel, PA: F.J. Roberts, 1998


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