Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The lies Popeye spread

Back in the day ( the day incidentally is any time frame of the past that you neglect to attach a specific date to out of forgetfulness or desire to distance yourself from the fact that you might be older than dirt) mom's wanted kids to be strong. Perhaps it was so they could involve them in a great number of household chores like cleaning out the basement, mowing the lawn or milking goats who would eat the lawn. Then again it might have been the desire to have children strong enough to grab onto tree limbs and not be blown away when the strong winds blew. Strong winds must have presented quite a danger because most "peasant foods" of the past seemed to be designed to add ballast to the body, as if it needed an aid to stay put through sustained high winds. Peasant food today is a whole different thing. No one was ever given strength and ballast through ramen or blue box mac and cheese. Just cardiac problems and a waist size that will make it unlikely to pass through most doors..

Being strong was so important in the past that the youth of America was exposed to propaganda by this guy
His bulging biceps saved the day time and again, and they were obtained by the copious consumption of spinach. Caned spinach. That green, slimy substance of childhood horror. Often times it was put on the plate, stared at, pushed around with the fork and finally consumption was encouraged with a promise that it would make us strong like the a fore mentioned sailor. What mothers didn't know was that 1. there were better ways to serve spinach and 2. strength was not the only thing gained through eating spinach. Turns out that spinach is a powerful aid in fighting off inflammation, the mortal enemy of the body. Inflammation is a crippling factor with things like Arthritis, but it is also a major factor in heart disease. Compounds in spinach help us to fight off the inflammation response as well as increase our levels of protection against cancers of the Prostate, Ovaries, Lungs and more. It indeed makes us strong, but not in the way mother suggested.

One of the nicest ways to eat spinach is in salad form. Many a recipe has gone around for Wilted Spinach salad featuring a sweet sour dressing with bacon fat. Good eats, but I admit a degree of laziness with salads- I want them now when I want them, and the ingredients have to be low prep time.I like to make a spinach/sliced strawberry salad, but I LOVE to combine spinach with fresh blueberries !
wash, toss together and dress. This year I have determined that I will not buy ready made dressings again because of their factory fats and dubious ingredients ( aka natural flavorings), so this salad was the perfect time to make a yummy dressing from scratch. If sweet and sour dressing combos work on these salads, then similar items in that flavor pallet would work as well. Here is what I used

Maple Balsamic Vinegrette
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup( anything less is simply high fructose corn syrup and more sugars with flavoring)
2 t Dijon type mustard
1 c high quality extra virgin olive oil ( I prefer Sicillian olives for their flavor)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk till slightly thickened (emulsified)
This dressing will be thinner than bottled varieties, but guess what ? Dressing is supposed to be a light shower on the salad and not an electric blanket. Dressing is meant to enhance the flavors of the salad-not disguise them so you can pass off disliked ingredients to the unsuspecting.It's a vinaigrette - not hot fudge after all !

To make the dressing took all of 5 minutes out of my life, and most of that time was devoted to gathering ingredients. The taste was better than any bottled stuff. And perhaps it was because of all of the cans of spinach consumed in the past with my mother's wishes for a strong child, but the whisking didn't hurt my arms a bit !

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