Who doesn’t remember Popeye the Sailor Man; the cartoon character with a penchant for spinach and no holds barred attitude for munching it straight from the can! (Health & Safety I can hear you scream!) The result was instant bulging forearms with enormous muscles to successfully fight off his ripped perennial rival Bluto and keep him at bay from his beloved Olive Oyl.   Popeye loved nothing more than a good brawl and would eat a can of spinach to give himself enough strength to secure victory and win the day by stating "That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!”

The green leaves gave him supers strength and a mean uppercut and because he ate his spinach this fist fighting one eyed hot tempered old salty sailor had a very positive effect on many peoples eating habits putting spinach back onto the dinner plate and a firm family favourite and was credited to popularising the consumption of spinach especially among children.   

This leafy vegetable was chosen to be the superfood to give him strength, as at the time there were huge health claims that each 100-gram serving of spinach had 35 milligrams of iron in it.  This would have been the equivalent of eating a bit of paper clip!  It was in fact incorrect and should have read 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100-gram serving but by then it was too late, and the nation was right hooked!

So much so, in 1937 in Crystal City in Texas a statute was erected to honour Popeye making him the first cartoon character to ever be immortalized in a public sculpture!

So, it may not turn you into a cackling middle-aged sailor with a unique way of speaking, disproportionately muscular forearms with two anchor tattoos, thinning hair and an ever-present corncob pipe who repeatedly says, "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam". "A-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah!"  But it’s still good for you and well known for its nutritional qualities and it is still rich in iron but without you not being able to enter through passport control without setting off all the alarms.

It has always been regarded as a plant with remarkable abilities to restore energy, increase vitality and improve the quality of the blood.

Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2.

So "Blow me down!" with a National Spinach Day on March 26th it would be rude not to serve it up as not only are there so many delicious ways that you can enjoy spinach, but it is also incredibly good for you and if the children turn their noses up just tell them your disgustipated with them, find Popeye on YouTube and educate them!  Guaranteed they will be first in the queue the next time you serve spinach to ensure they get bulging biceps bigger than the hulk!

Happy National Spinach Day!




March 26th is National Spinach Day.

Spinach grows best in cool (not freezing) moist conditions, such as spring and autumn, and grows well in sandy soils.

It is a native plant of Persia (modern day Iran). It was introduced to China in the 7th century. It was most probably brought to Europe in about the 12th century and to the US in 1806.

It comes in two shapes, smooth or curly.

There are three main varieties of spinach: Flat leaf is the best known and most popular. Leaves are smooth and shaped like tear drops. Savoy and Semi-Savoy, the other two types, are wrinkly and more intense in flavour.

Spinach has an energy rating! Slightly less than half a cup delivers 23 kilocalories.

Just half a cup of raw spinach counts as 1 of the 5 servings of fruits and vegetables you should eat a day. A half cup of cooked spinach contains 10% of your daily recommended value of iron. Iron facilitates the transport of iron to working muscles. This means increased energy and physical endurance

Spinach, unlike most leafy green vegetables, delivers more nutrition cooked than raw. That means you can eat it Popeye-style, but it tastes even better heated, and best of all when purchased fresh and then cooked.

Spinach recipes in the 19th century (1800-1899) called for boiling the leaves for 25 minutes! Apparently, some cookbook authors still thought it was toxic.

Spinach was the first frozen vegetable to be sold commercially. Thanks to the flash-freezing process,introduced by Clarence Birdseye. ‘Birds Eye’ were the first company to advertise frozen spinach. It did so in “Life” magazine in 1949.

Spinach is a member of the goose-foot family, which makes it a relative to beets and chard. 

Spinach leaves are a mild diuretic and mild laxative.

Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.

China is the world’s largest spinach producer with 85% of global production. Reflecting its origin, spinach is still widely known in China as “the Persian Green”.

Spinach is best eaten fresh. It loses nutritional properties with each passing day. Although refrigeration slows the deterioration, half of the major nutrients are lost by the eighth day after harvest. (For long term storage, freeze while fresh.) When fresh, it has crisp leaves. As they deteriorate, the leaves turn limp.

Oxalate, found in spinach, may cause kidney stones in some predisposed individuals.

A plate of spinach is the equivalent of a bear hug for your immune system.

It can neutralize explosives - You read that right. Spinach enzymes neutralize explosives. The enzymes have a reactivity effect, which degrades explosives, turning them to low toxicity byproducts that can be reduced further to harmless products like carbon dioxide and water. Don’t try it at home!

“Florentine” is a common part of names of recipes where spinach is a significant ingredient. Florence in Italy was the home town of Catherine de Medici, a lover of spinach, who married the King of France in the 16th century.

In the 1930’s U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption – a welcome boost to an industry during the depression era.