Spinach for Breakfast?

A couple of days ago, Robert ran to the store for a few things and I asked him to pick up some frozen fruits like raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Last year my doctor wanted to prescribe drugs to address my slowly increasing cholesterol values, but I told him that I would rather try to reduce it through diet. It actually worked. Six months later my values had dropped. The only thing I had done was to swap oatmeal into my breakfast meal. But, oatmeal alone doesn’t cut it for me. So, I almost always add some sort of fruit to brighten it up.

When I was a kid, I never ate oatmeal. My mother didn’t like it, so she didn’t serve it. Since oatmeal wasn’t on my mom’s preferred foods list, I assumed I wouldn’t like it either! Then, in my final year of high school, I traveled to South Africa as foreign exchange student. I lived with an Afrikaans family in Johannesburg. For breakfast we sometimes ate eggs on toast, but we often had porridge (as it was described in English) or “pap” (as it was referred to in Afrikaans.) I thought it was super cool to be eating porridge, since we didn’t have that in the States. To me, porridge was something people ate who lived in charming, grass thatch roofed cottages in the Scottish country side.

However, upon my return I went off to college where I ate my meals in the school cafeteria. At breakfast, along with a variety of other options, they offered oatmeal (or a pretty sticky, doughy rendition of it.) When I tried it, I came to suspect that porridge and oatmeal could be one in the same. Yeah. That’s true. While porridge can be used to describe other grains like corn or rice cooked in a similar manner, oatmeal and porridge are the same breakfast fare.

Back to Robert’s grocery store visit. While viewing all of the frozen fruit options, he spotted pre-mixed packages of various fruits which are designed to provide the ingredients for a smoothy. I suppose he may have thought that variety is the spice of life, so he purchased them.

Yesterday, I examined the package labeled; “Red Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie.” The entire ingredient list was: STRAWBERRIES, BANANAS, DARK SWEET CHERRIES, DRAGON FRUIT, CRANBERRIES, ASCORBIC ACID (TO PROMOTE COLOR RETENTION), CITRIC ACID. It sounded like a wonderful addition to our morning oatmeal. While the product name contained “Vegetable,” the content list showed none. That was fine by me. It’s not that I don’t like vegetables. I love them. And, while vegetables could be part of a breakfast meal, I didn’t think they would complement oatmeal. As it turned out, the “Red Fruit” provided a delicious addition to our oatmeal with its occasion pops of tart cranberries in one spoonful, and the velvety sweetness of banana in another.

This morning, I pulled out package number two of three that Robert brought home the other day. It was called Green Fruit & Vegetable Smoothie. I immediately figured “green apple” and since the Red Fruit variety had no real veggies, I wasn’t expecting any in this package. However, I was wrong. Here’s the ingredient list: MANGO, BANANAS, APPLES, PINEAPPLE, SPINACH, ASCORBIC ACID (TO PROMOTE COLOR RETENTION), CITRIC ACID, SALT. Well, all-righty then. Spinach for breakfast it will be. The image on the front of the package showed a red apple (not green.) The only green ingredient was the spinach. The package cover showed a tall glass full of green beverage. I suspect that whirling the contents in a blender with water, juice or milk (as described) would result in a green beverage. I immediately assumed our oatmeal would appear the same.

I am not one of those folks who feels a need to photography everything I consume, experience or purchase. I don’t maintain an Instragram account to chronicle my life in photos. But, if my oatmeal was going to end up GREEN I thought it might be worth the trouble to take a few pictures.

To make our two servings of oatmeal, I added a small pat of butter, the package of fruit (which was described as One Serving) and two cups of water along with a dash of salt to a sauce pan. Once it reached a boil, I added the 1 cup of standard oats (not quick), stirred and turned it down to medium-low. I watched and waited for the entire concoction to turn green. But, alas, the spinach maintained its integrity, the fruits were cooked to a soft texture, and the final product looked quite ordinary – if it’s ordinary to have flakes of spinach in your oatmeal!

How did it taste, you ask? Well, the spoonful with a chunk of mango tasted like oatmeal with a juicy bite of sweet mango. Delicious. The spoon that contained a piece of pineapple offered a burst of tangy, tropical fruit flavor. And, yes, the spinach tasted like….spinach. I suppose if I had just completed a 21 day “Naked And Afraid” challenge during which I only ate two beetles and an over-cooked toad, I would say that the bowl of oatmeal – green smoothie blend was the best meal I had ever consumed. But, life is all bout perspective. I will continue to eat my spinach in a fresh greens salad with baby arugula or steamed as a side dish with, perhaps, a splash of balsamic vinegar next to a nice cut of pork. For now, I have asked Robert to avoid purchasing the Fruit and Veggie smoothie products. While he didn’t complain about the spinach in his breakfast, I think he agreed with me that fruit makes a better compliment to our morning meal.

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