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posted: 4/15/2013 5:00 AM

She has a new-found love -- spinach

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  • Replace the kettlebell with an empty Giant Spinach Bowl, and this photo pretty well illustrates how I felt about the prospect of maybe not having baby spinach readily available.

      Replace the kettlebell with an empty Giant Spinach Bowl, and this photo pretty well illustrates how I felt about the prospect of maybe not having baby spinach readily available.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer


There was very nearly a food emergency at my house last week.

While I was at work one night, I got a troubling text message from the boyfriend, who was picking up a few groceries: "Is there a baby spinach shortage I don't know about? I've been to three stores, and I can't find it."

In the past, that would've, at best, elicited a shrug from me. Now? PANIC. Especially because I knew the Giant Spinach Bowl in the refrigerator was nearly empty at that moment.

I can't be without spinach. I eat a lot of spinach.

I'm not talking about my oh-so-virtuous spinach eating of the past: "I'm eating (maybe four leaves) spinach instead of lettuce on my (salami and American cheese on white bread) sandwich, because, y'know, nutrition."

No, I'm pretty sure I've eaten more spinach in the past couple of months than I've eaten in my entire life. I can have plenty of other things, but spinach has become one of my favorites. And we really do keep a giant bowl of it in the fridge at all times.

I tried declaring war on spinach a few weeks ago, but I finally just gave in. I eat spinach at every meal, including in my breakfast smoothie every morning (I know it sounds a little icky, but it isn't at all. It's actually really good and an easy way to sneak in a serving of vegetables.)

Good news: I found the spinach! Crisis averted! I had to drive to a grocery store on the west side of Schaumburg for it that particular time, but I didn't care. I was just happy to have it. (To give you a little perspective, I live in Arlington Heights. Crazy, right? THAT is how much I've come to love spinach.)

That I eat this much spinach -- that I actually went on a quest for it -- is just so weird. A food emergency at my house just a few months ago would've been not having those individually wrapped slices of American cheese. (I'm not kidding. There was more than one time I ran out to the store after I got home from work -- and I work second shift, so we're talking 1 or 2 a.m. -- if we were out of grilled cheese supplies).

It boggles my mind to think about how different my eating and grocery-shopping habits are now.

I haven't had pizza since the end of January. I used to have it three times a week. Ice cream -- which I ate almost daily -- doesn't even sound that good to me anymore.

And while I used to sometimes keep fruit around, I had a lot of bananas go way past banana bread status on the counter, and there were lots of mushy blueberries I'd forget about in the produce drawer. Now there's a trip to the store for a variety of fresh produce every couple of days, because I go through it so quickly.

Cheating a little on the diet (Yes, I do it from time to time. Nobody's perfect.) has gone from eating a few Oreos to maybe having a little ketchup and mustard with my grass-fed beef.

Completely changing eating habits isn't easy, but let me assure you: It can be done pretty painlessly.

Are there foods I miss? Of course there are. But I like not feeling sick all the time and being 30 pounds lighter way more than I ever liked pizza or Oreos.

• Melynda Findlay is a member of the night copy desk at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 14 years. She lives in Arlington Heights and really loves grilled cheese sandwiches.

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