Specifically olive green, but any kind of earthy-looking green will do. When I was seventeen, I had my room painted olive green. I know. But it was mine and it felt natural. And then we moved. Sca-rumph.
Nowadays I try to mix up my colors. Yellow, red, purple, blue, etc. I even sometimes wear bits of pink. Except I’ll say, “It’s not quite pink, but more like rose, or coral,” to make myself feel better. Yeah. I don’t exactly do pink. Or neons.
I would say my plate matches my closet. Lots of variety, lots of earth tones. The kind of colors you dig up from the ground, not squeeze out of a bottle. I always come back to my favorite though. I like it in all forms: kale, spring mix, collard greens, arugula, chard, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, seaweed. You name it, I’ll eat it. I put Thumper to shame.
It’s ridiculous what green can do for you. Especially the leafy kind, the stuff that Little Foot was after in The Land Before Time. (I know, you love that movie too. Not the sequels, though, nobody likes those.) You’ve probably heard leafy greens contain a lot of iron, and vitamin K. The K stands for Keeping you standing. It helps protect bones from fracture, prevents our arteries from hardening and keeps blood clotting normally. Greens also have a generous amount of vitamins A, C, calcium, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals? Compounds that occur naturally in plants and help our bodies function in a billion ways. You’ve likely heard of some of them: isoflavones, carotenoids, lipids, phenolic acids. Those are just categories for the specific compounds. Zeaxanthin, for example, is a carotenoid found in spinach, and may help prevent age-related eye disease. Folate is another vitamin you’ll find plenty of in greens. Good for nerve function, cell production, bones, and uh, helping to prevent dementia. Sounds important.
We good on nutrition for the day? Me too. All those scientific terms… Let’s talk about delicious and spinach. And sumac… you know? Sumac. Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s one of my favorite spices. Used primarily in the Mediterranean/middle east. It comes from a little red fruit, which is dried, ground, and results in a lovely tangy flavor. (Next time you’re at a middle eastern restaurant, order a Fattoush salad if it’s on the menu, which it probably will be.) Sumac is also used in a middle eastern spice blend called Za’atar. Earthy, tangy, and a bit spicy, it’s an all-purpose combination. Meats, veggies, salads, little siblings, it’s all good. (I’m not implying people eat their siblings in the middle east, I’m just saying, if you were so inclined…) After reading a bit about Za’atar here, I decided to do a little something inspired by it.
Za’atar marinated Spinach
Toast yerself a Tablespoon of sesame seeds in a pan. Just dump the seeds in the dry pan and turn the heat on low. Wait a few minutes. They’ll start to brown a bit and smell nice. Shake the pan frequently.
Then put those babies in a small bowl. Here comes sumac. I put a tablespoon. I don’t think my sumac is as red as it should be, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Next: 1 and 1/2 tsp each of cumin, thyme, and marjoram. Salt. I think I put 3/4 of a teaspoon. You can always start with less if you’re afraid and add more later. And black pepper! I used the fresh cracked stuff, about 30 twists… If you use ground pepper, try half a teaspoon and go from there.
And then: 1/3 a cup of lemon juice, 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard. Whisk, whisk, whisk. Then 1/3 a cup of olive oil. Work it in slowly. If you have the magic ability, whisk quickly while pouring a thin stream of oil. This helps it to incorporate better.
This quantity coated a whole pound of raw spinach for me. Yes, that is a lot, but trust me, I’ll finish it. Eventually, the leaves will soften and wilt, and actually be easier to consume. You could also just store this dressing and try it with different things. Siblings included.
Mmm. My favorite color.
P.S. You want some sumac? Can’t usually find it in the regular grocery store, at least over here. Find a middle eastern grocery store, and while you’re there, marvel at all the other cool edibles and knick knacks.