New Year New Food!

What do aliens eat?  Do they have the same food groups as earthlings?  Do they care about eating local, organic and fair trade?  What do their fruits and vegetables taste like, look like?  Do they even eat?  Or, have they done away with eating, which would be sad.  I am fantasizing about alien cuisine because I’ve got food fatigue.   That is what I am experiencing more and more these days.  You must have those days too where you just can’t stomach another boring bowl of oatmeal, spring mix salad, or chicken breast.  I want to travel with my tongue.

And so it was with gratitude that I came across 2014’s top ingredients of the year.  And I find myself behind the food trend because it is now 2015 and there are foods from last year’s list that I have never heard of, ie. shishitos, leaf lard (I didn’t know leaves have fat) and gribenes to name a few.  But I am happy to say there are many ingredients that are staples in my pantry.

The number one ingredient of last year is the spice mixture, zaatar, I remember reading about it a few years ago when it first burst onto the culinary scene, but have never tried it.  Until now, it is a new year and new food, well, at least for me.  So I went on the hunt for zaatar, and found it at a Mediterranean market.  What exactly is zaatar? It is a mixture of herbs – thyme, oregano, marjoram – sumac and sesame seeds.  You may be familiar with the first three ingredients, but sumac?  What the heck is that?  When I had gone to Turkey in the past, I brought some sumac back and didn’t really know what to do with it.  But it is a berry that is dried and then ground into a powder.  It has a tangy citrusy flavor.

Spicy Chickpeas 2 Kake2Kale

Superfoods in Zaataar:

Thyme – In natural medicine it has been used to treat chest and respiratory problems, like coughs, bronchitis, and a congested chest.  It is rich in antioxidants, has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.  The herb is high in vitamin C and A, and has minerals.

Oregano – This herb is the king of herbs for antioxidant powers, it is anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.  It is also high in minerals, like, calcium, magnesium and iron, as well as vitamin C.  Oregano oil is something I make sure I don’t run out of, especially during flu season.  Or if I’m flying, I take a dose when I get on the plane and it prevents me from catching anything nasty during the flight.

Marjoram – It is actually a part of the mint family.  It is full of antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals.  It is antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral.

Sumac – Very high in antioxidants, and because of this there have been studies done that show that it may have anti-arthrosclerosis properties.

Sesame seeds – A good source of protein, vitamin E and full of minerals, as well as antioxidants.

After all the rich foods and sweets consumed over the holidays I am craving more salads and cleaner foods.   But Chinese medicine does not recommend eating cold foods during cold weather.  I still eat salads in winter, though I try to add something hot alongside.  The zaataar is in the dressing.  And for my simple salad I have added some spicy crispy chickpeas.  The recipe is below.

Spicy Chickpeas Kake2Kale

Spicy Crispy Chickpeas makes 2 cups


  • 1 small (19 oz.)can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. cumin powder
  • 1/2 t. coriander powder
  • 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. olive oil


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan.
  • Pat the chickpeas dry with a paper towel, then add to hot pan.
  • Saute for about 10 minutes, then add the spices, and more oil if needed.
  • Continue sauteeing until the chickpeas are crispy and toasty golden and brown.  Total cooking time should be about 20 minutes.

Serve the chickpeas with a salad to add protein and fibre, or you can just eat it as a snack. Drizzle the Mandarin Orange Dressing (below) to taste.

Mandarin Orange Dressing makes 1 cup


  • 1 ½ T zaatar
  • 2 tMandarin Orange dressing makes 1 cup
  • 2 t. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 mandarin orange or small orange
  • 2 t. Dijon mustard
  • Zest of the orange (but only if it’s organic)
  • ¼ cup olive oil


  • Put it all in a blender and blend.

Spicy Chickpeas 3 Kake2Kale

My New Year’s resolution is to banish food fatigue.  Please join me and find your own new ingredient to experiment with.

Eat well and live great! {Kake}