Embracing the Positive: Arthritis, Change, and Zatar!

“Things need to change.”

“There’s going to be some changes.”

“Change or die.”

This handful of everyday sayings about change reflect our commonplace feelings — change is hard, change is unwelcome.

Zatar. A Middle Eastern spice blend with thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt and sesame seeds.

Zatar. A Middle Eastern spice blend with thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt and sesame seeds.

Hummuz with Zatar

Hummus with Zatar

Yes, change can be hard.

But you can also make things easier for yourself by searching for, and embracing the positives.

Zatar is one of those positives. I’m getting to it, but click here if you just want to get to the recipe.

Zatar. A Middle Eastern spice blend with thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt and sesame seeds.

Zatar. A Middle Eastern spice blend with thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt and sesame seeds.

When I was in my thirties, the arthritis in my spine was so bad that it was actually too painful to lie down.

And the pain was not just in my back but radiated through my entire body — even my wrists hurt.

I felt like I had been kicked all over with steel-toed boots by a merciless giant.

I could not sleep. No position was comfortable. I remember one night propping myself up on the couch, with a thick padding of pillows assembled both in front and behind me, trying to find a way to rest my heavy head while still sitting up.

Desperate, I tried to drink myself to sleep with Bailey’s and milk. {Bad idea, I found out later}.

Finally, I gave up trying to sleep and turned to Google for an answer to my pain. I came across a site that talked about the incidence of arthritis in North America versus China (and other countries that consume little dairy, or more specifically mammalian protein.) I don’t remember the numbers anymore, but it was enough to convince me that cutting animal products was at least worth a try.

Three days later my pain had gone from a 9.5 to a 1.

Nobody within earshot was free from hearing about my newfound information.

But I had a problem.

I had never been a big meat eater, but cheese, yes, all day, everyday. Grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, pasta with cream sauce for dinner, cheese and crackers for a snack.

What the eff was I going to eat?

And then it came to me, I couldn’t eat traditional North American food, I had to start looking for recipes from countries that didn’t revolve their diets around meat and dairy.

That started a great period of culinary experimentation and a way to positively reframe the need to change.

Maybe you’re already a culinary adventurer, but maybe not.

Either way, this simple spice blend might be your entrance to a whole new world of flavours.

Zatar Recipe

Zatar is a traditional Middle Eastern blend of toasted sesame seeds, herbs, and spices. Every recipe is a little different but my version contains fresh thyme, sumac, salt, and dried marjoram. It’s nutty, tangy, aromatic. And addictive!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme. {You can easily strip the leaves off the thyme by holding the stalk with one hand, pinching two fingers of another hand around it and gliding them down the stalk.}

Instructions

  1. Put the sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast in a 350F oven for about 5-8 minutes until starting to brown.
  2. Combine the seeds and spices.
  3. See the serving ideas below in Eating Together Made Easy, and enjoy!

Eating Together Made Easy

This spice blend could help you bring together a Middle Eastern-inspired meal for mixed dinners.

You could open the meal with zatar scattered generously over hummus. Or combine it with a fruity olive oil and slather over warm naan bread. My Quinoa Mujadara would make a great accompaniment. Serve that as main for plant-based eaters, and a side for omnivores.

 

Or you create a seasoning paste with oil and brush on cauliflower for the vegan eaters, and over poultry for your omnivores.

PIN it for later!

Hummus with Zatar. A Middle Eastern spice blend with thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt and sesame seeds.
Hummus with Zatar. A Middle Eastern spice blend with thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt and sesame seeds.

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Sylvia

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