Have you ever stopped and really looked at the produce section of a grocery store? Until recently, I’d just walk through, buy one or two items, and move on. I’d never appreciated the beauty of a store’s collection of fruits and vegetables.
The colors amaze me. Sunny oranges, deep green spinach leaves, lusciously red strawberries, and dark, shiny eggplants show the range of colors in nature’s palette. And, like an explorer looking at a new and distant place, I’ve become more adventurous with color in the kitchen these days.
I’ve spent years working in a chemistry lab, and I like to mix ingredients and see what happens. The nice thing about cooking is that I can experiment safely when I prepare a meal. If I add too much of an ingredient, my food might not taste very good, but at least it won’t explode.
Lately, I’ve taken the time to make a pasta sauce with tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and various spices. Making it taste good is my own little chemistry experiment.
I’m eating more spinach. I get a lot of my green that way—mostly in salads. I also snack on dried fruit. Apricots and cranberries are my favorites, and I’m happy to know that they have lots of antioxidants. I already love blueberries.
What’s great is that nature has worked out such a wonderful way to protect both plants and the animals that eat plants. With color as a clue, it’s not hard to figure out which plants are going to have the most free-radical-busting punch per bite.
It’s comforting for me to know that, while I’m enjoying myself in the kitchen, I’m promoting good chemistry on the inside, too.—S. Webb