I knew I was done for (kaput, forget about it!) when I paraded around my office showing my coworkers pictures of lettuce. I couldn’t help myself when I squealed in such high octaves: WILL YOU GET A LOOK AT THAT LETTUCE?!! I proceeded to torture said coworkers with close-ups of sourdough, olives and the ubiquitous muffin (because there must always be a muffin). And it was only when I started howling in the Beverly Hills Anthropologie after I had pried open the pages of Heidi Swanson’s debut cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, and said PRAISE GOD FOR THE WHEATBERRY SALAD, that I knew I had a serious problem.
I’m mad for food. Growing up, food wasn’t a luxury, it was a necessity and scarlet pomegranates and leafy legumes were only in my imagination, foreign, glossy things made for television viewing. Food that I was never allowed to touch much less eat. One summer, we lived on potatoes and sticks of butter. Because we ate so little and so poorly (fried anyone?), it’s only the past few years that I’ve developed a taste for food that is shamelessly commonplace. I found myself marveling over the caramelized carrot! the peppery arugula dressed in a honey vinaigrette! swiss chard sautÃ©ed with shallots, almond oil and garlic!
So I feel a bit childlike in my exploration of spices, veggies, grains, fruits and fowl and meat (I do lament that fish does give me vertigo and boy have I tried – I seem to recall an incident involving imitation crab meat that sent me shrieking) and even more thrilled when I because conscious of healthful eating. Of understanding my meal’s origin, for voting with my dollar. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to encounter Miss Swanson’s cookbook, which celebrates all the things I adore – discovery of new dishes, reinvention of one’s pantry and a return to a more soulful and honest way of eating. Although the recipes are mostly tailored for veggies, incorporating meat isn’t all that difficult. Swap the tofu for roast chicken, incorporate velvety strips of tender roast in a green salad, Swanson’s recipes are new to this home cook, but by no means are they not accessible.
Not only did I learn about alternatives to white flour (i had no idea that one could use banana flour! and so many different kinds of wheat flour, quinoa, etc, etc!), processed sweeteners and artery-clogging fats (you don’t need canola and vegetable oil to cook, just buy a better pan that can hold up to higher heating temperatures and use more healthful oils such as olive oil, almond, etc), Swason smartly gives you tips and measurements on how you can make swap outs of the recipes in other cookbooks. You’ll learn about varying flowers, sweeteners (agave nectar is a favorite of mine) and various oils (imagine pistachio oil in a green salad, oh my!)
And did I mention the recipes are delicious??! I was practically licking the page – I kid you not. Fig Spread with Black Pepper and Toasted Sesame Seeds, Sprouted Garbanzo Burgers, Lime-Bathed Peanut Salad (seriously, are you not dying??!! I am, even as I type this), Peach Nectar Ice Tea, Quinoa and Corn Flour Crepes with Chile de Arbol Sauce, and oh, does it go on.
I’ve been a fan of Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks site for quite some time and her message that delicious food CAN be flavorful and healthy and with some slight modifications in your pantry, you can enjoy fine food without all the fanfare and fuss of weight gain, health-risks, etc.
So??!! Are you ordering this book, yet??!