Heidi Swanson’s recipe journal and cookbooks are like love letters to natural food (see our feature on her latest here). With gorgeous photos and homey dishes that reflect a connection to her own life life journey, Heidi shows us cooking the way it should be done: with intention, enjoyment and lots of farmer’s market greens.
As part of our classic series, we took a trip into Heidi’s kitchen and left with plenty of a la carte inspiration for our own. From keeping bags of pre-chopped veggies, ready to be transformed, to a worldly condiment collection that could make any easy dish something extraordinary. We’re spilling the beans (sprouted and stored in jars, of course) about all the goodness of this kitchen goddess’ home-base, including a brown rice recipe you’ll want to make tonight…
Always in my fridge:
Lots of fresh and seasonal vegetables, pastured eggs (my favorite egg lady feeds her chickens sprouts!), ghee, nuts, salad greens.
7 recipe staples always on hand:
Coconut milk, canned tomatoes, miso, a range of curry pastes, pickled ginger, yogurt, micro-greens.
I like to take a little bag of toasted nuts and add a tablespoon of a strong spice blend (with a pinch of salt). By the time I get to them later in the day they’re all coated with flavor. Generally, I opt for things I can toss in my purse and take on the go. These dark chocolate energy bites are a favorite.
Chili pastes like harissa or gochujang (Korean fermented red-chile paste), or I like to stir all sorts of things into yogurt – smashed garlic, salt, saffron, herbs, turmeric, strong fresh squeezed/pressed juices, etc.
Eggs, mung beans, lentils, quinoa, tempeh.
The bulk bin section of your local market, co-op or grocery store. You can buy great (organic) pantry ingredients like pulses, grains and beautiful rices for relatively little. I’m always incredibly inspired by the bulk section.
Best label-reading tip:
Back it up even one step further, and try to minimize the amount of products in your kitchen that have labels. Or go for single-/minimal-ingredient labels – all things you recognize, and recognize as real food.
Fave veggie + what you make with it:
I love arugula, and throw it on top of just about everything. I tend to treat it more like a vegetable than a salad green though. Instead of dressing it, I try to season it. Gloss up the arugula with a little splash of extra-virgin olive oil and work the oil through gently with your fingertips. Add a pinch of good salt and a little squeeze of lemon juice, toss again, and consider a handful of seeds and nuts. It’s a fast, green finish to everything from omelets and yoga bowls, or to top savory stews.
Must-have pantry staples:
I’m a fan of a robust pantry. For starters, I keep a wide assortment of grains (or grain-like ingredients) on hand. Right now I have short- and long-grain brown rices, jade rice, Job’s tears, black and red quinoa, millet, teff, wild rice, etc. Same goes for pulses – black Beluga lentils, yellow split peas, green split peas, red lentils, adzuki and mung beans. A couple of times a week, I like to cook “super” blends of rice with other ingredients in my Kamado-San rice-cooker donabe (Japanese clay pot).See my favorite blend recipe below.
I tend to keep a range of nuts in the refrigerator to make homemade nut milks – right now I see walnut, almond, hazelnut, and pumpkin seed. And I also use a range of flours – coconut, chickpea, millet, whole wheat, rye, buckwheat, etc.
I keep ingredients I consider “boosts” on hand, and try to work those into my day-to-day cooking and preparations: nutritional yeast, matcha, dehydrated berry powders, prash, bee pollen, hemp hearts, chia seeds, etc. Beyond that, spices are incredibly important (both nutritionally and for flavor), and I also like having a spectrum of dried mushroom and mushroom powders on hand.
Tea! It’s nice to have a selection of supportive homemade tea blends. I keep them in canisters and then reach for whatever feels right at the moment. This week I’ve been drinking a lot of a winter green nettle tea with fresh ginger. Also, a chai blend brewed with a homemade toasted coconut milk I’ve been playing around with. It has been cold!
Black botija olives from Peru. They’re unlike any other olives I’ve had – soft, wrinkled, fragrant. Imagine a robust olive fruit leather in the shape of an olive. They’re naturally sea-salt cured, a bit spendy, and I love them – sliced in salads, chopped to finish off soups, combined with toasted nuts to finish off a quinoa bowl, etc.
Best shopping tips:
Create a good foundation with your pantry, spices and non-perishables, then source the best fresh, seasonal produce you can, as often as you can, to maintain the strength and vitality of the ingredients.
Favorite places to shop:
Farmers’ markets (especially when traveling), natural food markets and co-ops.
Heidi’s Favorite Rice Blend
1 1/3 cup organic brown rice
Add small amounts of millet, adzuki, Job’s tears and quinoa to the rice until you have 2 cups. Cook as you would regular rice (seasoned with salt), preferably soaking for a few hours before cooking.