Who needs Postmates when you have a fridge full of fresh, healthy ingredients and the kitchen skills of a pro? Triple certified nutritionist, cogitative behavioral therapist and founder of Food Coach NYC, Dana James, knows the temptation of takeout all too well, but when it comes to caring for her body and mind, it’s all about vibrant veggie bowls, homemade soups and nutrient-rich fresh fruit. Simple, accessible, but still pretty entertaining as food goes.

Dana’s new book, The Archetype Diet, discusses the psychological component of eating well. By better understanding our relationship with food on an emotional level as well as a physical one, we can tailor our diets to nurture a sense of balance and well being from the inside out. Inspired by her perspective and excited by her recipes, we asked Dana to join our In My Fridge series. Take a peek inside…

Food philosophy in one sentence:

Eat plants: mostly greens, reds, yellows and purples.

Always in my fridge:

Organic eggs, lemons, avocados, butter lettuce, radish and tomatoes.

7 recipe staples always on hand:

Italian olive oil, pink salt, basil, tahini, lemons, honey and harissa.

Must-have munchies:

Fresh fruit! I’m not much of a muncher, but my boyfriend loves chopped fruit, so I find myself eating melon, watermelon and pineapple with him on the sofa as a way to wind down from the day.

Fave condiments:

Dijon mustard, hot sauce, Primal Kitchen salad dressings (the Paleo green goddess is phenomenal), tahini, pesto, hot sauce and pistachio butter.

Ingredient that makes everything taste better:

All of my recipe staples!

Go-to proteins:

My organic, raw, plant protein, Beautifuel (it’s the best tasting protein powder on the market); wild salmon from Vital Choice; smoked trout from Blue Hill; New Zealand grass-fed lamb – and oysters when I’m dining out.

Best bargain:

The Acqua Panna water in a glass bottle that I got from Gelson’s for a one dollar a bottle. You’ll see it at restaurants for ten dollars. I bought 50.

Best label-reading tip:

Don’t buy foods with a label! And if you do, it should be the core ingredients plus some salt, and that’s about it.

Fave veggie + what you make with it:

There can’t be just one! My green bowl, which is made with sautéed broccoli, zucchini and peas, topped with avocado, snow pea shoots, nori and pink salt, drizzled in a turmeric dressing.

Must-have pantry staples:

Genami Life Muso Crackers (I buy four at once as Erewhon sells out fast), chickpeas, canned Italian cherry tomatoes (from Eataly – these are so incredible that you’ll never buy regular canned tomatoes again), manuka honey and Canyon Coffee.

Craziest thing I buy:

Delivery from Postmates or caviar. I’m almost always disappointed. It costs you a fortune and the quality is substandard. I ask myself, “Why didn’t you just cook? Your meals are better.”

Sweets and other indulgences:

Van Leeuwen vegan mint chocolate chip ice-cream. Occasionally, I’ll have dark chocolate, but a bar can last in my pantry for months. There was time in my life where I had no control over sweets. I couldn’t buy them as I’d eat them straight away. There is so much freedom in not “needing” to consume them immediately.

Dairy or non-dairy faves:

Ripple pea protein milk, macadamia nut milk and Anita’s coconut yogurt (only available on East Coast).

Favorite splurge:

Omakase at Sushi Park, LA.

For last-minute entertaining:

Gjusta sourdough bread, Italian olive oil, olives, radish with parmesan cheese, and pea soup (recipe below) served in mini shot glasses. Even though I tend to eat gluten-free, not all people do and it’s important to offer them bread or other gluten-containing foods.

Favorite places to shop:

Santa Monica Farmers’ market for produce, Eataly for fresh fish and Italian food staples, and then I use Instacart to shop at Erewhon and Whole Foods.

Best food memory:

In Peru, after a long hike, our guides stopped for barbecued meat and salad. The salad still sticks in my mind… these 20 years later! It was simply dressed with lemon, oil and salt, but there was something about it that made it spectacular enough to ask in awe, “How did you make this?” Perhaps I had sweated out my electrolytes and needed the salt, so it made it taste even better. Regardless, it was a reminder that simple food is often the best.

Simple go-to recipe:

Spring pea soup!

Dana’s Spring pea soup


1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 bag of frozen petit peas
3 cups of “no chicken” vegetable stock (from Imagine or Pacific)
1/2 avocado
sea salt
squeeze of lemon


Add olive oil to a medium-sized pot over high heat. When olive oil is warm, add onions, stirring until browned. Add peas and toss through the onions.

Add stock and turn heat down to medium and cook for about ten minutes until peas are cooked all the way through.

When done, add to a blender and add avocado, salt and lemon. Puree soup. Taste soup. Add extra lemon or salt as needed.

Serve in bowls or mini shot glasses.

Optional: Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and mint leaves.

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