Congratulations on your new website, Amalgam Kitchen, can you share a bit about it and what inspired you to create it?
I have been cooking healthfully for years. About 15 years ago I came out with a cookbook promoting an organic and sustainable kitchen called Easy Green Organic. Because I have experimented with so many ways of eating sometimes because of health issues (including hypothyroidism and high blood sugar) and sometimes because a particular way of eating resonated with me and I just wanted to experiment and see how I would feel. I am in my late forties and I sense my body changing, and I want to feel really good as I move beyond middle age. I want to continue to feel vibrant and healthy as I get older. I also love entertaining and cooking for my family and friends. I grew up eating a granola crunchy, vegetarian diet and quite frankly, often things tasted too healthy and boring and didn’t look very pretty. It’s not like that anymore. I want to provide content, showing my readers that eating for good health does not have to sacrifice incredible flavor or aesthetics. I mean how many beautiful images have we seen on Instagram at this point of a stunning salad, Acai bowl or grain bowl? Beauty is so important to me, from how the dish is garnished, to how it is plated and then presented on the table. Often when the food is beautiful, it tastes even better. I also have four children and want them to enjoy food which tastes good to them and is good for their growing and changing bodies. I want Amalgam Kitchen to be that trusted resource that serves a whole household's needs. Your kid has eczema, we have recipes for you here. You want great skin or a healthy gut micro-biome, we have recipes for you here, you want to have a lovely brunch for friends, we have that covered too. Ultimately, Amalgam Kitchen will also offer lifestyle tips, and beyond. So you will be able to get whatever you need to support your healthy, balanced and beautiful life.
How do you start the day?
10 minutes of meditation on the Waking Up App is the first order of self care. Then cuddling with my husband and kids, making our bed, breakfast of flax meal porridge with walnuts, hemp seeds and blueberries, paleo waffle with vegan butter and a coconut yogurt, or duck eggs, sautéed greens and sliced avocado and a latte made with homemade nut milk and ceremonial grade Matcha, recently by Club Magic Hour or a Rishi Houjicha Tea latte. Making school snacks and lunch duty for the kids and getting them ready for their various school situations. Taking the puppy out. Then a Face Time workout with my trainer in my bedroom, where I have created a little gym zone with bands, hand weights and kettle bell weights. Then a shower with body scrub and face washing and then my skincare routine. Mid-morning, a low sugar, Carob protein smoothie and my long list of supplements then a loose leaf steeped, herbal tea of choice. Then emails, phone calls and creative work for Amalgam Kitchen. Recipe testing, food photography or writing. Then I usually try to fit in another meditation, conscious breathwork, contemplation in my special chair in the bedroom or some journaling.What is your food philosophy?
Eat organically whenever possible, eat from the garden, the farm, the artisan, from the ones who cook with care and creativity. Eat wholesome, clean, high vibration and nutrient dense food. Eat that which is beautiful, made with love, which fills your body and soul with nourishment and joy. Mostly without grains, cow dairy, sugar and lectins. Eat the rainbow, variety and be willing to experiment and try new things.
What is the first meal that you remember?
Fettucine Alfredo at the North Beach Restaurant in North Beach, San Francisco. The thick, wide gluten filled home made pasta drenched in creamy, cheesy Alfredo sauce smothered in parmesan and fresh cracked pepper. Mind blowing.
What's always in your fridge?
Tahini, fresh greens from the farm on our upper Ojai property or the farmer's market, pickled red onions and other homemade pickles, fresh herbs, radishes, celery, edible flowers, sauerkraut, coconut aminos, Veganaise, miso paste, a block of Pecorino Romano, goat cheddar cheese, plain almond yogurt, Cappellos almond pasta, Siete Cassava tortillas, Charman’s Schiracha, homemade nut milks, Olipop sugar-free sodas, Culina coconut yogurts, fresh blueberries, apple cider vinegar, grain-free flours, Melt vegan butter, flax oil, hemp seed protein powder, Paleo Waffles, olives (various sorts), "Bitchin” Sauce (various flavors but we love the chipotle), Apple Gate Farm’s Chicken sausages (kids love them), Hillary’s best veggie burgers. Different types of nuts and seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, flax seeds and hemp seeds.
What’s always in your pantry?
Yacon syrup, Dark Horse Organic Umami Powder, Bragg’s Nutritional yeast flakes, avocado oil, MCT coconut oil, olive oil ( a collection), sweet potato noodles, millet pasta, cassava pasta, sugar free chocolate hazelnut spread, sumac, turmeric, vanilla beans, almond crackers, cassava chips, salted macadamia nuts, Japanese sweet potatoes, Maldon sea salt, carob powder, Celtic salt, Pink Himalayan salt, black salt, cumin seeds, Herbamare Herbed Sea Salt (been using it since I was a kid), black sesame seeds, Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener, coconut sugar, countless loose teas, Burdock, Fennel seeds, Licorice root, calendula flowers, chamomile flowers and more.
What do you turn to, to make you feel your best: food and all the other practices?
I cannot underscore the power of my meditation practice enough. It is at this point like breathing, it is essential for my sanity, health and well being in every way. Spending time outdoors alone, with friends and my kids and husband nourishes me. Spending a few moments alone in my special chair, walking down and looking at the rose bushes, going to the farm on our property and just picking the vegetables and being there and taking it all in. Looking at the mountains and taking deep breaths, reconnecting to nature and then Self. Expressing gratitude is a practice I try to do daily, alone and with my husband and children. Experimenting in the kitchen, cooking for myself and those I love, being of service in whatever way I am able.
Favorite kitchen tool?
I have a small but growing collection of mortar and pestles. I love using them to make pestos, pulverizing dried herbs, flower petals and spices. Each one has a unique feel in my hands and a different way they alter the ingredients. It always feels so grounding working with any one of them.
What does intuitive eating mean to you?
I used to believe that intuitive eating was eating whatever I wanted. That often lead me to making unhealthy and unloving choices. My body wanted French fries or powdered donuts, so I HAD to listen to my body. Then I kind of became a food police with myself and intuitive eating was about restricting so much. Now I know intuitive eating is not only about listening to my body’s fundamental needs but it also means enjoying a life of balance. Not a life of gluttony nor of deprivation. Eating in a way that mostly feels good to my body but also sometimes to my soul. There are times I eat something that is not the right thing for my body but it is the right thing for my soul. I bless this food, telling my body that my cells are nourished by the love and care in which this cookie, for example, was made but then I also take my supportive supplements like lectin blockers, blood sugar balancers or digestive enzymes and finish the day with a fennel tea to balance it all out. I now understand and connect with my body’s requirements. Most of the time I will choose a bowl of fresh blueberries over the cookie because in the long run I know what my body needs.
Go-to meal that you make for yourself more often than not?
Capppello’s Almond Pasta with some homemade pesto or some kind of lunch bowl with sprouted quinoa or millet cooked in broth, steamed Japanese sweet potatoes, avocado, duck eggs, sauerkraut, scallions, pickled red onions, sliced radishes, sautéed greens and a miso tahini sauce garnished with microgreens and edible flowers.
I’ve read that you have experimented with many different ways of eating— raw vegan, paleo, keto, macrobiotic, the blood type diet, etc. What advice do you have for someone looking to find what’s right for them?
Keeping the concept of bio-individuality as a key principal for health is so important. We all have different bodies, chemically, hormonally, physically, genetically and one has to keep that in mind. There is no one size fits all when it comes to diet. I love the idea of a raw vegan diet. I learned from the best raw food chefs out there, Matthew Kenney, Juliano, Renee Loux and I ate raw vegan for over a year and a half and my blood levels were all over the place. I became anemic and hypoglycemic and I did it right the way and it still did not work for me. When I was full vegan in my twenties I ate so much soy, I developed hypothyroidism, when I went full Keto, I lost too much weight. I learned the hard way that I needed to tailor and tweak these different ways of eating and develop my own protocol that worked specifically for my body. Educate yourself, learn to understand your body’s needs and then experiment and see what feels right to you. You will know. Get your blood, urine and stool tested and see how you feel. I have learned to cut and paste. I encourage you to do the same. What works for my husband, any of my four kids or my best friend may not work for me. Respect and honor your body's individual needs.
How do you end your day?
It varies. After my husband and I get the kids down, we each have 30-40 minutes to look at Instagram, finish any emails, news, internet perusing. This is when I usually sit and look at my cookbooks, catch up on a class, (food photography, cooking and nutrition classes). I continually love to learn so that I can grow my craft and knowledge. I love getting inspired by all the wonderful chefs, food writers, photographers and teachers. At 9pm we have 10-15 minutes of scheduled “stuff talk”, where we go over the nuts and bolts of that day and the next day, our own and the kid's schedules, discussing the various projects we have together etc. After that, our phones go away excepts for music and our before sleep meditation, no more stuff talk. Then we watch a show we are into, or a movie, get a massage, chat and dream over tea or a glass of wine on the couch by the fire or outside under the stars on our terrace. Other nights I will focus on Amalgam Kitchen work and my husband watches sports or documentaries and we each have our own decompressing time. I may also take a lovely candle lit epsom, CBD and magnesium bath while I listen to my favorite podcasts.
I finish the day with washing my face, gratitude, taking the puppy out to pee and then a guided bedtime meditation.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks?
The New Wildcrafted Cuisine by Pascal Baudar
The Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones
Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
Cannelle et Vanille by Aran Goyoaga
Vegan JapanEasy by Tim Anderson
Japanese Home Cooking by Sonoko Sakai
Market Cooking by David Tannis
East by Meera Sodha
MISO TAHINI DRESSING
This has been my go-to dressing for the last couple months. I like to keep it on hand to smother over a sprouted quinoa or millet bowl or vegetable bowl or grain-free noodles, poured over Japanese sweet potatoes or as a salad dressing. My husband cannot get enough of this dressing. It is rich, creamy, grounding, tart, salty and a little bit sweet, although adding the maple syrup is optional if you have a blood sugar issue. The flavors are so balanced. And it lasts up to a week in the fridge. If you want yours a little thicker omit a bit of water.Makes just under two cups.Gather1/4 cup mellow white miso paste (I use Miso Master or my homemade miso)1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw tahini. You can use roasted too but the raw is a little more mild in flavor1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)2 small cloves garlic, minced2 inches peeled fresh ginger root, chopped1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar1 cup waterSalt to tasteMakePlace all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or a blender and process till smooth. About 2 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides if necessary. Pour and store in an airtight jar or container. Enjoy.