What do you always keep in your fridge?
Coconut Yogurt. I use this as a replacement for cow’s milk yogurt. Because most store bought coconut yogurts have a noticeable coconut flavor, they are best used in dishes that are sweet.
Condiments and homemade sauces. I just love condiments so much because I am a big believer that they are the secret weapon for throwing together a delicious meal in no time and making it feel like something special.
Ghee. This clarified butter is great for sauteing over high heat because of its high smoke points (the temperature at which the oil begins to burn giving food a burned flavor and losing nutritional benefits). It also adds a lovely richness and subtle nutty flavor.
Miso (White, Red, Chickpea). The one exception I make for soy is miso, because the fermentation process results in a much friendlier form of soy, meaning it is less allergenic and has more beneficial amino acids. I like to keep multiple flavors of miso on hand because I use it so often. Sweet miso and red barley miso are my two staples, and would be a good place to start before adding in others as you get more excited about using miso. Of course, if you are avoiding soy altogether, you will want to seek out a soy-free miso such as chickpea.
Tahini (lots!). This seed butter is best used to make sauces and dressings, but I also like to sneak it into baked goods.
Lots of fresh and frozen veggies and some fruit too. A variety of frozen berries and veggies can be found in my freezer because they last a long time. I always have something to add to smoothies, baked fruit dishes, or a veggie stir fry.
What is your food philosophy?
My culinary training is in natural foods with an emphasis on plant based cooking and nutrition. Of the many things I learned in school, focusing on how the ingredients and the cooking techniques we choose can enrich our life and directly affect our health and wellbeing has had the greatest impact and made the biggest influence on me.
Through embracing seasonal produce, healthier ingredients and overall simplicity, I have discovered that there is a beauty in highlighting one main ingredient or just a couple of ingredients that pair together in perfect harmony. I adore quality ingredients that are sourced as close to my home as possible. If it's not growing in my backyard, I head to the farmer's market to get as much as I can there and later fill in any odds and ends at the grocery store. I am fortunate enough to live near year round farmer's markets, which is something I do not take for granted.
I am not a big fan of diets or food labels. Throughout the years, after so much research and trying (and not trying) different things, I have found that my body is happiest when I stay away from processed food, gluten, soy and dairy (cow’s milk); when I minimize my sugar intake; and especially when I am eating lots and lots of vegetables and whole grains. Since my approach to eating is more about feeling my best, and I do not have any debilitating food allergies, I tend to leave wiggle room for when I want a delicious piece of apple pie with ice cream (with all the gluten and all the dairy). I know that if I eat the way my body prefers 80 to 90 percent of the time, I do not need to stress about indulging once in a while. I do eat meat but not nearly as often as I eat vegetables. When I do cook it at home I like to know where it came from, what it was eating and how it was treated. Same goes with fish. We eat a decent amount of fish because we live on the coast and fresh fish is plentiful, so it’s that much easier to choose fish that is wild caught, local and sustainable.
I tend to think of my recipes as simple equations, and I love to add one, two or three ingredients together, especially when I think that they would enhance one another. Sometimes this is for a contrast of texture (a smooth soup with a crunchy topping) or flavor (salty and sweet or a pop of acidity). Finding complementary ingredients whether for flavor or texture is a trick that can elevate any meal and using a simple equation makes it easier to find substitutes when needed or just for fun. When I’m looking to incorporate a crunchy element, I’ll try out different ingredients, perhaps some sesame seeds, toasted nuts or crispy baked quinoa bread crumbs. Or if I’m looking for a pop of acidity such as lemon juice, I might try apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar instead. Some of the best meals are the ones that are improvisational.
Jodi's Thai Peanut Sweet Potato Skins recipe
3 large sweet potatoes
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 ⁄4 cup toasted peanuts, almonds, or cashews
Freshly ground black pepper
For the peanut sauce:
1/4 cup peanut or almond butter
2 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 thumbnail size piece ginger
1 small clove garlic
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
About 2 tablespoons water
Dash or two of hot sauce
Handful of cilantro
Basil leaves, chiffonade, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400F. Using a fork, poke a bunch of holes in the sweet potatoes. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the potatoes on it. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, make the peanut sauce. Put the peanut butter, tamari, vinegar, lime juice, hot sauce, ginger, garlic, honey and sesame oil into a food processor and run continuously until smooth. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture will coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and set the oven to broil (keep the rack in the middle). Allow the sweet potatoes to rest until they are cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out most of the flesh, leaving a thin layer (about 1⁄4 inch) of sweet potato in the skins. Reserve the extra sweet potato flesh for another use. Cut each skin into quarters, brush with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put them back on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, turn the potato skins, and broil for another 5 to 7 minutes. You want the edges to be really crispy. Each broiler is different, some cook very fast and others are slow, so keep a close eye on the skins to ensure they don’t burn.
Allow the skins to cool slightly before assembling. Add a healthy drizzle of the peanut sauce. Sprinkle the scallions, nuts, basil, and cilantro over the top. Serve warm with extra peanut sauce on the side, for dipping.
From More with Less: Whole Food Cooking Made Irresistibly Simple by Jodi Moreno © 2018 by Jodi Moreno. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc.