BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: MEREDITH BAIRD

Meredith Baird’s life is a love song to plants. Her skincare line, Nucifera, relies on the power of coconuts, her cookbooks share the transformative properties of vegetables and her cooking is a joyful exploration of all that Mother Nature has to offer. Trained as a raw chef and now applying her skills towards the skin, her nutrient dense Balm is a constant favorite at CAP. With a fully stocked fridge, thanks to local CSA boxes, she’s sharing what she’s cooking up during this time of staying at home. Come along and take a peek at her quarantine kitchen, where good food and resourcefulness rule.

What is your food philosophy? 

Mostly plants, always pleasurable. I don't believe in restrictive diets in any way. I just wish more people knew how exciting vegetables are. 

What do you eat that makes you feel your best? 

I love eating a high raw food diet that is mostly plant based with lots of fermented things involved. I don't think about it too hard though, these are the foods I gravitate towards. Eating foods that I enjoy is synonymous with feeling my best. Sometimes that might mean a decadent meal out.  

What do you always keep in your fridge? 

Lots of greens and herbs, miso, tahini, sauerkraut, nori  and... olives, hot sauce and several different vinegars. I'm fully stocked on greens thanks to a CSA operation out here called County Line Harvest. I didn't eat much tofu for a long time, but it has made its way back in, along with natto, which just feels so nutritious. It's a really unique food. I also usually have a lentil tempeh that I get from the farmer's market, no soy. Bhoga Foods is the brand. We do a lot of macrobiotic type bowls with vegetables, rice, seaweed and plant proteins. So easy and nutritious. I can do a lot with those things. Also, good white wine, homemade nutmilk and a few bottles of Gerolsteiner are usually in there.  

What do you always keep in your pantry?

My pantry is pretty packed. I buy bulk nuts and seeds: flax, sesame, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, cashews, walnuts and brazil nuts. Lots of dried fruits like dates, mango, goji berries, inca berries. You can do a lot with these things. I also keep brown rice pasta and different types of rice on hand at all times, along with oats, buckwheat and almond flour.  I've recently been making a lot more bean dishes, and enjoying those as well.    

What are your thoughts on how food relates to beauty? 

I believe that eating foods that make you feel good, and joyful make you beautiful.  I think there is more crossover between healthy food and this feeling than people know. We've all seen the dried up looking health nut, and the vibrant (we'll call her French) woman who seems to eat and drink whatever she desires. I think the optimal zone is between the two. That's what I love about California. You can have a beautiful ambient meal or dinner with friends, and everyone is pretty open to eating healthy, because it all matters. The company, the vibe, the food. Beauty is an energy. 

What do you do, outside of cooking, that informs your health?

I walk a lot, that has always kind of been my number one way to stay in shape and it helps me clear my mind.  It's the thing I do most consistently. Prequarantine, I was back doing Bikram Yoga and loving it. Sweating is so important. I also bathe and read almost every night. My husband will give me like 40 minutes or so alone in the tub and then we put my daughter in and we all have a family bath. This is a big deal for me. A total reset. I usually do it before dinner, and then I can cook and get in a really nice zone. Because of this we kind of eat late for people with a kid.  

What is the first meal you remember?

That's a good question. I remember the cheese toast I would have for breakfast when I was really young. Thick slices of cheddar on toast. It was really good, actually. Maybe that's more of a food than a meal.  I also remember the first raw food type meal I had in a little cafe in High Springs, Florida. It's near a Hare Krishna community so there is a surprising amount of vegetarian food nearby. It was this shaved cabbage salad with cashews and nutritional yeast, which doesn't sound that exciting, but it blew my mind and stuck with me forever. I was probably 15. 

 Last best meal you had out?

Lunch at MTN with my family, or our last date night ever at Shima which closed. Such a loss to the neighborhood. 

Last best meal you had in? 

I've been kind of nailing it at home with my little series Quarantine Kitchen. Loving everything I've posted, but if I had to pick one thing it would be these cassava flour tortillas that I made and topped with mashed beans, radishes and cilantro. Was honestly so good! 

Please share a favorite recipe.

This is a recipe that includes two recipes, and is on the theme of comfort food in Quarantine. I feel like most people like chicken salad, and while I'm not a chicken salad connoisseur this is absolutely delicious, satisfying and is made from pantry staples.

Jackfruit "Chicken" Salad 

This is a recipe that includes two recipes, and is on the theme on comfort food in Quarantine. I feel like most people like chicken salad, and while I'm not a chicken salad connoisseur this is absolutely so delicious, satisfying, and is made from pantry staples.

First step was the cashew cream which is always a hit. You can actually make it with any nut to mix it up, and it tastes delicious. 

  • 1 cup cashews, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds - (soaked over night preferably, but not required) 
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

All ingredients blended with 1 -1 1/2 cups water until smooth.  This sauce is delicious, and can be served on pasta, pizza, with beans, on toast, basically anything.

  • 1 can jackfruit, rinsed and drain.
  • Lightly sautéed just to remove water from canning.
  • I sauteed with 1 clove of garlic for good measure. 
  • 1 cup of cashew cream (above) 
  • 1 cup chopped celery 
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon (I used Dark Horse
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers, good bread, or in romaine leaves. Lasts about 4 days in the refrigerator. 


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