What is your food philosophy?
Consume with all your senses. Allow your taste to follow your pleasure. Let the season color your plate. Use herbs in abundance.
What is the first meal that you remember?
As a kid I was kind of obsessed with pie (still?). I have early memories of dinners at my grandfather’s house. He’d have us over on Sundays and would always prepare the same meal: steak, roasted red peppers with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a simple lettuce salad, also dressed with olive oil and balsamic. For dessert he’d bake a Sara Lee apple pie. He always burnt the crust a little which I loved. It’s a family joke that half the pie was reserved for me. I told my mom that I had a separate “shelf” in my stomach for pie. I was a pie queen.
How were you introduced to the power of plants?
I think it was first through scent. I was always drawn into plants by their smell. The aroma of a leaf or flower or forest, that’s what first caught my attention and curiosity.
How do you start the day?
I currently split my time between Berkeley and Topanga Canyon. Wherever I am I like to wake before sunrise. I try not to use artificial light in the morning. Just natural light or candles. Sometimes I draw a bath, or just splash cool water on my face. Then so many spritzes of rose water. I make a cup of tea then sit, walk, or read while it’s still quiet. When I’m in Topanga, my boyfriend and I like to go to the ocean for a dip. We love living so close to the sea. I don’t take many supplements but lately trying, Host Defense MyCommunity, SuperHair, and a spoonful of Black Cumin Seed Oil every morning. A friend recently told me that it’s a miracle oil, good for immune function, brain function, hormonal balance, seemingly everything. I’ve noticed a difference. With the colder weather I love making a cup of hot drinking chocolate, but usually breakfast is fruit, toast and tea.
What's always in your fridge?
Miso paste, sauerkraut, unsalted butter, fresh herbs.
What’s always in your pantry?
Very good olive oil, vinegar, masa, dried beans, rice, tinned fish, cult crackers, dark chocolate, dates.
What do you turn to, to make you feel your best: food and all the other practices?
To feel my best, I take things away rather than add things in. I focus on sleep and hydration. Time in the sun, lots of touch, lots of nature, nourishing food. If I need to rebalance my diet, I turn to Ayurvedic principles and recipes. Sesame oil on my skin, kitchari, tonic herbs, warm milk with spices. I’ve also had a Yoga practice since I was a teenager and feel so lucky to have found Yoga at a young age (16). In so many ways my practice has raised me.
Where is a good place to start for someone just starting to drink tea? Any tips on making it a routine?
Find yourself a good stove top kettle. I prefer stovetop to electric because from the get-go it requires more presence.
Invest in a beautiful and functional tea brewer (a teapot or gaiwan), and teacup (or tea bowl).
Purchase a high quality loose leaf tea that you are drawn to.
I find having the right tools help me make something into a practice.
Keep in mind that the other ingredient in a cup of tea is water. Water quality is exceptionally important in tea preparation. If you pay attention to the quality of your water, your experience of tea will become infinitely more enjoyable. You’ll have no trouble wanting to drink tea all the time.
What ingredient are you most excited about right now and why?
Persimmons, for their flavor and color. I used to only enjoy the Fuyu varietal, but in the past few years I’ve fallen in love with the Hachiya persimmon. You must wait until the fruit is mushy-soft to eat and removing the skin and scooping out the gooey inside is an endeavor, but the flavor is divine, especially when sprinkled with cinnamon or swirled into yogurt. You can also make Hoshigaki (Japanese dried persimmon) with the Hachiya ones. I also recently discovered that you can make tea from the young persimmon leaves.
What is your go-to tea during the winter months?
Definitely Digestive Seed tea. It’s so warming and comforting, and really does help with circulation and digestion.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks? I don’t use cookbooks very often (except when baking) but when I do I turn to Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, all of Nancy Hachisu’s cookbooks, Jessica Theroux’s, Cooking with Italian Grandmothers. And I was recently reminded of a book I treasured years ago, Herbs and Wild Greens from the Sicilian Countryside. A very simple and lovely book about cooking with herbs.
When is your favorite time of day to drink tea?
What is your favorite way to drink tea?
Ideally outdoors or somewhere with a view. The tea in a fine ceramic cup. And tea sweet to have with.
Go-to meal that you make for yourself, more often than not?
This time of year, carrot ginger soup. It’s so quick and easy. Onion, ginger (lots), a little garlic, carrots, water, salt. Simmer until carrots are tender. Add coconut milk (without guar gum if you can find) or if you don’t have that on hand, 2T CAP Coconut Butter. Use a Vitamix or blender and blend on high. And voila. Sometimes with these additions: a little white miso, a date to sweeten, fresh turmeric.
What music do you listen to while you cook?
Lots of different kinds! Depending on my mood. But most consistently, Reggae.
One of our absolute favorite blends is your Turmeric Wellness tea. Can you tell us a bit about how this blend came to be?
We created our Turmeric Wellness blend with Heidi Swanson. She wanted the main ingredient to be turmeric, but apart from that gave us free reign to formulate the blend. I wanted to ground the blend with a sense of place and use an ingredient that was abundantly available in California. Rosemary turned out to be the perfect herb. I loved the flavor of the two ingredients together, and on a medicinal level they harmonize well. We then added ginger and black pepper to support and activate the turmeric, and lemon and orange peel to brighten it all up.
How do you end your day?
I’m such a sucker for baths. I sometimes take a second bath at the end of the day. I love getting into bed with my body all warm and clean and smelling nice with oils. I make an herbal tea (something with lavender maybe, like our Sleep tea), or Moon Juice Magnesi-Om. I like to read or watch a movie but usually am asleep in 5 minutes.
3 teaspoons Turmeric Wellness tea
1 C water
1 C milk of choice
Sweetener to taste (I recommend coconut or date sugar, or date syrup)
Pinch of sea salt
This recipe calls for a blender. If you don't have a blender, omit the date and blend with a hand frother or shake in a lidded mason jar.
Preparation: In a small sauce pan, heat water and tea to a gentle boil then turn to simmer. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add milk (I prefer oat milk) and bring back to simmer. Strain tea concentrate and add to blender. Add the pitted date, coconut butter, sweetener and a pinch of salt. Blend on high. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired, and enjoy!