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The Big Chill

There was a time in my life when I didn’t close the refrigerator door unless it looked great inside. I was single then, pre-kids and an assistant, not a boss. But even now, in my busier life, I can be caught styling its shelves. Opening the door to a beautifully stocked fridge, after all, is part of the joy of cooking, of eating and of nourishing our families and friends.

Here are the tenets we follow for packing the fridge, what we keep and how we keep it.

THE CONTENTS. We’re creatures of habit and as such, on any given day, the contents of our refrigerators remain somewhat consistent. In addition to the abundant fresh fruits and vegetables, we pack:

Fermented Vegetables (aka Kraut, Sauerkraut, Pickles): It’s a rare day that you’ll find either of our refrigerators without a jar (or 3!) of raw fermented vegetables. We add these to every meal we make and love them for their sour brightness, but more importantly for the radical health benefits they deliver. With the texture of a cooked food, real Kraut is actually raw with all of its nutrients intact, and the natural fermentation process leaves it teeming with friendly bacteria. And when we populate our systems with an array of probiotics, we support good digestion, immunity, mood, alertness and even help to control cravings for less-healthy foods like sugar. And fermented vegetables last months in the fridge so it’s easy to keep them on hand. We buy ours at our local Greenmarket or we make them ourselves at home. Kerrilynn’s husband, John, makes his with brilliant combinations of fruits and vegetables. Ginger, Lemon and Kumquat comingle with traditional Cabbage for a thoroughly modern take on Kraut. Add into salads, rice bowls or use as a topping for avocado toast.

Lemons: Lemons might be my favorite ingredient. Of all time. Ever. Adding brightness to everything it meets, a big squeeze of lemon makes the perfect finish to a green soup or avocado toast. I swap lemon for vinegars in salad dressings and swear by the combination of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, lemon and Himalayan pink salt to dress everything from simple greens to fennel, carrot or even grain salads. I start my morning with lemon water to alkalize the system, jumpstart digestion and deliver a good helping of Vitamin C. Lemons may even help us stay full longer, so if you’re experimenting with eating less, lemon water just may be your best ally.

Turmeric and Ginger: Root down. These two powerhouse roots tackle inflammation and deliver myriad health benefits and flavor. Grate them into soups, curries and Kitchari or add to baked goods. Those who run cold can add a healthy dose of warming ginger to cold pressed juices. Ginger aids digestion and quells an upset stomach too. A simple tea of steeped ginger with lemon will set you straight. To maximize its nutritional benefits, be sure to pair Turmeric with black pepper and a healthy fat like coconut oil.

Eggs: If you are not strictly plant-based, eggs in the fridge mean a fast and easy meal on the table. Top salads, dragon bowls or leftover cooked vegetables with a simple poached or boiled egg to add protein and heft. Make sure you source your eggs carefully, choosing local, pasture-raised and organic eggs from humane farms.

Nuts and Seeds:  Keep nuts and seeds in the fridge to stave off rancidity. They’re a vital ingredient in both of our kitchens. Buy them raw and use them to make milks, butters and flours or add to salads or trail mixes. Soak your nuts to increase digestibility and make sure you diversify, stocking different varieties of nuts and seeds. Too much of a single nut (I’m looking at you, almonds) can lead to sensitivities. Hemp seeds are among our favorite and add a healthy dose of protein and nuttiness to our big raw salads.

Homemade Milks: We always keep jars of homemade nut, seed or coconut milk on hand to make smoothies, seed puddings and for spur of the moment baking. When my kids were younger and their schools required nut-free lunches and snacks I favored seed milks, so muffins and other school treats would pass muster. Making milks at home takes virtually no time and the results are leaps and bounds above the store bought variety. For inspiration, look to the milks section of the Moon Juice Cookbook.

Tamari: Japan’s answer to Soy Sauce, Tamari is, unlike its counterpart, traditionally gluten free. But be sure to check the label as some brands of Tamari do contain wheat. It’s less salty, with a richer more nuanced flavor than Soy Sauce. Use to dress veggies and popcorn. Or roast (or better yet dehydrate!) a batch of Tamari almonds and eat as a snack or toss into salads and Dragon Bowls. Get your Umami without the wheat. Say Oishii!

Mustard: Mustard is a member of the heavy hitting Cruciferous family of vegetables, and the Mustard seed is, not surprisingly, packed with nutrients. The yellow, brown or Dijon Mustards we know and love tame inflammation, mineralize and even may boost metabolism. Look for Mustards made with pure whole food ingredients or better still, make your own.

Sea Buckthorn: Seabuckthorn Berries are nature’s highest source of Omega 7 Fatty Acids, a nutrient known for its beautifying ways. We keep a bottle of Sibu 100% Seabuckthorn Purée in the fridge to deeply hydrate and nourish our skin from the inside out. Brace yourself for tartness, then add a splash to mineral water for a skin saving spritzer, or take a shot neat first thing in the morning.

Glow: Kerrilynn and I rely on this brilliant powdered drink to up our intake of naturally fermented foods and the pre and probiotics they deliver. The ingredient deck reads like your shopping list at Whole Foods and then these plant nutrients are biofermented and blended into a powder that is reactivated with water. With a sweet berry taste, Glow is the simplest way we know to go pro. Probiotic that is.

Hot Sauce: Kerrilynn’s corner of the fridge contains an array of hot sauces ranging from smoky to tangy to the purely hot. We’re especially intrigued by fermented hot sauces and love the ones from Hawthorne Valley and Crock & Jar. If you live in New York City, both are available at the Greenmarket in Union Square. Another favorite is Queen Majesty Hot Sauce from Brooklyn.

Maple Syrup. We’ll take our sweetness with a big side of minerals and polyphenols. Maple syrup is our sweetener of choice. Keep it cold to prevent mold.

Cooked Quinoa. An understated fridge staple, cooked quinoa is incredibly versatile. We like to add a big spoonful to our raw vegetable salads. Or toss into vegetables soups to make a meal. Known as a pseudo-grain, Quinoa is actually a seed and delivers a good supply of easily digestible protein.

Corn Tortillas. Taco time! With corn tortillas in the fridge (or freezer) you can turn any raw or cooked vegetable dish into satisfying tacos. Add traditional sauces like pico de gallo or go with hippie toppings like tahini, a few slices of avocado and a big spoonful of kraut. Look for non-GMO, organic and stone ground varieties and seek out tortillas with as few ingredients as possible. You may also be able to find ones made with sprouted corn.

Preserved Lemons. Lemons cured in salt bring their citrusy brightness without so much bitter. Best known for their contribution to a Moroccan Tagine, Preserved Lemons are nearly as versatile as their fresh next of kin. Rinse any salty residue then slice thinly and add them to salads and wraps. They’re an especially great counter to the briny tastes of seaweed salads or chickpea “tuna”. The whole peel becomes palatable which means you access the incredible phytonutrients that the rind delivers. They’ll last for months in the fridge so take stock.

Bee Pollen. A wonder food straight from the hive. Fresh bee pollen offers a light and sweet floral honey flavor that’s rich in everything from antioxidants to bioavailable proteins. Eaten by the spoonful, blended into smoothies or topped onto bowls we always keep a jar on hand to energize and ramp up the nutritional content of any dish.

Probiotics. A healthy and flourishing gut is one key to feeling and living your best life so probiotics are most definitely a must. Look for the refrigerated variety and for capsules or powders that include an array of bacterial strains. Use them to catalyze coconut yogurt or nut cheeses. Or simply take on their own to nurture the gut on the daily.

Miso. A staple of Japanese cooking, Miso delivers a deep and salty flavor with the benefits of a fermented food. Traditionally made from soybeans, we also love miso made from chickpeas. They vary in color and intensity, with White or Light Miso being the mildest. We also love Sea Clear, a Miso with the addition of ACV, Sea Kelp and chlorophyll-rich Chlorella. Add to hot (but not boiling water) to make a simple Miso broth. Toss in some seaweed, scallions, carrots and shiitakes for a soup. We also love a Miso-based dressing and Kerrilynn loves to top her vegetable crudité with Miso neat. It lasts forever in the fridge so keep a few jars on hand. An acupuncturist once advised me that Miso fights the effects of radiation, making it the perfect food to add if you’ve had an x-ray or when traveling.

Livon Packs. These neat single serving packs of bioavailable vitamins stay best in the fridge. Choose Vitamin C, Glutathione or R-ALA. Then take your daily dose.  

STORAGE. Collecting the right storage containers for our fresh ingredients helps us pack the fridge with style and ease. We choose glass or ceramic. You can repurpose empty glass jars and containers too. Here are a few we love:

We love a glass pitcher for storing raw or cooked soups. Easy to decant, easy to store.

These glass storage boxes hit all the right notes. Clean and modern and their square shape helps to maximize space in what can quickly become a crowded fridge.

Sarah Kersten is one of our favorite potters, and her lidded ceramic bowls go from fridge to table and back again.

There’s something about these porcelain boxes for eggs and berries.

For chia puddings, overnight oats and small bites of leftovers, we love these hard working lidded glasses. They’re perfect too for freezing individual portions of soup.

As you can probably tell we’re partial to Japanese storage containers and these porcelain boxes are no exception.

When it comes to nut and seed milks we like to keep a variety on hand for different needs. These bottles line up perfectly along fridge door walls and are just right.

Weck Jars are a classic staple and can always be found filled and stacked in our cabinets and fridge.