Q & A with Sara Forte of The Sprouted Kitchen

The Sprouted Kitchen

Sara Forte's wonderfully relaxed writing style, which she also applies to her recipes, has made her one of the most popular food bloggers. (Her blog, The Sprouted Kitchen, is indexed on EYB.) Sara uses mainly fresh, seasonal produce and healthy ingredients - not a lot of 'meat and potatoes'. Her first book, The Sprouted Kitchen, was nominated for a James Beard award in 2012.

Sara is back with her second book, The Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl + Spoon, which is an EYB pick. ( Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy of the book.) We asked Sara about her cookbook, her cooking style, and the differences between writing a blog and a cookbook.

This is your second cookbook and you also have a popular blog. How different is it writing a book than posting on your blog?

I tried not to overthink it as much for this second book. We kept trying to think of it as 80 blog posts that were represented by a single image. Some days that felt approachable and other days it still felt like a lot of pressure. Within a blog post, you know you can go back and edit it if you want to change something or reader feedback affirms some measurement is way off. A book is much more permanent and that is intimidating. You get one shot, you don't get to redeem yourself next week in another post and that is something to take seriously. I enjoy that challenge. It scares me, but I think I need it.

How would you describe your own cooking style?

Fresh. Simple. Produce-focused. Colorful. 

How much has your cooking changed since you had your baby?

I honestly thought it wouldn't. I never understood why people always used the excuse they were tired or didn't have time and then I had a kid who wants to touch EVERYTHING and I thought "oooohhhhhhhhh. got it." I do cook less than I used to. Or I should say I cook much less intentionally. We eat a lot of salads with a grilled protein on top, chicken or fish or tofu. I sort of dump in whatever I have - a nut, cooked lentils, a good cheese - it's not bad but certainly not as creative. I know that will change someday but for now, I am still figuring how to manage my day.

Do you pay any attention to diet trends such as Paleo or sugar-free?

I think I pay attention but there is no longevity in following trends. I try to just focus on variety and moderation. I think there is something to be said for eating less allergenic foods like wheat and dairy but I don't pledge allegiance to any sort of diet (clearly - almost every dessert in bowl+spoon has whipping cream on it!). I am always interested in what is going on in the health food world but take it all with a grain of salt. Things come and go. I remember when big ol' bagels were "healthy" and now the paleo and whole 30 crowd would just cringe at the thought. I want to stay current but practical.

You are lucky to live in southern California where there is fresh produce available year round. What suggestions do you have for eating healthily for those who endure a 6 month winter (that's what it currently feels like in the snowy northeast)?

I humbly admit that that sort of dull, uninspired season doesn't happen here and I'm not exactly sure what I would do. Lots of soup? We have a few green heavy and sweet potato filled months but especially lately, spring produce comes in early March so it's really never that lackluster. I would likely embrace the greens - there is a braised kale from Suzanne Goin on our blog that I LOVE. That would always be good with eggs. Beans, broccoli and quinoa salads, making veggie patties with things you can always get like carrots and onions - I think there is a way to work with it. It is positive to keep in mind that it is only a season and hope for more color is around the corner! We have super great strawberries around here for about 4-6ish weeks. Of course I can buy them longer than that, but they aren't nearly as good, so I just obsess over them while they are super good and then go without until the next year. It makes you appreciate things more when you have to wait.

What new ingredients or techniques did you introduce with this book?

I don't know there is anything particularly out of the ordinary.My goal is to cook and write with foods that readers have no issue finding - there is value in that. By nature of food trends, I probably use less gluten overall but not as a selling point. I have a good handful of dressings and sauces throughout and I think those can turn a boring dinner around quite quickly. 

I love that you include sweet things in your blog and cookbooks - life without dessert would be very dull.  How do you keep your desserts reasonably healthy?

I do have a sweet tooth so as healthful as I try to keep things, it would not be true to form to have all vegetables and no treats. We all have our weaknesses. I try to use less processed sugars, like honey or maple syrup. I keep portions on the smaller side and usually only make things when I have people coming over or I plan to share a portion. In moderation, I think it is healthy to acknowledge life's simple pleasures and sometimes that is ice cream.

What are your favorites of the recipes in the new book?

I really love the Hippie Bowl that is on the cover. It is sort of the flagship recipe that I think stands an example of what I think a "bowl food" really is. I also love the granola, stonefruit crumble, last meal salad, tortilla soup and the coconut sorbet. 

Photo of Buckwheat bowl with roasted romanesco from Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte


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