We live in an era of food movements: vegetarian, vegan, slow, gluten-free, paleo, raw, organic, local. While each movement or diet has its own rules or philosophy, one thing many of them share is the recognition that processed foods and the industrial food complex have been detrimental to our health. The traditional foods movement, which is at the heart of the new cookbook The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther, emphasizes a return to traditional methods of farming, cooking and eating with a focus on whole or minimally processed foods. While eating traditional foods may seem difficult, as farmers’ markets, CSAs, and urban gardening become more popular it is easier than ever to spend your grocery budget on traditional rather than industrial foods.
Before it was a cookbook, The Nourished Kitchen was McGruther’s award-winning traditional foods website. McGruther, who with her husband founded and managed a farmers’ market in Colorado, is a food educator who runs workshops on traditional foods, fermentation and food activism. Her knowledge and skills as an educator are on full display in the cookbook, which provides—in addition to many mouth-watering recipes—explanations on how to incorporate traditional vegetables, meats and dairy, fats and oils, and sweeteners into your diet, as well as the health benefits for doing so. For example, McGruther explains that butter, which we have been taught to avoid as an unhealthy fat, is actually rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K2 when it is produced from the cream of grass-fed cows. McGruther goes on to explain the benefits of serving vegetables with fat such as butter:
“Vegetables benefit from fat. Their potent antioxidants and plentiful array of vitamins become more available to your body when you serve them with fat, particularly monounsaturated fats like olive oil and lard as well as saturated fats like butter. The two—vegetables and fats—work synergistically together, with fat increasing the efficacy of vegetables’ fat soluble nutrients, such as carotenoids and vitamins.”
If the lessons like this one included in the book are good, the recipes are even better. Check out the two we’ve included below to get you started and pick up the book for even more.
Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad with Spiced Kombucha Vinaigrette
Kombucha, a fermented tea of Asian origin, offers a flavor reminiscent of apple cider vinegar: it’s sour, but also mildly sweet. Its flavor pairs well with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, while its acidity is strong enough to stand up against the sweet and earthy flavors of root vegetables and nuts.
Beets number among the few vegetables that my family eats year-round, fresh in spring and autumn and stored in boxes of dirt during the cold part of the year. Lacking greens in the winter, we often eat beets as a salad, sprinkled with roasted walnuts and dressed with a spiced vinaigrette.
2 pounds beets
1 tablespoon clarified butter (page 59)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 small red onion, sliced into rings no thicker than 1/8 inch
2 tablespoons unflavored kombucha (page 286)
1/4 teaspoon finely ground unrefined sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons cold-pressed walnut oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
To prepare the salad, trim the beets by removing any beet tops and the tips of their roots. Dot each beet with a touch of clarified butter, then wrap each in parchment paper and again in aluminum foil. Roast the beets for 45 to 60 minutes, until they yield under the pressure of a fork. Refrigerate the beets for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk the kombucha tea with the salt, allspice, cloves and the walnut and olive oils. The vinaigrette will store at room temperature for up to three weeks, but remember to shake it vigorously before dressing the salad because the oil will separate from the tea and spices when left sitting.
Just before serving, heat a skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until very hot. Toss in the walnuts and toast them for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
Remove the cold beets from the fridge, peel them, and chop into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, toss the beets with the sliced onion and toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, toss again, and serve.
Spot Prawns with Almonds and Garlic
Garlic, parsley, and lemon are natural matches for the sweet flavor of spot prawns, but adding a handful of chopped almonds provides both crunch and a warming, toasted flavor. Large coral-colored spot prawns inhabit the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. Caught in traps that minimize impact on both other species and the prawns’ habitat, spot prawns remain one of many sustainable seafood choices available to consumers. Succulent spot prawns often come with little sticky bits of red-orange roe clinging to their abdomen and legs. As I shell the prawns, I strip the shells of any roe, for its flavor heightens that of the prawns while also supplementing the meal with additional vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
½ cup coarsely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red
2 pounds spot prawns, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons chopped fresh
Grate the zest of the lemon very finely and place it in a small bowl, then cut the lemon in half crosswise and squeeze its juice into a separate bowl.
Warm a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the almonds and toast them, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown just a bit at the edges, about 4 minutes. Stir the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest into the skillet with the almonds. Stir continuously until the garlic softens and becomes fragrant, about 4 minutes. Toss in the spot prawns and sauté until their bodies curl and their flesh becomes opaque, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Serve warm.
Reprinted with permission from The Nourished Kitchen written and photographed by Jennifer McGruther (Ten Speed Press, © 2014)