Heidi Swanson the San Francisco blogger behind 101 Cookbooks, has just written her second cookbook, Super Natural Cooking.
1. How does Super Natural Cooking differ from your first book, Cook 1.0?
Super Natural Cooking attempts to convince people that cooking with a palette of minimally processed ingredients can be inspiring, delicious, and better for your health than cooking with processed alternatives. My first book had a lot of recipes that highlighted fresh/farmer's market ingredients, but Super Natural Cooking builds on this and delves into a rich realm of underutilized ingredients by encouraging people to explore whole grains like millet, barley, and wheat berries. I also talk about the benefits of cooking with colorful ingredients, why you should utilize super foods, and how to use natural sweeteners. I did my best to include recipes that even the biggest skeptics might love (or at least like a lot).
2. What was the most fun part of working on this book and what was most challenging?
I work independently on a lot of projects, but producing a book is very different - there are many people involved. The collaborative potential of making a book was exciting to me and I wanted to make the most of it. I knew
I was going to contribute the writing, recipes, and photography, but I wanted the right people around to bounce ideas back and forth and explore all the possibilities on the editorial and creative front. I was fortunate to have Ten Speed Press as my publisher - they're located in Berkeley which meant that all the people working on my book were nearby. We could spend time in person, hang out, get to know each other. It's not always like that in publishing, I lucked out - we had a lot of fun. The most challenging aspect? Constantly running out of room in my refrigerator.
3. What makes something a "super food"?
When I think of "super foods" I think of all-natural, straight from the source ingredients that are brimming with vitamins and minerals. They offer nourishment, health benefits, and protection from disease. Luckily, many delicious whole foods fit this description, I think we just need to remember to keep working them into our daily cooking routine.
4. You use some familiar grains like brown rice and some very esoteric ones. What is mesquite flour and how did you ever discover it?
You know, I read about it long before I actually tasted it. I knew there were people excited about it's nutritional properties (gluten-free, rich in certain nutrients, and low on the GI-index). When I finally came across a jar of it in a natural foods store one afternoon, I was very curious about how it would taste.