A self-described ‘food loving, wellness craving, veggie fiend,’ Sara Forte popped into my life via her beautiful cookbook The Sprouted Kitchen – a tastier take on whole foods. A birthday present from a loved one, her book resonated with my love for clean design, amazing photography and nourishing food with a hint of indulgence (oatmeal ice-cream sandwiches anyone?).
California based, Sara and her talented photographer husband Hugh released their first book in 2012, following the monumental success of their joint venture the Sprouted Kitchen blog. Sara’s recipes are inspired by food in its purest form, and she believes eating seasonally will change your take on everyday cooking. Her recipes and down-to-earth food outlook lend themselves to long summer picnics with friends, and rustic dinner parties under the stars. Well at least that’s how they make me feel. All have a focus on fresh produce, whole grains, healthy fats and natural sugar alternatives. Sounds pretty perfect no?
I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.
What’s your food philosophy and how did it begin?
I try to eat as much real food as possible – mostly plants and select lean proteins. Food is to be enjoyed in good company, so I try not to subscribe too strictly to rules about enjoying food. I love gigantic salads but I also love ice cream and do my best to find a balance – a daily effort. I want to feel good and have energy, and that is a result of eating well and exercising and being content.
I guess it began in college when I started cooking for myself and working on a farm. I made a transition from frozen foods and packaged things to real food and a more vegetarian focused diet and I lost weight and felt better. I felt cleaner inside and I loved that. I’ve been trying to take good care of my insides and those that I feed since then but it is an ever-evolving process or learning.
Health food stores can be a confusing place! What are your essential ingredients?
I think you need to go in with a loose plan, then it is all more manageable. I make a rough list of things I want to make for the week and pick out seasonal produce for those items. You have staples here (look into the bulk bins to save money) like whole grains flours, nut meals, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, oats etc. I always have brown rice tortillas on hand, easy to make a meal out of things stuck in a tortilla. I usually pick up coconut based coffee creamer and ice cream, special flours that are hard to find elsewhere and bulk items to refill my glass jars at home (muscavado sugar, oats, quinoa, almond meal, ww pastry flour, cornmeal, millet for example).
If you were trying to encourage a friend to eat healthier, what would you cook for them?
I like making stuffed mushrooms or peppers. I feel like you can get creative with vegetables, whole grains and sauce and stuff them in a mushroom or pepper and everything tastes great together. They are also easy to make and portable. Many of the excuses for not eating well are that cooking takes too much time. To encourage someone to eat well, you must show them how to do so practically.
Let’s talk sweat. What do you do to stay active?
I try to change it up so I don’t get bored. I have been habitual about Pilates and long speed walks with girlfriends. Every now and then I do spin classes or Pure Barre classes but those can get pricey. I just try to keep moving.
Any tips on getting started in the food/health/blogging business?
Oh man, I hate to consider it a “business”. My advice is to be authentic in whatever your angle, them, intention is and stick with it no matter what other bigger bloggers are doing or what negative feedback you may get. People are attracted to a personality and sincerity, so just be you! I don’t know I’ve mastered too much of the business, per se.
Your go-to meals and snacks when you’re travelling
Trail mix (pistachios, chocolate chips and dried cherries specifically), homemade granola bars, apples, dried apricots. I like packing rice paper rolls stuffed with vegetables or I’ll make veggie patties and put them on a pile of greens for a filling salad.
Listen to your body and make wellness a priority. YOU are responsible for taking care of yourself.
The Local Roundup
Best Cafe: La Sirena Mexican Grill, Laguna Beach
Best Beach: Three Arch Bay
Best Walk: Hikes back through the hills of Laguna Beach
Where I’d take a tourist: I would drive them up and down the coast on Hwy 1 stopping at pretty beaches and good food stops.
A recipe from Sara: BAKED HERB + PISTACHIO FALAFEL // Makes about 20
- 12 sprigs of mint
- 12 sprigs of parsley or cilantro
- 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
- 2 cups chickpeas, cooked or canned
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 T. buckwheat flour (or another flour of choice)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- hearty pinch of salt
Tomato Chili Salsa
- 2 cups diced tomatoes (I used baby tomatoes)
- 1/2 a small red chile, seeded and finely chopped (one jalepeno works)
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T. fresh chopped oregano
- pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- collard leaves, cabbage or pita bread for serving
- fresh herbs for garnish
How to go about it:
Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oiled foil.
Pulse the herbs in a food processor. Add the pistachio nuts and pulse again to chop. Add the chickpeas, garlic, onion, oil, cumin, flour and baking soda and blend for thirty seconds, scraping down sides when necessary. You want the mixture a bit rough.
Using your hands, form 20 small round falafels. Place them on the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, until browned.
Stir all tomato chili salsa ingredients together in another bowl. Allow ingredients to sit for flavors to blend.
Make your wraps with the collard, cabbage or pita with a generous spread of the sauce and the tomato chili salsa. Falafels will keep for about a week covered in the fridge.
Connect with Sara: