Through the Lens with Amy Chaplin
Hello dear friends! After a much needed break, a wedding in Mexico, a birthday and hosting family in town… I am back! It all started in March as I intensely began planning our wedding, then flew to Mexico with twenty of our loved ones to bask in the sun, sip on coconut water (not all of us sipped on coconut water), swim, relax and get married! It was such a magical week filled with moments we will treasure for the rest of our lives. Lots of laughter, happy tears and endless amount of hugs. I came back relaxed and ready to enjoy newlywed life. I was all set to get back into the swing of things but the continuation of events didn’t quite allow that yet. From hosting family and friends from out of town to celebrating my birthday, I have not had a moment to sit and gather my thoughts to share with all of you. Until now, that is. The long weekend opened up the space for me to focus on this beautiful and special blog post that has been in the works for months and now I’m excited that I get to share this with all of you.
I have been in cookbook heaven since Christmas day. With only one cookbook that is – Amy Chaplin’s book. Ever since I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder, I found myself lost in health and nutrition books reading every page to try to make sense of my disease. Throughout the process, I realized that my relationship to food, to my environment and to my overall wellbeing had been dysfunctional at best and along the way a tiny reminder named “autoimmune” gently tapped me on the back as a cue to wake up. That moment was six years ago and ever since then, I began a healing journey with whole foods to nourish my body and take control of my disease. More importantly, the quality of life I envisioned for myself motivated me to take responsibility of my own health.
Local, seasonal, whole, organic, fresh, natural, real food has been my medicine, turning my dark days into light as I continue to keep inflammation at bay. Over the years, as anyone does, I’ve indulged in foods, but even those have always required one aspect that I’ve never compromised on – having the highest quality ingredients in every dish.
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen with Amy Chaplin has an abundance of delicious culinary dishes coupled with holistic principles to heal, nourish and inspire you to Celebrate the Art of Eating Well. My husband gifted me Amy’s book on Christmas Day (2014). I had articulated in a few of our conversations my love for the cookbook and him being a great partner, he listened and surprised me with it. I read the entire book cover to cover in one day. It’s that worthy, that enlightening and that inspiring. One of my favourite parts of the book is the pantry essentials section. It was like looking at a list of my own pantry but I must say, I was incredibly delighted to find new and beautiful basics to add to my arsenal. This cookbook has also come at the right time, as everything does in this wonderful universe. A true inspiration as I’m in the midst of creating my online seasonal pantry section. Stay tuned folks – I’m excited to launch this baby on Garden Heart.
I am thrilled to have Amy with us today to chat about her newly released cookbook, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. I’m inspired by Amy daily through her love for whole food ingredients, creating simple delicious recipes and serving us with a wealth of nutritional knowledge along the way. Her cookbook is our guidebook in the home. Some cookbooks we buy to look through, to browse through the images and get swept away, but they go back on the shelf and we never really cook from them. Some cookbooks we buy and bring into our home, developing a loving relationship with the chef, the creator behind the masterpiece. We cook from it, read every word, eat every bite and tell all our friends this is the BEST cookbook that will change your life and your family’s. This is what Amy’s book has done for us. This is a book you need to have! Amy talks about pantry staples – her cookbook is a staple in our home and should be for every family. If I could squeeze it in my pantry I would, but even better I have all the staples from the book and I know this may sound over the top crazy – but I own two copies. One for the kitchen which I’ve marked and made notes with stickies, accidentally drizzled spots and specks of delicious of food while cooking Amy’s recipes; The other one lays beautifully on our coffee table for our guests and I to sit and read through. Call me crazy, but I think it’s genius!
Without further ado, I welcome Amy to Garden Heart.
Through the Lens with Amy Chaplin
Elli: What inspired you to begin your journey as a chef?
Amy: There wasn’t one defining moment as I grew up surrounded by healthy whole foods, nature and an organic garden—I feel like my career has been a progression from that foundation. I should say I didn’t plan on being a chef but worked in kitchens to support my travels and the more I cooked the more I loved being creative with food.
Elli: You’ve transformed the world of cookbooks with your desire to bring to light the importance of choosing organic, composting and stocking a whole food pantry with key essentials. Can you share with us why this is important to you and why it should be of importance to everyone?
Amy: Composting is relatively easy for everyone to do no matter where you live. It makes sense on so many levels from reducing our garbage and keeping methane-producing substances out of landfills to nourishing our depleted soil and in turn nourishing ourselves. To cook healthy foods on a daily basis you need a stocked pantry otherwise it feels daunting and is very time consuming!
Buying organic is voting with your dollar. Buying from small, local and organic farms and you can really make a difference. By reducing food miles you’re supporting the health of the environment. You’re also helping your local community thrive all while eating delicious and nourishing food. It’s a win win!
Elli: How would you describe your relationship to food?
Elli: What are the top three pantry essentials on your grocery list?
Amy: Raw almonds, flax oil, sprouted rolled oats.
For thousand of years, ancient people cultivated grains from common grasses which contain nutrients essential for human development, vitality, and prevention of disease.
Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods
Elli: Let’s talk about Phytic Acid. It is one of the first “aha” moments I’ve had in nutrition school. Soaking is such an important step before cooking with grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Can you tell the readers why this is so essential to our digestion?
Amy: Phytic acid preserves and protects these whole foods from sprouting in your pantry. It also prevents the absorption of nutrients. Soaking grains, beans, nut and seeds sparks the spouting process and neutralizes phytic acid. It also makes grains more digestible, deliciously moist and flavourful.
Elli: What are your favourite flours to use when baking?
Amy: I love sprouted flours, especially sprouted spelt flour, as it’s so different than regular spelt flour. Lately I’ve been experimenting with making gluten free blends using sprouted brown rice and millet flours.
Elli: What does your morning ritual look like?
Amy: Boil the kettle to make nettle tea. Set out food for our three (!!) dogs. Qi gong then breakfast, which lately has been my millet buckwheat bread (on my blog) toasted with flax oil and avocado and usually more tea!
Elli: Thank you so much, Amy :).
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen is a must-have cookbook. I’m so in love with Amy’s book that offers so much more than vegan and vegetarian recipes, it takes you on a health journey, sharing fundamental tips on living holistically. Every recipe is delicious and easy to make yet full of nourishment. It was so hard to choose which ones will make this blog post as we enjoy Amy’s recipes 3-4 times per week. Here are some of our favourites:
Black rice breakfast pudding bowl with coconut can be made with any fruit, I happen to have oranges at home but you can use banana (as shown in the book) or any other fruit you enjoy the most. Mangoes, papayas, persimmons, passion fruit, sapotes – some of my other favourite tropical fruits that I love to add to this delicious nutty black rice that literally turns into the most gorgeous colour of deep purple when it’s ready.
This recipe is so delicious, we make a huge batch and enjoy it for dinner plus lunch for the next couple of days. I went through a phase that all I had every day for lunch was Parsley Brown Rice Salad with Seeds and topped off with Chimichurri Sauce. I don’t even have the words to better describe Amy’s dish below but to simply say – it’s pure brilliance. What I love most about this dish is the tangy flavor that comes through by marrying ume plum vinegar and mixing it with brown rice vinegar and tamari. There is no need for salt, lemon or any other seasoning. The fresh ingredients tossed with toasted seeds, brown and sweet rice makes this the perfect spring or summer time meal to enjoy with loved ones. Always enjoy good food in company of others. That’s been a rule in our home.
Amy – thank you for changing our world and making our kitchen sweeter, our lives healthier and our homes brighter.