Discover more from The Fresh Letter
My ever-evolving thoughts on healthy cooking
And a no-muss dessert recipe!
This week, I’d like to do something a little different with this space. Don’t worry, we’ll still get to a tip (and a delicious, versatile recipe!). But before we dive in, I’d love to share some thoughts in a bit of a longer format.
If you’ve been reading this newsletter or following me on Instagram for a bit, then you know that seasonal shifts are always top of mind for me—I wrote an entire ebook series centered on the topic and teach a summer-centric cooking class series, after all! As we head into the most sweltering days of summer (or if you’re on the opposite side of the world, the chilliest days of winter) the impact of seasons on the way we’re eating feels especially pertinent.
In light of all this, I’d love to take a moment to share some very personal thoughts on how seasonality has impacted the way I view health-supportive cooking (excerpted from the In Harmony series). Let’s get into it:
I’ve dabbled in the kitchen since I was a kid, but I learned to cook in earnest in 2015 in an effort to resolve some unexplained health issues. Since the food I cook is rooted in that personal history and revolves around supporting my physical well being, I’ve always considered my cooking “healthy.” That said, the longer I spend working in the food world, the more I understand how much we’d all benefit from a more multifaceted view of “healthy” cooking. Yes, food needs to nourish our bodies, but it should also help us cement memories, and bring comfort when it’s needed. Food should be accessible, both physically and financially, and our food systems should support the health of the environment and our communities. In short, cooking needs to be a source of physical, emotional, financial, and environmental health. Because cooking seasonally naturally promotes each of these facets of well-being, that’s where the focus of the In Harmony series lies.
Think about it: when we cook seasonally, we gravitate toward local produce at its peak freshness, making it more nutrient-dense, which aids in our physical health. Cooking seasonally also provides emotional well-being by encouraging us to eat foods in harmony with our surroundings, allowing us to view food not only as nourishment, but also as a source of comfort (eat the apple cider doughnut on that crisp fall day or the sprinkle-covered ice cream cone during the dog days of summer—you won’t regret it, I promise!). Our wallets are happier because in-season items tend to be less expensive, and we support the health of our environment by reducing the impact of food transportation. Seasonality ties directly into my ever-evolving philosophy around health and food, so the format of the In Harmony series reflects that. It consists of four e-books, one for each season: autumn, winter, spring, and summer.
That’s not to say the recipes I’ve written utilize ingredients only found in the given book’s season of focus or that I’m up on my high horse about eating exclusively locally and seasonally. Sure, if we lived in an ideal world we’d prioritize shopping at farmers markets. But unfortunately, farmers markets can be financially and physically inaccessible as a sole source of groceries. And again, in my holistic view of health, financial well-being needs to play a major role in the way we cook and eat. With that in mind, you should be able to source the produce and ingredients in the In Harmony series at the grocery store closest to you. And if you’re cooking winter recipes in winter, spring recipes in spring, and so on, many of the ingredients should be available at your local farm stand or market if you’re lucky enough to have access to one.
The recipes in the In Harmony series are meant to be accessible, comprehensively health-supportive, and above all else, exciting enough to get you cooking. They’re deeply personal, heartfelt, inextricably tied to my own seasonal memories, and delicious (if I do say so myself!). Check out the entire series here, or grab the Summer edition here.
TL;DR, prioritizing seasonality when I’m cooking has been hugely important in my (still in-progress) path toward rejecting diet culture and adopting a more intuitive way of eating. Now let’s get to the tip
Because eating dessert is a huge component of my philosophy around seasonal health-supportive cooking, my very simple tip this week is to whip up this Any Fruit Anytime Crumble next time you’re craving something sweet and seasonal:
5 cups blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or stone fruit, in any combination (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup all purpose flour or all purpose gluten-free flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup salted butter (1 stick), melted
Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or plain yogurt for serving
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Make the filling: toss your 5 cups fruit of choice with the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest. Add the filling to your baking dish.
In the same bowl as you made your filling, make your topping: combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter until fully incorporated. The topping should resemble wet sand.
Add the topping evenly across the filling, some of the fruit will be exposed. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and much of the fruit has burst and is bubbling. Serve topped with ice cream, whipped cream, or if you prepped this as a brunch treat (highly recommend!), some vanilla yogurt.
Alright, I’m always curious to hear your thoughts, but this week I’m feeling especially eager to know what you’re thinking. How did you like this longer format? Do you have similar thoughts around seasonality as it ties into health or does your cooking and eating philosophy differ from mine in some significant way? And most importantly: are you planning on making this crumble? If you do, I’d love to see and hear what you think: tag me on Instagram!
And in other seasonal news, a quick reminder that Abigail and I are hosting the second in our four-part summer meal prep class series this Sunday and would love to see you there! You can sign up here. The menu is really yummy and we got such amazing feedback after our first class, so we’re extra excited to help you get set up for your week with a ton of delicious, summer-y food.
Okay, phew, that’s it from me!
With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,