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whole food lover sara forte shares her kitchen staples & perfect pairings: brighten up for spring

Sara Forte, half of the husband & wife duo that is Sprouted Kitchen, shares her love of seasonal, pure, whole food with us.  In the midst of creating her second cookbook, she dishes her delectable Simple & Crisp pairings for spring relaxation.

Sara Forte

Why we love her:

Sara Forte and her husband Hugh make the perfect team in the kitchen.  With Sara’s mouthwatering recipe creations and Hugh’s stunning photography, together they make Sprouted Kitchen, a “tastier take on whole foods.”  You could pick any one of their recipes at random and instantly long to be in a kitchen, tossing a zesty kale salad, crafting a grape salsa crostini, or mixing up a Mediterranean quinoa bowl.  We love food, but we really love their take on food.

Sara can be found munching on her favorite snack of granola and almond milk with fresh strawberries, or getting lost along the coastline of Big Sur, CA.  Currently busy preparing her second cookbook, Sara found time to share with us her perfect pairings for brightening up this spring.

When did your passion for food begin?

I didn’t grow up in a cooking-focused family.  We all ate together, but my mom prepared food based on convenience (frozen items, Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, etc.).  It wasn’t until I went away to college and began cooking for myself that I grew an interest in figuring out how to cook.  I wanted to be healthy, so I ate a bunch of diet, low fat, sugar-free junk thinking that would make me feel good.  It didn’t.  I was actually the heaviest I’ve been when I was eating that stuff.

I started working on the organic farm on campus and fell in love with produce, vegetables, and seasonal foods.  I brought home veggies every time I worked and taught myself by reading books, watching shows, poring over magazines, trial and error.  I felt better, looked better, and since then have been a firm believer in eating good things—mostly vegetables—for overall wellness.  But believe me, I have my treats just as much as the next guy!

What’s your cooking style?

I get a CSA basket (Community Supported Agriculture), so a lot of our food comes from using what I have.  I keep basic pantry staples and then try to play off of the fresh produce that comes in my seasonal basket.  I don’t follow many recipes, but I’m always looking at blogs, cookbooks, magazines, and Pinterest for recipe ideas.  There are so many creative people out there; I think we can all get inspiration from each other to create great meals at home.  I like making things up as I go for sure.

Sprouted Kitchen recipe

Why is it important for you to emphasize pure, seasonal food?

Seasonal food tastes better.  Nature was never designed for us to eat tomatoes year round or have strawberries in December; people made that possible.  I’m not stubborn about seasonal food all the time, but I find I have to do a lot less to make the food tastes good when it’s fresh and in season.  My recipes are simple because I depend on using produce that’s at its peak.

What are your kitchen staples—the food you always have on stock & your essential cooking supplies?

I always have brown rice tortillas, hummus, eggs, greens, feta, goat cheese, and Parmesan.  I try to keep homemade granola on hand and some sort of sturdy salad in the fridge.  My husband always likes having bacon, a loaf of bread, and a sweet treat readily available, so we always have that too.  My pantry has a variety of oils, vinegars, whole grains, beans, lentils, olives, etc.  I get different things at different markets so it just depends where I am and when.

As for supplies, I find I am always reaching for rimmed baking trays, my food processor, Dutch oven, stand mixer for cookies, microplane grater, chefs knife, and scissors!  I use them constantly.

How did you come to start Sprouted Kitchen?

Hugh designed the blog for me as a birthday gift.  It was a time when I was hitting a dead end at a desk job and I needed something creative.  Hugh wanted to try a new avenue of photography and I wanted to get better at cooking.  We just kept posting once a week and I read other blogs and commented and just jumped into the community.  It’s huge and there is opportunity for work within this circle, so I’ve picked up freelance work by way of the blog as well.  I don’t know it’s a “full time roll” per se, but it has led me into other projects that compose a cobbled full time roll that I really enjoy.

Sprouted Kitchen recipe

Sprouted Kitchen has a huge following!  What’s it been like becoming a foodie influencer?

I hardly consider myself a foodie influencer!  We started an online space because we love good food, inspiring intention and wellness, beautiful things, color, writing, and adventure.  I think people become attracted to blogs and continue to follow when they see something they are attracted to—recipes, style, writing, authenticity.  Those things aren’t always planned out.

We post food that fits into our everyday life and I write openly about my story and Hugh is quite talented with a camera.  I can’t say I tried to do anything to get things going…we just did things we naturally like doing with the best of intentions.  If you have to try too hard, you’re doing it wrong.

Congratulations on your recently published cookbook; what was that process like?

Creating a book is this strange, slow collection and refining of recipes that one can’t really explain.  It’s essentially like 100 blog posts, but you have to be extra sure they work because you can’t go back and change them!  This is scary and intimidating and I don’t know I’ll ever take the role lightly.  Luckily my cooking is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require advanced skill so I always feel like I’m writing for a very familiar audience and a casual cook.

We try to do the photos in stages so I can get the food in their best seasons.  We are working on our second book currently, due out in April 2015—and thankfully I have streamlined the process a bit this time.  It’s a different book with a narrower focus, but I find the whole process just as challenging as it was the first round.  I love that writing books is what brings me into other peoples’ kitchens and I’m super grateful for social networking because I get to hear about and see that people are making this food.  That is incredibly rewarding.

Sprouted Kitchen cookbook

We love your partnership with your husband & the way you both combine your talents so elegantly.  What’s it like working together in the kitchen?

Thank you.  It is work and patience, just like any other group of people working together, I assure you.  It’s nice that I do the food and writing and Hugh does the photography and back end stuff.  We both have our strengths and the areas we have no desire to dabble in.  I take pictures with my iPhone and that is about the extent of it.  Instagram will be the beginning and end of my photo career, so Hugh and I don’t have any competition in that regard.  We both make decisions and let the other always try what they have in mind and go from there.  It’s not always perfect, but it has made us a stronger and more communicative couple.

What’s your go-to meal for feeling better & more energized?

Huge kale and quinoa salad with a lemony dressing, Parmesan, and toasted nuts. I can eat gigantic amounts of this!

What are your own Simple & Crisp perfect pairings for brightening up this spring?

1. Simple & Crisp Apple with almond butter & granola sprinkles

Simple & Crisp Apple Granola Bite

Simple & Crisp Apple Granola Bite

Simple & Crisp Apple with Almond Butter and Hazelnut Cacao Nib Granola by Marge Granola.
Serveware courtesy of West Elm.

2. Simple & Crisp Blood Orange in an Old Fashioned with bitters & a pinch of cane sugar

Old Fashioned with Simple & Crisp

Old Fashioned Cocktail with 3 Howls Rye Whiskey & Simple & Crisp Orange

3. Simple & Crisp Pear & Apple crumbled up into a mixed green salad with goat cheese, pickled red onion & Dijon vinaigrette


Simple & Crisp Pear & Apple crumbled up into a mixed green salad..
Serveware courtesy of West Elm.

For more information on Sara Forte, you can visit Sprouted Kitchen & follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.

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