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What’s the meaning behind your blog’s name, The First Mess?
It’s a reference to a passage in M.F.K. Fisher’s An Alphabet for Gourmets. I wouldn’t call myself a “gourmet” by any means, but her thoughts on the first peas of spring really struck me. She refers to the arrival of “the first mess” of them and goes even further to call it “the day with stars on it.” There’s was so much reverence and gratitude in that passage, for nature, the earth and our nourishment. The blog takes root in those ideas; eating seasonally, respecting nature, eating well etc.
How do you define “healthy”?
I’ve always loved to eat healthy, but in a more casual and free kind of way. Celebrating produce in season, the practice of cooking regularly at home, gathering around a meal with people in your life—I look to these easy strategies as guidelines for a healthy and happy life. I’ve studied nutrition extensively in culinary school, worked in a bunch of restaurants, read countless books on health, but I always go back to those more basic ideas because they are liberating in their simple practicality.
Which do you crave more often: savory or sweet?
Definitely sweet. I love sweet things at breakfast; the pancakes, granola, pastries etc. And I generally love to cap off any meal with a treat of some kind. It could be fresh figs or a ridiculous piece of chocolate cake.
Now that fall is here, what kind of produce are you most looking forward to using?
I love this time of year for all of the hearty produce, but butternut squash is one of my favorites. It’s perfect just roasted with olive oil, some herbs, salt and pepper or as an addition to soups and stews. I love cooking it down with some garlic and chilies and pureeing it into a delicious sauce for flat breads or pasta too.
What are some of the ways you like to jazz up weekday breakfast and lunch?
I typically make up a batch of steel-cut oatmeal that I can just reheat throughout the week with a splash of almond milk and whatever add-ins I have on hand. Figs and ginger, apples and cinnamon, cocoa and bananas, nutmeg and pumpkin puree; whatever I feel like in the moment.
Lunch is always an attempt to incorporate leftovers with some fresh ingredients on hand for me. I always have a tasty batch of salad dressing in the fridge and find myself mixing up some salad greens with leftover roasted veggies and cooked whole grains like quinoa or wild rice. The combination is always different and highly satisfying for me.
Join Food Network’s Healthy Eats in discovering the best healthy bloggers around the web. Today we’re talking to Jennifer Vagios.