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A Minimalist’s Big Flavors

Blogger Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan creates streamlined recipes in a tiny kitchen. Here, three of her healthiest, tastiest recipes.

Blogger Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan cooks with the mindfulness of a Buddhist monk, an approach she learned from her mother, Karen, a food writer: "She taught me that interacting with food, knowing where it comes from—even just touching it—will help you eat better." Gillingham-Ryan has turned this outlook into a career. She and her husband, Maxwell, edit the hugely popular apartmenttherapy.com, which approaches home design with a minimalist’s eye. Gillingham-Ryan runs the Kitchen section of the Web site, teaching what she calls "conscientious cooking," a skill she’s honed in her tiny kitchen while creating healthy, delicious dishes like roasted bass with spring herb salad. This month she’s launching the "Eight-Week Kitchen Therapy Cure," an online course focusing on eco-friendly ingredients and the emotional benefits of cooking. She also fuses meals and mindfulness in The Greyston Bakery Cookbook, which she recently wrote for the Greyston Foundation, a New York community-development organization started by a Buddhist. Greyston gave Gillingham-Ryan her first job out of college. "There’s a Buddhist term— right livelihood—that Greyston embodies," she says. "I learned a lot about right livelihood there and try to use it in my work in the food world."

Gillingham-Ryan’s Healthy Attitudes

On yoga

"I have a daily Ashtanga yoga routine that I usually do first thing in the morning. My husband and I also host yoga retreats at our 19th-century barn on Long Island."

On splurging

"High-quality food is my splurge. It’s like health care: I want to pay for it. I’ll forgo a new pair of shoes for some great ingredients."

On cleaning

"Caldrea lavender-pine dish soap is another splurge. I dilute it and it lasts for months. I also love Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I use it in the shower, to wash clothes and to clean muddy garden hands" (caldrea.com; drbronner.com).

On gardening

"I buy organic seeds from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, a fantastic California garden-supply company" (groworganic.com).

Gillingham-Ryan’s Minimalist Kitchen

Mason jars

"I replace food packages with mason jars; it reduces visual clutter—I hate looking at labels—and it also streamlines my cupboards."

Fresh ingredients

"I cook with as many fresh and organic ingredients as possible. That way, almost everything in my refrigerator gets consumed within a few days."

Key tools

"I only buy what I’ll use often. I don’t even own a microwave—I warm up everything on the stovetop. If I desperately need an unusual piece of equipment for a recipe, I’ll borrow it from a neighbor."

Tiny appliances

"I use a small-but-powerful 24-inch DeLonghi cooktop and an under-the-counter refrigerator from Summit" (delonghi.com; summitappliance.com).

Published June 2007
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