What I'm Cooking From

Books I’m Cooking from Now: Miranda Hammer

February 5, 2016

Miranda Hammer, registered dietician and author of The Crunchy Radish blog. Photo: Sophie Mathewson

Self-proclaimed “veg-head” Miranda Hammer created her blog, The Crunchy Radish, to share a behind the scenes look at what happens in the kitchen of a registered dietician. Hammer has a Masters of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University, and has worked as a Clinical Dietician at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City; she’s also been a cook and a nutrition and health educator for Wellness in the Schools.

Hammer now works with private clients, brands, and corporate accounts, to help them focus on seasonal, plant-based eating. She aims to bring cooks of all levels into the kitchen and is eager to prove that making healthy meals needn’t be difficult or time-consuming—nor does it require a pile of obscure ingredients.

With her own emphasis on plant-based eating, it’s of little surprise that Hammer’s cookbook shelf is largely vegetarian.

Vegetable Literacy
“One of my go-tos is Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison,” says Hammer. “I got it when I first joined a CSA a few years ago, and it’s so inspiring.”

Vegetable Literacy

Photo: Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random Penguin House LLC

Madison offers the foundations for cooking different vegetables, but she’s also really creative, explains Hammer. Kohlrabi is a perfect example. “It’s one of those vegetables that you never really know what to do with,” says Hammer. Madison offers several solutions, including a kohlrabi slaw with a creamy herb-avocado dressing that Hammer makes any time kohlrabi shows up in her CSA share.

A kale and Brussels sprouts salad with a sesame-brown rice vinegar dressing is another standout. Hammer describes it as light, simple, and clean, which is particularly appealing around this time of year, when vegetable choices are limited.

Vegetable Literacy includes nutritional information, which Hammer appreciates as a dietician. And it’s organized by vegetable, another aspect that Hammer finds helpful. “That’s the way I like to think, either if I’m getting a CSA or going to the farmers’ market or to my local grocery store. I usually pick produce based on what’s looking good and then build my meal around my ingredients. It just fits with my approach to cooking.” ($40.00; Ten Speed Press)

This kind of vegetable-based organizing strategy—as well as an overall plant-based focus—is also one of the features Hammer likes about Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. “I love how it glorifies vegetables and makes vegetables acceptable to the masses, which is definitely my train of thought,” says Hammer. “You don’t need to have meat at every meal—there are so many ways to utilize beautiful, natural produce in creative ways.”

Plenty Cookbook Cover

Photo: Chronicle Books

Hammer’s copy of Plenty is filled with sticky notes marking all the recipes she wants to try, but there’s one she’s come back to again and again: a burnt eggplant with tahini dip. “It’s a really nice take on baba ghanoush, but elevated in Ottolenghi’s signature way of taking dishes to the next level,” notes Hammer. It’s a good example of his talent for “highlighting a vegetable in all its glory.”

Ottolenghi recipes tend to have lengthy ingredient lists that require some serious shopping, so Hammer sees them as better suited to weekends and special occasions. ($35.00; Chronicle Books)

The Sprouted Kitchen
For everyday cooking, she often turns to blogger Sara Forte’s The Sprouted Kitchen and The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon. “Nothing is intimidating,” says Hammer, and the ingredient lists are pretty realistic.

The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook Cover

Photo: Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random Penguin House LLC

Forte’s books also have “gorgeous” photography, yet Hammer’s copy is so well-loved that several pages are stained and crumpled from frequent use. A soba noodle bowl with poached salmon from The Sprouted Kitchen is one of those dishes.

Salmon “can be so boring,” says Hammer. But Forte’s approach is unique and creates tremendous flavor: “You poach it in green tea, peppercorns, and a little white wine and it makes the fish super tender and infused with all this flavor.” Soba, broccoli, and a tahini-sesame sauce complete the dish, which is hearty and nourishing, so it’s perfect for winter, says Hammer.

From The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon, Hammer likes to make a red pepper–walnut dip and calls it “a fantastic crowd pleaser.” It goes well with vegetables or crackers, but it’s also wonderful in a grain bowl or on a wrap. And in terms of plant-based eating, the walnuts are a great vegetarian protein source, which goes back to Hammer’s overall approach to eating. Forte “cooks the way I want to cook and eat,” says Hammer, which is pretty much the highest compliment a cookbook author can hope to receive. ($25.00; Ten Speed Press)

Lauren Salkeld is a writer, editor, and recipe developer. She has worked for Epicurious, Bon Appétit magazine, and on cookbooks including The Yellow Table by Anna Watson Carl, Asian American by Dale Talde, and A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield. She holds a Grand Diploma in Pastry Arts from the French Culinary Institute. Follow her at laurensalkeld.com and on Instagram @laurensalkeld79.



CookbooksDeborah MadisonInterviewMiranda HammerSprouted KitchenThe Crunchy RadishVegetarianWhat I'm Cooking FromYotam Ottolenghi
Vegetable Literacy

In her latest cookbook, Deborah Madison, America's leading authority on vegetarian cooking and author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, reveals the surprising relationships between… Read more »

The Sprouted Kitchen

Sprouted Kitchen food blogger Sara Forte showcases 100 tempting recipes that take advantage of fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins, and natural sweeteners—with vivid… Read more »


Plenty is a must-have collection of 120 vegetarian recipes featuring exciting flavors and fresh combinations that will delight readers and eaters looking for a… Read more »

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