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heidi swanson’s super natural every day + giveaway

by Kristina Gill

We have been waiting for Heidi Swanson’s latest book for so long.  Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook was finally released on April 5, and soared immediately into the top 100 books on Amazon!  Just between me and you, it is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I own (and I have LOTS).  Heidi shared her favorite recipe from the cookbook with us on the In the Kitchen With column earlier today.  Now we’ll offer five readers the chance to win a copy of it, but a little more about how to do that after a mini-interview with Heidi on how she weaved together the aesthetics of her blog, 101cookbooks, and her lifestyle to create her most recent cookbook.

D*S:  The images you share on 101cookbooks are every much as inspiring as the food.  How do you decide which images you will post to illustrate recipes and your travel?

Wow, thank you! I try to keep the framework of my site in mind. Each post I do is about how my life intersects a recipe in some way – either through a book, or an ingredient, or a restaurant I visited, or a place I’ve traveled to. I do my best to illustrate that in a personal way. So, in addition to what I’m cooking, I like to show the little details of places I’ve been, the ones I’ve found inspiring – colors, textures, architecture, fonts. I also tend to pick the photos I don’t want to forget. The site works a bit as a scrapbook in that regard.

D*S:  You’ve written a bit on your blog about how super natural every day started with a notebook of ideas, recipes, photos.   How did you decide what made it into the book and what didn’t?

I had all the early shots in a box initially – starting with the ones I used in the proposal for the cookbook. I added to that collection over time. Over a few years I’d just keep shooting and adding to the box – film, and also printouts of all the shots. Every once in a while I’d put them out on a big table, or tack them to a wall, and take a look. I’d get rid of some, make note to reshoot others, that sort of thing. I shot as I was writing the book, and submitted the photography with the manuscript to Ten Speed, and we went from there. I was lucky to be working on this book with Toni Tajima, who designed my last book. She’d design sections of the book and send them to me. If she wanted other photo options for a page or a recipe, I could go back to the black box, or do something on the fly for her. In the end, she actually made the final call on which shots went in, and which ones didn’t.

CLICK HERE for the rest of the interview and giveaway details after the jump!

D*S:  How is this book different than super natural cooking, your last book?

This one is a look at my day to day cooking. I highlight many of the same ingredients that were in Super Natural Cooking – lots of whole grains, whole grain flours, natural sweeteners, fresh produce – but these recipes are quite a bit more approachable. The chapters are structured – breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. – so, for example, the breakfast chapter has a lot of doable breakfast ideas, the dinner chapter has a good amount of weeknight friendly recipes. It’s a collections of things I love to cook, or throw together without a whole lot of fuss.

D*S:  When you were working on this cookbook, did you find that you needed any special equipment?  A new lens?  A new camera?   Did you travel or visit any special places in order to find visual or recipe inspiration, or to match an image with content?

I ended up shooting this with a hodge-podge of cameras. A mix of film and digital, 35mm and medium format. And I primarily used the cameras I’ve been using for a long time – a Fuji 645, Pentax67, a Canon dSLR. I keep a little 35mm Ricoh in my purse or pocket as well. As far as inspiration and travel, I wanted this book to have sense of place. I wanted it to visually capture what I love about cooking and living in Northern California, where I live. So that was my focus. To that end, I tried to tie it into my day to day, and my daily rituals, places I go. As much as I love to travel to far-away places, that wasn’t what I wanted to explore with this book. I took shots walking around San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, hiking the coast, around the house – that sort of thing. And I used our everyday pans, dishes, plates and whatnot in the photos.

D*S:  Do you find yourself coming back to a particular ingredient or cooking method more than any other?

I love a good one-pan or one-pot meal – curries, stir-fries, soups, stews, frittatas.

{All photography by Heidi Swanson; Photographs of Heidi by Wayne Bremsen}


If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Heidi’s beautiful new book, tell us about your most memorable food experience while on vacation/travelling.  The five best memories will win!

*Update: the contest is now closed and Heidi is choosing her favorites…

Suggested For You


  • My dad loves oysters more than anything in the world. My mother, however, is not a fan. Whenever we are on vacation my dad and I always go to our favorite divey restaurant to have a couple dozen oysters, just the two of us. It is such a special time and what’s better than a sweet, briney oyster fresh from the Gulf of Mexico!

  • Last year my boyfriend and I took the trip of a lifetime through Western Europe. As you would expect, we ate at some really amazing restaurants. But the food that I enjoyed and the most were the cheeses, cured meats, fruits and breads we’d pick up at the local market and eat picnic-style in a park. That’s the life!

  • My most recent was a rather bad day we spent in Tacoma Washington. We went to see the glass museums only to find out it was closed for the day. We wandered the town and could not find anything open for lunch. We ducked into one place only to leave after one look at the overpriced menu. What felt like 40 blocks later we came to a small cafe full of wood and local beers, it was great.

  • I’ve had some good food experiences and some bad ones. Let’s go with bad first, and then put something sweet on top. I was in Hong Kong last summer for work, and was SO excited about food there. My coworker and I walked into a very busy restaurant at lunch time — it was so busy it must be good. We got our food, and it looked good. We were chowing away, and I found a staple in my lunch! Very memorable. But as a follow up, we went for dinner at a fancy place, overlooking the Hong Kong waterfront, sat down looking very sweaty and out of place, and then had the MOST amazing szechuan meal. I hadn’t ever had anything that spicy that still had flavour. It really sold me on spicy, spicy food!

  • my mom ordering dessert in Italy, asking (she thought) “are there nuts in this?” and tasting it — saying “this flavor is so unusal! I’ve never tasted it before” before the waiter said — “no, no nuts, ALMOND!” as she quickly spat the cake into her napkin. Lucky we had allergy meds and she was ok. We still laugh “no nut — Almond!”

  • When I was 8 years old, my family moved from Nashville to Portugal for a few months. I remember so clearly going to a restaurant and ordering shrimp, something that was a big deal to me because I didn’t get it often. When the meal arrived it was a huge plate with nothing but a huge pile of fully intact shrimp drenched in a bright red, super spicy sauce. It didn’t scare me a bit and I sat there and removed the heads, legs and skin from every one of those shrimp and ate every last one. I’m in my 30’s now and I don’t eat meat anymore, but I’ll always remember that meal as one of the best in my life…it was different and delicious and it felt so daring to be eating something so messy and spicy as an 8 year old. And I guess it kind of was! :)

  • When I was in college I went to Britain to study abroad with my best friend. One weekend we decided to take a trip to Paris. Unfortunately we only had one weekend to explore as much of Paris as we possibly could. We spent our days wandering around the city streets and traveling on the Metro. It was fast paced sightseeing, to say the last. After a long day of exploration we were famished. We ended up in a little cafe adorned in red and gold, not too far from out hotel. There was only one thing I had one my mind: onion soup. My absolute favorite soup, it seemed like an obvious choice since we were in France. Out they brought a steaming bowl of the most rich and delicious soup I had ever had. Bold yet slightly sweet, topped with crusty/toasted bread and a pungent cheese…it was the stuff of dreams. Even now, I can almost taste and smells its rich aroma.

  • While studying abroad in Rome, I felt adventurous at a small local restaurant one evening and ordered tripe. I mistakenly thought it was an exotic white fish and it definitely was NOT! I’m sure the servers were laughing at me in the back. The experience taught me to continue to be open minded about different foods – because I loved it!

    • Hi Everyone!

      I just wanted to leave a note that we are now ending the competition. I don’t want to stop the discussion here so I’m not going to close the comments to everyone, but we will end the contest now and let Heidi start reading through all these. So if you’ve left a comment after this one (11:15 AM EST, April 11th) it will be published but not eligible for the giveaway.

      Thank you so much to everyone who left a story, it has been such a pleasure reading through them all.

      Grace + Kristina :)

  • oh my gosh!!! Heidi’s Super Natural Cooking is my absolute FAVORITE cookbook… I have recommended it to everyone! I had no idea she was publishing another cookbook but I am so excited, can’t wait to buy it!!!!!! Heidi, you are amaaaazzziiinnnnnggg.

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