We sat down with Jess Damuck, author of Health Nut, and asked for a few of her favorite recipes from her new cookbook. She had my attention as soon as she said that if I can find all of her ingredients to make these dishes at Trader Joe's and this cookbook is for weekdays, feeding yourself and family. Read on to learn more about her fool proof method to impress dinner guests (and also, what her guests are demanding that she cooks). 

Can you share a bit about your new book, Health Nut, and the inspiration behind it? What excites you about cooking mostly with vegetables? Is there a favorite recipe you've included in Health Nut?

I’m so excited about Health Nut. It is my homage to the hippie health food I’m nostalgic for and always crave, but freshened up a bit for a new generation. I moved to LA in 2020, and the inspiration hasn’t dimmed. After growing up on the East Coast I’m in constant awe of the landscape, the sunshine, the history and of course the incredible produce. What excites me about Health Nut is that it’s accessible — most of these are meals for weekdays, for really feeding yourself and your friends and family, and I think that’s really important. It’s easy to wax poetic about farmer’s market veggies, but I can’t even make it to the market this week. Have to go to Trader Joe’s? No problem, you can find these ingredients there and make these dishes and they will still taste great.

My favorite recipe is the Sweet Potato Loaf with Miso-Tahini Butter. My dinner guests demand it now. 

What is your tried and true recipe to make for family and friends when you're hosting? Any show stopping tips for hosting?

I love making fish cooked in parchment paper. It’s a completely foolproof method for cooking fish and one of the easiest techniques ever— but it feels really elevated. Plus guests get to open their own little parchment packets at the table or you can open it for them with scissors and make a whole little show of it. I think it’s a very elegant dish— especially my recipe with sun gold tomatoes and a bit of saffron, and it’s sure to impress anyone. I love it because you can assemble the packets in advance, and there is almost no mess or dishes to clean up afterwards.

Whenever I host I like to pick simple dishes that I won’t have to stress over, and instead I stress about all the other little details. My brain operates by organizing things by color and that is usually how I decide to set the table. I like having a variety of napkins so I can color coordinate with floral arrangements, etc for a more impactful setting. I always have a playlist ready for when guests begin to arrive and something a bit more mellow for dinner so everyone can hear but the energy level stays high. And I don’t have a single lightbulb over 8 watts. Don’t underestimate the power of good lighting.

I saw that you collect cookbooks from the 70s. Do you have a cookbook you return to time and again that everyone should have in their collection?

The Moosewood Cookbook is the one I always go back to. It’s my idea of comfort food.

I always find I'm rushing through lunch and don't have much time to think about a filling balanced meal, do you have a go-to lunch recipe when you don't have a lot of time to cook?

I love making the Collard Green Wraps with Chickpea Salad. It takes about 3 minutes to make and it’s really filling. Sometimes I end up skipping lunch because I have such a late breakfast— I usually keep a big batch of the Chai-Spiced Overnight Oats in my fridge for the week.

I hear you're working on another cookbook as well, anything you can share about that?

Yes! Open Wide is a dinner party book I wrote with music producer Benny Blanco that just came out this week! It’s a really fun book for anyone interested in having more parties.

I know you work with homegoods as well, any favorite home items you love from your collection?

I love Mondays ceramics so much that it inspired me to start making my own ceramics! Their objects are all just so gorgeous. 

Can you pick your favorite Vestige pieces at the moment?

B Sides Vintage Lasso Jeans in White
Sayaka Davis Sheer Cropped Shirt in Orange
Anaak Mauny Pleated Sleeveless Dress in Vermillion
Anaak Joan Oversized Tunic in Rouge Orange
Kismet Olfactive the Poet
Rosa Mosa Ziczac Slide in Tangarine


Thanks for your time, Jess! We can't wait to dig in. 

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