Food The Bite:

Kale & Caramel

Lily Diamond of blog Kale & Caramel delivers seasonal, herb- and flower-focused recipes to nourish your insides and your outsides, a commitment to “food for all five senses,” and a healthy dose of real talk. Between our shared love of beauty and local, fresh produce, plus a devotion to speaking about not just the triumphs but the tough stuff in life, there are more than a few parallels in the Kale & Caramel and EyeSwoon worlds. Let’s be honest: there was never really any doubt we’d feel a kinship and deep respect.

Lily just released her gorgeous new cookbook, Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table, so we took the opportunity to find out more about her palate, cookbook-creation process and go-to ingredients. Read all about it below, and help yourself to a recipe from her book, the Citrus Sage Tonic. It’s vibrant, refreshing, and pairs well with tequila or mezcal — the perfect boozy beverage for your upcoming Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Kale & Caramel

NAME: Lily Diamond

PROFESSION: Writer and photographer

PHILOSOPHY ON FOOD? To play with simple, whole foods from a place of joy and awareness. To recreate the deliciousness and beauty that organically arises in nature. And, every once in a while, to get wild in the kitchen. 

A LITTLE ABOUT THE RECIPE YOU’RE SHARING WITH US? This citrus and sage tonic combines the various high notes of grapefruit, lime, and lemon with the earthy sweetness of agave and the grounding fragrance of sage leaves. The combination pairs perfectly with tequila or mezcal for a twist on a traditional margarita or Paloma cocktail.

Kale & Caramel
Kale & Caramel

BRIEFLY, HOW YOU CAME TO DO WHAT YOU DO: I’ve been writing and cooking for as long as I can remember. Kale & Caramel—a space to share stories and recipes—is an extension of those two fundamentally creative parts of myself that I’m lucky enough to share with a community around the world. 

WHAT IS YOUR UPCOMING COOKBOOK ABOUT, IN A NUTSHELL? Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table explores aromatic herbs and flowers both in the kitchen and for DIY body and beauty products made from food. It’s full of stories that illustrate the physical and psychospiritual properties of these plants, and their power in my life. 

HOW DID THE BOOK COME ABOUT? The book is, more than anything else, an ode to my late mother, who was an aromatherapist and herbologist. The book is organized by herb and flower and explores the many ways these recipes helped me to heal from grief and heartbreak. These plants are lifelines to hope and joy and new love.

Kale & Caramel

FAVORITE HERBS OR FLOWERS, AND WHY? Mint, jasmine, and Thai basil—all of them have a transformative aromatic quality that opens up an entirely new realm of taste.


THREE INGREDIENTS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT? Spirulina, hemp seeds, and olive oil. 

BIGGEST SINGLE INFLUENCE ON YOUR COOKING STYLE? Growing up on Maui, where papayas and bananas and avocados grew in abundance in my front yard, I learned early on to let the pungency of fresh, local produce take center stage in whatever I’m making.

BEST SOURCE FOR FOOD AND RECIPE INSPIRATION? Whatever is most vibrant and beautiful that’s growing right now.

Kale & Caramel
Kale & Caramel

I CAN NEVER RESIST… Anything with jasmine in it. Or lilikoi (passion fruit). Or black bean nachos and a margarita.

THE RECIPE OR MEAL YOU ARE KNOWN FOR? A roasted fig pizza with tons of rosemary and goat cheese, and some truffle oil for good measure. The recipe’s in the book!

MOST SWOON-WORTHY RESTAURANT? Gjelina in Venice, California redefined the way I cooked vegetables. I’m still continually delighted and surprised every time I eat there.

YOU’VE SAID YOU EAT WHAT YOUR BODY ASKS FOR. WHAT DOES IT ASK FOR MOST? Foods that are both super comforting and nutrient-dense. I tend to love soups and smoothies, legumes, and other mushy foods. Ha!

THEY SAY YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT — WHAT ARE YOU?  Spirulina! Hemp seeds would be a close second.

Kale & Caramel

WHAT DID YOU DISCOVER ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR PALATE IN CREATING YOUR COOKBOOK? Before I began writing the book, I think I took for granted my love of aromatics, (herbs and flowers that impart fragrance to the flavor profile of a dish). Teasing out the many ways to use each herb and flower transformed the way I look at each plant. Now, when I see basil, I automatically start to catalog its various uses, from infusion for a strawberry basil cream pie to crushing into a healing honey face mask.  

I also learned how strong my preference is for keeping a kind of biodynamic household, where the food that I eat is the same that I use to nourish my skin. This approach will revolutionize your routines, (and radically minimize your beauty spending!). 

WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THE PROCESS OF CREATING YOUR COOKBOOK? The support of our community of food writers and creatives has been extraordinary—from recipe testing to navigating the intricacies of the publishing process, I’ve been buoyed by the wisdom and experience of our peers.

Citrus Sage Tonic

Lily Diamond


serves 2 to 3:

  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on
  • the sweetness of the grapefruits
  • 2 large grapefruits, juiced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large lemon, juiced (about 1⁄4 cup)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Ice cubes, for serving

The Prep

  1. Use a muddler or a wooden spoon to crush the sage into the agave nectar at the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add the grapefruit, lime, and lemon juices and a few pinches of salt.
  3. Shake vigorously, then strain out over ice.
  4. To make it a cocktail, add tequila, mezcal, gin, or vodka!

Copyright © 2017 by Lily Diamond from KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Photos copyright © 2017, Lily Diamond


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