Why this top magazine editor eats fermented plums, stocks champagne, and loves chopping veggies

SD You might expect the fridge of the top editor at one of this country’s most esteemed home design magazines to be intimidatingly perfect. Like, only ultra high-end healthy stuff, perfectly styled in gorgeous containers.

But while the refrigerator of Sophie Donelson—editor in chief of the venerable House Beautiful magazine—is, indeed, pretty damn organized, it’s also refreshingly down-to-earth. Healthy, but not rigidly so. Relatable, with just a few touches that remind you that her job is not too shabby.

To wit? “There’s always champagne,” says Donelson, who lives in Queens with her husband and their young son. “It’s a popular gift to give editors, which I love.”

Here’s a peek at what else nabs a regular spot in the fabulous-but-still-totally reasonable family fridge of this healthy editor.

First thing’s first. What’s in that big plastic tub? It’s compost! We’re a big composting family. We live near one of the city’s largest Greenmarkets, and they accept your compost every Sunday. My 3-year-old is obsessed with the big compost containers they have. And storing it in the refrigerator keeps it from smelling. There’s no odor, ever.

Looks like you definitely have a lot of fresh veggies in there sliced and ready to go… We belong to a CSA and get lots of veggies from the farmer’s market. I make a habit of washing and cutting them as soon as I get them home. If I don’t do it then, they’ll just sit around and we’ll forget to eat them. I pretty much always have celery, green beans, and carrots on hand—not the baby ones, but actual real carrots that I cut! It’s a really easy snack, and it’s also great because we host a lot. I have neighbors or friends over once a week, so we have vegetables, tapenade, and three kinds of hummus in the fridge at all times.

Your milk shelf has a lot of different options. Who drinks what? I always have organic, low-fat cow’s milk for our son. Almond milk is the adult milk of the household. Then you also see Kefir there, which I sometimes have as a snack, but it’s also great in a pinch on top of a spicy dish. I also always have real, Ronnybrook whole-fat yogurt on hand. I’d rather have a half cup of the real deal and really enjoy it.

I hear you. What’s in the blue dish? That’s apple crisp. We just got back from Maine and went to an orchard where we picked, like, 10 pounds of apples. I remember eating apple crisp as a kid, sometimes, for breakfast with milk, which sounds crazy, but it’s really not that different than having toast with jam and butter. This one, though, I made for friends.

FullSizeRender (10) Are you a big cook? Cooking is one of the ways I come down at the end of the day. On Sundays, or on weeknights when there’s time, it’s what I want to do—to work with my hands. I find chopping vegetables very therapeutic. I’m not a baker or a chef, but I like preparing simple dinners for my family. And now my son is really into making a mess in the kitchen, so we cook together at least twice a week.

Your fridge has lots of healthy stuff, but it also has splurges. How does that fit with your overall nutrition philosophy? In general, I always try to ask myself, “Is this truly feeding me?” I mean that in the Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan sense of it, like, “is there nutritional value in this food?” We don’t eat a lot of packaged foods in my family, and we’re mostly vegetarians. But this is also real life. We live in a neighborhood with a lot of great ethnic cuisines, so we do take-out.

And the M&Ms? The M&Ms we use for my son for potty training, but they’re also for me—for eating. I grab a small handful when I need a pick-me-up. And this is terrible, but every once in a while when I need to coax Teddy to eat something, a little bit of chocolate syrup in his milk will do the trick.

Any other secrets in your fridge? I always have umeboshi plums on hand. They’re these fermented, Japanese plums and they’re supposed to help regulate sugar. They are beyond foul, and they’re like $17 for one tiny container from Whole Foods, but they’re supposed to have great health benefits. I’m all for a fad like that [laughs]. I have no idea if they’re actually doing anything good for me, but I’m all for trying something that’s supposed to have miraculous benefits.

Got to see what’s inside the fridges of other people? (Us, too.) Here’s what Sam Smith’s nutritionist stocks, a peek behind the stainless steel door of “Chopped” judge Marc Murphy, and what Anti-Diet Project’s Kelsey Miller shops for


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