Shailene Woodley’s recent films, The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent (its sequel, Insurgent, is out now), were huge box office hits. But her food passions aren’t quite as mainstream. The actress forages for mushrooms and berries, bolsters her coffee with butter and coconut oil (“You’ve got to try it”), and consults herbalists for thyme tea recipes (“If you wake up and your respiratory system feels off, thyme is great for that”). Her latest culinary pursuit: home fermentation. “My favorites are kraut, kimchi, and kombucha, but you can ferment just about anything,” she says. “I sort of love that semi-rotten flavor.” Here, more funky food and drink ideas from America’s most holistic leading lady.
I read a quote of yours that said if you weren’t an actress, you’d probably be doing something in food. Is that still the case?
For me, this whole process of food is so fascinating. I love planting a seed and watching it grow and learning about what I can do to help ensure that it has a long life as a plant, and then harvesting the food and cooking it and seeing how I feel after I’ve eaten it. It’s a whole circle thing. I think it would be cool to go to culinary school and learn how to cook on a professional level, as well as have some type of interactive garden facility where people can learn about the entire process from start to finish.
Let’s talk about fermentation.
My favorite fermented foods are kraut and kimchi and kombucha, but the great thing about fermentation is that you can ferment just about anything. I sort of love that semi-rotten flavor, too.
Do you ever make these foods?
Yeah, I make sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha if I’m in a stable environment long enough to do it.
Do you eat the food on set?
It’s pretty much an absolute no. I bring my own food in the morning and at night. I go to work, then I come home and learn my lines, and then I’ll make dinner and use whatever I make for dinner as leftovers the next day. It usually has potatoes or sweet potatoes, a protein, and a vegetable. It’s an easy, quick thing to do every day, and then you can switch up the sauces depending on what you’re feeling like.
Any signature dishes?
My go-to dish that I love to cook if I have time is a homemade roast or a homemade casserole or meat stew with homemade bone broth. It’s my ultimate comfort, cozy kind of food.
Do your friends have similar eating habits?
Absolutely. I can go to my friend’s house for dinner and not worry about it. You know everything is cooked in a healthy way. We’re really big on fats, my friends and I. So we’ll use butter to cook with, not vegetable oil.
Are you an adventurous eater?
I’ll definitely try almost everything. I was in Spain recently and there’s a Catalan dish that’s cooked with pigs’ feet. I ended up really loving it. It was so gelatinous and that felt so healthy for my stomach. It was good to have so much gelatin in there.
Tell me about Bulletproof coffee.
It’s my morning ritual. I put a little bit of coconut oil in there, too. It’s coffee, coconut oil, and butter. I’ll put some cinnamon or cayenne in there sometimes. I put it all in a blender because I want it to be latte-y. You’ve got to try it. People love it for a reason.
Do you get to farmers’ markets often?
Absolutely. No matter where I am, I always seek out farmers’ markets and locally sourced co-ops. I love going to actual farms even more. Today I’m in Napa Valley, and my girlfriend and I are going to go on a little road trip and I’ve already Googled where I can find local farmers on the side of the road. It’s crazy how, in this day and age, there’s so much access to food. You just have to seek it out.
Are there any home remedies you’re into at the moment?
I recently learned a lot about thyme. It’s really good for your respiratory system. In the morning, if you wake up and your respiratory system feels a bit off, thyme is a great cure for that. And, it’s an easy remedy, considering most of us have thyme in our kitchens. You make a tea out of it.
Do you ever just go for pizza and French fries?
Absolutely. For a long time I never did, but now I’m like, “Dude, you’re human.” For me, one of my downfalls is sweet potato fries. I won’t eat them if they’re fried in canola oil just because of the genetic modification aspect of it, but if they’re made in any other way I will have my sweet potato fries.
Last question: Beets for lipstick?
It’s true and it’s totally awesome. Beets are amazing. If you roast them you’ll get a better lipstick. They’re not as potent and they don’t stain the same way if they’re raw. So I roast them first and then just dab a little of the juice on my lips with my finger.