In the kitchen: The joy of easy, healthy recipe hacks

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

“What to write about?” I pondered as I plopped another scoop of chocolate pudding into a bowl.

The time was 4:12 p.m. and my deadline was 5 p.m.

I knew my only answer lie before me; I just didn’t want to face it.

Combining ingredients from a few different recipes I found online, I concocted pudding the night before by mixing avocado, pure cacao powder, coconut oil, unsweetened almond and coconut milks and Stevia in a food processer. The result was delicious and much better than the boxed crap.

But inscribing this page with anecdotes of my latest pastime — finding and preparing healthy recipe alternatives — felt like the equivalent of a vegan Instagraming a photo of gluten-free avocado toast at brunch with the hashtag “blessed”: basic, painful and unnecessary.

Feeling uninspired and with less than 50 minutes ’til deadline, however, I accepted the proof in the pudding (and also in the cauliflower fried rice I had devoured for lunch).

In truth, I knew (or at least hoped) deep down that some readers could appreciate this column; after all, Aspen boasts its more-than-fair share of spandex-clad, organic-unsweetened-almond-milk-latte-drinking health junkies.

In part intrigued by my friend’s obsession with the ketogenic diet that involves a high fat and low carb intake, I recently started Googling healthy recipe alternatives (or “hacks,” as some sites refer to them).

Amazed by the amount of healthy options one can find online with minimal effort that are simple to prepare and genuinely taste good, my offseason curiosity has evolved into my latest hobby, or what an Instagram influencer might call a “lifestyle” (ugh).

Without writing a cookbook, a few favorite meals I’ve made recently include cauliflower “fried rice” (substituting normal rice for cauliflower rice); “pad Thai” or “pasta” Bolognese (sub noodles or pasta for spaghetti squash); “French fries” made from sliced, baked and spiced jicama (in lieu of potatoes); pancakes made from eggs and banana and/or almond flour; muffins, cookies, cake and other desserts made from almond or coconut flour (instead of regular flour), etc.

Pizza being my favorite food, I’ve experimented with cauliflower, coconut flour and almond flour (sans regular flour) to make the crust. While all were tasty, my friend and I agree the cauliflower crust was by far the best.

One obvious question people often ask is, “But does it taste the same?” No, it does not. In certain cases, I think the healthy altered version truly tastes better. In others, it’s not quite as good, but pretty close and worth the health trade-off.

Admittedly, the one downside to some of these recipes is that the ingredients (almond flour as an example) are more expensive than your average grocery store items.

While this is true, altogether it costs significantly less than eating out, especially at health-conscious restaurants.

Some dishes, too, are surprisingly cheap to prepare (cauliflower fried rice, made from vegetables and eggs, being one of them).

Well, now that I’ve more or less succumbed to food blogging in the newspaper, if any readers care to share recipes (or fund my future recipe-blogging endeavors) …


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Roaring Fork Valley natives Emily Ridings and Nikki Ferry have come full circle when it comes to dance. Both studied dance with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) as kids, continued their training with other prominent schools, and now return this weekend, as ASFB presents “The Nutcracker” at Aspen District Theater.

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