“I think food is fun, and we want to remind people of that.”
Amanda Shapiro is the editor of food and wellness site Healthyish, an offshoot of Condé Nast’s Bon Appétit. Launched in January 2017, the site offers tasty and achievable recipes, which include miso-glazed eggplant grain bowls and crispy fish with brown butter sauce. Healthyish was founded on the principle that “wellness isn’t a trend, but a way of life. It’s about what we eat, what we fill our apartments and homes with, and how we approach the world around us.”
We caught up with Shapiro to discuss why people are increasingly turning to healthy eating, and which ingredients are the ones to watch.
Why is Healthyish called Healthyish?
It’s a word that we’ve been using around the Bon Appétit office for a long time. It’s the most realistic way to eat a healthy diet—not worrying too much about it and not giving yourself too much of a hard time.
Could you give us an example of a healthy recipe and an -ish recipe?
Most of our recipes work across the board as both the healthy and the -ish. One of my recent favorites is a marinated zucchini recipe where you toss the zucchini with a little salt, so the water drains out of it, and you can char it on the stove or on the grill. Then you toss it in a marinade and let it sit for a while to absorb all of the juices. Then you serve it on top of ricotta cheese and that’s the -ish part—but the rest of it is very healthy and I’ve been making it on repeat.
Who comes up with your recipes?
We’re very lucky to have the Bon Appétit test kitchen at our disposal. Healthyish is a small part of Bon Appétit, but a very active part. We have two amazing food editors, Chris and Andy, who are constantly thinking about what’s next on the Healthyish recipe docket, so we put out about five to six original recipes a month.
What is featured on Healthyish aside from recipes?
We’re really curious about what’s going on in the wellness world and we approach everything with a curious eye. We ran a story recently about face gyms—exercising your face in a group class setting. We sent a writer, she tried it, we thought, okay, this is pretty silly. On the other hand, we covered the trend of going to salt caves for respiratory and immune system benefits, and our writer had a great experience and felt rejuvenated and changed. We’re eager to embrace a lot of what’s happening in the wellness world, but we’re also not afraid to be critical.
We’re not nutritionists and we’re not medical experts, so we try to stay away from giving people health advice unless we’re quoting from nutritionists and doctors, but we will fact-check and make sure that our sources are people that we trust.
We’re seeing a lot of people regarding food in a holistic way. What is Healthyish’s position on the topic of food?
That’s a great question. I love seeing food talked about in all of these different arenas—food as beauty, food as medicine, etcetera. I think all of that is really exciting because I love food and I love to have food be a part of many conversations—whether it’s about those topics or about what’s going on in broader culture such as politics.
I think that there’s a place for food in a lot of conversations, but ultimately, I think food is fun, and we want to remind people that cooking is fun and eating is fun and even learning about food is fun. It’s something that we do every day if we are privileged enough to have money and access to good food. We want to approach it with enthusiasm and without a lot of rules and constrictions.
You mention your team are a curious bunch. What topics are you looking at now?
Cannabis is a huge area that we’re getting into now, whether it’s the whole plant or CBD, which is the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant. It’s often used to promote relaxation or sleep and, for some people, productivity. There are so many products on the market now that have CBD or cannabis that we’re testing out and reviewing.
I’ve also seen some really beautifully bottled and carefully made olive oils recently. We’ve been cooking with olive oil forever, but I think that there’s a small-batch olive oil movement happening.
Which other ingredients are ones to watch?
Adaptogens and functional mushrooms. I think more people will start to be comfortable putting powders into their beverages, smoothies, oatmeal and teas for various health-promoting reasons.
I also think the continued trend of fermentation—that’s anything from kombucha to sauerkraut to kefir. People are just starting to understand how much your gut really affects everything else in your body and what probiotics can do to support gut health.
Healthyish goes beyond the website. How else are you reaching out to your audience?
This year we’ve partnered with meal-delivery app Caviar, which is in a lot of cities across the country. Caviar has integrated Healthyish options that we all approved into the app. It’s great to be able to endorse eating out when you want to eat out, but I think lowering the barrier to home cooking is also really important, and letting people feel, “Yeah, I’m not a gourmet chef, but I can make this really beautiful and really delicious food.”
What’s new and next for Healthyish?
In the year and a half since we’ve launched, we’ve really thought about what else we want to be doing with this platform, and that has extended recently to live events. Right now we’re doing a dinner series and travelling across the country, honoring women who are making wellness more accessible to their local communities. That’s been a great way to engage with our followers in cities where they’re living and also to highlight the social justice aspect of Healthyish.
We just had our first Healthyish homecoming, which was an event for about 350 people here in Brooklyn—a day of talks, delicious food, one-on-one sessions with some of our food editors and members of the Healthyish community—and we’re definitely going to do more of that too, to bring people together to have these conversations in the same room.