Foodie Underground: When Healthy Food Is Hot


“What’s good here?” I asked my friend as we sat down to a crowded and lively brewpub in San Francisco. “Fried brussel sprouts,” she responded. “Excuse me?” My eyebrows shot up and scrunched together as I looked around at this place that believed in white linen table clothes and handpicked, recycled wine bottles for water carafes. This wasn’t the swankiest of restaurants, but it certainly wasn’t a hole-in-the-wall. I opened the menu and sure enough, boasting a central position on the appetizer list were the culprits: fried brussel sprouts. [Note: they were delicious]

Comfort food used to mean eating things that made you feel great emotionally but were probably less beneficial for you physically. Nowadays however, options with a healthier root are taking over the scene, from chips to cocktails.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are all over the place, from fries to pancakes. Thanks to their nutritional value, they make an excellent alternative to recipes with regular potatoes, and foodies (myself included) just can’t get enough. Test them out at home with this recipe for Roasted Sweet Potato Fries from EcoSalon’s very own Heather Brubaker.

Kale Chips

I am new to the kale chip fad, but let me tell you, it’s definitely all it’s cracked up to be. Plus, they’re super simple to make and you feel like you’re getting a good dose of junk food; despite chowing down on plenty of vitamins and olive oil. Here’s a quick and easy recipe:

  • Tuscan Kale, rinsed and dried. Cut the leaves lengthwise to remove the stems, which give a very bitter taste
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Place the kale leaves in a boil and toss with olive oil so leaves are fully covered. Place on a baking pan and sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 250°F for about 30-35 minutes until the kale leaves are crispy.

Kombucha Cocktails

I’ve already extensively covered kombucha here on Foodie Underground (in fact, I’m so obsessed with the stuff I could probably write about it every week), but a recent underground trend with the funky drink is turning it into a mixed drink. Here’s a recipe for a Sparkling Mango Margarita that you can’t go wrong with.

  • Flesh from 1 mango
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1/2 to 1″³ piece of fresh orange peel (don’t include any of the white pith)”¦ use the larger amount if you really like the orangey flavor of Triple Sec used in margaritas
  • 1-1/2 cups dark tequila
  • 1 cup or so Kombucha, any flavor (I had guava and ginger flavored on hand, but most any kind will work nicely)
  • 2 cups ice

Blend all the ingredients except the kombucha in a blender. Mix in kombucha, serve and call yourself an underground cocktail master.


Yes, you read correctly. Even mainstream foods are taking a healthy direction, including the staple of every college all-nighter. Just ask Naked Pizza, a New Orleans based operation that’s in the midst of turning into a national franchise. Attempting to bring health food to the masses, the founders figured there was no better way than with a food that most of us have a hard time giving up, so they consulted biologists and food technologists to come up with the healthiest pie around. Their crusts are made with 12 whole grains, they’ve even got some probiotics, and the ultimate goal is to get people talking about food by using “this pizza to have a larger conversation with you about the food supply,” founder Jeff Leach told the New York Times. Viva la health food revolution.

Do you have a favorite pop up restaurant in your town? Tell us about it! Either in the comments below, or by using #FoodieUnderground on Twitter.

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.

Image: elena’s pantry

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.