Getting Healthy-ish: Jackson author’s new cookbook makes kitchen duty mostly healthy

By on January 10, 2018

“Cooking healthy is a matter of knowing. It’s being willing to take a leap of faith and take the time to learn something new. My book is about being able to change your lifestyle in a sustainable, realistic way,” Lindsay Maitland Hunt said.

Hunt,a Jackson resident and author of a new cookbook, Healthyish, has finally made it to the big leagues after years of hard work.

Growing up, Hunt — who has always had an affinity for baking — split time between Los Angeles and Jackson. From an early age, Hunt began learning important baking lessons, thanks to the difference in altitudes between sunny Los Angeles and Jackson. The importance of adjusting recipes according to climate and recipe testing were two of the earliest ones.

“I had a baking stand at the Farmer’s Market here in the summers when I was 15 and 16 … I guess I just loved the way people reacted when I baked for them, and I loved the precision, the measurements and the beauty and taste,” she said.


Her mom, who’d catered during college, warned her of the hardships of the food world.

Following her stint at the CIA, Hunt continued her studies at Dartmouth, where she followed her artistic instincts and studied studio art with a focus on painting and photography.

A move to New York and a brief photography internship came shortly after graduation, but Hunt said she realized that type of work wasn’t for her. Her love of creating with food was her true calling, and Hunt enrolled at FCI, now known as the International Culinary Center in Soho, a few months later.

“It was wonderful — so great, I just realized ‘Ah, I’m doing what I need to be doing,’” she said.

While learning the ins and outs of food at school was exhilarating, Hunt said her first experience in a professional kitchen was overwhelming.

“I did a stage at Danielle, which is a 4 star restaurant, I was 22, in this kitchen, I did not know up from down,” she said. “I’m quite shy. I didn’t ask to go to the bathroom or for a glass of water for the 12 hours I was there … I just realized this is not for me.”

That overwhelming experience led to better things for Hunt, though. Through the struggle she found her niche in the cooking world in a specialty food shop called Brooklyn Barter — a niche she never knew existed.

“I grew up with Cooks Illustrated and cookbooks in the house but never really thought about the fact that this was a career path I could someday take,” she said. Hunt excelled in the specialty food world, and began an internship with author Sarah Copeland, who was working on her first cookbook, The Newlywed Cookbook.

“She taught me everything. She taught me how you test a recipe — why you do it this way, what food styling is,” Hunt said. During her internship, Hunt landed a job with Real Simple Magazine, which helped Hunt hone her recipe development and food art skills.

Healthyish wouldn’t exist without Real Simple,” she said. “I learned how to build an actual recipe, what recipe copyright means, how can you do it without stealing a recipe. Why to test recipes and why to break them down. If you can do a 16 item recipe in 10, do it. It was my grad school.”

As Hunt began to outgrow her editorial position at the magazine, she started working freelance. It wasn’t long before the food writer was approached by BuzzFeed, where she began developing recipes and compiling “best ofs’” from other blogs.

“I learned how to write and develop recipes for the internet rather than cooking things seven times to get it right for a magazine. The value in both is very real. Healthyish is a direct outcome of the two experiences. While at Buzzfeed, I realized I was ready to write a book,” Hunt said.

The new book feels much like a product of Hunt’s career evolution. Like her BuzzFeed Food articles, her photographs are stunning yet simple, as are her recipes. Each piece has a touch of sophistication, showcasing her dedication to recipe development and finding the best combinations for easy, better cooking.

But while Healthyish is a big accomplishment, it wasn’t always an easy one.

“It’s coming up with an idea, writing the recipe, cooking the recipe, and then iterating on that until it becomes a product that someone else can make … I compare my job to that of an Ikea designer who also has to write the instructions,” Hunt said. “I come up with the look of the furniture, the whole line, make sure it looks right, make sure it works, and then write instructions so that you can assemble it.”

Ultimately, the amount of recipes and the amount of practice it takes to get really good at so many recipes meant cookbooks were a different ball game.

“Making sure they all flow, and then on top of that being the creative director? Managing shoots, plating each dish … it was a lot. I styled everything in that book. My hands touched every dish,” she said. PJH

Healthyish hit shelves January 9 and is available on Amazon and other book sites. To follow Hunt’s career and recipes, check her out on Instagram @ lindsaymaitland.

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