With a passion for wholesome ingredients, nutritious meals, and food creativity, Christina Badaracco, a UC Berkeley School of Public Health alumna and registered dietitian, has been using her love for cooking to create healthy meals in free and accessible online cookbooks.
Badaracco works at the Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS), a nonprofit based in Los Angeles that often partners with Berkeley Public Health. TCHS publishes cookbooks annually, and Badaracco is the one who turns everyday recipes into the best versions of themselves, making creative and nutritious modifications that anyone can use.
“A lot of people can be put off by the idea of healthy cooking, thinking either it doesn’t have enough flavor or it’s not good, filling, or satisfying,” Badaracco says. “For me, as a dietitian and someone who loves cooking, I love coming up with ideas of recipes that are fun to make and are easy and healthy but also satisfying.”
In mid-July, TCHS published a new cookbook,Healthier Traditions: Quick and Easy, including 19 recipes that can each be prepared in under 20 minutes, making healthy eating more accessible for those of us short on time. It’s filled with healthy recipes based on Mexican, Italian, American, or other traditional cuisines, and is a great resource for Americans who struggle to eat healthfully on a consistent basis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dishes include flour-free pancakes, a ginger pork bowl with brown rice, and “nice cream,” which is frozen mil and bananas. In some cases, her updated recipes involve adding more vegetables to traditional favorites. Badaracco says her favorite recipe from this new cookbook is the stovetop apple crisp, which takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.
She hopes to make the process of cooking itself more fun and accessible. “Knowing the benefits of eating more fiber and wholesome ingredients and fewer processed ingredients, we can take traditional recipes from our families and make a few tweaks to make them more nutritious,” Badaracco says. “Not only is that important for our health, but it’s also a way to have fun in the kitchen and get your family involved. It’s not as difficult and boring as people think, but it’s a way to get creative and share that with your family.”