Clean Habits: Tucker Yoder How the chef of the Clifton Inn keeps it clean

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One of the things we feel strongly about at Clean Plates is that clean eating can happen wherever you find yourself. Tucker Yoder, the executive chef of the Clifton Inn, a luxurious Relais & Châteaux property, is a sterling example.

Although the Clifton Inn is located in Charlottesville, Virginia, an area of the country still known more for its salted pork products than its consumption of green juice, Tucker honors the amazing bounty of produce that comes out of the region. He has become a culinary force, as well as a keen forager and an advocate for local and heirloom vegetables.

Read on for Tucker’s eating habits. And his name is one to keep in mind: This rising chef is opening his own place in 2015.

Chef Yoder shares his love of the outdoors and foraging with his four kids.

 

What’s a typical day of eating like for you? I always start my day with breakfast, either stone-ground oatmeal with fresh or frozen (picked in season and frozen or dried) fruit, or homemade muffins made from freshly milled flour.

Do you follow any sort of diet? Or do you have any must-eat foods? I don’t follow any particular diet, but I love greens: kale, collards, chard, spinach and arugula.

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry? I try to keep from snacking too heavily throughout the day. Plus, I keep active outside of the kitchen by hiking, cycling, playing soccer and chasing after my four kids.

Can you tell me more about how you got into foraging and what you love to forage for? I have always loved being out in the forest and camping. I started exploring and learning what is edible in the woods. I love searching for chanterelles.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life at home and in the restaurants? We grow a lot of our own vegetables at home, and we make almost everything from scratch including bread, pasta, ramen and pizza. We also try to preserve everything we can in season. This winter I’ll be pulling out some of our pickled and preserved things—such as ramps or dried mushrooms—and working them into dishes.

Dine at the Clifton Inn

The great eight Clean Plates' 2014 holiday gift guide

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This holiday season, we are gifting goodness all around: gifts that are good for the recipient, good for the environment and just plain good to give. We’ve done all the research, tasting and testing; the rest is up to you.

1. Back to the Roots Mushroom Farm ($20). Give your favorite city-dweller this fun farm-in-a box so that they can grow their own vitamin C-rich oyster mushrooms at home. The USDA certified organic kit is made from organic recycled waste, including corncobs and sawdust, and it’s guaranteed to yield at least two harvests.

2. Vita Organics ($55 for 12 bars): Spread cheer with a bar of 72% organic chocolate made with top-notch raw and organic ingredients. Pro-tip: Buy a case of 12 bars and you’ll be covered for all those last-minute panic gifts.

3. Abeego Wraps ($10 to $25): We’re slipping these beeswax coated-organic cotton wraps into the stockings of everyone we know. The malleable sheets are perfect for kids to tote around snacks or for cooks looking to kick their plastic-wrap habit.

 

4. Wild for Wild Seafood Pack ($104): Send a heaping box that includes two whole wild New Zealand John Dory, two whole wild New Zealand Thai Snappers and two pounds of wild New Jersey Diver Scallops. You’re not just sending sustainable seafood; you’re sending dinner for nights to come.

5. Frank Coffee Body Scrub (from $15): Let’s just say it’s a very good thing this scrub comes with a cheeky “Do Not Eat” warning. The delicious smelling concoction of sweet almond oil, orange essence and ground Robusta coffee beans is hard to resist.

 

6. Urban Sproule Salt (from $8): Add some flavor to a cook’s spice drawer with some extra-special sea salts that are dried in the sun on a NYC rooftop. Flavors like cave-aged cheddar and lemon verbena are sure to get taste buds (and conversation) going.

7. Catskill Provisions Honey Whiskey ($40): Stock the bar of your favorite tippler with this New York rye-and barley-based whiskey sweetened with late-summer Catskills honey. With a warm, spicy aroma and a kick of ginger, it’s what every winter drink craves.

 

8. Cecil & Merl Gluten-Free Cheesecake (from $60): Ship one of these lemon-ricotta beauties to your favorite harried hostess and she will be grateful through 2015 and beyond. The filler-free cake is packed with rBST/hormone-free crème fraîche, ricotta and whole milk cream cheese and wrapped in a brown-rice based, gluten-free graham cracker crust.

Baby got flat Why we're wild about Angelic Bakehouse

Talking about bread (and especially gluten) these days is a straight-up quagmire. But we’re not ones to ever shy away from a good conversation about food.

These days, when we reach for a slice of bread, we try to make sure it’s made with sprouted grains, meaning that it has boosted nutrition. Sprouted grains by nature are lower in carbs and calories, and higher in protein and fiber than traditional flour-based breads.

Now with the introduction of Angelic Bakehouse’s Flatzza ($6), we can also reach for this super-versatile sprouted grain flatbread as a base for open face sandwiches or homemade pizza. The thin, circular bread is made using only non-GMO ingredients like sprouted quinoa, barley and amaranath with American honey and no artificial sweeteners, fats or preservatives.

Non-sprouted vs sprouted wheat. Sprouted grains are lower in carbs and calories, and higher in protein and fiber.

 

Husband and wife team Jenny and James Marino bought the Milwaukee-based bakery five years ago and gave the company a total rebranding. Jenny says, “The masses were just starting to wake up to the benefits of sprouted grain. Knowing this, we bet the farm on sprouted and discontinued all other lines, choosing to focus on doing one thing and doing it really well.”

And that they do. Angelic is one of the few commercial bakeries in the USA that sprout all of their grains in-house, and gently grinds the fresh sprouts straight into the dough—rather than drying or milling them into flour. Even better, Angelic Bakehouse’s products can easily be found all over the country at stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market.

If your turkey is still lingering, the Marinos’ recipe for Thanksgiving leftover pizza is a compelling reason to pick up a pack of Flatzzas—either online or in a store near you.

Thriving over surviving We're going bargain crazy over Thrive Market

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We want to give a digital high-five to the four founders of Thrive Market.

The cohort was brought together by two shared realizations, says VP of Content Kate Mulling: “First, that living healthy in America is too hard for too many people, and second, that it shouldn’t be that way.”

With the mission to democratize access to healthy living, our grocery shopping has just changed for the better. Thrive Market makes more than 2,500 non-GMO and organic foods, supplements, home, baby and beauty products available online at wholesale prices in normal, everyday sizes.

That means no more having to cobble together a buying club or making massive bulk purchases that wallow in your basement. What this means in cold hard cash terms is 25 to 50 percent off the prices you are used to paying. Take a jar of that all-purpose wonder ingredient: extra-virgin organic coconut oil. We usually pay around $17 for a 16 oz. jar from the Garden of Life brand. On Thrive it’s just $9.

Left to right: Gunnar Lovelace, Kate Mulling, Sasha Siddhartha and Nicholas Green, co-founders of Thrive Market.

Is your mind blown? Because ours is.

Here’s how it works: Register for free to browse the Thrive catalog during a 30-day membership trial, and receive 15 percent off your first purchase and free shipping on all orders over $49. If you love what you see, buy a membership ($60 a year). To make the deal even sweeter, Thrive kicks in a free membership to a low-income family for every paid membership.

What’s more, you won’t have to drive to the store, and Thrive is 100 percent carbon neutral through carbonfund.org. “Our certification covers national shipping, packaging materials, warehouse utilities, even the work commutes of our team,” Mulling says. “All packaging, boxes and inserts are made from post-consumer recycled paper and are recyclable.”

Anyone feel like a feel-good shopping spree?

 
Sign up now for a FREE 30 day trial!

We want more Ottolenghi sweeps us away (again) with Plenty More

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We were more than a bit skeptical about a simple pot of beans that takes a whole five hours to cook.

But when the instructions come by the way of chef (and vegetable guru) Yotam Ottolenghi, we’re inclined to shove our prejudices to the side.

Ottolenghi is the man behind the new Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi ($35). It’s a follow-up to his 2011 stunner, Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. This most recent book is set to be just as much of a phenomenon: it was sitting pretty as the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s Vegetarian Cooking category before it was even released. If any man is responsible for sexying up vegetables in the past couple of years, it’s him.

We think Ottolenghi’s secret rests in his deep dive into Middle Eastern flavors and his commitment to serving vegetables, grains and legumes every-which-way. He will blow the doors off your senses with recipes like a pink grapefruit and sumac-spiced salad; a saffron, date and almond rice; and a brussels sprout risotto.

Scroll down to try this slow-cooked chickpea recipe  Photo credit: Jonathan Lovekin

 His wholly original approach also applies to this bean dish, with a paste of tomatoes, cayenne pepper, paprika and a poached egg served on the side. Besides the cooking time, it’s a completely low maintenance dish—try it on a quiet weekend where you can soak the chickpeas the night before and let a pot simmer away on the stove the next day.

He says, “The result more than won over my fellow recipe testers—the chickpeas are impossibly soft and yielding and the flavor is rich and deep in a way that only slow cooking can bring about.”

Ottolenghi also helpfully notes that, “It tastes fantastic the next day and the day after that, so you might want to double the quantities and keep a batch in the fridge. A spoonful of Greek yogurt can be served alongside each portion, if you like.”

CP Note: We recommend using a sprouted grain bread and coconut palm sugar.

  Serves Four

Rounded 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water

overnight with 2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tbsp to finish

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 medium red peppers, cut into ¼-inch

dice (about 1 ¼  cups)

1 beefsteak tomato, peeled and coarsely

chopped (1 ⅔ cups)

½ teaspoon superfine sugar

4 slices sourdough bread brushed with olive oil

and grilled on both sides

4 eggs, freshly poached

2 teaspoons za’atar

Salt and black pepper

1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with plenty of water. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, skim the surface, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Place the oil, onion, garlic, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika, red peppers, 1 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper in a food processor and blitz to form a paste.

3. Wipe out the chickpea saucepan, return it to the stove over medium heat, and add the paste. Fry for 5 minutes (there’s enough oil there to allow for this), stirring occasionally, before adding the tomato, sugar, chickpeas, and a scant 1 cup water. Bring to a low simmer, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 4 hours, stirring from time to time and adding more water when needed to retain a sauce-like consistency. Remove the lid and cook for a final hour: the sauce needs to thicken without the chickpeas becoming dry.

4. Place a piece of warm grilled bread on each plate and spoon the chickpeas over the bread. Lay a poached egg on top, followed by a sprinkle of za’atar and a drizzle of oil. Serve at once.

One fish, two fish… Fill your freezer with just-caught fish

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When it comes to sustainable seafood, sorting out what-is-what is nothing but (excuse the expression) a giant kettle of fish. Worries about overfishing, contaminants like mercury and other serious health and ecological issues are constantly in flux.

But there’s a new way to keep fish as part of your diet, without having a total panic attack.

The folks at ShopFreshSeafood have introduced a Wild for Wild Seafood Package ($104; includes free overnight shipping, plus 10% off for first time orders) that includes two whole wild New Zealand John Dory, two whole wild New Zealand Thai Snapper and two pounds of wild New Jersey Diver Scallops from Barnegate Bay that are so sweet and fresh they can be eaten raw.

Everything in the pack is “either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans,” says owner Megan Grippa.

Megan Grippa (right), owner of ShopFreshSeafood knows her fish (and shellfish and crustaceans and other delicious ocean proteins)

Based out of The New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, this four-generation family-run business can get fish to your door faster (and fresher) than the stuff that ends up at your neighborhood store. Since the pack includes way more fish than is needed for a single dinner, use Grippa’s trick for freezing fish. “Remember that air is the enemy when it comes to freezing your fish, ” she says. “I usually wrap it tightly in saran wrap and then wrap it again in aluminum foil. Make sure to mark the outside with the type of fish and the date.”

Being confident that what you are buying has been responsibly raised or sustainably caught means you can stop freaking out and instead concentrate on cooking the fish (and the accompanying those heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids) in the most delicious way possible.

CP Note: To get started on a journey towards eating more sustainable fish, consider checking out: For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking and Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood.

To be or not to be FODMAP-free? How to rid yourself of bad digestion symptoms without stressing out

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Scoot over gluten: FODMAPs may take your throne as the number one villain to the villi.

If you’re actually able to keep up with your New Yorker subscription, then you probably read this week’s article on gluten and how FODMAPs might be the real menace. But before you start buying FODMAP-free waffles, read on so you don’t end up sounding like this.

If not properly digested, FODMAPs—Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosacharides and Polyols; aka a bunch of different sugars—can feed the bad gut bacteria and lead to various symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. (Sounds like a fun night out!)

Eat a plant-heavy, whole-food diet free of processed foods, focusing on the bevy of things you can enjoy, not what you can’t.

 

Many high FODMAP foods are things we would all be better off consuming less of: like milk, processed foods, HFCS and artificial sweeteners. But there are also many nutrient-rich foods that are on that “no-no” list. So while the FODMAP-free diet may be a framework for experimenting with how different foods make us feel, before we start boycotting blackberries and avocados, it’s important to remember that stress is also a major contributor to the aforementioned symptoms.

Start addressing your digestive woes without the anxiety of having to memorize hundreds of foods’ FODMAP levels by trying these easy tips for ten days:

1. Eat a plant-heavy, whole-food diet free of processed foods, focusing on the bevy of things you can enjoy, not what you can’t.

2. Introduce probiotic-rich foods or supplements into your routine.

3. Stop scarfing your food down. Chew before swallowing and breathe between bites.

What the heck is a FODMAP?

Clean Habits: Victor Scargle How a locavore Napa Valley chef keeps it clean

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Life is sweet at Lucy Restaurant & Bar located at the LEED Platinum-certified Bardessono hotel in Napa Valley. There, everything revolves around the garden, which is situated only steps from the restaurant’s kitchen. The question “is it local?” doesn’t even need to be asked, because as executive chef Victor Scargle says, “Our entire menu is created with fresh produce pulled directly from our garden, which is just steps away from the kitchen. We don’t use heavy sauces, either, so you can’t go wrong.” Read on to learn how this chef applies Lucy’s eco-spirit to his daily life.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?

I always start my day with a cup of tea and a bowl of oatmeal. I also drink a lot of iced tea throughout the day because it provides caffeine and hydration. It’s very refreshing in a hot kitchen, as well.

Do you follow any sort of diet?

I don’t follow a strict diet, but I try not to eat after 9 p.m.

“I focus everyday on balance: exercise, work, family and fun.”

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry?

In a perfect world I would be doing 3 to 4 days a week of cardio and one day a week of conditioning with my son’s Tae Kwon Do competition team. I also mix in some light-weight/high-repetition work for toning, focusing on abdominals and lower back to help support the hours standing in the kitchen. I also enjoy swimming and riding a dirt bike once in awhile and, in the summer months, wakeboarding.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life at home and in the restaurants?

I focus everyday on balance: exercise, work, family and fun. The old days of it being cool to work 15 hours a day has been proven to be less productive. It’s important to step away to come back and have a clearer picture of what is going on.

Anything new or upcoming that you are particularly excited about?

This time of year I look forward to many of the wonderful forgotten fruits like pineapple, quince, pomegranate and Fuyu persimmon, as well as all of the different apples and pears that are available locally.

 

Watch an interview with Chef Victor Scargle

Salt-N-Pepa Jackson's Honest is our potato chip of choice

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We really can’t sugarcoat this one: Potato chips aren’t a health food.

That said, when those potato-chips-necessary moments do strike, we will now be reaching for Jackson’s Honest Chips.

Fried in non-GMO organic coconut oil Jackson’s Honest Chips ($5 for 5 ounces) are clean tasting, robust and totally delicious. Megan and Scott Reamer call their chips a “what you see is what you get” product. For their classic variety, organic non-GMO potatoes are fried in coconut oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Other varieties include salt and vinegar, sweet potato and a kicky mango chile-lime version.

Coconut oil is a minimally processed oil, high in that good saturated fat you probably keep reading about (read more here). It is also rich in lauric acid and ideal for frying because of its stability at high temperatures.

The Family behind Honest chips: Scott and Megan reamer with their kids.

The Reamer’s even fry according to the seasons. When the organic heirloom sweet potato harvest runs out, you’ll have to wait until the fall crop rolls in for a new batch. Lucky for us, that’s just about now.

The story behind these chips is an emotional one. Shortly after the Reamer’s first son, Jackson, turned two, he gradually lost all of his motor skills. As the couple criss-crossed the country visiting specialists and searching for answers, they also radically changed their diet. “After my husband and I recognized how important a ‘good fat’ diet was to Jackson’s health, we immediately replaced all the industrialized, highly processed polyunsaturated vegetable oils in our house. We started cooking exclusively with coconut oil, lard, tallow, palm oil, unrefined olive oil or unpasteurized butter,” says Megan.

The chips may have been born in their home kitchen (where they like to dip the sweet potato chips in melted chocolate) in Crested Butte, Colorado, but the Reamer’s see the chips today as more than a family-owned business: “It’s a movement to re-introduce healthy fats into the food chain,” they say.

 
Click here for a chance to WIN 6 packs of Jackson’s Honest Chips + a t-shirt!

Super Duper New superfoods from Navitas come to the rescue

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We may not be superheroes, but incorporating superfoods into our diets in simple ways makes us feel that we can take on whatever the day throws at us.

Navitas is all about superfoods: The family-owned company has been around since 2003 when “superfood” was just a fledgling buzzword, and every single one of its products is certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified. And from a vanity standpoint, the resealable, BPA-free packaging looks great in our pantry.

Navitas has recently released a frenzy of new products. Here are the three new-to-us superfoods that we are most pumped about:

Green Coffee Powder ($15 for 4 ounces): This isn’t something out of a Dr. Seuss story, rather it’s made from young, unroasted Arabica coffee beans that are picked in Peru. The fiber-rich powder contains about the same amount of caffeine as green tea and can boost energy, support metabolism and aid digestion, but the flavor is tenacious, so we won’t be sipping this on it’s own. Instead, try blending it into your morning smoothie (try this banana bread smoothie) or combining it with cacao.

Three new-to-us superfoods

Maca Cashews ($7 for 4 ounces): These mildly sweet raw cashews are enveloped in fatigue-fighting maca powder harvested in the Andes, along with sea salt and a hint of maple syrup and coconut palm sugar. With a creamy soft texture and a butterscotch-like flavor, this is one snack we don’t want to share.

Mulberries ($7 for 4 ounces): Though we might have sung “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” umpteen times as tots, we’ve never had these chewy, white berries as part of our diet. We’re changing that by plopping these fig-like berries from Turkey on our morning granola for a boost of protein (three grams per ounce) and resveratrol, the anti-aging nutrient also found in red wine.
Recipes from Navitas Naturals