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

Sister, Sister Reboot your food approach with the Hemsley's

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For shame.

You haven’t heard of what’s been called “the most popular cookbook all year”?

That would be Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley’s, The Art of Eating Well: Hemsley and Hemsley ($35).

We’ll give you a pass because it is only being released in the U.S. today. It’s been out in the United Kingdom since June, and everyone from The Telegraph to Vogue has been heaping them with high praise. Now, across the pond, it’s our turn to go Hemsley crazy.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Struggles with IBS, eczema and acid reflux drove the sisters towards a diet that is free of grain, gluten, high starch and refined sugar, while encouraging the use of high-quality organic saturated fats. They expanded their ideas into a business supplying bespoke nutrient rich organic food to private clients.

“Anti-diet, anti-deprivation and anti-guilt…there is no fad dieting here.” Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

The philosophy behind their book is “Anti-diet, anti-deprivation and anti-guilt…You don’t need to be a gourmet chef, count calories, go hungry, or miss out on dessert—there is no fad dieting here.”

To toast their stateside-debut, whip up a batch of their three-ingredient, no-cooking-required Instant Blueberry Chia Jam. Unlike cooked jams full of sugar, this chia jam will only last for about a week in the fridge—but it is so tasty that it will be gone well before you hit that mark.

Makes one 14-ounce Jar

6½ ounces fresh or frozen blueberries

2½ tablespoons chia seeds

1 to 2½ teaspoons raw honey (depending on your sweet  tooth—we find frozen blueberries are usually less sweet)

Optional

½ teaspoon vanilla extract and a squeeze of lemon juice

1. Mash the berries or blend them in a food processor.

2. Mix in the chia seeds, 1 tablespoon of warm water and 1 teaspoon of the honey. Stir well to stop clumps forming or make it straight in the jar and shake to mix.

3. Keep the chia jam sealed in a jar in the fridge to set for at least an hour or until needed.

4.Taste and stir in a little more honey, if needed.

 

 
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Cook it Now: Shishito Peppers These perky peppers are not just a pre-sushi snack

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Shishito peppers: We hardly knew thee.

Formerly, we thought of the plump, glossy-green peppers in one arena only: blistered, sea-salted and served as a pre-main course snack.

But that’s all changed since we met Noah Robbins, the CEO and Founder of Ark Foods. His Brooklyn-born company is committed to spreading the love about the little green guy.

On the Scoville scale, the shishito hits a peppy sweet spot that falls below the jalapeno’s assertive punch and above the bell pepper’s mellowness. A serving of shishitos(about 7-9 peppers) also provides 170% of your daily Vitamin C and 80% of your daily Vitamin A. Robbins also let us in on a shishito secret that keeps eating them interesting: One in ten has an extra spice kick.

Robbins, a second generation farmer, left his gallery job in Chelsea to connect back with his roots when he realized he couldn’t find the makings for his favorite appetizer anywhere. Now he’s got a Delray, Florida farm bursting with shishitos and almost as many ideas for how to prepare them as he does non-GMO seeds in the ground.

Shishitos ares an easy substitute for French fries or popcorn and as a flavor force in dishes like this fresh gazpacho recipe.

While the pepper’s thin-walls make it an ideal roasting candidate, there is so much more to be done with a pile of them. Think of shishitos as an easy substitute for French fries or popcorn and as a flavor force in dishes like this fresh gazpacho recipe. Try roasting a batch and using them on tacos, as an easy salsa over morning eggs or on crostini with a slick of ricotta and honey.

Look for Ark Foods peppers at these stores, or ask for shishitos at your local farmers’ market through the fall.

1 package (4 oz.) Ark Foods Shishito Peppers (about 15 to 18)

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes—peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup cucumber—peeled, seeded and chopped

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup tomato juice

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Sliced avocado, for serving

Cilantro, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. With a paring knife, score the bottom of the tomatoes with an X. Drop the tomatoes and shishito peppers into the boiling water. Remove tomatoes after 15 seconds. Remove the shishitos after 3 minutes. Transfer both to an ice bath and let cool for about 1 minute. Remove and pat dry.

2. Stem and coarsely chop the shishitos and place in a large bowl. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes and add to the shishitos. Add 1/2 cup tomato juice to the mixture. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the mixture into a blender and puree at high speed for 15 seconds. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

3. Serve the gazpacho with avocado, sour cream and cilantro.

Life Extenders Products to keep everything in your fridge fresher, longer

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We know we are not the only ones who have experienced that dreaded bottom-of-the-fridge green slime (formerly known as vegetables).

When we invest good money in good, clean food, we’ll do anything to make sure that it doesn’t turn into compost before we are ready for it to. So this season, we’re stocking up on these three easy fixes that ensure all the fresh food in our refrigerator will stay that way.

1. FreshTape: Tired of unwieldy bag clips and stale chips or freezer burned food? So were the inventors of this resealable, reusable food packaging tape ($10 for 18). FreshTape is recyclable, BPA- and phthalate-free and also made in the USA. Plus the tape comes in just about every design imaginable: Choose from bible quotes, retro housewife and animal print designs, and more.

Freshtape even has cat prints! that’s right—cat prints! Click to watch

2. Debbie Meyer GreenBags: These American-made, BPA-free bags ($20 for 30 bags) might have hokey packaging, but repeated tests in our home kitchens with everything from kale to carrots have us sold on them. The bags extend the life of produce by absorbing ethylene gas, which is released from fruits and vegetables as they ripen.

3. Abeego Beeswax Wraps: Beeswax isn’t just for candles: Abeego products ($10 to $25) are made from a hemp and organic cotton blend coated with a combination of beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. The result is a collection of super-malleable flat sheets and wraps that adhere to virtually any solid food or container. We use our Abeego wraps to cover dinner leftovers, tote around snacks and keep a halved avocado fresh.

Fermentation nation Everything's better with a little fermentation

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Fermentation: Sounds like something that you don’t want anywhere near the inside of your kitchen, right?

Far, far from it, Brander Byers, the creator of FermUp.com and the author of The Everyday Fermentation Handbook: A Real-Life Guide to Fermenting Food—Without Losing Your Mind or Your Microbes, says we all need to be embracing fermentation in a big way.

His refreshingly clear book makes a resounding case for microbial transformation, from the positive probiotic effects of fermented foods, to saving money and having fun by making sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread and kombucha at home.

Start playing around with some recipes and along with expanding your gut flora, you may just broaden your palate too. Byer admits, “Although a picky eater as a child, I now crave the complex, intense, and sometimes funky flavors of fermented foods.”

Brandon Byers: Fermentation generalist and author of The Everyday Fermentation Handbook

The bacteria filled world is yours for the taking: “Start simple with something that sounds appetizing and the next thing you know, you may have a zoo of microbial diversity fermenting in your home, too,” says Byers.

We’re taking the cue and starting with his simple (three ingredients!), but elegant lacto- fermented leek rings. In the recipe, leeks, sea salt, thyme and naturally-occurring lactic acid bacteria combine to mellow out the leeks. When the rings are ready, celebrate your fermentation project by trying them with goat cheese on a toasted cracker.

Yield: 1 quart

Prep time: 10 minutes

Fermentation: 3–6 weeks

Salt: 5% brine

4 large leeks, sliced into 1⁄4 inch rounds

700 grams (3 cups) water

35 grams (21⁄2 tablespoons) sea salt

8 grams (2 tablespoons) thyme

1. Gently transfer the leeks to a quart-size jar while attempting to keep most of the inner rings intact. Combine the water, sea salt, and thyme in a separate jar or bowl until the salt dissolves. Pour the sea salt brine over the leeks until submerged. Weighing down the leeks below the brine is optional but not necessary if checked regularly.

2. Leave to ferment, away from direct sunlight, for at least 3 weeks until leeks are tender.

3. Make certain to release any CO2 buildup in the first week by quickly opening and closing the lid.

4. Taste and when fermentation is to your liking, move to long-term storage (i.e., refrigerator, basement, root cellar).

 

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Cook it Now: Oregano This herb is the first word in antioxidant levels

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Oregano really gets the short end of the stick.

While people go wacky over blending oodles of basil into lush pesto and get giddy over glasses of fresh mint tea, oregano is usually just weighed down in pizza sauce.

This gutsy herb deserves better, especially since it’s a great source of vitamin K and it has been shown to boast serious antioxidant levels (four times more than blueberries!) and to be an effective anti-bacterial. Oregano essential oil is so potent that it has even been shown to kill the hospital superbug MRSA and to combat the bacteria that causes food poisoning.

This hardy perennial is also a snap to grow: It’s accustomed to carpeting sun-blasted Mediterranean slopes, so in comparison, your cared-for window box will seem like a luxury.

Marissa Lippert: Registered dietitian. Nutrition consultant. Cafe owner. Oregano fan.

Marissa Lippert, the registered dietitian behind the nutrition counseling firm Nourish and owner of Nourish Kitchen + Table —a seasonally influenced, locally inspired food shop and café in New York City—is wise to oregano’s ways: “Fresh oregano is one of my favorite summertime herbs,” she says. “I’ve got a tiny balcony at home and oregano is probably the most prevalent herb in my herb box.”

Read on for her three easy ways to incorporate fresh oregano into your cooking ASAP.

1. For an incredibly easy appetizer or snack: Slow-roast heirloom cherry tomatoes at 300° with a good amount of olive oil, ample fresh oregano, crushed garlic cloves, sea salt, pepper and chile flakes. Spread the mixture on toasted crostini just by itself or with a bit of feta or fresh goat cheese.

2. Stuff whole fish with a mixture of fresh herbs like oregano, thyme and parsley and spring onions as well as lemon slices. Season generously with sea salt, pepper and olive oil, and cook on a well-oiled grill for about 10 minutes on each side until cooked through.

3. Whip up a riff on chimichurri for a delicious sauce for steak, shrimp, chicken, roasted potatoes…really anything you can think of. Whisk together finely chopped fresh oregano, cilantro, parsley, minced garlic and shallots, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, a touch of ground cumin and fennel seed and red chile flakes.

 

Get cooking with recipes from Nourish!

Just Say No (To GMOs) Nancy's Yogurt goes the extra mile

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Whenever you first learned about the health benefits of live probiotics (overall immune health, better digestion and gastrointestinal health), it’s likely that Sue and Chuck Kesey of Nancy’s had you beat by a long shot: They’ve been touting beautiful bacteria since 1970, when they introduced the first yogurt with live probiotics to the US market.

Now that yogurt fills our grocery store shelves, the Kesey’s have just completed another pioneering move: Their Organic Lowfat Kefir and Organic Lowfat Cultured Cottage Cheese are the first Non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Project Verified kefir and cottage cheese on the market, and all of the company’s dairy products fall under Non-GMO Project certification. Nancy’s fields an all-star lineup: The traditional yogurt is seriously creamy, the high-protein strained Greek variety is unbelievably thick without thickeners or additives and the drinkable kefir teems with live probiotic cultures.

 

Yogurt is a family affair! Left to right: Siblings Kit Kesey and Sheryl Kesey Thompson, Nancy Van Brasch Hamren (the namesake of Nancy’s Yogurt) and founders Chuck and Sue Kesey.

Co-owner and VP of marketing Sheryl Kesey Thompson, who’s also the daughter of Chuck and Sue, explained to us: “Nancy’s consumers are wise and educated about their foods and they continued to ask questions about GMOs and wanted as much current information as possible. We took the extra step so we could provide the answers they were looking for.”

It’s clear that this is one family that won’t stop innovating. In January, Nancy’s will introduce an unsweetened probiotic cultured soy yogurt as well.

Meanwhile, while you wait for that delicious new product to hit the shelves, check out the Non-GMO Project’s database of products. It’s a fascinating way to make informed choices about what goes into your fridge—and your body.

 
Learn about Nancy’s

Bar None Raise the bar on snack time

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We love a good, wholesome meal made from unprocessed foods (raw ratatouille anyone?), but last night’s supper doesn’t translate well to on-the-go snacktime.

So when we’re hiking in the Great Outdoors or enduring a long-haul flight, we need a stable, portable snack bar that is still delicious. Below, two new-to-us energy bars that check all of our boxes:

Austin-based Bearded Brothers makes bars that are organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, paleo-friendly and non-GMO. We can barely comprehend how one bar could be all of these things and still taste great, but what we can comprehend are the fantastically simple ingredients and the adorable compostable packaging. Take the six elements in the Colossal Coconut Mango: organic dates, almonds, dried mango, coconut flakes, chia seeds and sea salt (4 for $12, 12 for $36).

Organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, paleo-friendly and non-GMO. We really couldn’t ask for more!

 

 

This Bar Saves Lives was dreamed up by a trio who witnessed extreme childhood hunger while traveling in Liberia, and were struck by the preventable nature of the problem. For each bar sold, a life-saving packet of food is delivered to a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition. It’s easy to follow through on the purchase when bee-friendly almonds from California, wild blueberries from Maine and Omega-3 rich flax seeds make nubbily non-GMO gluten free bars (9 for $20) that are completely anti-Gumby in texture.
Where to buy This Bar Saves Lives

Order Bearded Brothers online