Razing Cane A new documentary exposes the not-so-sweet truth about sugar

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You’ve seen this trick before: Man eats unhealthy food, gets sick and makes a movie about it.

The 2004 Oscar-nominated documentary Super Size Me pioneered the format, but Damon Gameau’s brand-new That Sugar Film is here with a whole new sugar-fueled flourish.

At the start of the film, Gameau hasn’t eaten refined sugar for three years. Under the guidance of doctors, he embarks on a diet consisting of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day (a common daily average) for 60 days while maintaining his exercise routine.

The truly bitter twist is that he does it easily without drinking any soda or eating candy, cookies or ice cream. He only eats foods that are perceived and marketed as “healthy” like low-fat yogurt, muesli bars, juices and cereal. For instance, a post-flight treat of Jamba Juice clocks in at 139 grams (34 teaspoons) of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar a day.

Photo credit: Samuel Goldwyn Films

The results are just what Gameau expected—and his worst nightmare: fatty liver disease, early type 2 diabetes and extra girth around his body.

With sugar-frenetic energy, music from Depeche Mode and cameos from the likes of Hugh Jackman, the movie is an easy watch. It’s in the changing of the diet, after you watch the film, that’s so hard.

Gameau shared with us his favorite foods that will banish sugar cravings:

  • A spoonful of coconut oil
  • A handful of pecans, macadamias, walnuts or almonds
  • A scoop of avocado
  • A sip of apple cider vinegar (foul, but does the job)
  • A warm sweet potato
  • A piece of cheese
  • A glass of L-Glutamine powder (this helps the neurotransmitters in the brain to alleviate cravings.)

For more good choices, download a free e-book of Gameau’s post-experiment recipes here. Every single one is sugar and refined carbohydrate free.

The P Word Is Peganism for you?

Marry the two diets of Paleo and Veganism and you get “Peganism”.

At first glance, the tenets of the Paleo and vegan movements seem to be diametrically opposed. We’ve got the fervent bacon-celebrators in one camp and those who won’t touch animal flesh with a 10-foot pole in the other.

But marry the two diets and you get “Peganism”, a way of eating that makes a whole lot of sense (even if the name sounds ridiculous) and draws the best of both worlds from each group.

You can thank functional medicine practitioner Dr. Hyman for the new term. He himself follows the diet, cutting out gluten, dairy and processed foods while loading up on vegetables and fruits and focusing on high-quality fats, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish and protein. Unlike in a strict Paleo diet, gluten-free whole grains (think millet, oats and quinoa) and beans are recommended in the “eat sparingly” category.

A step-by-step program that eliminates soy, sugar, grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days.

Crucially, Hyman acknowledges that foods affect different people in different ways. Some people may be able to tolerate a bowl of quinoa or goat feta sprinkled on a salad, while others should steer clear.

We think a revaluation of healthy-seeming diets like Paleo or vegan is especially necessary when many people use diet labels as an excuse to binge on Paleo-ified or vegan-versions of junk food. (We’re thinking trigger foods like Paleo “Oreos” and deep-fried vegan donuts.)

If this way of eating interests you, check out The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom ($30), a step-by-step program that eliminates soy, sugar, grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days and then has you reintroduce them, one by one, to see how they affect you.

We think Dr. Hyman said it best when he said, “If you eat crap, you feel like crap.”

 

Kick the can

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With all the coconut oil being slathered on everything and coconut water being tossed back, it’s like we all forgot about the superfood’s main act—the coconut meat itself.

But not Meredith Baird: She’s the author of the new reference for all things coconut, Coconut Kitchen: Nature’s Most Beautifying Superfood ($20).

In it, she sings coconut’s praises. “Literally every part of the coconut has a use, whether in a culinary application, as a resource, or as a material for a variety of products,” she writes, and details the research showing off coconut’s long list of superpowers, including potent antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.

The book’s recipes cover the entire day, from a strawberry and coconut cream breakfast quinoa with rose water, a coconut matcha smoothie, a CBLT (coconut bacon, avocado, romaine and tomato) wrap with coconut mayonnaise to treats like a coconut-hibiscus panna cotta. There’s even a chapter on coconut ferments, including DIY coconut sour cream. The majority of the recipes are raw, vegan and gluten-free as well.

Meredith Baird making her own coconut milk.

The final chapter details all the ways you can use coconut products to beautify from head to toe, including recipes that are good enough to eat (literally) like one for a coconut and honey body scrub.

We were blown away by Baird’s technique for making your own coconut milk; it’s one of the book’s simplest and most versatile recipes. Learn this easy skill and keep shredded coconut tucked in your pantry, and you’ll never need to run out for a can to complete your curry recipe again. It’s also a wonderful way to make sure you are avoiding BPA-lined cans and unnecessary stabilizers.

Coconut Milk or Coconut Cream

Makes 4 cups
2 cups shredded coconut (dried or fresh)
or 1 cup young coconut meat
4 cups water (more or less*)
Pinch of sea salt

Optional:
Scrapings from ½ vanilla bean
or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut nectar or coconut honey
or 2 dates
1 tablespoon lecithin (to prevent separation)

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
2. Run through a fine mesh strainer to remove solids.

Fresh coconut milk lasts up to five days in the refrigerator and can last up to a week if sweetened with honey.

*When making this recipe, adjust the ratio of water to coconut according to desired consistency. The less water you use, the thicker and more cream-like the milk will be.

Moo moo time Better-for-your-belly A2 milk is coming to a store near you

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At this point, you’ve got your milk descriptors (organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, pastured, raw, local and so on) down pat. Now it’s time to learn another: A2.

It turns out that cows can be genetically sorted into two groups: Those that produce milk with both the A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins, and those that only make it with A2.

Many people who don’t tolerate milk well (but who haven’t been medically diagnosed as lactose intolerant) find that they feel better when they switch to A2 milk. It’s a bit of a back-to-the-future situation: Originally, all cows produced only the A2 protein (the A1 protein emerged later through modern farming practices). Interestingly, other mammals, including humans (think breast milk) produce milk containing only the A2 protein.

Click to watch: Love for A2 milk

The A2 Milk Company selects cows that only produce the A2 protein through a patented DNA test. Its milk is now available in 14 states (is yours one of them?), and is sold in half gallons of whole, 2%, 1% and fat-free milk ($4).

While not certified organic, the milk is free of artificial growth hormones and antibiotics, the cows’ diets consist of a minimum of 80% grass and the farms are certified for humane treatment.

While we still side with Dr. Lipman on thinking of dairy as a condiment, A2 milk is well worth seeking out to see if it makes a difference for you and your belly.

Swine time Barry Estabrook pigs out with his new book

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This summer, we recommend packing a little pork into your beach tote alongside your floppy hat and towel. That is, grab a copy of Barry Estabrook’s new book, Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat ($27) for an eye-opening dive into the pork industry.

Much like Estabrook’s New York Times bestseller Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit the book is a masterwork of investigative journalism done in a breezy style that is a guaranteed conversation sparker.

Estabrook looks at how scientists taught pigs to play computer games (research shows pigs have the mental capacity of a three-year-old human) and the crisis of 2.5 million feral pigs roaming Texas, before delving into how pigs are raised commercially for producers like Smithfield and Tyson. He visits vast confinement barns where up to 150,000 pigs are raised on concrete slats and fed a constant dose of antibiotics—leading to possible antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Barry Estabrook is all about pigs having the ability to “exercise their piggy instincts”.

It’s not just the pigs that are suffering: Neighbors and workers encounter health problems and the water supply is threatened, not to mention the quality of the final pork.

Contrast that with New York’s Flying Pigs Farm, where pigs can run, root and wallow. In other words, the pigs can be pigs, or as Estabrook says, “they exercise their piggy instincts.”

The takeaway: Pork is either the best or the worst meat you can eat: it all depends on how it’s raised. It’s a rousing reminder to know just where your bacon is coming from. Below, words to keep in mind next time you are at the market:

  • Antibiotic-free: Farmers who don’t use antibiotics on their pigs as a matter of course, have to raise their pigs under better conditions to keep them healthy.
  • Pastured: Pigs get to be pigs when raised outside instead of in confinement buildings.
  • Organic: By law, organic animals don’t get antibiotics and are also not fed slaughterhouse byproducts.

Candy crush Sun Cups makes candy minus nuts, plus flavor

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For Colorado chocolatier David Lurie, a knock on the door proved life changing.

On the other side he encountered a man with a jar of sunflower seed butter in one hand and a challenge in the other: create a treat his severely peanut-allergic son could eat.

David and his team of chocolatiers got down to work, and emerged with Sun Cups ($2 for a pack of 2), a Reese’s-like confection that replaces the usual peanut butter filling with sunflower seed butter, resulting in a gluten-, peanut-, tree nut-, soy-, egg-, coconut- and corn-free product.

The lengths that David’s team has gone to in order to create a 100 percent nut- and gluten-free production and supply chain is impressive, to say the least. “The chocolate manufacturer who grinds and blends our chocolate doesn’t allow any nuts in the same building,” he says. “Our employees can’t bring peanut butter sandwiches to work, and they have “inside shoes” so nothing gets tracked into the shop. Even the sunflower seeds are grown in the upper Midwest, where it’s too cold to support peanuts, so they can’t volunteer in the fields.”

Sun Cups are filled with creamy sunflower seed butter.

David pays a fair trade premium on the Rainforest Alliance Certified pesticide-free Ecuadorian cacao beans he uses, and the chocolate cups are also Non-GMO Project verified.

In addition to the classic milk chocolate cups, there are caramel, mint and dark chocolate varieties available. Find them at major retailers nationwide including The Fresh Market, Wegman’s and Whole Foods. We’re just happy that the cups come packaged in small packs, reminding us to keep a treat a treat.

Next up for David: a dairy-free Sun Cup.

Clean habits: Bryan Dayton A Colorado restaurateur dishes on staying healthy

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Bryan Dayton may be the co-owner and beverage director of Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder and Acorn in Denver, Colorado, but that doesn’t mean he’s kicking back with a big glass of biodynamic Pinot Noir all day.

Bryan is a high-altitude runner by day and a restaurateur by night. After a day of training for races like the Leadville 100 (that’s 100 miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain), he’s in his restaurants sourcing from as many local farmers, breweries, wineries and distilleries as possible. Read on for his thoughts on the quest for zero food waste and running in the snow.

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

I eat different things every day, but I love roasted Boulder Natural chicken and basil whipped potatoes paired with a nice glass of Muga Tempranillo. Since I run a lot, I also have a few favorite post-run meals. In the winter after long runs, I love pho with steak and meatballs, and on long runs in the summer I will daydream of salt and vinegar chips. For something light and local, we always have our shaved apple and kale salad on the menu.

Grab a seat at Oak at Fourteenth for your chance to meet Bryan in person!

Can you tell us about life as a hardcore runner?

I’m a longtime runner. During the summer months I run high altitude trails (Bear Peak is a favorite) seven days a week, and during the winter I generally cut down to four to five days a week, plugging 3/8-inch hex screws into my running shoes to get through the snow. I’ve been incorporating more weights into my workout routine for strength training, too.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life?

We try as much as possible to reduce water waste in the restaurants. Water is a constant issue—not only in California but also in Colorado—so reducing water usage is a big initiative for us. We also try to achieve zero food waste in the restaurant by utilizing as much of each ingredient as possible. For example, when we cook pumpkin to make our pumpkin spice soup, we take the juice that comes from it and use that in the sodas we make in-house. All of the purveyors we work with are sustainable. I try to ride my bike as much as possible, too.

Eat wild A must-see movie dedicated to the salmon dilemma

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By this point, you’ve heard a lot about the wild vs. farmed salmon debate. But now it’s time for wild salmon to really step into the limelight: They just got their own feature-length film focusing on their shocking rate of disappearance.

The Breach was made by filmmaker Mark Titus, who grew up fishing with his dad, worked at a salmon processing plant and later became an Alaskan fishing guide.

In the film, Titus speaks to fishermen, tribal leaders, scientists, policy makers, artists, authors and chefs, all in a quest to discover where the fish have gone (spoiler alert: it’s due to human hubris) and what might bring them (and their fragile ecosystem) back.

The breach is a must watch for any conscious minded consumer.

You can watch the movie now on multiple platforms including Amazon and iTunes ($4). After watching it, you’ll understand that by choosing to eat wild salmon, you are also choosing to save them. Don’t let us make you think it’s a downer—Titus celebrates the almost mythological nature of the fish and peppers the film with artistic animation, which makes for an engaging watch.

If buying salmon is a confusing, confounding process for you, order canned salmon through a reputable company like Vital Choice (use code BREACH10 to save 10 percent) or sign up for a community supported fishery (CSF) like Iliamna Fish Co. a family-owned fish cooperative in Bristol Bay, Alaska that ships sashimi-grade wild sockeye salmon to your front door.

Watch it now

Feed your spring fever Two great new cookbooks have you covered for meat and veg

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Bring on full-blown spring: Those first evenings cooking outdoors. The profusion of new vegetables at the farmer’s market. We want to savor all this vernal goodness before the summer blast furnace arrives, and two new cookbooks are here to help you do just that with every vegetable and piece of protein that crosses our countertops. Read on to learn why you need a copy of each in your kitchen.

Vegetables: Avowed local-foods lover chef Hugh Acheson’s new book, The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits ($35) starts off with a neighbor asking: “What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?” From that query, Acheson spins recipes for kohlrabi salad with pecans, lime, paprika and marjoram and steamed kohlrabi with shallots. From there, Acheson comes up with ideas for every vegetable anyone has ever wrinkled their noses at, including yacon (you might have to Google that one; we did), sunchokes and salsify. It’s not all outliers, either: there are plenty of inventive takes for quotidian offerings like sweet potatoes and apples as well.

Joe Carroll shares his secrets to perfect grilling in ‘Feeding The Fire’.

Meat: New York restaurateur Joe Carroll (of Fette Sau and St. Anselm fame) comes right out and says it in his new book, Feeding the Fire: Recipes and Strategies for Better Barbecue and Grilling ($30), “A bad piece of meat can’t be rescued, no matter how many other ingredients or flourishes you throw at it. But a high-quality heritage breed steak or chop doesn’t need more than some salt and a lot of heat to become the best thing you’ve ever tasted.” This is lesson number one in Carroll’s book, which lays out how to choose the best proteins at the butcher, supermarket and beyond. The book is a must for anyone who wants to understand the “hows” and “whys” of live-fire cooking and left us lusting to try his recipe for caramelized long beans. The recipe is so quick that you can cook the beans in the time it takes for your hanger steaks or grilled salmon collars to rest after they come off the grill.

Charred Long Beans

Adapted from Feeding the Fire, by Joe Carroll and Nick Fauchald

Makes 4 servings
1 pound Chinese long beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup chopped parsley

1. Start charcoal and let burn until coals are glowing red and coated in gray ash, about 15 minutes. Spread an even layer of charcoal, about one or two coals deep, over the bottom of the grill.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Blanch the beans for 1 minute, then transfer to the ice bath. When they are cool, drain the beans.

3. Put the beans on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss until coated, then season with salt and pepper.

4. Grill the beans, moving and turning them frequently with tongs, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, about 3 minutes.

5. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and drizzle with the warm butter. Sprinkle with the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

Meat up Snack like you mean it with Epic Bars and The New Primal

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When it comes to late afternoon energy slumps, we know that it’s all about snacking on clean protein FTW.

Protein is a hunger-buster that will steady blood sugar, help you wave goodbye to your cravings and leave you feeling satiated. But it’s not like you can throw a rack of ribs in your tote (or at least we don’t recommend it).

Instead, arm yourself with these two new protein-packed snacks.

EPIC Bars: The easiest way to describe these bars: Meatloaf granola bar. Just go with us: These grass-fed animal-based (pick from flavors like bison bacon cranberry, pulled pork pineapple and lamb currant mint) protein bars ($3) are an awesome alternative to your usual oat-nut-dried fruit-bar routine and are now available nationally. They are also grain-, gluten-, soy- and dairy-free, as well as low in sugar.

If you’re feeling squicked out by the idea of a meat bar, try the jerky-like EPIC bites line ($7) or the Hunt & Harvest mixes ($5), which are combined with berries, nuts and seeds. Also, if you’ve cut chemical-laden “Bacon Bits” out of your salad routine, rejoice: Founders Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest gave us the exclusive scoop that Epic will be launching a line of “salad boosters” made from heritage breed Berkshire pork in July at Whole Foods. Consider us boosted.

The New Primal beef jerky is made with grass-fed beef from New Zealand—where GMOs are illegal. 

The New Primal: Founder Jason Burke made his way to a paleo/primal-influenced diet through CrossFit, but he couldn’t find a grass-fed beef jerky that didn’t list sugar as the second ingredient on the market for desk-time snacking. He says, “So I purchased a $40 dehydrator and Googled ‘how to make beef jerky.’ Within six months I was making jerky for everyone at work and my gym.” When his wife started complaining about smelling like BBQ all the time, Burke knew it was time to go pro.

He sources his grass-fed beef from New Zealand—where GMOs are illegal, meaning there is zero risk of GMO runoff contaminating the soil. His beef and turkey jerkys ($7.50 for 2 oz.) have the hippest packaging around and are sweetened with just a touch of pineapple juice and honey. With a wide national distribution, it’s clear Burke has solved his original problem.