Food Crimes: Always Ask a Local

What I learned traveling is to not settle for the food that is offered to most tourists, but to ask a local. By doing this, I’ve eaten at the most wonderful places.

Recently I visited the San Juan Islands; while browsing the shops, I began to grow hungry, so I asked the clerks for a recommendation. They all said Mike’s.

20180819_192147I wandered the streets on the hot day, pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar and read: The Islands Tallest Waterfall.

I had images of a cool mist wafting over with the breeze. I entered and asked for the patio. Even more surprised when the waterfall was a mere four feet from the ground.  An island joke – it is actually the tallest!

Being too late for lunch and too early for dinner, I had the place nearly to myself.

20180818_161700Famished, I ordered the Tomate plate. A vegan version of caprese salad. I began with that. Farm-fresh, warm tomatoes: Mmmmm…. delish.

Another secret to eating a good meal is to ask the server for suggestions: 20180818_163559(0)

The Pulled Jackfruit Tacos, she told me, were only on the menu for a limited time, a summer special edition. I was not disappointed.

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For desert: a vegan berry cheesecake.

This is the best meal I’ve had in quite a long time!

On the way

I like to ask locals their ideas for activities as well. The next day, a woman recommended I visit the small town of La Conner.

I ended up at the WaterFront for fish and chips where the server introduced their special: Guinness battered Fish. I opened the menu and asked her what she liked best. She pointed to another plate of fish and chips. This, she said, we make fresh here.

Their special came in a bag and was deep fried. It might have been good, but when I travel I want to get a flavor for the area as well as a fresher, healthier choice.

In Florence, a side street tattoo artist led me to a grande deserto: authentic tiramisu.

Lost and found at a skate park in Paris, teenage skaters pointed out a corner cafe serving Galletes.

I’ve gotten lost in every major city of every country I’ve ever traveled too. This is where you meet the locals, eat the best food, and have the most authentic experiences. Get off the beaten path and explore! Ask the locals for food and other ideas.

Wanderlust

Food Crimes – Sugar: The other white treat

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A little sugar never hurt anyone. The problem is that it’s in EVERYTHING!  Don’t believe me – read your labels.  If it’s not listed as “sugar,” it’s listed as:

  1. Beet sugar
  2. Blackstrap molasses
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Buttered syrup
  5. Cane juice crystals
  6. Cane sugar
  7. Caramel
  8. Carob syrup
  9. Castor sugar
  10. Coconut sugar
  11. Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  12. Date sugar
  13. Demerara sugar
  14. Evaporated cane juice
  15. Florida crystals
  16. Fruit juice
  17. Fruit juice concentrate
  18. Golden sugar
  19. Golden syrup
  20. Grape sugar
  21. Honey
  22. Icing sugar
  23. Invert sugar
  24. Maple syrup
  25. Molasses
  26. Muscovado sugar
  27. Panela sugar
  28. Raw sugar
  29. Refiner’s syrup
  30. Sorghum syrup
  31. Sucanat
  32. Treacle sugar
  33. Turbinado sugar
  34. Yellow sugar

Or other lovely pseudonyms.1981741_1648171295220103_7816513440544216227_n.jpg

If it were so harmless, why would it need aliases?

Some of the products you find sugar hiding in, besides the obvious, are canned goods, like corn and beans, whole grains, like bread and oatmeal, and especially “low fat” goods.

Too much sugar is bad for us. It’s been linked to memory and learning problems (in animals); some studies seem to relate Alzheimers to high sugar intake.

The truth is, no matter how much we like it, we can make healthier choices in the foods we eat.sugar crime

Secret Squirrel Food is one of my favorite sites for desserts. Not all of them are completely sugar free; some recipes use dates or other substitutes, but they are whole food choices which are healthier, in my opinion, than plain white sugar.

Well and Good Eats is guilty of some serious foodporn on Instagram. Check it out.

sugar crime1And PeanutButterPlusChocolate  are the winners for limiting the sugar to my sweet tooth.

Never say never.  Just say not so much!

 

Food Crimes: Inside Nutella

Did you know a woman sued Nutella and WON? nutella3.jpeg

She claimed Nutella falsely advertised the product as a healthy choice. She fed it to her child, believing in its healthy benefits.

I’m not fan of nutella or their advertising. I’ve seen the commercial in which a woman is spreading nutella on toast as an announcer says something to the effect, “get your children to eat breakfast again.”

Chocolate for breakfast?!  I’m in.  Uhm. Or not.

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My thought was always of the sugar and oil in the product and I’d never consider it something to feed my children for breakfast let alone a healthy alternative to anything.

Nutella claims it’s made with nuts. And it is.  They certainly have alluded to the fact that the product is healthy, but numerous companies are guilty of this type of advertising, and some are worse with their “lower sugar,” “fewer carbs,” “cautionbuyerbewarehigher protein” claims.

I’ve always considered food shopping like car shopping: Buyer Beware.

The company paid out 3 MILLION DOLLARS in the class action lawsuit.

It’s good that companies are held accountable, and more should be. But until that time, it really is buyer beware. READ LABELS!

We don’t need to deny ourselves something chocolate and nutty, we just need to make better choices. Here’s a few healthier versions of Nutella.

Homemade Nutella

Vegan Nutella

Better than Nutella

Let me know what you think!

ENJOY!

Food Crimes: A Lover’s Revenge

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Many years ago, in a suburb north of Los Angeles, Eat My Cupcake was in danger of becoming another victim of the gluten-free, sugar substituted society when Zin stepped in.

People wanted choices, she said. Eat my Cupcake changed to Eat My Muffin and featured exclusive, secret recipes that other bakers tried to duplicate but none succeeded; the some sweet, some savory, some healthy, some masquerading as healthy became a much sought-after experience.

Therefore, in the once nondescript neighborhood with the small bakery, lines around the corner formed beginning early each mornings, people waiting for the one and only Zin’s famous muffins.

Among one of the favorites was a Millet Muffin. The savory-sweet combination of light and fluffy grain pastry was a hit. muffins1

Zin was offered money, lured by head baker guarantees at more established places with promises of salary, health insurance, assistants.

But she liked where she was, who she was, and the freedom to create.

Rob became Zin’s lover years before she became almost-famous. Rob followed her from place to place, always a second to her baking but accepted the position. They loved each other.

But more hours meant more workers meant more people in Zin’s life. Zin had two weaknesses, fresh white flour and sweet young flesh. She slipped into an affair with one of her assistants, Rob was heartbroken and angry.

muffin3One night, crying over a tequila sour, the recipe came out in a drunken slur. Friends who sympathized turned for a single moment to make a note.

Zin begged forgiveness and agreed to work fewer hours, no assistants. Rob forgave her. He barely remembers his drunken night but thinks something may have slipped. Zin is blissfully unaware that her recipe is being shared in whispers like a friend’s quite insinuations.

What follows is the rumored recipe from a once famous bakery and a once famous baker.

Millet Muffins

½ cup of millet

1 ½ cup of flour

1 tsp baking soda

Dash of salt

½ – ¾ cup of brown sugar

1 (room temperature) egg

1/3   cup of butter (room temperature)

¾  cup of buttermilk (room temperature)

Mix the wet ingredients

Mix the dry ingredients

Oil the muffin pan/preheat the oven to 375.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and place the muffins in the oven.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

muffins4

 

*Based on a true story. Names/places changed.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the original recipe. Although I have not baked them myself, I’ve been the beneficiary of the final product. Mmmm.

There are two lessons to this story. First – don’t cheat on your partner who may have your secret recipes. Second, don’t trust a writer with your stolen secret recipe.

Food Crimes – Monday’s Food Blog.

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I whole heartedly believe our physical and mental health are related to what we put in our bodies.  wholeheartedly

When I witness food crimes, health demeanors, nutritional scofflaws, I want to share them. Therefore, on Mondays, enter my take on nutritional related topics.

I caught three or four minutes of The Ultimate Warrior the other day. The participant said, Cystic Fibrosis had controlled his life; he was on 36 medications a day and other therapies just to survive. He began educating himself and designed a program in which he took control of CF. This regimen consisted of healthy food and exercise.

foodcrime1Many people try to eat healthy and do something to improve their overall well-being; however, they are short-circuited by a food industry that play on key words and pop culture and is more interested in their own bottom line rather than healthy consumers.

So – in this space – on Mondays, I hope to review products, give links to sites I’ve found, and offer a little advice.

Disclaimer: I am by no means perfect, and none of us should try to be. But we should be informed enough to make wise choices.

For the first entry: Cashewgurt. cashewgur A yogurt made from cashews. It’s the new nondairy alternative.

I’m not sure how it happened, probably companies tracking my eating habits through supermarket club cards, but I’m occasionally offered free product samples. Cashewgurt was one of them.

The thought of a healthy, richly textured, nutty tasting, and protein filled near desert-like product filled me with anticipation.

I pulled back the tab and was met with… well… not quite vanilla looking, darker than your typical color of vanilla of yogurt.

I love cashews. Did I mention that? I love nuts. I was completely willing to give this product my whole heart.

cashewgutI dipped the spoon in the little cup and brought the not quite buoyant, not quite fluffy or even firm yogurt to my mouth. I could almost taste it before it reached my lips, and that wasn’t because of the scent of vanilla, but the overwhelming aroma of chemical manipulation.

It smelled a little funny, not bad just odd. And it tasted a little campy. No, seriously, like we’d been camping and it got left out in the melted ice of the cooler. But we hadn’t been. And this hadn’t been. This was fresh from the grocer’s cooler, to my fridge, then to my mouth.

It didn’t taste nutty. It barely tasted of vanilla. The after-taste that tortured my tongue was something like an old Tab soda burp that wouldn’t go away. The saddest part was the consistency – like near melted ice-cream. Not what I like in a yogurt, although some people do.

I felt this product, the taste, the after-taste, and the lack of consistency reinforced the stereotype – healthy food doesn’t taste as good.

The label reads:

*Made from cashewmilk. Watered down cashews. The second ingredient is sugar. (The rest of the ingredients are the experiment in how to plump up cashewmilk and sugar.)

*12 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

When I buy food, I have a few rules I attempt to follow:

  1. One of the first three or four ingredients should not be sugar.
  2. The grams of sugar and protein (and probably fat) should be somewhat even.

12 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein for a yogurt inspired from a nut seems somehow disappointingly wrong.

I had high hopes for this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all eat food that is not great for us. I take issue with companies which market products that pretend to be healthy and are, in fact, not.  Overall, yogurts fall under deserts or snacks in my book. There are some that come close to the balance between sugar, fat, and protein, and those are the ones I choose when I desire a flavorful adventure that is not desert.

cashewgu

Forager’s slogan is “Food that’s better for the people and the planet.” I have to disagree with that one. There is too much sugar in Cashewgurt to be healthy or “better.” And both, the taste and consistency, needs work.

If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think.

Next Monday – nutritional scofflaws