Clean Eating: Getting to the Source

By Anne Bauch, RD, Mayo Clinic Health System

As a dietitian, I’ve seen many nutrition trends over the years. Many of us are looking for the best ways to eat to promote weight loss, lower the risk of chronic disease, or improve overall wellness. The most recent nutrition trend is called clean eating.

Clean eating is the practice of choosing foods in their whole-food state and avoiding processed and refined foods.However, the interpretation of clean eating can vary from person to person. For some, only whole foods are clean; for others, minimally processed foods are acceptable. Clean eating also can imply eating mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains, animal- and plant-based protein, nuts, seeds, and oils. Clean eating is an intentional way of eating that includes only minimally processed, nonpackaged foods that do not originate from a factory.

Clean eating is a lifestyle. It’s a way of eating that encourages the consumer to be mindful of the traceability of our food. Clean eating can encourage us to read labels, know our food sources, and allow us to think more thoughtfully about the nutritional value in the food we choose to eat.

As a dietitian, however, I do have some concerns that clean eating may be misinterpreted. The clean eating craze can imply anyone who isn’t eating clean is eating dirty. Consumers may feel defeated if they are unable to be successful in meeting the clean eating definitions. Clean eating is not meant to assign moral value with eating habits. Because a person chooses to eat clean doesn’t mean they are a better eater compared to someone else. It’s great the clean eating trend is prompting more people to look at eating less of the things we don’t want in our diet, but it shouldn’t make anyone feel inferior if they eat something out of a bag or box.

Along with the clean eating movement, many manufacturers are misrepresenting scientific evidence on food packaging. They refer to their products as clean or having clean ingredients. Even when a food product is made with clean ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier. Fresh pressed juice still is a concentrated form of sugar, and vegan chocolate pudding still is a dessert.

Eating right is a challenging endeavor. Whether it’s trying a hot food trend or committing to a healthier eating philosophy with a new diet, there are several tried and true eating principles that can’t steer you wrong.

▪ Incorporate more whole foods in your diet. Use more foods that are straight from the farm. Add more fruit and vegetables to your meals or have them as snacks. Select whole grains when able. Use grass-fed and free-range meats, and lower-fat dairy along with nuts and seeds.

▪ Limit processed foods. Avoiding all processed foods can be limiting, especially since most foods we eat and drink, in some way, have been processed. However, start by eliminating heavily processed or the foods we consider to be junk food. When selecting processed foods, look for ingredient lists that are transparent; in other words, foods that are really what they claim to be. You should be able to know the source from all the ingredients on the packaging. There are some exceptional packaged foods that make it easier to eat well—fish out of a can, dried beans or peanut butter from a jar are just a few examples.

▪ Eliminate refined sugar. In general, eating right isn’t about avoiding any one food in particular. Eating right should be about choosing simple, unrefined foods and enjoying them. Foods in a natural state do not contain added sugar. Try to reduce refined sugars, because it is nothing but empty calories.

▪ Drink more water. Focus on managing your thirst with water. Don’t rely heavily on sweetened beverages or juices to stay hydrated. Flavoring water with lemon or other fruits can make for a healthy sipping option.

Anne Bauch is a registered dietitian who sees patients in the Diabetes Education Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Supporting Local Is the Way to Go!

Bob Adrian, owner of Rump’s Butcher Shoppe in Altoona, is an advocate of going local. “If we can continue to spread the word about the benefits of buying, producing, and selling locally, the positive impact on the Chippewa Valley will continue to grow,” Adrian says.

Rump’s offers a full selection of fresh meats, cheeses, and made-in-house sausage, ham, and bacon along with wild game processing.  Meat and cheese trays, beer, wine, liquor, and the list goes on! They make over two hundred items in house.

Adrian says the exceptional team consists of chefs, meat cutters, caterers, and professional sausage makers. The result: extremely high quality products along with unmatched customer service. Adrian said if he had not met Dan Horlacher, the shoppe would have never happened. Both of them come from deer-processing, sausage-making families, and with a combined forty-plus years in the meat and food industry, it was an easy decision to go ahead with the shoppe after just a few conversations. As they say, the rest is history.

Rump’s Butcher Shoppe buys local beef from Elk Mound, chicken and eggs from Chippewa Falls, local buffalo and elk, and occasionally local pork as well.  Adrian says they do their best to have as much local product as possible and still be able to be an affordable market.

Not long after opening Rump’s Butcher Shoppe, another opportunity presented itself. The restaurant at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport had been sitting vacant for approximately one year. As with Rump’s, Adrian knew he had to surround himself with skilled quality partners. After some back and forth and some recommendations from friends and colleges, Adrian partnered up with Ryan Anderson and Chef Travis Dudley to start planning the new Hangar 54 Grill, which opened in May 2016 and has been very well received by the locals and airport travelers alike. There is a great partnership between the restaurant and the butcher shoppe. Quality and customer service is what both are about.

Bob, Rump’s, and Hangar 54 Grill enthusiastically support the Local Challenge. “I’ve always stood behind local business whenever possible. It just makes sense. Most of the money spent locally will keep getting recycled locally, which benefits everyone in the area. So anything I can do to help spread that philosophy is something I’m going to try to get behind,” Adrian explains.

Comfort Food from the Best Local Ingredient

By Chef Joseph Meicher, The Local Lounge

Growing up, I have always loved cooking. I worked in Madison at the University Club. When I moved up to Eau Claire in 2007 to attend business school at UWEC, I took a job at Mona Lisa’s.  After graduating, I spent one month in sales and quickly returned to the kitchen at Mona Lisa’s.  I worked through every station there and wanted to continue learning and advancing my career. I went in October of 2012 to work in Tuscany at Podere il Casale, an agriturismo outside of Montepulciano. While working on the farm, I had the opportunity to cook in their restaurant daily. We prepared a different menu every day based on what was in our garden, freezer, larder, etc. In addition to cooking, I was lucky enough to harvest grapes for their wines, olives for their oil, make incredible goats’ and sheep’s milk cheeses, take sheep to pasture along with some dogs, and take the goats into the forest to forage every evening. It was an awesome experience that taught me so much about local food and taking pride in the products that are from one’s region.

The people I worked with were all incredibly passionate about food. They cared deeply about every detail that went into making a dish. One dish in particular that really got people fired up was a marinated eggplant dish. There were only four ingredients, eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt; however, the method of preparing the dish seemed to be contested every day. Enis, the chef, insisted that the eggplant should be salted, pressed, grilled (with no oil), then drizzled with a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil. The owner of the farm, Ulisse, was certain that the best way to prepare the dish was to oil and salt the eggplant, grill them immediately, then as they came off the grill, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on each slice followed by a bit of olive oil. Both versions were absolutely wonderful; the passion they had for their method was memorable and stuck with me. I ended up preparing the dish differently every day based on who I thought might walk into the kitchen. If Ulisse was making cheese, I would mix the oil and lemon juice. If Enis was at the market, I would grill the eggplant right away and finish with the lemon juice first then the olive oil. It was inspiring to work with people that cared so much about food, particularly the foods and dishes specific to their area in Tuscany.

The Local Lounge has been a phenomenal opportunity.  I have been lucky enough to collaborate with a very talented and passionate staff to construct our menu.  It is really exciting to be surrounded by like minded cooks that are always striving to figure out the best way to showcase our local ingredients.  We have a phenomenal kitchen staff ready to serve some really awesome food that will be familiar and comforting but executed at a level you would find in Minneapolis or Madison with the best ingredients available in the Chippewa Valley.Using local ingredients is common sense if you are sincerely trying to cook good food. Our goal is simply to show off the best ingredients to our guests in a way that is familiar and not pretentious. We will be using many local farmers throughout the growing season and preserving as many ingredients as possible so that we can continue to serve locally sourced foods all year long.

We will measure success in the restaurant not only monetarily, but also by how much we can support local farmers and by how much we can give back to our community. Our goal is to be a profitable restaurant that plays an integral role in helping sustain local farms as well as getting involved with non-profit work, local charities,and other organizations that do good for the community.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to cook alongside such a talented and passionate group for the Eat Local Challenge. It is a really exciting time for the Eau Claire restaurant scene. I think the meal will be a great chance to show off some of the awesome ingredients and the awesome talent available to us in the Chippewa Valley.

Support Farm Fresh

By Emily Schwartz

There’s nothing quite like strolling through a bustling farmers market early on a Saturday morning, basket and cash in hand, looking through the rainbow array of fresh produce. With a growing trend towards locally sourced foods, it’s no wonder why farmers markets are popping up everywhere. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that the number of farmers markets exploded by over 75% in the past eight years. In 2014, there were over 8,400 markets in cities across the country. And, that growth shows no signs of slowing down!

Don’t want to miss out on the farmers market fun this summer?  Here are several tried-and-true tips for making your trip to the farmers market a success:

►Arrive early. Many vendors bring a limited amount of produce each week, so head to the farmers market early for the best selection. Early morning shopping also often means smaller crowds and more opportunities to chat with farmers and fellow market-goers.

►Cash is king. When heading to a farmers market, remember to bring the cash! Although growing in popularity, most vendors don’t have the capabilities to accept credit or debit cards at this time. Some markets do accept SNAP/EBT cards and WIC vouchers. If in doubt, swing by the ATM before heading to the market. Also, vendors appreciate bills in smaller denomination.

►Bring a bag or a basket. To help keep costs down, it is best practice to bring a reusable bag or basket to carry all of the wonderful items you find. Dont worry if you happen to forget! Vendors will always have a few extras.

►Ask questions. Farmers are farmers because they love the food that they grow. They are incredibly knowledgeable about the fruits of their labor – no pun intended – and enjoy sharing information about their growing practices and favorite preparation techniques.

►Try something new. Farmers markets provide the opportunity to branch out from the traditional Russet potatoes, Roma tomatoes and Red Delicious apples. In fact, many local growers offer more unusual or heirloom varieties of common fruits and vegetables that are more suitable for our Wisconsin climate and growing season. Farmers markets provide the perfect opportunity to try something new like purple carrots or multicolored tomatoes. And, there are frequently samples!

►Get creative. One of the beautiful things about shopping at farmers markets is seasonality. Although farmers are often able to give a good prediction of what will be available in the upcoming weeks, there is little certainty from week to week. So, head to the farmers market with an open mind and prepare to get creative!

►Bring the family. With a bounty of delicious and nutritious foods, the farmers market is the perfect venue to get kids excited about fruits and vegetables. Markets also offer the unique opportunity to learn more about where food comes from, how it is grown and what can be done with it.

►Have fun! There are few activities that are comparable to shopping at a farmers market. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, befriend a farmer and  have fun eating the freshest of foods!

Why Should You Eat Them?

Food that isn’t organic is often sourced from Big Agriculture, and the practices and methods it uses result in food that is less nutritious, less healthy, and less flavorful. Here are five good reasons to choose organic food over conventional food.
1. It’s more nutritious. Big Agriculture uses depleted soil and instead seeks to provide food with nutrients by fertilizing it. Organic farming methods instead start with healthy soil, full of nutrients and everything a healthy plant needs, resulting in healthier produce.

2. It doesn’t have GMOs. Using genetically modified organisms is not natural, and we have little idea what might result from eating foods grown with those methods. Organic food by contrast honors the natural time-proven characteristics of plants and the food they grow.

3. It doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides. The purpose of pesticides and herbicides is to poison things. That is their job. No matter how well you wash your produce, you can’t wash off all the residue of these substances, which have entered the plants through the roots and have soaked into them when they’ve been sprayed. Studies have shown that pesticides harm the nervous system. To avoid this poisoning of your nervous system, choose organic foods.

4. It produces better quality meat and dairy products. Meat raised in concentrated animal feeding operations is full of antibiotics and other drugs, and it is also dirty, having been raised in unclean surroundings. Organically raised meat uses sound animal husbandry methods, no antibiotics, and maintains a cleaner environment for the animals.

5. It is a more ethical choice. Current Big Agriculture methods are harmful to animals, harmful to the environment, and harmful to people. Choosing organic food promotes better animal husbandry, better environmental methods, and better human health.
Tips for Eating Organic on a Budget
If you are wise and plan ahead, you can successfully buy and eat organic food, even on a
budget. Here are some tips:
■ Skip processed snacks, instead focusing on raw fruits and veggies.
■ Stretch the animal protein amongst healthy whole grains and veggies.
■ Drink water more and less soda and other prepared beverages.
■ Use leftovers wisely, making them into a new meal.
■ Buy fruits and veggies in season.
■ Shop for produce every few days so that you use it before it spoils.
■ Buy in bulk when you can.
■ Make as much as you can from scratch instead of buying premade meals or dishes.
■ Have a menu plan but be open to using food that is on special when you find it.
■ Look for the less expensive generic brand items at your local organic food store.
■ Eat more legumes for your protein source.
■ Stick to the basics, rather than buying all kinds of special condiments and the rarer fruits
and vegetables.

 

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