The French Cuisine Revival Is Just Getting Started

George Reynolds wrote . . . . . . . . .

Modern French gastronomy has never not been in crisis, in rupture from itself. Nouvelle cuisine was a response to the cream-laden excess of Marie-Antoine Carême and Auguste Escoffier; cuisine minceur distanced itself even further from their approach. Roger Vergé and Michel Bras made immaculate, seasonal vegetables, not animal protein, their raison d’être; Alain Passard (briefly) went one better and rejected meat entirely. Bistronomie stripped haute cuisine of its pretensions, occasioning just the latest cri de coeur in a century-long tradition of pundits proclaiming this as the moment when classic French cooking definitively died.

In America, the story of French food, on the surface at least, is simpler: It was the pinnacle, then it wasn’t. There are any number of reasons why it was toppled from its position of pre-eminence: the emergence of viable alternative models; the winnowing away of pomp and circumstance from menus and dining rooms in the wake of the Great Recession; health concerns and simple fashion too, probably. Whatever the cause, the postwar giants — La Côte Basque, Le Cirque, Lutèce — closed one by one, and a more symbolic door seemed to have shut with them.

The reasons for French food’s resurgence in the years since Time magazine deified its new, emphatically non-French (and decidedly male) Gods of Food are as multifarious as the reasons for its original decline: Simple fashion, again, is probably only one of them.

But certainly, by the time Lucky Peach was asking its panel about the future of gastronomy for the Fall 2016 “Cooks & Chefs III: Fine Dining” issue, the gastronomy of the past was once again on the table. Christopher Kostow, the chef of California’s three-Michelin-star Restaurant at Meadowood, predicted chefs would soon be “looking further back and asking ourselves why we have rid ourselves of certain things”; trailblazing Alinea chef Grant Achatz was even more specific, predicting the return of “old French-style restaurants” — nothing less than “a resurgence of classicism.”

Really, he could have been describing Le Coucou, which opened in New York City in June of that year with a theatrical Gallic flourish, toques and all. Chef Daniel Rose intended it as a modern homage to Lutèce, perhaps the most emblematic of the grand postwar restaurants championed by then-New York Times critic Craig Claiborne. And if current New York Times critic Pete Wells didn’t quite match the four stars eventually bestowed by Claiborne on Lutèce, he nevertheless thrilled to the similarities between the two restaurants, and Le Coucou’s recontextualization of what he termed “the old high style.” Somewhere willing to serve authentic Lyonnaise quenelles de brochet in 2016 New York was undeniably distinctive — “an unmistakable outlier,” per Eater NY’s Ryan Sutton — but was also far more than a mere novelty play: It felt significant enough to move Eater’s national critic Bill Addison to predict that 2017 would finally (once again) be the year of the “proudly French restaurant.”

Fifteen months on, that feels like a pretty good call. Achatz himself is midway through a six-month exploration of 20th century French gastronomy at Next, in Chicago; Nouvelle Cuisine will replace the Cuisine Classique theme at the end of this month. In New York, Le Coucou now has a sibling, La Mercerie, which twins an innovative retail concept with an all-day menu boasting crepes and more recherché fare, like the tourteau fromagé; a couple of blocks away, Frenchette flies the tricolore for more affordable bistro dishes (and, less traditionally, natural wines). Grand Café in Minneapolis was one of last year’s most anticipated (re)openings; in the span of a few months, the West Coast has seen first Bar Crenn and now Canard come to the party, two of the highest-profile newcomers of 2018 so far. And Balthazar, Keith McNally’s oft-imitated ode to Parisian brasseries in New York City, is up for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant, 21 years after its first opened.

What is striking in each of these cases is not that they are French, but quite how unapologetically French they are. Where for the past decade or so French influence largely needed to be ironized, deftly reimagined, or otherwise attenuated — think the celeriac en vessie or carrot tartare (really more of a carrot à la presse) at Eleven Madison Park — in 2018, the truly old-fashioned and excessive is back on the menu. Some of the more recent openings may share some of their DNA with the Montreal maximalists Joe Beef — like Grand Café, whose riff on the Paris-Brest substitutes a mousse of chicken livers cooked in cognac and cream for the more common praline — but more often than not it is canonical Gallic gastronomy, without further mediation or reinterpretation, that is on offer.

Words that once functioned as shorthands for a very specific form of fine dining fussiness and fustiness — beurre blanc, tarte flambée, soufflé, mousseline, mille-feuille — are once again reclaiming their rightful place on menus embracing, not scorning, the past. In parallel with the rise of culinary New Romanticism, with its personal narratives, organic style of plating, and bouquets of edible flowers, is it time to speak of a neoclassical revival, too?

However small in scale (for now, at least), the resurgence is not confined to places that self-define as capital-F French. At the genre-bending New York City restaurant Momofuku Ko, one of the signature dishes — previously an occasional fixture on the tasting menu, now available daily at the new bar — is something that a French chef from a hundred years ago would recognize as a classic pithivier: burnished, flaky, beautifully scored pastry encasing a savory farce (now duck, previously pheasant and foie gras). Pies like it have recently appeared on menus in Hong Kong (at Belon, courtesy of British chef Daniel Calvert), and in London (at both the Laughing Heart and Portland). In each case, old-fashioned grand cuisine is positioned in a context that otherwise scans as completely contemporary.

This juxtaposition is part of the pithivier’s appeal for chef Sean Gray, who likes how it feels “kind of out of place” alongside other dishes on the Ko menu. But he sees it as far from a stagnant fixture there, despite its popularity; for him and his team, it has become almost a provocation: “How good can it be? How good can we make it?”

It’s no idle question: A dish like this, which involves at least a dozen steps across multiple days, is pure, old-fashioned, labor-intensive technique at its most exacting. Which, of course, is also part of its appeal. For customers, there’s the wonder at seeing something you definitely couldn’t do at home; for head chefs mindful of the need to educate their young charges, there’s the training aid that it represents; for the person cooking it, there’s the accountability of taking control of a technically challenging process that can span multiple days.

This being 2018, there’s the Instagram angle, too. In a feed cluttered with rainbow-unicorn prettiness and tweezered terrarium plating, the stark geometric shapes and neutral colour palette of the neoclassical dish stand boldly and strikingly apart; the British chef Calum Franklin has amassed tens of thousands of followers (including at least one famous fan) on the back of this sort of immaculate, precision-engineered craftsmanship. Image-sharing has doubtless helped fuel the aesthetic’s reemergence, affording likeminded cooks a platform to show off their creations and spur each other on to even more elaborate extremes.

From top left: quenelle Lyonnaise; asparagus with hollandaise; tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream and caneles at Bar Crenn in San Francisco

The furthest extreme to date — and the signal neoclassical opening of 2018 so far — is surely San Francisco’s Bar Crenn. Every element of the design, from the decor to the servicewear (lovingly plucked from Parisian flea markets) has been specifically selected, Crenn says, to “tell the story” of 1920s and ’30s salon life, to recreate an atmosphere in which “people gathered and exchanged ideas” with far more freedom than they do now.

The free exchange of ideas between past and present influences Crenn’s work more broadly: “You cannot go forward or be inspired,” she says, “without being aware of your heritage, where you came from.” And while some chefs might be looking back to the past with perhaps misplaced nostalgia — the heyday of French cuisine was also a time of imperialism, racism, and sexism — for Crenn the journey back in time through her culinary tradition is both personal and thoughtful; it is precisely this approach that informs the menu at Bar Crenn, which positions uncompromising French icon-dishes from the likes of Alain Ducasse, Paul Bocuse, and Pierre Koffmann alongside equally uncompromising riffs on French classics, like pâté en croute from Crenn herself.

It’s a juxtaposition that foregrounds quite how much of a boys club French fine dining has historically been. There is something strikingly transgressive, too, in the finished dishes being eaten not in the grand ateliers of Lyon or Paris but as “bar snacks” in a room that abuts one of America’s most progressive temples of fine dining. But, in Crenn’s eyes, this conversation between different schools of and approaches to high-end gastronomy is central to the overall effect: “If you put a Monet, and a Gaugin, and a Dalí on the wall, they may all be from different backgrounds and eras, but they are still in dialogue. And that dialogue might spark something.”

Bar Crenn itself is in a sort of dialogue with two other San Francisco restaurants, each opened by another chef with multiple Michelin stars to their name. Perhaps its most obvious analogue is Monsieur Benjamin, the modern bistro from Corey Lee whose lengthy menu is inspired by “the great Parisian bistro culture and traditions of French cooking.” And although this is clearly one crucial element of the neoclassical resurgence, Bar Crenn’s drive to recontextualize French traditions puts it in conversation, too, with In Situ, Lee’s project across town. There, modern culinary masterpieces play off each other in the suggestive setting of SFMOMA; it is a framing device that speaks volumes about the role that restaurants play in the curation and/or conservation of different schools and traditions.

Merely preserving the past is not enough for chefs like Crenn; for her, there is no point in going back if it doesn’t also help us to move forward. Postwar French restaurants in America were always museums, in a sense; visions of classical French cookery frozen in amber for half a century or more. But at Bar Crenn — as at other exemplars of the French neoclassical wave — the exhibits are finally coming to life.

Source: Eater


Opinion: Pancakes Are the Next Fetish Carb

Meghan McCarron wrote . . . . . . . . .

At MeMe’s, the queer-centric Brooklyn diner of the moment, a sexy cocoa Dutch baby arrives crowned with a halved banana, whipped cream, and a cherry. In Los Angeles, a new restaurant called Breakfast serves a menu of “oatmeal griddle cakes,” which it will make gluten free but won’t serve with syrup. The Lakewood in Durham serves a stack of sourdough pancakes with sorghum syrup; June’s All Day in Austin serves its with sour cherries. Across the vast swath of America, viral flapjacks proliferate, whether it’s baklava pancakes with a slice of actual baklava up top at Salt and Honey Bakery in El Paso, or pancakes sandwiching bright-purple ube at Truffles N Bacon Cafe in Las Vegas.

The still-subtle uptick of #PancakeContent on Instagram is creating the conditions for ever-growing cravings for pancakes. I am sorry to tell you this, but the cycle weathered by other comforting, wheat-based foodstuffs — to be embraced, memed, and disavowed in a ritualistic self-loathing pattern — is beginning again. Avocado toast is over. Jam-slathered brioche is done. It’s pancakes’ time.

This is not because fancy pancakes are new. The lemon-ricotta pancake is a brunch staple at higher-end restaurants; Dutch baby manias regularly sweep America. Sqirl has been serving a deeply weird and wonderful buckwheat-cactus pancake slathered in a cacao-nib pudding for years. Pancakes never went anywhere. They are just here to be rediscovered, like sunny-side-up eggs, and bacon, and toast — all of which, incidentally, have experienced mass fetish cycles over the past 15 years.

There’s a distinction between a trend and a fetish. Food trends are bellwethers of social aspiration and cultural exchange, or recognition of individual chefs’ importance, whether it’s Nancy Silverton sparking the burrata craze at Osteria Mozza or David Chang popularizing the pork bun. Trends are also kind of boring to anyone who doesn’t have a professional stake in the restaurant world — is the cresting mania for farro or an emerging hunger for raita compelling to anyone who doesn’t make, obsessively eat, and/or write about said whole grains or yogurt-based condiments? I am eternally hopeful, but all my friends tell me: no.

But a food fetish commands the attention of a much larger portion of the discourse, including people with somewhat sane relationships to food. A trend can become a fetish, but the fetish is less about novelty than emotional appeal. The foodstuff must be abundant and cheap, but not so abundant nor so cheap that it doesn’t seem special; it must be both comforting and forbidden. The fetish most often manifests as a $12 version of what’s usually a $4 dish, pricing out everyday consumers with what could be genuinely wonderful ingredients and technique, or just a lot of useless bling (vegan charcoal croissant and gold-leaf soft serve… congratulations).

These fetishes probably existed before the internet, but blogs and social platforms, especially Instagram, have accelerated the cycle and supercharged their conversion from genuine enthusiasms to conspicuously consumed objects. Think burgers, think tacos, think pizza, think soft serve, think toast — or, for fetishization’s (even) shittier manifestation, consider the current exoticizing fascination with tumeric and mezcal and kimchi and “authentic” tacos. The roots of a fetish are not a new ingredients or technique — they are cultural capital, whether that’s childhood nostalgia or contextless othering or, in the worst timelines, both. The most fetishized dish of all, avocado toast, neatly combines both fatty gluten comfort and a vague yet powerful suggestion that white people finally found the proper use for avocados.

Signs that pancakes are emerging as the new comfort carb, an on-ramp to fetish status, abound. All those enticing ’grams, for one. A stack of pancakes presents pleasingly organic, asymmetrical ovals when shot from above, especially if they are scattered with strawberries; a vertical stack offers teetering, syrup-drenched abundance.

But an ugly pancake is still a good pancake, and pancakes are not aspirational beyond the aspiration of going out to eat. People who could care less about stylish eating will declare their loyalty to pancakes over waffles on Twitter. One of the cheapest options at the cheapest meal, breakfast, which is the only meal an entire circle of friends in their 20s and 30s can currently afford to share together, pancakes are appealing at the all-day cafe and the old-school diner alike. Many millennials’ childhoods ran on Bisquick weekend mornings; the suburban teenage years of a not-insignificant number of media types turned on 2 a.m. diner pancakes with a cigarette and a shitty coffee and a sense of definitely getting away with something.

There’s even a delightful, fuck-your-healthy-toast meme: pancakes for the table. As masterfully broken down by Lindsay Robertson at Marie Claire, like all great memes, pancakes for the table has been around forever: a throwaway line by Liza Treyger in her set on Late Night with Seth Meyers in November 2016, the Twitter campaign of comedian Ian Karmel, a Twitter account with 16 followers launched in 2012, the subject of several tweets in 2010. The concept also predates all of this: The writer Zan Romanoff told me her college friends did the “pancakes for the table” thing long before it was a low-key meme, ordering a round while out for brunch in the mid-aughts. It is the perfect strategy for a carb-fearing moment, the pleasure of pancakes without the obligation of just eating pancakes, or pinning the guilt of ordering such a sugary, non-nutritionally-correct dish on any one person — hey, blame the table!

There’s a bleak pride to be taken in the fact that, as massive corporations and privileged food scolds vie to shape cultural tastes, the culture responds by staring at, fantasizing about, making, and eating an extremely normal dish until it becomes furiously symbolic. Are pancakes in for the kind of food-fetish ride that profits cultural grifters and thrives on ugly assumptions about whose food matters and why? God, I hope not.

If the full fetishization does take hold, the one thread of hope is that the dish is robust enough to survive it. Pancakes, if you define the term loosely, are one of humanity’s oldest foods; they can bear the symbolic weight. Extremely online Americans might get sick of looking at pancakes, or talking about pancakes, but it’s hard to imagine ever becoming tired of eating them.

Source: Eater

Food for Thought: After 45 Birthdays, Here Are Megan McArdie’s ’12 Rules for Life’

Megan McArdie wrote . . . . . . .

Yesterday was January 29, meaning that Oprah Winfrey and I are each a year older: 64 and 45.

Forty-five is somehow a very definite year; there is no question that you are middle aged.

At 45 one takes stock. The building years of your life are over, and what you are now is pretty much what you are going to be. Soon it will be what you were.

You can no longer tell yourself that you might move to Lisbon, learn Portuguese, and take up the guitar. You cannot learn Portuguese at your age. You can’t remember new words anymore; you can’t even remember where you have left your keys.

So it seems a good opportunity to do two things. First, to wish Oprah Winfrey a happy belated birthday. And second, to address this “12 Rules for Life” meme that you young whippersnappers have got up to on the social medias. I am probably more than halfway through my life now; I ought to have some rules.

  1. Be kind. Mean is easy; kind is hard. Somewhere in eighth grade, many of us acquired the idea that the nasty putdown, the superior smile, the clever one liner, are the signs of intelligence and great personal strength. But this kind of wit is, to borrow from the great John Scalzi, “playing the game on easy mode.” Making yourself feel bigger by making someone else feel small takes so little skill that 12-year-olds can do it. Those with greater ambitions should leave casual cruelty behind them.
  2. Politics is not the most important thing in the world. It’s just the one people talk about the most. That’s because everyone shares the government; only you are married to your spouse, and can knowledgeably expound on their habit of mashing up soft-boiled egg and ketchup into a disgusting paste; this makes it hard to have much of a dialogue with your friends on the subject.

    But your spouse and others around you matter more to your happiness than the government does. You will notice, as you go about your day, that many, many important things are riding on your spouse, things that will have immediate costs and benefits to you. Very few of the things that irritate you or bring you joy have anything to do with the government. So keep some perspective about politics. It doesn’t matter as much as the real people around you, and the real things you can do in the world. If you have to choose between politics and a friendship, choose the friendship every time.

  3. Always order one extra dish at a restaurant, an unfamiliar one. You might like it, which would be splendid. If you don’t like it, all you lost was a couple of bucks. If you can’t afford to order that one extra dish, then the restaurant is too expensive for your budget and you should find a cheaper one.
  4. Give yourself permission to be bad. You know what you’re really good at? Things you’ve done many times before. Mastery is boredom. Unfortunately, we like feeling like masters; we hate feeling like idiots. So we keep ourselves bored in order to protect ourselves from feeling stupid. This is a bad trade. (Trust me, I wrote the book on this.)
  5. Go to the party even when you don’t want to. Nine times in 10, you’ll be bored and go home early. But the 10th time, you will have a worthy experience or meet an interesting person. That more than redeems those other wasted hours.
  6. Save 25 percent of your income. No, don’t tell me how expensive your city is; I have spent basically my whole life in New York and Washington, DC. You can save if you want to; what you really mean is “There are all these things I want more than financial security.” And you’re right: You do want them more than financial security right now. But when you’re comparison shopping brands of generic dog food, or begging your parents for a loan, you’ll wish you’d saved the money. So cut out the things in your life that matter less than the financial freedom that will let you take important risks while sleeping easy at night (which is to say, almost all of them except the people) and save more money.
  7. Don’t just pay people compliments; give them living eulogies. Tell them exactly how great they are, in how many ways. Embarrass them. Here’s a funny thing I have learned by being just a little bit internet famous: it doesn’t matter how many times you hear them, the words “You are amazing, and here’s why” never get old. They do not go out of style. You will be wearing them to your 80th birthday party, along with a dazzling smile.
  8. That thing you kinda want to do someday? Do it now. I mean, literally, pause reading this column, pick up the phone, and book that skydiving session. RIGHT NOW. I’ll wait. Pixels are patient.

    Don’t wait until you have the time to really relax and enjoy it. That will be approximately three decades from now, and it’s highly possible you won’t be able to enjoy it. I will never forgive myself for passing up a chance to go to trapeze school in my late 20s. I figured I could always do it later, little suspecting that in my early thirties my lower back would decide to take up amateur dramatics. At least somebody got to perform.

  9. Somewhere around that same eighth-grade mark where we all experimented with being mean, we get the idea that believing in things makes you a sucker — that good art is the stuff that reveals how shoddy and grasping people are, that good politics is cynical, that “realism” means accepting how rotten everything is to the core.

    The cynics aren’t exactly wrong; there is a lot of shoddy, grasping, rottenness in the world. But cynicism is radically incomplete. Early modernist critics used to complain about the sanitized unreality of “nice” books with no bathrooms. The great modernist mistake was to decide that if books without sewers were unrealistic, “reality” must be the sewers. This was a greater error than the one it aimed to correct. In fact, human beings are often splendid, the world is often glorious, and nature, red in tooth and claw, also invented kindness, charity and love. Believe in that.

  10. Don’t try to resolve fundamental conflicts with your spouse or roommates. The only people who win marital arguments about bedrock values are divorce lawyers.

    I mean, you wouldn’t say “I have a free hour; I bet I could solve the Israel/Palestinian conflict and still have time for a spot of tennis!” So why do you try to use the same hour to convince your spouse that potato salad should have pickles in it?

    If you want pickles in your potato salad, chop up some pickles and put them on the side so you can add it to your dish. If you have radically differing ideas about tidiness, eliminate meals out and make the old car do for another few years so that you can have someone in to clean a couple of times a month. If one of you wants skim milk and the other drinks whole, don’t settle for a sad compromise on 2 percent; buy skim milk and heavy cream and mix your own whole milk as-needed (here are the proportions, if you need them).

    Not all conflicts can be resolved this way, but a surprising number can. You should never, ever argue with your spouse about anything that could be solved with a proper application of money or ingenuity. As for the rest: unless it is an existential threat to your future (out-of-control spending, wants/doesn’t want kids, abuse, substance problem, infidelity), leave it alone. On your deathbed, your spouse will be there, holding your hand. The dream house you’re dying to buy will not be.

  11. Be grateful. No matter how awful your life seems at the moment, you have something to be grateful for. Focus on it with the laser-like, single-minded devotion of a dog eyeing a porterhouse.

    You have been granted 2 billion seconds on this planet, give or take. You are a billionaire! Many billionaires, however, squander most of their fortune on bitter recriminations about how unfair everything is. Many of them are right, and it really is unfair. But you won’t get a refund from the universe for the time you spent brooding about the unfairness. You lose them just as surely as a second spent experiencing joy, only they don’t even give you something nice to remember them by.

  12. Always make more dinner rolls than you think you can eat. For some reason, dinner rolls loom much larger in our imaginations than in our stomachs.

Source: Bloomberg

Opinion: Five Food and Nutrition Myths You Can Ignore

Jason Brick wrote . . . . . . .

A little more than 70% of American adults are overweight (according to the CDC), with a third of us qualifying as obese. But what if that has less to do with us jamming burgers into our faces and washing them down with sodas so big only astronomers understand how to measure their size and more to do with us having been lied to by the powers that be?

In search of answers to our various food-related conspiracy theories, we called up Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. Not only is he one of our leading experts in health, wellness, and nutrition, he’s spent a couple of decades calling out the most egregious food lies from government agencies and food cabals, and presenting more accurate information.

After talking with Dr. Willett, and reading his no-bullshit guide Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, we identified the five most insidious food myths that have been forced down our throats and what we can do to combat them.

Myth #1: The Food Pyramid

If you’re old like me, you will remember “the Basic Four” food groups: dairy, meat, bread, and fruits and vegetables. It was an attempt by the US Department of Agriculture to provide guidelines for what to eat every day and introduced the concept of a balanced meal, but it wasn’t detailed enough to be useful. “It didn’t recognize a difference between white bread and whole grains, or between spinach and cherries,” says Dr. Willett.

The USDA addressed some of those concerns in the early 1990s with the more nuanced Food Pyramid, but, according to Dr. Willett, its legitimacy was undercut by lobbyists. “The influence of agribusiness like corn and dairy had more to do with [how the pyramid took shape] than the CDC and other health agencies,” says Willett. One example: the Food Pyramid wanted you to eat more white bread than raw vegetables. It also didn’t tell you the difference between good fats and oils and the bad ones.

The USDA’s latest nutrition guide, MyPyramid, introduced in 2011, is more trustworthy, but it’s also less nuanced and therefore brings back the issues associated with “the Basic Four.” For those looking for more detailed guidelines about what’s nutritional circa 2018, Dr. Willett recommends the Healthy Eating Plate, released by his team at the Harvard’s School of Public Health, which also provides an elaborate and nicely illustrated “Healthy Eating Pyramid,” complete with optional suggestions and reminders for what foods to eat sparingly.

Myth #2: Drink more milk

You heard it from your parents, from your TV, and from our buddy Leon the Professional: Milk is good for your bones and your teeth, so you should drink at least a glass a day. Maybe two. Especially as a kid. On the surface, this makes sense. Milk contains a lot of calcium. Calcium is what they make bones and teeth out of. Ergo, bones and teeth are made of milk. Pour me a glass!

According to Dr. Willett, though, it’s “not such an emergency.” A grip of studies during the ’90s looked at comparative medical outcomes in countries where people drink a lot of milk (like Denmark and the USA) and countries where people hardly drink any milk at all (like Japan and Singapore). Turns out, there’s not a whole lot of difference in frequency of broken bones, age of osteoporosis onset, or dental problems. If drinking a lot of milk was so important, we’d see more bone and tooth problems in the countries with less moo juice.

Why don’t we see that difference? Because calcium is in all kinds of stuff. Oranges, green beans, sunflower seeds, broccoli, almonds, squash, clams, and rockfish are just a few of the dozens of foods with a powerful calcium content. Hell, Tums have more calcium than your body needs.

The takeaway: Eat cheese because that shit is delicious, not because you’re afraid you’ll break a hip if you don’t.

Myth #3: Fat is bad

This one is rooted in the fitness craze in the ’70s and ’80s that accompanied jogging, jazzercising, and Jane Fonda’s Workout. Again, it made sense if you only gave it a little thought. Everyone wants to be thinner, and fat is the opposite of thin. So if we want to be thin, why would we put fat into our bodies?

But fat is one of three kinds of food substances our bodies need. Eating a diet with no fat is like running your car with no oil. Sure, you have plenty of gas and transmission fluid, but overall it’s a bad idea. Dr. Willett, and a few thousand other knowledgeable professionals, report that you shouldn’t avoid fats, but learn the differences between kinds of fat and eat accordingly. Roughly, these fall into three groups: good fats from plants and fish that you should eat plenty of; bad fats from animals (plus palm and coconut plants) that should represent no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake; and super-duper bad trans fats from industrial processes that you should not only avoid, but bury at a crossroads at midnight with a stake through their hearts.

There’s one piece of good news here. Back in the worst days of the fat scare, people ate butter substitutes made from trans fats and thought they were doing themselves a favor. According to Dr. Willett, “most butter substitutes are free of trans fats after we became aware of the problem in the early 2000s.” So, we’ve got that going for us.

Myth #4: Low-carb is good

Low-carb, slow-carb, Atkins, Paleo, or Keto. Whatever you choose to call it, low-carb diets are a massive business, and for two good reasons: 1) people who follow low-carb diets tend to experience rapid weight loss in the early months of the diet, which is not only encouraging, it’s usually pretty good for them, and 2) they generally don’t ask you to stop eating meat. Losing weight is good. Bacon is delicious. So what’s the problem?

“No diet advice is complete if you only tell people what not to eat,” says Dr. Willett. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners consisting entirely of bacon and sawed-off chunks off cheese the size of a car battery is a staple of most low-carb diets, but your dietary approach needs to be far more complicated when you’re looking at the bigger picture.

But complicated nutrition programs don’t sell books, and you can’t make a Dr. Phil-esque comment that sums it up succinctly. So low-carb programs sell big and folks keep on being skinny right up to their first heart attack.

Myth #5: Diet soda makes you thin

“Oh, for the love of…” you’re saying. “Diet soda has zero calories. How can it not make you thin?”

That’s what the makers of diet sodas have been banking on (and taking to the bank) for decades. Like all the other myths on this list, it passes the sniff test initially because its surface thesis is sound: If you drink sodas with lots of sugar and calories, you’re going to put on more weight than if you drink sodas with zero calories.

But that’s not necessarily true, and despite a lot of research over the years on the matter, science isn’t entirely sure why yet. Some hypothesize that diet sodas contain a mess of chemicals that mess up your metabolism, make you crave sugar, or instruct your body to store fat. Other experts conjecture that it’s a correlation-not-causation thing — that only people who are already overweight drink diet sodas. Psychologists have speculated that some people might use consumption of diet drinks as tacit permission to super-size their value meal.

Yeah, it’s all super-complicated and nobody’s really sure what the hell is going on. Meanwhile, Dr. Willett recommends just setting the policy of never drinking calories. Water and tea are fine for most meals. Especially water. Drink more water.

Source: Thrillist

Opinion: 7 nutrition trends you’ll see in 2018

Christy Brissette wrote . . . . . . .

Last year was all about plant protein, sprouted foods and healthy fats. My prediction is that 2018 will be focused on eating to prevent and manage health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and boosting digestive health.

This year’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo was held in Chicago and brought more than 13,000 nutrition professionals together to learn about food and nutrition research and innovation.

Here are the top food and nutrition trends you’ll see in the year ahead.


Why it’s a trend: Healthy fats are in, and in 2018 we’ll home in on omega-9s (also known as monounsaturated fats) for their potential to regulate blood sugar levels and promote a healthy weight.

Where you’ll see it: Algae has been touted as a superfood in its own right, but the newest use for algae is in the production of ­omega-9 cooking oil. The process doesn’t use genetically modified organisms or chemical extraction, further broadening its appeal. Thrive algae oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. It has a high smoke point of 485 degrees, which means you can use it in baking, roasting and sauteing.

So what does algae oil taste like? It’s completely neutral and odorless, so you can use it in any recipes where you want healthy fat without changing the flavor of the food.

Plant-based probiotics

Why it’s a trend: Probiotics have been a hot topic in the nutrition world for several years. They’re bacteria that provide health benefits such as better digestion and a stronger immune system. With plant-based eating becoming increasingly popular, people are looking for probiotic sources beyond yogurt and kefir.

Where you’ll see it: GoodBelly dairy-free probiotics come in tasty shots, juice, infused drinks and bars so you can get your daily dose of good bacteria any way you like. All GoodBelly offerings feature bacteria strain Lp299v, which has been scientifically proved to survive stomach acid and arrive safely in the intestines, where it can colonize in the gut. In other words, these probiotics go beyond “live and active cultures” — they survive and thrive to give you health benefits.

Chicory root fiber

Why it’s a trend: It’s fantastic to introduce healthy bacteria into your digestive tract, but you also need to provide the right fuel to help those good bacteria thrive. That’s where prebiotics come in.

Chicory root fibers (inulin and oligofructose) are the only scientifically proven plant-based prebiotics with proven health benefits such as weight management, improved calcium absorption and digestive health.

Where you’ll see it: Expect to find chicory root fiber in a variety of foods, including nutrition bars (ThinkThin), yogurt (Oikos Triple Zero), smoothies and oatmeal. You can also find it as a powder (Prebiotin) that can be added to your food and beverages.

Eating for ‘Type 3’ diabetes

Why it’s a trend: Alzheimer’s disease is now being referred to as “Type 3 diabetes” and “brain diabetes,” as both conditions involve insulin resistance and deficiency. In 2018, we’ll be focusing more on the importance of eating for brain health.

Where you’ll see it: A randomized control trial of the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay) diet is looking into the benefits of a nutrient-rich diet emphasizing foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and berries in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Frozen blueberries are being given to participants because they are rich in antioxidants that may be beneficial for the brain, particularly when it comes to memory loss in aging.

Recent research published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that daily consumption of the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries, given as 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder, showed positive changes in cognitive function in older adults over a placebo.

Expect to see blueberry powder as a supplement and blueberries being used to create condiments and sauces in savory as well as sweet dishes.

Pseudograins made convenient

Why it’s a trend: Getting healthy whole grains on the table has always been a challenge because of longer cooking times. That’s why food companies are coming up with ways to bring us whole grains and pseudograins (seeds that are served as grains) much more quickly.

Where you’ll see it: Fast and portable amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa in single portions such as Ellyndale Q Cups in low-sodium flavors like Savory Garlic & Mushroom. They’re ready in five minutes; just add boiling water and steep and you’re ready to eat.

Stevia 2.0

Why it’s a trend: Stevia continues to rule as the sweetener of choice for people wanting to cut down on sugar or calories. As the demand for stevia grows, so do the product offerings.

Where you’ll see it: Look for stevia as an ingredient in more beverages, baking mixes and condiments as consumers look for calorie- and sugar-reduced versions of their favorites.

Stevia will be mixed with brown sugar, cane sugar and honey by companies such as Truvia to make lower-sugar and lower-calorie options. Because these stevia products are naturally sweeter than sugar, you need to use only half the amount.

Cottage cheese, the new Greek yogurt

Why it’s a trend: Cottage cheese used to be only for dieters because it was seen as plain and, let’s face it, lumpy. Now it’s becoming more popular because we’re all obsessed with finding more ways to pack protein into our meals and snacks. This cousin to Greek yogurt is slightly higher in protein and is mostly casein, a protein that can help you feel full longer.

Where you’ll see it: Brands such as Muuna make cottage cheese with a texture that melts in your mouth and is sweetened with real fruit and no artificial flavors. Plus it’s low in sugar, with only four grams in the plain version.

Source : The Washington Post