Food Addiction – The Real Thing?

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I joke about food addiction all the time, but it is a real thing. I didn’t realize how real until I read the latest issue of Experience Life Magazine, a publication put out by Lifetime Fitness, the gym where I donate $162 each month.

Anyway.

Dr. Mark Hyman’s article, “Beating Food Addiction” simplifies what can be a mystifying problem for many people. Food addiction must affect many, considering 70 percent of Americans are overweight. Why else do so many of us “eat foods that we know aren’t good for us, that aggravate chronic symptoms, and that make us feel sick, bloated, and guilty?”

The answer is tricky, but we are biologically programmed to eat sugar- and fat-laden foods and store the extra calories (as fat) to carry us through the times when food is scarce. But the food we are storing on the inside is never used, because we live in the 21st century and not in a cave. I do know some people that should live in a cave, but that’s not what this is about.

According to Dr. Hyman, it’s biology that’s getting the best of us. “What saved us as hunter-gatherers is killing us now,” he writes. Well-said, and pretty sad.

So how do you know if you have a food addiction and not just an unhealthy love of potato chips? You can take a look at Dr. Kelly Brownell’s nine points below – the more intensely or more frequently you experience these feelings and behaviors, the more addicted you are. (FYI: I am in some major trouble here.)

  1. You consume certain foods even if you are not hungry because of cravings.
  2. You worry about cutting down on certain foods.
  3. You feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating.
  4. You have health or social problems (affecting school or work) because of food
issues and yet keep eating the way you do despite negative consequences.
  5. You have spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating certain foods instead of spending time in important activities with family, friends, work, or recreation.
  6. You have had withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and anxiety when you cut down on certain foods (not including caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks).
  7. Your behavior with respect to food and eating causes you significant distress.
  8. Issues related to food and eating decrease your ability to function effectively in your daily routine, at your job or school, and in social or family activities.
  9. You need more and more of the foods you crave to either experience any pleasure and/or reduce negative emotions.

So now what? Dr. Hyman recommends a comprehensive detox, not just eliminating a few trigger foods. A 10-day, cold turkey detox that eschews gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar and celebrates lean protein, nuts, fruits, vegetables and water.

This is nothing new. We all know this and we don’t all do this and why? Because we’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid – literally – for years. We have been ingesting a drug in the form of something as innocent-looking as a vitamin water. It’s not our fault necessarily, but it is our problem.

Dr. Hyman’s book and supporting articles offer a bit of hope by simplifying the reason behind food issues, eliminating the guilt associated with them, and offering steps towards success.

Heidi Wachter tried Dr. Hyman’s detox and shared her daily insights. Reading about her experience was inspiring, until the part when she mentioned she’s been trying to “put on weight.” So then I hated her. But just for a second.

I originally wrote this post with a plan to post one of Dr. Hyman’s recipes, but if you are serious about attempting his plan, one little recipe is not going to help. So check out some of the resources he offers and fill us in on your success.

Epicurean has and always will offer a variety of foods and we never label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for our guests since we are all different cavemen and cavewomen. But – writing this blog reminded me of the importance of enjoying good food in any situation, while also being true to yourself and your needs. That’s why we encourage our guests to speak up when they need or want something different on their plate or at their table. And we won’t send you back to your cave just for asking.

Dinner: Rules that Resonate

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Jenny Rosenstrach’s book, Dinner: A Love Story, is getting some buzz, but I actually first learned of Rosenstrach in a Reader’s Digest article titled “A Witty, Wise Dinner Guide,” which I perused while sitting in the pediatrician’s office with one of my children who was suffering from some ailment I can no longer remember because as I write this it is early and I have not had coffee and there are so many children in my house and, thus, too many ailments to remember. So. Now.

I would like Rosenstrach. I’d say almost all of us would like Rosenstrach. Her book offers a sweet, blurred-line view of life through a soft lens focused squarely on the family kitchen. She celebrates the simple pleasure of cooking and eating together, and the photographs and recipes only add to the beauty.

Of Rosenstrach’s “50 Rules of Dinner,” I have my favorites (#4 is so me I can’t even begin to speak of the numerous disasters) including:

#37. When someone says they drink “one to two” glasses of wine a night, you can pretty much assume it’s two.

#15. Resist the urge to apologize when you’re cooking for people. Most of the time your dinner guests won’t notice anything is wrong until you bring it up.

and…

#50. You end the day with family dinner.

And Rosenstrach’s husband, Andy, offers his take on the next 50 – the best in my humble opinion are:

#75. If someone cooks dinner for you and that dinner is delicious, and you enjoy eating it, say so. Say, “Oh my God, this is so good. This is INSANE.”

#76. If someone cooks dinner for you and that dinner is maybe not the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your life, but still, it clearly required thought and time and work and, yes, love, say, “Oh my God, this is so good. This is INSANE.”

#77. If you cook dinner for someone, and that person is not super forthcoming with his or her expressions of happiness or gratitude, you must (a) fight every urge to ask them if they like it, and (b) think twice about cooking for that person again.

Take a look at the entire list here – and relish the time you have cooking and eating and laughing and drinking with friends and family both old and young. As Rosenstrach reminds us, both the successes and the mishaps that happen in the kitchen are gifts.

(submitted by Stephanie Blackford)

NYC Culinary Trip

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Chef Adam (Executive Chef & General Manager for Epicurean at Sports Authority Field at Mile High) and myself recently we had the honor of visiting New York City as part of a culinary research & development (R&D) trip with the owner of Epicurean Group, Larry DiPasquale.  It was our first time in NYC and we were ready for a fun filled, research packed trip.  Although the trip was fast and furious, we immersed ourselves into the fabric of the city.

The city that never sleeps is a true metaphor for this amazing concrete jungle.  There is always something to see or do or eat.  Skyscrapers of metal, old brick buildings, eclectic neighborhoods, packed restaurants on every corner; amazing.

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We made our way through many neighborhoods on our first night. Starting in Little Italy, we were invited into a number of restaurants and markets.  The butcher shop that has been there for 50 years, the new restaurant in an old fire house, and the classic Italian outpost where one could imagine the ‘Godfather’ to hold court.  Every bite of food and staff story told was inspirational.

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From there we meandered towards the West Village,  seeking risotto.  Around the corner was a fabulous, closet-sized restaurant;  jam packed and moving fast.  It was a risotto restaurant, yes they served pizzas and salads and such, but the risotto was the star of the show, rightfully so.  Perfectly cooked risotto, a wild smattering of flavors, and giant breadsticks to scoop up the last bits of flavor; who would have thought that it was a completely gluten free restaurant.  Every baked treat, pizza dough, and breadstick was gluten free, and was so amazingly tasty; they probably fool all sorts of guests.  We walked off our risotto bellies by stopping into a few more markets and cheese shops in the West Village.  Lest not forget the French macaroon shop and the gelato treats!

The city is so inviting and gripping that you just want to keep seeing what is on the next corner or street or menu.  It is mind boggling how all of these amazing places and people co-exist in such small quarters.  It is a city in constant motion being directed like a seamless orchestra where all the moving pieces are in harmony.

Let’s talk about Brooklyn, a short cab ride over a bridge or a subway tunnel under the East River and you’re in a different realm.  Still bustling and vast, there is a different feeling here.  The ‘suburbs’ of the city is what most people coin Brooklyn as, but truly it is a makeup of mini neighborhoods each with their own style and confidence.  Williamsburg was where we spent most of our time.  Beginning at a local butcher and then finding a gem of a kitchen store, the Brooklyn Kitchen.  A housewares store that offers local food items and teaches cooking classes daily. We met great locals who told us about some ‘must see’ places.  From here we ventured to Fortunato Brothers, a traditional Italian bake house with the best cappuccino of the trip.  A few more great stops before we ended our Brooklyn visit by crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot.  It was quite the feeling to be up on the bridge with so many others and look out upon the vast sprawl of the Manhattan sky line.

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A New York City visit wouldn’t be complete without a slice of pizza, or three.  We visited Don Antonio’s pizzeria near Times Square for our first dinner, that’s right; it was a two dinner kind of night.  First dinner was comprised of house made truffle burrata, a few types of salads and two napoleon style pizzas.  Another restaurant that was packed to the gills.  We weaved our way through Times Square and all the lights, billboards, and people.  Then it was off to second dinner.  Il Buco Alimentari e Vinera.  This place had it all, a packed dinning room, a market, house cured meats, delicious food, and a wonderful ambiance.  The menu items were simple and concise; presentation and flavor were on point, the best meal of the trip.

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The last day of the trip centered on the piece d’ resistance of the NY food Mecca, Eataly.  Eataly NY was founded in 2007 and is best described as an Italian marketplace with multiple restaurants utilizing the most fresh and local ingredients.  What a beautiful place!  From the coffee shop to the marketplace to the multiple restaurants and the rooftop beer garden; if you need food, travel, or life inspiration, this is the place.  The deli cases are filled with fresh produce, fish, pasta, meats, and breads.  Their bread house runs 24 hours a day.  They bring in fresh shrimp and sea urchin on a weekly basis.  Their pasta station produces all the pasta for the seven restaurants in the building.  Eataly is the epitome of full food utilization and efficiency.  They do a wonderful job of teaching the consumer how to shop fresh, local, and organic.  Clearly, we stayed for quite some time and are making plans to travel back there as soon as we can.

At no point in my life have I been so over indulged by such great food, people, spirits, and energy.  We were so thrilled to be part of this culinary R&D trip! Cheers!

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(Submitted by Nikki Olst, Executive Sous Chef / Pastry Chef, Sports Authority Field at Mile High)

Larry DiPasquale Inducted Into Visit Denver’s Hall of Fame

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The great thing about working for Epicurean, besides the obvious (risotto and crème brûlée) is that I get to write and post these blogs about basically anything. The rest of the team is busy with other things (risotto and crème brûlée) and I have free reign. I am drunk with power.

So – while the one and only Larry DiPasquale would never, ever advertise the fact that he was recently inducted into Visit Denver’s Hall of Fame, I can. And I would. And I am.

Last Thursday evening, Visit Denver welcomed several stellar individuals, along with Larry DiPasquale, into the Hall of Fame. Honorees included Grace B. Gillette, Dick Monfort, and Joe and Jeff Shoemaker.

Visit Denver also recognized the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts | Denver Center Attractions| Denver Center Theatre Company, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Denver Mountain Parks, Jennifer Jasinski and the Solheim Cup as Tourism Stars.

It was quite a night – and not just because our fearless leader was recognized. With over 500 people in the room, a beautiful dinner (by a fabulous caterer) complete with gorgeous centerpieces in Denver’s premier ‘room with a view,’ we were all reminded that Denver is a hub of arts and culture. We are a community dedicated to – well – our community.

Denver continues to draw thousands of leisure travelers and conventioneers annually. People like Jennifer Jasinski want to build restaurants here. People like Jeff Shoemaker want to keep our river clean. People like Larry DiPasquale want to feed the hungry and homeless, foster great talent, and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs to carry the torch to go bigger and do better.

We also like to have a little bit of fun. So after making Impact Productions (Visit Denver’s production company) PROMISE to put our favorite picture of Larry With The Mustache in the video, we simply had to sneak in some fake ‘staches just for laughs. He was a good sport – as was his wife Jill, daughter Christina, and Christina’s date, Taylor. Is it just me – or would this photo make a great holiday card?

 

(submitted by Stephanie Blackford)

 

You Ate What?

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I have a confession: I like my in-laws. I know, it’s soooo not the cool thing to do. In-law issues keep advice columnists and wine shops in business. But mine are energetic, kind, patient, funny people who love my children unconditionally, striving only to make my gaggle of four happy.

Sound too good to be true?

Well….

As dictated by the laws of grandparenting, my in-laws enjoy providing my tykes with what they call treats. Treats come in the form of sleepovers and movie marathons and board games and ice cream cones and that’s all fine and dandy. I can even sort of look past the gumball machine in their basement that spits out jelly beans for free.

Then, last week, they picked up three out of the four from school (the littlest was already with them) and – as usual – my kiddos expected a treat. Into McDonald’s they went for what? Oh – well –let me just tell you. Two double cheeseburgers, fries, “one of those new green smoothies” (according to Caroline, talking about the get-em-while-they-last Shamrock Shakes) and forty Chicken McNuggets. Yes. You read that right. Four-Zero. 40. Forty.

Um, what?

As many of you know, I do have a sugar addiction that I am working through with some self-help books and a package of Girl Scout cookies, but in general I am pretty particular about the food and drink in my house. That’s why I love working and writing for Epicurean. They whip up the most delectable dishes but never fall back on the fake stuff. It’s good food that just tastes way, way better than when I make it.

My in-laws internally roll their eyes at my endeavors to keep my kids and my kitchen healthy. My father-in-law is not a fan, refusing to eat turkey burgers or sunflower butter. But, the food at our house is usually organic and real (and expensive – but I will save that for another blog). Sodas are scarce, as are Doritos, (mostly because GOD what a mess, and don’t get me started on the breath) juice boxes filled with high-fructose corn syrup and any cereal with a tiger or a captain on the front.

So when I heard that my kids had inhaled a week’s worth of fat and sugar in one sitting not because they were hungry, but because they had their grandparents wrapped around their little fingers, I was a little sick. And angry. Not angry at my in-laws, but at my children. They know better! It was as if they saw their chance and took it thinking: How many Chicken McNuggets will it take before I either vomit or someone makes me stop? Let’s just see….

But if you can’t beat them, join them, right? The treats aren’t going away. Nor should they. My own mother spoils my children just as much, but with excessive amounts of  shoes. And then dresses. And then some hair bows. And books. And pajamas. This is because she never eats, so feeding them junk wouldn’t even occur to her, as she’s too busy organizing (and re-organizing) their closets. And mine (and the neighbor’s.) We all have our issues.

This got me thinking: What is the best worst thing you can eat? Well, first let’s talk about the five WORST things to eat: donuts, soda, French fries, potato chips and processed meat top the list. No surprise there. And while we all know that choosing a salad at the drive-thru is a much better choice than, say, anything with the word ‘deluxe’ in the title, it’s probably not going to fly as a ‘treat.’ Nor is the baked potato at Wendy’s or the Subway sandwich. Let’s get serious:

The Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s has a whopping 530 calories, 15 grams of fat and 86 (yep) grams of carbs.

The McDonald’s Fruit N’ Yogurt Parfait weighs in at 150 calories, 2 grams of fat and 30 grams of carbs. Not so bad when you want to be bad, but not too bad.

The Wendy’s Jr. Frosty Original? 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 32 grams of carbs. Doable, not deathly.

TCBY Yogurt, due to the variety, lists nutritional value for all their concoctions separately, but 4oz of the chocolate flavor is 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 23 grams of carbs. Reasonable, yes, just watch out for those toppings (damn you toppings!).

After finding this information, I was feeling slightly less sick and a little more hopeful. Then I boldly checked on Burger King’s chocolate chip cookies, which was a mistake. At 440 calories and a staggering 16 grams of fat, I can only think “what a waste!” I’d rather have four frozen yogurts for that, plus I have the aforementioned Girl Scout Cookies to resist at home.

The good news is that this is America and we have choices. The bad news is that this is America and we might have too many choices. I’d rather see my children eating an ice cream cone from a local confectionary than watch them eat a handful of Skittles. When it comes to real versus fake real always wins, except in beauty contests and reality shows. At least ice cream comes from milk and sugar instead of wherever Skittles come from (where do they come from?)

At the end of the day, I am all for a treat – within reason. Forty Chicken McNuggets is not reasonable. Nor is the Shamrock Shake and double cheeseburger that accompanied them. Cold treats, like the yogurt sundaes and mini Frosty seem the smartest, least frightening of the bunch. The author of Eat This, Not That is a quasi-genius, helping the average Joe swap out an unhealthy choice for something less scary. Take a look at his list here, and in the meantime, forget about that Shamrock Shake – it will be back next year. I promise.

You Can’t Hurry Love (Or Cheesecake)

 

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It is almost Valentine’s Day. I know, I know – you have yet to implement your New Year’s Resolutions and here we are zeroing in on mid-February. Well, no need to do today what you can put off until tomorrow – so skip the gym just one more time and, instead, bake someone special (this can and should include you) this amazing cheesecake. If you didn’t believe in true love, you will now.

This cheesecake recipe is courtesy of my Aunt Joy. My cheesecake never taste like hers, even though I call her every single time when I am making it. Still, even my amateur efforts pay off big.

Be forewarned, this cheesecake needs time to bake and set, but surprisingly little time to eat. Odd.

I’ve made it twice and both times it was during the early weeks of having a newborn at home, which was a blessing in disguise because I was already wearing a lot of sweat pants and I had a baby that would wake up in the middle of the night demanding to be fed. Again. So I would bake it in the evening and let it sit in the oven until that dreaded 2AM feeding. It’s called multi-tasking, for all you men out there.

Make this and top it with anything you like – melted chocolate, fresh berries, a picture of yourself wearing your best sweatpants. I suggested to my Aunt Joy that we top the cheesecake with another whole entire cheesecake! She just sighed, but I think it was because she didn’t think of it herself. Some of us are just more creative than others, you know?

Cheesecake 

Prep time: 25 minutes | Bake time: approximately 2 hours | Total time: 4 hours

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 sticks butter

Crust Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar
  • Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly
  • Add 2 slightly beaten egg yolks
  • Add vanilla
  • Mix lightly with a fork just until pastry holds together and leaves sides of bowl
  • Chill

Cheese Mixture Ingredients:

  • Five (5) 8oz packages of cream cheese
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbl vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 pint sour cream

Directions: 

  • Pat 1/3 chilled cookie crust evenly over the bottom of 10″ spring form pan
  • Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 8 minutes or until lightly browned
  • Pat remaining dough evenly onto sides of pan
  • Chill
  • Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and fluffy
  • Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time
  • Stir in sour cream
  • Pour into spring pan with baked bottom crust and unbaked shell
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes
  • Lower oven to 250 degrees and bake for 1.5 hours
  • Turn off oven and let cake remain in the oven for 1 hour
  • Remove from oven and and cool
  • Take out of pan before refrigerating
  • Love the one you’re with – and if you are alone, more cheesecake for you!

Now It’s Turmeric? How Much Trend Can We Take?

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I recently read Linda Yellin’s piece “When Did Kale Get A Publicist?” in More Magazine and laughed out loud. Well, first I sort of whimpered because More Magazine just started appearing in my mailbox and I couldn’t figure out why until someone told me, not so gently, that it was because I hit the age of 40. They should just call it Forty – just like they call it Seventeen. It’s mean to tease old people.

After overcoming my surprise and stretching my arms reaallllyyy far in front of my face in order to actually read the article, I wanted to be Yellin’s friend, or at least shop and dine with her. She, too, had a childhood that included weekly meatloaf and a mother who didn’t once ask what I’d like for dinner. I had that mother. I am that mother now. Call me vintage, but with four children, you don’t get a vote on dinner. You just get a designated seat and a plate of food and sometimes a dessert. You’re welcome.

As Yellin points out, trendy foods don’t slowly make their way into our lives, they take over:

“These hot items from the food world don’t just show up on the grocery shelf; they explode into our lives. Suddenly, it’s kale in your face 24/7. Good-bye, olive oil. Hello, coconut oil. Me? I’m still mourning orange roughy. There was a time you couldn’t open a menu without an orange roughy special. But somewhere along the way, wild salmon kicked its ass.” Well said, Yellin, well said.

I recently read in WSJ Magazine that turmeric is today’s hot and trendy spice. “Tumeric is the new kale,” said Sunitha Ramaiah. Oh. Tumeric you say? Alrighty.

Coincidentally, Ramaiah recently launched Manjoor Estates juices to “enlighten Western palates about the curative benefits and complex flavors of spices from her family farm.” This explains why she is not touting the benefits of pineapple I guess.  I always feel a little bit enlightened after my third glass of sangria, but apparently turmeric will enlighten me even more. Wonder which one I’ll like more?

All digs aside, turmeric is actually extremely beneficial. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the spice may delay liver damage (from the sangria?), reduce carcinogenic compounds formed in meats that are fried, broiled or barbequed, can inhibit the growth of skin cancer and slow the spread of breast cancer to the lungs, and stave off Alzheimer’s disease.

I heard Halle Berry makes a paste of turmeric and water and exfoliates her face every few days. And Halle Barry is, well, Halle Berry need I say more?

Still, keeping tabs on all of the benefits of all the foods and all the spices and all plants in the world is impossible, so why try? Eating good, healthy, minimally processed food and getting some sort of exercise on a regular basis is really the simplest recipe for success. In the meantime, here’s another simple recipe that includes that trendy new spice turmeric (that’s been around for centuries). Cheers to turmeric! And if all else fails, may I suggest some sangria?

Golden Elixer (courtesy of Whole Living Magazine)

Prep time: 1 minutes | Cook time: 1 minute | Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Cayenne
  • Honey

Directions:

  1. In a mug, stir together water, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, cayenne and honey (to taste) until combined.
  2. Drink.