Monday, January 16, 2017

Meatless Monday: In 2017 Everything Matters

I let the end of the year slip by without farewell thoughts or best wishes for the new year.

I returned from my first ever Christmas on the west coast, with resolutions in hand. At the top of the list was “Blog More.”

It is now the THIRD Monday of January, but better late than never….

My first post of 2017 has three parts:

Part One: A Place I Visited

While in California we had the opportunity to have lunch at Lyfe Kitchen in Palo Alto. Started by Mike Roberts (the former global president of McDonald’s), Mike Donahue (McDonald USA’s former chief of corporate communications), and Stephen Sidwell (who helped found the meat substitute Gardein), this fast casual chain offers something healthy for everyone  — omnivore, carnivore, vegetarian, or vegan. It is a place any group can happily go to enjoy a meal together. Menu items are under 600 calories! 

A prominent feature of the restaurant’s decor is a hydroponic herb wall, shown in the photo below.

Photo by LYFE Kitchen
Lyfe Kitchen’s  mission is: “To consistently provide flavorful, nourishing experiences and extraordinary service. We feature balanced flavors from real, high quality ingredients for the freshest possible meals, making the choices to feed you and your family easier.” Mainly of the ingredients are locally sourced. There are currently thirteen restaurants in six states. Alas, Connecticut is not one of them. 

Part Two: A Show I am Watching
When I got back I discovered a docu-series on Netflix — Chef’s Table . The teaser reads: “Dinner is served. Find out what’s inside the kitchens and minds of the international culinary stars who are redefining gourmet food.” I started with the spinoff series, Chef’s Table — France, of which I have seen two installments. 

Episode one tells the story of Alain Passard, who dramatically transformed the menu of his famed restaurant L’Arpège. He replaced the meat on his plates with vegetables grown in his own gardens. L’Arpège never once lost any of its three Michelin stars and Passard became known as the founder of the Farm to Table movement. 

Alexandre Couillon and his restaurant La Marine is the subject of episode two. He transformed a seasonal family restaurant into a year round destination, putting his island Nourmoutier on the map. Relying on local fish harvested in a sustainable manner, Couillon endured through an oil spill, from which he drew inspiration for a dish that brought a critic to tears. HIs restaurant has earned two Michelin stars.

Part Three: A Thing I Learned
Potatoes and root vegetables are traditionally stored in a cold cellar, but here is a trick for those of us who don’t have one: If you keep your potatoes in a paper bag, they will not sprout and they will last longer.

The common theme? Through food you can be an agent for change. The French chefs changed the world and economy around them through the food they chose to cook. The founders of Lyfe Kitchen brought “healthy” to fast casual. And a simple paper bag can help you to waste less food in your kitchen.

We need to keep hope alive and remain optimistic in the challenging days ahead. How each of us lives our lives can have a positive effect on the planet and inspire others to do the same.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”