Low Carb Cafe opening in Madison

 

Madison is getting a low-carb (and largely paleo-friendly) cafe, and they plan to open their doors this Monday!

Have you been waiting for a place that really understands your dietary needs? A restaurant that uses healthy fats, doesn’t rely on grains or dairy in every dish, and uses no added sugars or mysterious ingredients?

Good Food – Low Carb Cafe opens on April 3rd, 2017 11am-8pm, at 4674 Cottage Grove Rd, Madison, WI. Expect to see fare like hot zoodle bowls, grain-free flatbread pizza, lettuce tacos, homemade soups, organic chicken bone broth, salads, appetizers, pasture-raised chicken wings, locally-roasted organic coffee, and a weekend brunch menu.

In addition to the new restaurant, Melanie and Kory also do catering, as well as operate two food carts which are available for private parties. They try to source produce locally when possible, and there are always vegan/vegetarian options.

This information and more is available in their MPR listing, which I’m eager to update with a full review as soon as possible. In the mean time, go check it out for yourself, and leave a comment below!

Good Food Low Carb Cafe
4674 Cottage Grove Rd
Madison, WI 53716
(608) 630-8400
www.goodfoodmadison.com
facebook.com/Good.Food.Madison

Mon – Fri 11am – 8pm
Saturday & Sunday (brunch menu only) 9am – 3pm

 

 

New, more useful restaurant reviews

Check out all the new enhancements to make MadisonPaleo more useful, especially in the local restaurant guide:

 

Updates to main site:

  • Fresh new look
  • Faster and more responsive

 

Madison Paleo Reviews spin-off

  • Restaurant reviews redesigned to be more informative, and easier to use – especially on the go, and moved to a site of their own (still accessible from main site)
  • Works better on a variety of mobile devices
  • New star rating system, scores for various criteria like gluten-free or dairy-free options, low-carb choices, quality meats, organic produce, etc. plus an overall paleo rating
  • New “user ratings” feature too, so it’s not all about what I think -and you can leave even leave your own comments!
  • Quick link in each review to check restaurant’s web site for menu or policies
  • Instantly share, email, or print listings for friends when planning where to eat
  • Sort by style of cuisine, or city
  • Search by name or key words
  • Handy sidebar shows the top rated listings, or switch to most recently reviewed

 

Please try out the new features, and let me know if you have any ideas for improvement, or a favorite restaurant that I should prioritize getting into the guide.

 

 

 

Mayo is back!

 

 

Do you miss mayo because you’re avoiding soy and canola oils? The new paleo-friendly mayonnaise from Primal Kitchen (an enterprise of Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple) is now available locally at Willy Street Co-op! It tastes amazing, and uses only quality, real food ingredients suitable for paleo/primal diets: avocado oil, organic cage-free eggs, organic egg yolks, organic vinegar (from non-GMO beets), sea salt, and rosemary extract.

Making your own paleo mayo isn’t difficult, but the option to purchase is a convenience many have been waiting for. Previous options, even “made with olive oil” products, are still mostly soy or canola! Often, they also contain sugar, stabilizers, and other junk. I’m happy to report that this is the real thing.

The glass jar contains mayo with a superb silky texture, amazing tangy taste, and none of the worries about poor fat choices or unwanted ingredients. This is easily the best mayonnaise I’ve ever tried, and it worked well both on lettuce wraps and in a tuna salad. It’s a delicious, nutrient-dense food made the way you would if you had the time.

If you don’t live near Willy Street, ask your store to carry it, or you can order from Amazon.

Here’s a good way to enjoy Primal Kitchen paleo mayo:

 

Joe’s salmon spread

Joe's paleo salmon spread

15 oz can traditional style wild salmon, drained
1 cup Primal Kitchen mayo
¼ cup diced carrots
¼ cup diced celery
¼ tsp white pepper

Add more mayo if needed. Mix and stuff lettuce leaves, or spread on your choice of wraps.

 

Madison is getting a paleo bakery!

I’m excited to announce that Madison will soon have it’s first grain-free, dairy-free bakery. Beginning September 7th, you’ll be able to pre-order cupcakes and other treats that are not only gluten free but also free of grains, dairy (except butter), soy, refined sugar, and utilizing only healthier fats like coconut oil and grass-fed butter.  The initial menu of cookies, cupcakes, muffins, crackers, confections and granolas can be viewed at www.paleomamabakery.com. Many ingredients are locally sourced, such as honey from Gentle Breeze in Mt. Horeb and tart cherries from Cherryland’s Best in Door County. No retail store is planned at this time, though sales through other local outlets are being explored. (Ask your favorite spot to bring them in!)

I recently had a chance to taste-test several of the initial products (Thanks, Belle!) and was quite impressed with the quality. My family (wife and two daughters, none of whom are paleo at this time) helped me sample the vanilla salted-caramel cupcakes (pictured), chocolate chip cookies, and raw cookie dough. We agreed all were delicious and perfectly executed. Some were pleasantly surprised by the moist texture of the cupcake compared to some of the other grain-free treats we’ve tried.

As expected, prices are higher than similarly modest portions of mainstream baked goods. Also, despite the extreme attention to using the healthiest possible ingredients, these are definitely treats meant for occasional indulgence, and not something I’d make a frequent part of my diet. (I’d love to see the eventual addition of something a tad more substantial and nutrient dense, perhaps a less-sweet cookie or bar based on the cranberry walnut granola– or maybe some grass-fed gelatin gummy snacks.) Having said that, Paleo Mama’s treats are among the top tier of those I’ve tried, and I would definitely consider buying them, especially if offered somewhere I typically shop or dine. Keep them in mind next time you’re planning a party or event!

Contact information:

Paleo Mama Bakery

6300 Enterprise Lane, Madison WI

608-692-3715

Web:  www.paleomamabakery.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/paleomamabakery

Email:  belle@paleomamabakery.com

Presentations on paleo, grain-free

I recently held another staff training at Willy Street Co-op, focusing on paleo and grain-free diets, and how to better help customers making the transition.

In the picture, I’m demonstrating a spiralizer.  We also sampled two of the deli’s line of grain free dishes, over a lively discussion of antinutrients like gluten and phytic acid.

Wish you were there?  I’m available to do similar presentations.  Drop me an email or Facebook message!

Are Food Co-ops a Caveman’s Best Friend?

Once you’ve navigated a few grocery stores from the perspective of a modern day caveman, you’ll notice some recurring disappointments. Only a few cuts of meat are from pastured animals, and if there’s someone to ask they’ll probably try to “educate” you on the superiority of corn-fed. Vegetables are mostly grown in a tempest of chemicals, then shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles. Eggs are from chickens who may be “cage free” but are still fed a highly unnatural diet based on corn and soy, and seldom if ever see the light of day. Choices are meager among your few packaged “staples” like coconut milk & oil, nut flours, or even pure dark chocolate. What is plentiful, comprising nearly the entire center of the store, are all manner of fabricated “foods”: brightly colored nutritional time-bombs engineered from combinations of highly processed wheat, corn, sugar, and industristrial seed oils — little that your grandmother would recognize as edible.

 

It doesn’t need to be like this. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to live near a more sophisticated outlet – maybe something like Whole Foods. You’ll probably pay a little more, and there’s still (in the words of founder and CEO John Mackey) “a bunch of junk” but you’ll find a better selection of the things you want: organic produce, grass-fed meats, healthy fat options, etc. A few good choices are also starting to appear at stores like Costco and Target, as well as better independent grocers. Certainly (weather permitting) your nearest farmers’ market can be a gold mine of real foods at fair prices. There is, however, another choice – one with benefits you may not have thought possible. Astonishingly, if you don’t have this option now you can get together with your tribe and call it into existence! Behold the modern food co-op.

 

I bet I know what you’re thinking: a bunch of hippies offering up tofu burritos and wormy little apples (“That’s how you know they’re organic, man!”) in a dusty little shop smelling of patchouli and… something. I’m just old enough to remember some of that, and to confess fond memories of ice bean cones, Guerrilla cookies, and my first dried pears. With the passage of the nourishing sands of time, the guiding touch of the market’s invisible hand, and no small effort by hardworking visionaries, food co-ops have matured into something altogether different. In cities and towns nearly everywhere you’ll find clean, professional storefronts as unique as snowflakes but sharing common principles and the overarching mission of putting customers first – because those customers are also the owners.

 

You could say the first co-ops were hunter-gatherer tribes sharing their efforts to ensure that all would eat. Cooperation is a natural instinct precisely because it works. The first cooperative enterprises of the neolithic world, however, are generally identified with the cooperative movement of 19th century Europe. The Rochdale Pioneers of Lancashire, England in 1844 still exert an influence today in the form of the Cooperative Principles underlying most consumer co-ops. The movement enjoyed a second period of growth since the 1970’s when many “second wave” cooperatives started, and some see a third wave beginning now.

 

A coop is typically formed to address a community’s unmet needs. Perhaps a beloved mom-and-pop store has gone out of business. Or maybe there is simply nothing around for miles. In other cases, customers seeking particular (often more natural) foods are perceived as too small a market to warrant catering to. In response, a group of ordinary folks get together and start their own store or buying club. These can be worker-owned, or more often customer-owned. Initial capitalization is often via advance membership sales and a bond drive. Typically, members who invest in an annual share recoup the investment after $100-200 in purchases, and get a vote on certain key decisions. Leadership provided by a member-elected board follows articles of cooperation, a specific mission statement, and the cooperative principles. Product is ordered, shelves are stocked, and a new co-op is born.

 

Walk into a modern Co-op and you’ll likely find a clean, well-stocked grocery store with an emphasis on natural and organic foods. Of particular interest to paleo folks: lots of organic fruits and veggies, local grass-fed meats, good eggs, an excellent bulk department, and packaged items like coconut milk and oil. Member-owned businesses enjoy a tradition of being ahead of the curve in supporting options others don’t yet care about. Co-ops were among the first to offer plentiful organic, vegetarian (some see “paleo” as the new “vegetarian”), and gluten-free options. This applies not only to packaged products but often fresh-made deli and bakery items. (My store, for example, has recently introduced a line of grain-free hot dishes.) If you want something that isn’t stocked, most co-ops are happy to special order it for you. By shopping at a co-op, you’re probably also doing more to support local farmers and producers, and benefiting from the somewhat decentralized distribution network.

 

If you’d like to start your own co-op there are a lot of resources available to help. With a little digging, you’ll probably be able to find assistance with everything from planning to financing. You’ll find, as Thomas Jefferson allegedly once said, that the harder you work the luckier you’ll get. One good place to start is http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/.  Another is your nearest successful co-op. They won’t do the heavy lifting for you (maybe a little in some cases) but they’ll probably treat you more as a kindred spirit than a potential competitor. When assembling your core founders, remember to reach out to those with legal, public relations, real estate, or other helpful experience. Above all, never lose focus on the goal of serving your customers, particularly member-owners. At the end of the day the future of any business is determined by the customers, and this is especially true when the customers are running the show. Whether you get involved with an existing store or start your own, help to make it a place where good food (however you define that) is plentiful and affordable.

© 2014 Joe Disch, MadisonPaleo

Willy Street Co-op (East store) Madison, WI
Willy Street Co-op (East store) Madison, WI

Joe Disch has worked for Willy Street Grocery Cooperative since 2001, has run the paleo lifestyle blog Madison Paleo since 2012, and recently taught classes on paleo nutrition for interested staff.

What’s In Your Coconut Milk?

I’m one of those people who consider coconut milk something of a staple.  I’ve been known to travel with it for use in hotel/restaurant coffee.  Until recently, I had to choose between the brands in BPA-free cans and the ones without problematic additives like guar gum and carrageenan.

Estrogenic activity from BPA has been linked to diabetes, ADHD, endocrine problems, heart disease, infertility and cancer.  Guar gum and carrageenan have been associated with a variety of digestive issues, and more than a trace of guar makes my tummy unpleasantly gurgly.

Great news:  Natural Value has finally brought to market a canned coconut milk free of all these things, and if you live near Madison you can get it at the Willy Street Co-op!  (I may have a had a little tiny bit to do with this.)  It’s been available for a while by mail, but I’m happy I can now get it at the grocery store!

 

Since it’s just organic coconut and water, it’s not as inexplicably smooth as the other canned milks – more like homemade, actually.  Delicious coconutty taste, nice fat content, and well worth a little extra stir to avoid those extra chemicals.

 

 

Welcome new and returning students!

A special welcome to new and returning students, and other Madison newcomers!  People think of Mad town as being half vegetarian, half fried cheese and beer — but we have a growing and friendly paleo/primal population as well.

Wondering where to shop or dine out?  Check out our resources page as a starting point.  And don’t be shy asking questions or letting us in on your own discoveries.  Like and subscribe to our free mailing list for updates.  Lots more coming soon!

Coconut milk now available at Willy Street Coffee/Juice Bar

Willy Street Co-op in Madison now offers So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk as a milk option for smoothies, coffee drinks, etc! While I’d prefer one without carageenan and guar gum (inconvenient for a variety of reasons), this is a big step in the right direction, and one I’m happy to see! Stop at the Co-op and order something with coconut milk today!

Genetic engineering is not paleo

GMOs are so not paleo.  Grok didn’t consciously meddle with the genetics of his food sources through selective breeding, and he certainly didn’t use chemicals or viruses to insert specific genes from one species into another.  The former was born of the age of agriculture, and the latter only within the past generation.  Companies such as Monsanto are working to gain and hold market share by developing and patenting varieties of food crops that produce their own pesticides, or which can survive heavy applications of existing ones (which they also produce) – or which possess various other “desirable” traits.

Is this genetic tinkering harmful?  There is much controversy, but a lot of people think it is. Many nations around the world have banned genetically modified organism (“GMO”) derived foods or greatly restricted their use.  About 50 countries currently require GMO ingredients to be disclosed on product labels.  The United States is not yet among them, but there is a large and growing movement to pass this country’s first GMO labeling law: Proposition 37, “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”What are the potential risks in growing and eating these foods?  GMOs haven’t ever been proven safe. In a sense, we’re all part of the experiment.  The FDA, for its part, conducts no independent testing of GMOs, saying they are “not substantially different” from non-GMO foods.  I’ve never had a great deal of trust in the FDA, largely due to the “revolving door” between the regulatory agency and the food industry.  A wide variety of interest groups are concerned about a plethora of risks: cancer and other health issues, reduction of global genetic diversity, the creation of super bugs and super weeds, soil degradation, even the private control of entire food groups.

Already most non-organic US corn, soy, cotton and sugar beets (the basis of many sweeteners and additives used in processed foods) are genetically engineered. So is the feed given to many of the animals we eat. In fact, 75 – 85% of the processed food in grocery stores contains unlabeled GMOs.

Opposed to labeling what’s in your food are corporations like Monsanto, Dow, BASF, and food conglomerates like Pepsi and Coca-Cola – who along with others have donated nearly $33 million to defeat Prop 37.  Why?  If the law passes in California, some manufacturers have admitted that it may as well be a national law. They don’t want “this product contains GMOs” on their labels, so they will reformulate their products. If they do it for California (with an economy the size of many small countries) they may as well do it for all of them.  Early voting on Prop 37 begins on October 9. By November 6, this initiative will have passed or failed.

My friends know I’m not one to seek new government regulations or mandatory anything.  I take a pretty strict constitutionalist/libertarian view, preferring to let the free market work and consumers to exercise their power non-coercively.  I don’t think it’s the business of the government to decide what is good or bad for us.  But I do think protection from fraud is a legitimate function of government, and I see the current “marketing” of GMO foods as a massive fraud.  Unless told otherwise, a consumer should be entitled to assume that “tomatoes” are tomatoes as typically understood and found in nature, with roughly the same nutrition profile, allergenic potential, etc.  It should be safe to assume that the tomato’s DNA hasn’t been adulterated with fish genes, for example, or altered to allow the plants to survive massive doses of an herbicide that the seed company also holds the patent for.

I don’t think we should (or need to) ban the development, production, or sale of these products.  I do support the requirement that it be disclosed when food ingredients are so altered.  If you do as well, you can sign this petition asking the FDA to require disclosure of GMO ingredients.  But honestly, California Prop. 37 probably has more hope for success.  Regardless of how much (or little) you choose to ask the government to protect you, I hope you’ll vote first with your dollars and buy foods as close to their natural state as possible.