If you’ve recently eaten a carton of Twinkies you probably aren’t from around here. When was the last time you heard anyone order extra butter in a restaurant? Did you ever eat so much you threw up in your mouth (just a little)? If you grew up here you may wonder if that’s something that people really do and if you moved here from out-of-state it’s something you’ll never admit that you may have done.I
Raw Vegan Green Collard Wrap
Assimilation to the healthy habits ingrained in people along the Front Range is inevitable. Our liquors must be small-batch, our beers must be brewed local and our coffee must be fair-trade. Even our chocolate must be dark and from some far away locale that we’ve never been to but have heard about on public radio.
The levels to which Front-Rangers take their health are limitless. Social and work calendars revolve around events such as the Bolder Boulder’s famous 10k running and race walk. People participate in such extreme races as the Leadville 100. That’s 100 miles (in a row) over rough mountain terrain with thousands of feet of ascent and descent with an elevation that reaches 12,600 feet. It often seems that newcomers to this area are weighed at the border and allowed in on probationary status.
Our mountains and the foothills provide plenty of opportunities for fresh air and specialized sports such as: all types of skiing, mountain biking (on actual mountains), cycling, climbing, and of course mountaineering. Athletes come here to train in high-altitude conditions. While the evidence of good health is plain to see on neighbors and coworkers it is also backed up with statistics. According to the 2014 Gallup Poll Boulder continues to have the lowest obesity rate in the nation at 12.4 percent.
By comparison the national obesity rate is 27.1 percent. Boulder has enjoyed this Gallup Poll rating nearly every year since 2008. However, it is not only Boulder but Ft. Collins-Loveland area also has a low obesity rate at 18.2 and Denver at 19.3 percent. People along the Front Range must eat and the options and opinions on and for eating, whether fads or science, are available in spades.
Given this, it doesn’t seem extreme to ask for almond milk instead of half-and-half in your Americano coffee in the morning. It seems ridiculous if a pizzeria doesn’t offer a gluten-free option. Plus, it seems as if at least one person we know has touted the effects of eating raw food. Here’s a closer look at some of the food crazes that have gained heavy popularity around here of late.
Chicago-style gluten-free deep dish pizza
Gluten-free diets were unheard of 15 years ago but are now all the rage. Gluten-free pizza, muffins, baguettes, cakes, etc. are available in restaurants, bakeries and general grocery stores everywhere in Colorado. What even is gluten? Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in all kinds of wheat as well as rye and barley. Gluten is created when two molecules (gluetenin and gliadin) come into contact and form a bond. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape. Think of gluten as food glue that holds everything together.
Proponents of gluten-free diets, including those who self-diagnose as gluten-intolerant, blame gluten for a plethora of problems mostly involving the gastro-intestinal tract. However, some people just say they feel better if they avoid it. Gluten intolerance may be a fad but it has America’s attention.
Books such as Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis and Grain Brain by David Perlmutter have sold millions of copies. Mintel, a market-research firm, reported in October of 2014 that sales of gluten-free food and drink have risen sharply from 5.4 billion dollars to 8.8 billion over the last two years.
To truly understand gluten-free lifestyles ask a celiac. A celiac is a person for whom gluten exposure evokes an immune mediated response throughout the body and measurable damage to the intestinal lining, according to the National Celiac Support Association.
Celiacs are medically required to live a gluten-free life and are thus experts at it. Celiacs have lists of gluten-free resources and local restaurants. Check out the Boulder County Celiacs Restaurant list.
Some of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance for celiacs and others include joint pain, anemia, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue and irritability. Only a medical doctor can give a medical diagnosis of celiac disease. If you think you may have celiac disease see a doctor.
Gluten & Lactose Free Sweet
Potato & Avocado Egg Scramble
Lactose is a simple sugar found in dairy products, including milk. People choose to eat and drink lactose-free items for several reasons. Strict vegans are lactose-free. Vegans are people who choose to eschew (not chew) all animal products for ethical reasons, environmental reasons, health reasons or various combinations. This means they don’t eat or drink any dairy products. Then there are vegetarians and they have a variety of definitions. Some are lacto-vegetarians that mean they are vegetarians who consume dairy products. The varieties of definitions of vegetarians seems endless.
Others (including some vegans) are simply intolerant of lactose, or think they are. Lactase is the enzyme in the small intestine that breaks down lactose. Many people who are lactose intolerant lack the ability to make the enzyme lactase. The fewer lactase enzymes a person can make the more intolerant they are to lactose.
Lactose intolerance can present as gas, excessive gas, bloating, cramping, or diarrhea after consuming milk products. However, these symptoms can also be attributed to other causes and/or illnesses. Self-awareness of how eating certain foods affect physical symptoms is a first step but must be followed up with medical care, such as a doctor or registered dietician.
Gastroenterologists are doctors with a subspecialty certification by the Board of Internal Medicine. They specifically focus on stomach, intestines, colon, liver, gallbladder and other digestive organs. Lactose intolerance can be tested medically. According to Children’s Hospital of Colorado doctors typically diagnose lactose intolerance include a simple hydrogen breath test. A person blows into a tube to give a sample of the breath, then gives another sample after drinking a lactose solution or eating a lactose-containing food.
Sales of lactose-free products are growing. Statista, a web-based statistics portal, has tracked lactose-free product sales from 2012. In 2012, U.S. market sales of lactose-free dairy products amounted to $701.5 million. Sales in this category are projected to grow to $807.7 by 2015.
Raw Vegan Chunky Tomato
Marinara & Zucchini Pasta
People who eat around 75 percent of their food raw, that is food that is not heated, cooked or processed in any way, can claim they are raw foodists. This diet stems from the idea that the majority of nutrients, vitamins, beneficial enzymes, and minerals are destroyed unless the food is left in its natural state.
Processed foods include foods that are grown with pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers that raw foodists believe harm the body and/or environment. In other words they eat uncooked organic food.
While eating organic may be a choice and a belief even the World Health Organization states “Chemicals can end up in food either intentionally added for a technological purpose (e.g. food additives), or through environmental pollution of the air, water and soil. Chemicals in food are a worldwide health concern and are a leading cause of trade obstacles.”
Another type of raw foodist is someone who eats only living foods or sprouted foods. These foods include sprouts and raw fermented food. They are known as “living fooders” or sometimes “sproutists.” Enzymes in food are dormant until activated. Once a food has sprouted the enzymes are activated and the food is considered living.
Raw food purists don’t eat animal products and others believe that some meat, usually fish (sushi?) and poultry are okay to eat occasionally. There are many definitions in the community used to define various terms and levels of commitment to the raw diet.
Lower amounts of sodium, animal fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates and higher amounts of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals make this diet desirable to some. Some of the cons of a raw diet may include a lower protein and iron intake. Also, some uncooked food may lead to ingesting bacteria that may cause illness. Another con to the raw food diet, just like any other specialized diet, is that it can be time consuming to shop, assemble and eat, at least in the beginning.
Brigitte Mars, an herbalist from Boulder is the author of several books including Rawsome! Maximizing Health, Energy and Culinary Delight with the Raw Foods Diet. In a video on her website she states “Way too many people say they don’t have time to make raw food. I’m going to show you that you don’t have time not to.” Her book along with her website Brigittemars.com has lots of tips and recipes including the recipe on her website for “raw vegan super-food gluten free cinnamon buns.”
In Denver people curious about raw food and drink can visit Nectar House. It’s a restaurant on S. Broadway, which bills itself as a “raw vegan café and elixir bar.” A message on their Facebook page starts with “Hello Radical, Vibrant, Magical Community!”
Another raw food group available in the Front Range area is the Boulder Raw Superfoodies Meetup Group. Their mission states “As long as you are interested in high vibrational events intended to nourish and elevate your mental and physical health. If you would like to participate in these soul-nourishing events and indulge in some delicious, gourmet raw living superfood-packed foods, and connect with like-minded folks, we’d love to have you part of our group.”
Along the healthy Front Range there are a lot of options for living raw, gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan or whatever kind of lifestyle and diet. People eat and drink following their belief systems and are always on the lookout for some way to better ingest their nutrition. There are books on all diets at the local library, support groups, classes, camps, grocery stores and restaurants available for anyone and everything. The options here make it easy for amateur and professional athletes as well as the average person who is just caught up in it all.
For the rest of us, well, there is a reason that Voodoo Donuts of Oregon opened their only store outside of their state in Denver…