Ah, hormones. From our teenage years on, these chemical wreak havoc on our tender young bodies, causing everything from skin and weight issues to mood fluctuations, concentration problems, low energy levels and compromised athletic performance. We all know that a diet and stress play massive roles in how our hormones flow through and our processed by our bodies, but what if our susceptibility to hormonal imbalance was actually written into our very genetic code? Naturopathic nutritionist Angela Heap has been a long term advocate for the use of genetic testing in understanding our predisposition from everything from insulin problems to hormonal imbalances like PCOS. Join us as we talk about how the affects of famine and disease can be felt through the generations, why dairy is problematic for people with imbalanced hormones, and how, once again, the Swedes have got it right. Episode 15 is all about cracking the genetic code to understand what our bodies truly need to thrive.
Continuing in our theme of looking at some of the foods that we wellness disciples are meant to avoid, we have devoted Episode 13 to an exploration of sugar, which is the one substance that every food tribe from paleo to vegans can agree on as The Evil One. The problems with white sugar are many and range from obvious to surprising (and alarming). Depending on what you read, sugar is meant to be responsible to everything from weight gain to acne (the obvious) to wrinkles, mood swings, depression, immune problems and, in some reports, even cancer. Oh and it's addictive.
There are a number of programmes out there dedicated to helping you quit your addiction to the sweet stuff, the most famous of which is Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar. And the internet is full of recipes for cakes, scones, pancakes and more made with "clean" ingredients - just check Pinterest. And look, we've tried them and while some are delicious (raw key lime pie seems to work), others can't exactly replace your grandmother's red velvet. But the real question is: need they?
In Episode 13, we spoke to a woman well-trained in ways of sweet: pastry chef of Chez Panisse fame, baker, podcaster and East London foodie Claire Ptak. Originally from California, Claire started selling her beautiful baked goods on Broadway Market before opening Violet Bakery, her beautiful cafe on Wilton Way in Hackney that has quickly become an East London landmark.
Tune in for some insights into how some of us seem to be able to enjoy sugar in moderation with no issues (French girls, we're looking at you), how to train your palate to taste flavours other than just sweet (so you can know how much sugar to use), and when sugar really does make you sick. Links below to Violet Bakery, Claire's excellent cookbook and her own podcast, The Violet Sessions.
In this episode of Life Butter Radio we shift from considering food and diet holistically to looking very specifically at one food substance that we all love (though we may have trained ourselves to think otherwise), and that is BREAD. Discussion around bread has been quite loaded for the last 12 months or so; many health educators, insta-chefs and doctors argue that we should eschew not only bread, but all grains or even carbohydrates completely. Others argue that carbohydrates and some grains are an essential component in our diets, but caution that gluten triggers an inflammatory response in most people and should therefore be avoided. We got into this a little bit in Episode 9 with the nutritionally-based food business Fig and Bloom, for whom the growing body of evidence damning gluten was enough for them to make all their recipes gluten free.
And yet, whether you happily eat cream cheese bagels or plump for paleo pancakes, many of us continue to consume bread (or bread-like substances) because it is SO DAMN TASTY, bulks out a meal, and makes convenience food possible. And did I mention that it's so damn tasty? Bread also features in all our best stories (Jesus didn't feed 5,000 with fish and a nutcake), and its very smell is so pleasant and homey that hopeful vendors bake a loaf before viewing their homes. And though many of us feel better for keeping clear of bread, some of us can quite clearly subside on ham and cheese sandwiches without issue.
So how can we rescue bread for the masses? Can we have the pleasure of bread back, not just as a one-off, but as a part of life, without the guilt? Life Butter sat down with two East London bread makers who are harnassing the power of sourdough to make breads and loaves (you'll appreciate the difference pretty quickly into the show) that aren't just delicious, but improve our digestion and gut bacteria. Stay tuned to find out how you can go back to enjoying toast, sandwiches and even pizza guilt-free, and what grains have to do with population, food culture and the environment.
In this episode we mentioned the theory that whole grains are actually not the healthier way to consume grains. This article by Goop in conversation with Dr. Steven Gundry delves into the detail of this argument a bit more.
If wellness is truly about connectivity and that extends not only to our own immediate communities, but the entire world (and indeed the planet), how do we eat well in a way that sustains us all? In this episode, Life Butter Radio discusses the beauty, joy and kindness of eating "root to fruit" with the man who coined this term: restauranteur, chef, author, activist and foodie Tom Hunt. Join us as we: delve into the ease, variety and fun of sharing dishes made with organic, local and seasonal fare (yes, even here in the UK!), look at the scalability of ethically-produced food, and briefly celebrate the seeming Nirvana of Italian food culture. That's twice now on Life Butter Radio! What can we say, we love the Italians. And we love Tom and his mission just as much - he is all about encouraging us to share and savour delicious food made from resources we can feel good about. Life Butter gets a little hippie in this episode - we are all one! Tune in to hear more; you'll be inspired to save those leftover carrots by the end of this fun, short episode!
Link to Tom's book in the US here.
Have a drink already! Even if you are one of the growing number of men & women who are eschewing alcohol in the name of health, these days you'll still be able to find something exciting on the drinks menu of your local restaurant - at least if you're lucky enough to have a local as dedicated to liquid fun as Raw Duck in Hackney. The late, great A. A. Gill famously complained that the problem with addiction recovery is that no soft drink will ever taste as good as an alcoholic one, but recovering addicts today would struggle to make that same complaint. As we understand more about the importance of the gut to everything from our immunity to our mood, skin, energy & vitality, we have discovered more pleasurable ways to look after it. Enter kombucha, kefir & other fermented drinks, which are increasingly available even in supermarkets across the US & U.K. Ever so slightly alcoholic, they won't have you dancing on the table in your pants (you'll need another excuse!), but they will give you a little lift, AND deliver good stuff to your body, right where it needs it. But making a good brew is a bit of an art; it takes patience, creativity & a nose to rival any sommelier. We were therefore so delighted to speak to Rory McCoy, who is not only responsible for these inventive softs at his second restaurant Raw Duck, but also selects their lovely natural & bio-dynamic wines (which you can try by the glass for a fiver weekday evenings). Tune in to hear our slightly smitten host effervesce a bit herself as she talks the craft and pleasure of drinking well & healthy with Rory.
Dip your toe into the world of wellness, and it won't be too long before you encounter an avocado. And avocados are basically magic, right? The promise of food these days is enormous: it can make our skin glow, depression lift, energy abound, bodies strong, unblemished and fertile....our lives perfect? In Episode 9, we are at last getting into the specifics of nutritionally-sound (but still delicious!) eating with Stephanie Ridley and Dorothy Barrick of Fig & Bloom, a London-based nutritional therapy and recipe development service that truly embodies our dream destination of "where science meets lifestyle". Tune it to get the lowdown on the real power of food, looking at how much it can actually do for us (including possibly healing a nightclub-induced gunshot wound!), and the other factors that impact our health & wellbeing. We talk OG modelling culinary escapades, how homemade cookies might just be healthy, the potential transformation of gluten over the years, and the basics of how we can bring better health into our lives through recipes that are delicious, sexy and anything but basic.
And just so we're clear, though avocados get a bit of a hard time in this show, we do very much still enjoy them in the LB kitchen (and in restaurants where they are always perfectly ripe)! Check out Fig & Bloom's recipe page for an avocado cauliflower-toast recipe that looks especially yummy!
Why are our expectations of food so unbelievably high these days, and is the path to clear skin, boundless energy and fantastic immunity really paved with spiralized veggies, massaged kale salads and grass-fed beef? Why are we suddenly turning our backs on foodstuffs that we have eaten for thousands of years? Is "clean eating" really the modern, healthy and sustainable way to feed ourselves, or is our intolerance to gluten and dairy simply the product of our affluence? Food means so much to us as individuals, as families, as cultures and as a planet, and in this episode, we wanted to ask the big questions about what our new obsession with a very prescriptive way of eating means about us as people in the larger sense. In a time when so many of us are feeling tribal and untrusting of viewpoints we don't agree with, the way we eat should not be another cause of division.
In this episode, we speak to restaurant critic, historian, biographer and novelist Lisa Hilton, who shares our frustrations with the clean eating movement, and who has a love of food as entertainment, pleasure and joy. Together we ponder how the Renaissance occurred when all of Italy was bent double with gluten-inflamed guts, why women in particular are afraid of food, and how we can rekindle a love of simple, inexpensive and healthy home cooking that doesn't chain modern, busy, badass women back to the stove. Go grab a glass of wine and tune in for an episode that is just as essential for the wellness-fanatic as for the wellness-sceptic. We have a feeling this episode is going to make you FEEL THINGS; be sure to find us on social and let us know what you think! And if you haven't already, please subscribe to the show and leave us a rating in iTunes; it really helps listeners find us!
More Sexy Stuff!
Lisa has a new book out! Domina is the sequel to the very sexy, extremely fun Maestra. Right on the zeitgeist of now, her heroine is a take-no-prisoners OG badass babe. We'll be picking this one up & daring people to stare as we read it on the tube.