Entries in ‘Food’ Journal

Eco-Friendly Hotels that Make Travelers Happy

Wednesday April 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM | 0 Comments

Even though Earth Day reminds us to think about our environmental footprint each April, some hotels make an earth friendly commitment year round. Here are a sampling of eco-friendly hotels worthy of a shout out. One of my favorite hotels — Boone Tavern, made it on Booking.com’s eco-friendly hotel list.

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky is proof that history can meet modern times. Built in 1909, this beauty that’s also a Historic Hotel of America, is part of Berea College and a showcase for its culinary and hotel management programs. The hotel and tavern’s renovations include: energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, energy star lighting, solar tubes and skylights, heat recovery coils, and low VOC paints and adhesives. Guest rooms and common areas feature handcrafted furniture that represent Kentucky’s craft heritage, as well as, Berea’s fame as the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Along with the environmentally friendly building that earned Boone Tavern its LEED Gold Certification, Boone Tavern’s restaurant is another reason to visit. The restaurant’s traditional American cuisine features locally grown ingredients. Signature dishes like “Chicken Flakes in a Bird’s Nest” and “Spoonbread” are the don’t miss, although I can vouch that anything on the menu is splendid. Still, the spoonbread is what you will talk about years later.

ecofriendly Bardessono-Courtyard

The eco-friendly Bardessono courtyard has a stunning view

If you go, take time to browse in Boone Tavern’s gift shop and the other shops that line Berea’s streets. There’s a reason why this is the folk art capital. The hotel’s shop includes items made by the college’s students. Hand-woven items and hand-crafted furniture are part of the bounty.

One of Nancy’s favorites also made it on the eco-friendly hotel list. Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Yountville, California is a perfect pairing for a trip to Napa Valley and wine tasting. As Nancy discovered during her stay at Bardessono, one of three LEED Platinum-certified hotels in the United States, “it is easy to be green while looking stunningly chic.”

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point in Sausalito is another California hotel with LEED Certification. The reuse of historic materials and landscaping with native plants are just part of Cavallo Point’s dedication to achieving the Green Seal Environment Standard for U.S. Lodging Properties. The hotel’s energy-efficient appliances that automatically switch to sleep mode when not in use and the programmable thermostats and motion sensors that reduce heating and cooling costs are some reasons why Cavallo Point is an eco-friendly hotel. The property doesn’t use Styrofoam containers and it recycles plastic. Refillable soap dispensers and cloth napkins are other environmentally friendly practices within the hotel.

At Cavallo Point, going green comes with a view. Most of the resort’s guest rooms have views of San Francisco, the bay or the Golden Gate Bridge.

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids--a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids–a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

Michigan is another state with two eco-friendly hotels that deserve applause. City Flats Hotel in Holland was the first hotel in the Midwest to achieve LEED Gold status. Step inside for proof that eco-friendly, luxury and creativity go hand in hand. Each of the hotel guest rooms has its own unique flair. Each hotel room’s green decor includes: cork flooring installed with low-VOC adhesives, naturally hypoallergenic bamboo linens, curtains lined with a black-out fabric to reduce energy needed to heat and cool room, light fixtures with energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, and countertops made from Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified recycled glass and concrete. Also, hotel furnishings are locally made.

The CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids is another Michigan hotel with LEED Gold Certification. Its eco-friendly combo includes the unique features of the City Flats Hotel in Holland and is an example of turning a city landmark into a new use. The building was once Fox Jewelers.

Along with booking at any of the hotel’s websites, check out Booking.com.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein of Midwest Travel Writers Association.  All photos except Bardessono courtesy of Booking.com. Bardessono photo by Nancy D. Brown.

Book Review: Don’t Cook the Planet by Emily Abrams

Tuesday March 25, 2014 at 11:11 PM | 0 Comments

The exterior of Alice Waters' Chez Panisse, considered the birthplace of California cuisine.

The exterior of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, considered the birthplace of California cuisine.

Last week I had the pleasure of representing What a Trip at a special event at Chez Panisse, hosted by Alice Waters and a young eco-activist/author named Emily Abrams.

The occasion was the book release of Don’t Cook the Planet by 19-year-old Abrams. Waters contributed to this beautiful volume of recipes, photographs, and snippets of wisdom from world-renowned chefs, activists and luminaries including Michael Pollan, Tom Colicchio, Robert Redford, and Paul Simon.

The menu was no frills — a simple though perfectly dressed salad of greens and thin-crust pizza topped with more greens and Parmesan.

Alice, who contributed her (you guessed it, simple) garlic vinaigrette recipe to the book, spoke a few words and graciously posed for numerous selfies with guests. The murmurs around my table were that Abrams’ parents paid for both the event and Waters’ participation in the project. Who knows? And really, who cares? Abrams is a delightful young high school senior and 100% of the proceeds from her book’s sale will be donated to non-profits committed to sustainable efforts.

The gist of the book is that small, conscious choices — like drinking tap water, shopping for local produce at farmers’ markets, and composting among other things — can impact climate control which Abrams considers her generation’s “defining issue.”

The colorful volume (with extraordinary food photography) is peppered with tips for finding easy ways to turn our culinary choices into environmental actions.

Alice Waters and guests at the pizza party for 'Don't Cook the Planet'

Alice Waters and guests at the pizza party for ‘Don’t Cook the Planet’

With a forward written by the still incredibly handsome Robert Kennedy Jr., Don’t Cook the Planet features a collection of more than 70 recipes from Richard Branson’s Spring shepard’s pie and Rahm Emmanuel’s homemade challah to Chevy Chase’s veggie chili and Ethel Kennedy’s Deviled Eggs.

Many of the recipes look straightforward and simple enough. In fact, this book could spur me on to get into the kitchen and fire up some quinoa cakes, beef risotto, or an apple pandowdy.

We’ll see…

Contributed by Lisa Dion of Friscomama.com. Photos by Lisa Dion



Bariatric Nutrition

Friday February 21, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 2 Comments

food addiction

Article written by Nancy D. Brown

This is the second in a series that will help you deal with bariatric weight-loss surgery and travel.

Part 1: Bariatric surgery: life changing decision

Part 2: Bariatric lifestyle & nutrition

Part 3: Bariatric support groups & travel


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am a travel writer. You should not consider my bariatric journey as professional medical advice. Consult with your doctor to see if this life changing decision is right for you.

Lifestyle & nutrition post Bariatric surgery

To be honest, meeting with the dietitian at John Muir Medical Center was not fun. In fact, reality and the lifestyle I would be leaving behind came crashing down all around me. Yet I knew the dietitian was there to lend support in my weight-loss journey and help guide me and provide accurate nutrition information in a realistic light. Now I view my dietitian as a resource for sharing healthy eating tips.

As a luxury food, wine and travel writer, I typically go on two trips per month in search of story ideas and writing assignments. These “dream vacations” as some of my friends refer to them, often involve luxury spa treatments, gourmet meals and active outdoor adventures. My experiences are often once-in-a-lifetime holidays for the typical traveler. Most people eat like they are on vacation once a year. Unfortunately, I eat like I’m on vacation once a week and it shows in my waistline and my body mass index.

MyPlate, usda


Bariatric nutrition

The USDA Food Guidance System was established to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans. The My Plate graphic illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet. Healthy eating and proper nutrition is especially important with bariatric weight-loss patients.

“We strongly emphasize that this surgery is only a tool for weight loss. The patient is responsible for making many of these dietary changes on a daily basis, not only to achieve their desired weight loss goals, but to also maintain their overall health for years to come,” said Sarah Bailey, RD, Clinical Dietitian, John Muir Health.

  • Overall, patients are encouraged to consume 3 protein-focused meals per day, with minimal sugar and carbohydrate intake as able.
  • Eat slowly: Chew foods 15-20 times before swallowing, don’t rush through meals. Meals should last ~30 minutes.
  • Protein recommendations: Consume 3 protein-focused meals per day. Consult your dietitian to find out your daily protein needs. Protein supplements will be beneficial in reaching your protein goals.
  • Protein supplement criteria:

<25g total carbohydrates/serving

<15g sugar/serving

>10g protein/serving

<300 calories/serving

  • Fluids recommendations: Drink at least 64oz of sugar-free, non-carbonated fluids per day. Consume ~1oz every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. SIP, do not gulp and do not use a straw. AVOID carbonated, sweetened, alcoholic, and caffeinated beverages.
  • No beverages with meals: Avoid fluids 30-60 minutes before and after meals to avoid stretching out your pouch.
  • Exercise: Overall goal is to work up to exercising at least 30-45 minutes 4-5x/week for health and weight management benefits.
  • Vitamins & Mineral recommendations: Vitamin and mineral supplementation is recommended long-term, chewable or liquid forms may be better tolerated. Below is a list of what my nutritionist recommends – consult your dietitian for your personal guidelines;

-Complete multivitamin with iron

-Calcium citrate 1500mg/day (best to do 500mg doses 3x/day)

-Vitamin D 2000 IU/day

-B12 1000mcg 1x/week

Relationship with food

“The question is not whether we will die, but how we live,” author Joan Borysenko.

Unlike addictions to drugs or alcohol, we need food to live. So it follows that the bariatric weight loss patient needs to learn to live with food. If we understand our food addiction, hopefully we will be more mindful of our food recovery, seek out healthy foods and try to avoid emotional eating.

Bariatric weight loss support

So what caused my shift in favor of bariatric surgery? After two consultations with bariatric surgeons, three bariatric nutrition appointments and attending three bariatric weight loss support group meetings over a three month time period, I began to fully understand the bariatric weight loss process. I listened, I learned and I asked questions. While your experience may be different than mine, I found that every post surgery patient I spoke with was thankful for their decision to have had bariatric weight loss surgery.

Related post

Bariatric surgery: life changing decision