We all talk a good game about how to eat, what to eat, and the importance of preparing our own food from quality ingredients. The truth is that everyone faces the same dilemmas from time to time. Whether it's travel, working late, business lunches, social outings, or simply not being interested in cooking, there are many reasons that eating that home cooked meal may not always be possible.
I've decided to pose a series of questions to our members on a weekly basis on what gets them through these situations. You might be surprised at some of the answers and others might be exactly what you expected — either way, I'm hopeful that this will help you navigate your way through the myriad of awkward, inconvenient, or simply lazy situations you find yourself in.
Dr. Deborah Gordon from Ashland, Oregon
CA: Do you put much thought into where you eat out? Or do you simply go anywhere and try to make do with what's on the menu?
DG: Eating away from home is a treat, and I'd like it to be a healthy treat. Luckily there are a good handful of restaurants that are conscientious about their sourcing and a smaller handful that is also willing to substitute their cooking oils upon request! We have a strong local farm economy and that "good handful" caters to customers who want them to buy local and buy organic.
When I'm away from home, or on someone else's dime, it's time to summon up resiliency and find something edible on the menu! That usually means grilled fish and salad, although even a grilled steak of uncertain origins is always better than something breaded and deep fried.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in (or near) Ashland?
DG: A local couple owns two hotels, Ashland Springs and Ashland Hills and at both locations, organic and local are top priorities. I would have to say the most memorable — because the most surprising! — was pork belly at the Luna Café for a lunch meeting at the Ashland Hills location. Paired with a complex green salad, it was definitely my favorite lunch ever.
Left: Ashland Springs Hotel - Right: Ashland Hills Hotel
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of Ashland?
DG: It would be hard to choose among the Boulder, Colorado, restaurants we sampled during the Ancestral Health Symposium in August 2016. We ate at The Kitchen, Oak at Fourteenth and Blooming Beets, and all the meals were excellent.
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
DG: I encourage people to take a positive attitude, encourage the creativity and responsiveness of the staff. "Say, would it be possible for your chef to make this recipe gluten-free?" Gluten is getting to be a pretty easy conversation to have.
The more difficult conversation is around what type of oils the restaurant uses for frying and for salad dressings. It's actually great if they say "vegetable oil," because at least they're being honest. I offer to pay an additional charge if they can fry in olive oil or butter, and will only trust "olive oil" if I generally trust the restaurant.
I distrust any answers about salad dressings, except "I'm not sure..." which I think is always the case! Much as I like salads, I either avoid them or figure I'm eating an omega-6 oil (at least it wasn't heated) that I would normally avoid. More fish oil at home!
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
DG: I often prepare a meal for travel, one that includes protein and vegetables. If it's morning, that would be hard boiled eggs, or later in the day a leftover meat. Either way it's a salad or saute of greens and veggies. Half an avocado and an ounce of dark chocolate, my choice today was Vivani Fair Trade 85% dark chocolate. Stow some tinned fish and maybe another avocado in my suitcase for later.
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
DG: This might be seen as cheating, but its the meal I think of when I'm going to be getting home at the time I actually want to be eating dinner. It's the least effort, though the effort happens at two different times.
I pull a thick piece of meat out of the fridge in the morning, salt and pepper the surface, and put it into the oven with a sweet potato. I set the oven to come on at 200, four hours before dinner time. When I get home, I take the meat out to rest, check the potato and adjust the heat as needed. Then I wash some lettuce, and pull the pre-grated raw veggies out of the fridge (usually beets, carrots, maybe cabbage), and of course an avocado.
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
DG: Hmm....guilty... I guess it'd have to be a choice between ice cream and beer. Even drinking reduced gluten beer feels like an indulgence, and certainly opting for an IPA at the local brewery is an indulgence, that I usually tolerate well and forget for a moment that it's a lot of carbs and gluten that I don't need! Ice cream used to be a downright addiction when I lived across the street from my childhood ice cream parlor, but now I am happy with a few servings a year...thankfully!
Deborah Gordon, MD is a family physician practicing at the midpoint between ancestral and functional medicine in Ashland, Oregon. Her medical training started at UC San Francisco in the late 1970's, and has continued through a Family Practice residency, years of study with the Weston Price Foundation, other ancestral doctors and conferences, and most recently with Dr. Dale Bredesen on reversing Alzheimer's disease.