Food Tech News Roundup: Meal Kits, Produce Initiatives, and Cookie Dough

This week’s food tech news was all about two things: meal kits and food (and grocery) delivery. From Kroger’s acquisition of Ocado’s technology to Good Eggs’ $50 million fundraise to Chef’d’s partnership with Byte, they kind of dominated the news cycle.

So it’s only fitting we have a few of those stories in our weekly roundup as well! We’ve got the download on Munchery’s downsizing and Blue Apron’s brick-and-mortar stores, as well as a new fresh produce purchasing incentive. And, to round it out, cookie dough.

Blue Apron goes brick-and-mortar

Meal kit company Blue Apron announced a series of pop-up events across seven cities. They’ll have an experiential retail location in NYC, as well as mobile pop-ups (food trucks?) in L.A., San Francisco, and Seattle and movie nights (???) in Austin, Dallas, and Minneapolis. At the NYC pop-up, open May 29th until the end of June, shoppers can check out Blue Apron’s latest products, listen in on panel discussions, and pay a small fee for cooking classes (proceeds are donated to City Harvest). Meal kits are transitioning from a delivery model to retail, and Blue Apron seems to be taking this trend one step further with these pop-up experiences. We’ll try to check it out when they come to Seattle and let you know if the experiment is paying off.

 


JUST Foods debuts new vegan cookie dough

From lab-grown meat to egg-free scrambled eggs, JUST Foods is working to create vegan versions of our favorite foods. Next up: cookie dough. In flavors like Birthday Cake, Chocolate Mint, and classic Chocolate Chip, this egg-free, butter-free dough will be sold in 14 oz jars, as well as single-serve cups and 5 lb tubs for foodservice. Just Cookie Dough first launched in 2016, but JUST Foods (then Hampton Creek) had difficulty keeping up with demand. They’re hoping their new co-manufacturer will help them meet customers’ growing appetites for plant-based foods. Bonus: You can eat it raw, no salmonella qualms!

 

Munchery cuts staff in 3 cities

Online meal delivery company Munchery has stopped operations in Seattle, New York, and L.A. They’ll still operate in San Francisco, their first and largest market, but are cutting around 30% of their staff, according to GeekWire. Unlike other food delivery services which partner with local restaurants, Munchery cooked their packaged meal offerings in their own kitchens, and also gave customers the option to order for multiple days.

 


Non-profit increases access to produce for low-income families

Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit which aims to increase underserved communities’ access to fresh produce, is launching a Reward Card to incentivize fruit and vegetable purchases. Low-income families in NYC will receive cards preloaded with $20, and if they spend it on produce at one of six participating supermarkets, they’ll receive more money put back on the card. Participants can get up to a total of $180 on their card through December 31st, 2018. Wholesome Wave has focused chiefly on doubling SNAP (food stamps) benefits at farmers markets since its launch, but their cards will help them reach a larger audience.

Did we miss any food tech news stories? Tell us in the comments, or tweet us @TheSpoonTech. 

Meet Michael Porter Jr., self-proclaimed ‘best player in the draft’ and raw vegan

Michael Porter Jr. is not your typical lottery pick. Case in point — he and his family have been following a vegan diet for a decade and recently moved to raw veganism.

Michael Porter Jr. was seen as a potential top pick in the 2018 draft before a back injury caused him to miss his entire freshman season at Missouri. Now fully healthy as he participates in (part of) the draft combine in Chicago, he’s showing that a season away from the game hasn’t hurt his confidence.

Porter told reporters that he still considers himself “the best player in the draft” and added that “everyone will know that soon”.

He also spoke about his overall improved health, how he’s progressed since Missouri’s season ended, and what he’s been doing to prepare for the combine and upcoming draft — including his vegan diet.

Last fall, the Kansas City Star published a story about the Porter family’s diet and how it has changed since the family brought in a “performance consultant”. Lisa Porter, especially, saw the importance of diet in helping her sons Michael and Jontay (also a freshman at Mizzou who is entering the draft) maximize their physical abilities as they prepared to play basketball in college and the NBA. As the matriarch of the Porter family, Lisa brought in Doug Graham, a doctor of chiropractic medicine from outside of London, to coach her and the rest of the ten-person household on proper nutrition.

Graham had been advising the family on their diet for some time but last year he spent several days as a live-in chef and nutritionist, teaching lessons in the kitchen around the benefits of consuming a raw vegan diet. According to Graham, “cooking food can produce ‘detriments’ to the body, anti-nutrients that increase the need for specific minerals, vitamins and antioxidants”. Recipes that Graham taught the Porters included vegan pizza with a zucchini crust, raw cinnamon buns, kale chips, and cashew-based cheese sauces to use in Mexican dishes.

I don’t know how to digest this story anymore than I’d know what to do with zucchini-crusted pizza. Stories of athletes like Tom Brady, LeBron James, and others following insanely strict diets have become commonplace over the last couple years. But these are athletes who have made millions and adopted these practices as they aim to prolong the primes of their careers. LBbron and Brady had been able to see R-rated movies for over a decade before they considered their diets the way the Porters had been most of their lives.

What happened to stories like Derrick Rose’s diet of gummy bears, Starbursts, honey buns and Twizzlers? Or Larry Bird drinking beer throughout the year and famously hurting his back tarring his mom’s driveway right before one season?

I don’t want to make mountains out of mole hills, but Michael Porter Jr. grew up with a nutritionist/performance consultant. He spent his senior year of high school playing in Seattle. The only other five-star prospect in the state of Washington was his brother and teammate, Jontay. He appeared in only three games in very limited minutes in college. It just doesn’t sound like he’s really experienced much of a challenge so far. As skilled as he may be for his size, the NBA sounds like it could be a rude awakening, or at the very least quite an adjustment.

Global Pet Foods Markets 2016-2018 & 2024

The report provides separate comprehensive analytics for the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Rest of World. Annual estimates and forecasts are provided for the period 2016 through 2024. Also, a five-year historic analysis is provided for these markets. Market data and analytics are derived from primary and secondary research.


This report analyzes the worldwide markets for Pet Foods in US$ Million by the following Product Segments:

  • Cat Food
  • Dog Food
  • Other Pet Food

The report profiles 148 companies including many key and niche players such as:

  • Affinity Petcare SA (Spain)
  • Mogiana Alimentos SA (Brazil)
  • Aller Petfood LLC (Denmark)
  • Barking Heads & Meowing Heads Pet Food UK Ltd. (UK)
  • BHJ A/S (Denmark)
  • Blue Buffalo Pet Products, Inc. (USA)
  • Bridge PetCare Co., Ltd. (China)
  • C&D Foods Ltd. (Ireland)
  • Diamond Pet Foods, Inc. (USA)
  • Heristo AG (Germany)
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. (USA)
  • Hartz Mountain Corporation (USA)
  • INABA PETFOOD Co., Ltd. (Japan)
  • LUPUS Alimentos (Brazil)
  • Mars, Inc. (USA)
  • Mars Petcare (Belgium)
  • Nutro Products, Inc. (USA)
  • The Iams Company (USA)
  • Nestle Purina PetCare Company (USA)
  • The J.M. Smucker Company (USA)
  • Total Alimentos SA (Brazil)
  • Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Inc. (USA)
  • Unicharm Corporation
  • Vitakraft-Werke Whrmann & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG. (Germany)
  • Yantai China Pet Foods Co. Ltd. (China)

Key Topics Covered:

1. INDUSTRY OVERVIEW
Pet Foods
An Industry Driven by Passion for Pets
Market Outlook
Premium and Advanced Foods Sustain Growth in Developed Countries
Developing Countries Offer Strong Prospects
Rise in Pet Population and Growth Opportunities Ahead

2. COMPETITION
Leading Players
Leading Players in the Global Pet Food Market
Players Eye Acquisitions to Strengthen Portfolio
Recent M&A Activities in the Global Pet Food Market

3. MARKET TRENDS
Pet Health & Wellness
An Overriding Theme
Functional Pet Treats Grow in Importance
Premiumization Intensifies in Pet Foods
Growth in the Use of Exotic Sources of Protein
Rise in GMO-free, Natural and Organic Pet Foods
Green Diet
A Niche Growth Market
Veterinary Diets Gain Importance
Rise in Preference for Raw Animal Protein
Cell Cultured Meat, A Futuristic Approach
Increasing Role of Labeling in Driving Sales
Manufacturers Launch Novel Products to Stay Competitive
Humanization of Pet Foods
A Major Trend
Ranking of Non-Traditional Pet food Forms by Consumer Preference
Low-Glycemic Diets Find place in Dog foods
Freeze-Dried and Refrigerated Foods Present Attractive Alternatives
Humanization of Pet Food Paves Way for Launch of High-end Products
Nutrigenomics Gain Place in Product Innovations
Use of Sustainably Farmed Ingredients on Rise
Artisan and Gourmet Pet Treats Rise in Popularity
Issues Encountered in Traditional Pet Food Paves Way for Organic Foods
Customized Pet Food Gains Traction
Interest in Raw Food on Rise
Steps Taken by US FDA to Ensure Safety of Raw Pet Food
Inclusion of Whole Ingredients in Pet Foods Gains Traction
Rising Demand for Pet Nutraceuticals Adds New Growth
Higher Moisture Content in Pet Foods Adds to Health Benefits
Dry Food Preferred Over Wet
Adaptive Technologies, Future of Pet Food Processing
Packaging Trends for Pet Foods
Customized Packaging
A Key Trend
Single Serve Packaging
Driven by Convenience

4. MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION SCENARIO
Major Retail Channels in the Pet Food Industry
E-Commerce Registers Dramatic Growth

5. PRODUCT OVERVIEW
Product Definition
A Historic Perspective
Segment Classification
Cat Food
Dog Food
Other Pets Food
Product Classification
Canned/Wet Food
Dry Food
Semi-Moist Food
Snacks
Classification of Pet Foods based on Price
Premium Pet Foods
Specialty Pet Foods
Super-Premium Pet Foods

6. PRODUCT INTRODUCTIONS/INNOVATIONS
BSB Products Introduces Carnilove Canned Wet Cat Food
Aller Petfood Introduces Tasty Petfood in Russia
NUTRO Australia Introduces NUTRO Range of Dry Dog Food
Friskies Introduces New Cat Food Products Line
Midwestern Pet Foods Introduces Pet foods under Earthborn Holistic VentureTM Brand
Mars Petcare Introduces CRAVE Brand of Dog and Cat Food
IAMS Brand Launches High Protein Cat Food
Mars Petcare Introduces Perfect Fit’ Pet Foods
Open Farm Introduces Dry Cat Food

7. RECENT INDUSTRY ACTIVITY
C. J. Foods Holdings Acquires Lortscher Animal
The J. M. Smucker Company to Acquire Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, LLC
BrightPet Nutrition Group Acquires Phoebe Products
General Mills to Acquire Blue Buffalo
Nestle Sets up Subsidiary in India
Dane Creek Capital Acquires Pets4Life
Cargill to Acquire Pro-Pet
Spectrum Brands Acquires PetMatrix, LLC
Animal Supply Completes Acquisition of LADS Pet Supplies
C&D Foods Acquires Continentale Nutrition
Affinity Petcare Acquires Agrifan
Fold Hill Takes Over Pointer Pet
WellPet Takes Over Sojos

8. FOCUS ON SELECT GLOBAL PLAYERS

9. GLOBAL MARKET PERSPECTIVE

Total Companies Profiled: 148 (including Divisions/Subsidiaries 180)

  • The United States (53)
  • Canada (3)
  • Japan (11)
  • Europe (83)
    • France (2)
    • Germany (11)
    • The United Kingdom (18)
    • Italy (13)
    • Spain (3)
    • Rest of Europe (36)
  • Asia-Pacific (Excluding Japan) (18)
  • Middle East (2)
  • Latin America (9)
  • Africa (1)

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/xvvmjb/global_pet_foods?w=5

Media Contact:

Research and Markets
Laura Wood, Senior Manager
[email protected]  

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Americans want non-GMO, gluten-free superfoods with probiotics — for their pets

Americans want natural foods on their dinner plates — and in their dogs’ bowls, too.

Consumer demand for so-called wellness products that claim to be “natural” has been on the rise in fresh food and baby goods, and now it’s spilling over to the purchases people make for their pets. Pet owners are increasingly seeking out dog and cat food that’s “clean,” meaning it doesn’t contain artificial colors, hormones or other additives, according to a new analysis by Nielsen, the consumer insights company.

Sales of pet foods that don’t have GMOs — genetically modified organisms, a hot topic among foodies for the past several years — have shot up 29% over the last year, Nielsen found. And probiotics aren’t just something to talk about after yoga class anymore: spending on dog food with probiotic ingredients jumped 139% over the last year, according to Nielsen. Pet parents also increasingly prefer foods that don’t have corn or grain, Nielsen found.


“Consumers are really becoming more discerning in terms of what they’re looking for in their pet food and they’re willing to pay for it,” said James Restivo, client director and pet lead for Nielsen.

Case in point: probiotic dog food shoppers spend an average of two times more per store visit than the average dog food shopper, Nielsen’s report noted, without naming specific dollar amounts.

Mass market dog chow can sell for as little as 51 cents a pound, but customers of Pet Wants SOMA, in South Orange, N.J. pay between $3 and $4 a pound for small batch, slow-cooked kibble that doesn’t contain corn, sugar, animal by-products, soy, fillers or dyes. Unlike national brand pet food, which can sit in a warehouse for months or even years before being delivered to a store, Pet Wants is made fresh every 30 days and delivered free to customers’ homes, said co-owner Jack Denelsbeck. Another selling point is that the kibble is made in a fourth-generation family-run plant in Ohio that’s never had a recall, he said.

“A lot more people are definitely more conscious that some foods contain preservatives, and that’s not good for them,” Denelsbeck said. “Now they’re becoming more and more conscious about what they’re putting in their dog or cat’s body.” Customers say the food makes their dogs’ coats shinier, gives them more energy and even changes their demeanor, Denelsbeck said. “People say my dog seems happier and is enjoying life better because of what they’re eating,” he said.

“People say my dog seems happier and is enjoying life better because of what they’re eating.”


— Jack Denelsbeck, Pet Wants SOMA

Pet owners’ quests to give their Fidos and Fluffies a healthier diet is an expression of Americans’ growing fondness for their pets. As of 2015, some 95% of pet owners considered their pets a member of the family, up seven points from 2007, Restivo said.

Americans spent $69.5 billion on their pets last year, and owning a pet will cost you $1,270 in the first year alone. But there’s a return on that investment: pet owners get more exercise, have better self-esteem and are less likely to shy away from relationships (with humans) than non-pet owners.

Don’t miss: As the cost of dog cloning drops, here’s which breeds lead the pack

Devotees say bone broth, turmeric and coconut oil can cut vet bills

The cook-it-yourself from local produce movement has also trickled down the food chain. Washington state dog owner Kimberly Gauthier is so committed to a natural diet for her pups that she now shuns store-bought food altogether in favor of a method called “raw feeding,” which she chronicles on her blog. To make breakfast for her four dogs on Monday morning, she threw an entire rabbit — complete with fur — into a meat grinder and added carp eyeballs to the mixture.

She also fed them kefir (fermented milk) to expose them to probiotics, and supplemented the meal with trendy human foods you would find in any artisanal food market in Brooklyn or Berkeley: bone broth, turmeric and coconut oil.

To make breakfast for her four dogs on Monday morning, she threw an entire rabbit — complete with fur — into a meat grinder and added carp eyeballs to the mixture.

Gauthier spends about $200 to $250 a month feeding all four dogs, and says the expense is well worth it because of the money she’s saved on vet bills. Before she started the all-raw meal plan, one of her dogs was plagued by health issues, but they stopped after a couple of months on the raw diet.

“I really take pride in knowing exactly what my dogs are eating,” Gauthier said.

Julie Austin

Kimberly Gauthier feeds her four dogs an all-raw diet.
But what does the ‘natural’ label really mean?

Pet owners are increasingly likely to buy dog or cat food that contains so-called superfoods — which have nutrients thought to be extra beneficial for humans — like blueberries and sweet potatoes, Nielsen found. “We’re starting to see things like quinoa and even kale pop up in pet food,” Restivo said.

And store-bought products that explicitly claim on their labels to be “natural” are becoming more popular: They made up 6.4% of the pet care market in 2017, up from 3.2% in 2013, according to Nielsen.

But pet parents who hunt for the word “natural” on labels should proceed with caution. The term has no official definition, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told MarketWatch. For the most part, natural “can be construed” to mean there are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, said FDA spokeswoman Juli Putnam.

But, she noted, “The FDA does not have premarket authority over the labeling of animal food products, and therefore does not review or pre-approve any labeling claims such as ‘natural’ for accuracy.”

Dr. Cailin Heinze, board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University bristles when she sees products making questionable claims. (She’s criticized the use of the term “premium” in pet food.)

‘These products are being marketed, not because the company has any evidence that they’re actually healthy, but because public perception is that they are, and pet owners will pay more for it.’

“I don’t think consumers realize how much of pet food and even human food marketing is affecting their purchases,” Heinze told MarketWatch. “These products are being marketed, not because the company has any evidence that they’re actually healthy, but because public perception is that they are, and pet owners will pay more for it. It’s a huge problem in pet nutrition and in human nutrition.”

Heinze — who couldn’t comment on specific brands or diets and has no financial connection to any pet food company — said labels have very little to do with quality. It’s more important to look behind the scenes, she said, to see whether a pet food company owns its own plant or contracts out the food production, whether they have a food scientist with a Ph.D. who oversees the products, whether they research and test their products before putting them on the market, and whether there are rigorous quality controls at the factory.

Consumers can try contacting companies to get this information, or just talk to their vet, Heinze said.

Her advice is to steer clear of human food trends like superfoods and gluten-free eating and focus on “tried and true” pet diets containing beef, chicken, corn and grain. Those have the added benefit of being among the most affordable foods, she said.

Many pet owners are now seeking out grain-free diets because they’re under the impression it’s healthier, Heinze said. But recently vets have started to notice a resurgence — she’s not sure how many cases there have been — of a specific heart disease in dogs that’s caused by a nutrition deficiency. Vets believe it could be linked to grain-free diets, but more research is needed to fully understand what’s happening. That’s one of the reasons Heinze advises pet owners to stay away from trendy ingredients.

“Because the pet food market is such a big business in terms of money, you have to make yourself stand out, and one way to do that is more and more exotic ingredients, but in doing that sometimes caution and science are lost along the way,” Heinze said.

The Raw Food Diet- A New Buzz In The Weight Loss Journey

The Raw Food Diet- A New Buzz In The Weight Loss JourneyThe raw food diet is as simple as ABC. It comprises eating sustenance in their natural form. The sustenance is neither cooked nor debased in any capacity.

By eating the main part of your nourishment in its normal and natural state, you will definitely feel a tremendous change in your wellbeing and energy levels.

Something beyond a weight reduction design or a wellness diet, this eating regimen is a philosophy and purely a lifestyle choice. What it demands is the awareness about the nutritional and medicinal value of the unprocessed food which is mostly wasted when cooked anyway.

They have lower amounts of saturated fats and sodium and high in cancer prevention agents and magnesium. They are free of destructive and harmful trans-fats. A raw food eating routine will detoxify your framework. It will prompt the weight reduction naturally.

Myths associated with the raw food diet

  • A person will have to quit eating cooked food

The Raw Food Diet- A New Buzz In The Weight Loss JourneyIn reality, you do not need to do it. In fact, raw food diet demands approximately 75% of the raw food or more so you’ll have the capacity to eat cooked nourishment too.

You should, in any case, avoid junk and highly processed food and try to cook food with as minimal ingredients as it is possible. Individuals do not want to eat cooked food once they get used to eating raw food.

  • Raw foods are always cold

In fact, truth is that just in light of the fact that raw food isn’t cooked does not mean it will cool. The temperature can’t go over 104 degrees F, yet it is possible to warm raw soups and different recipes like raw chili to enjoy in colder months of the season.

RELATED: Low Glycemic Diet- A Complete Guide

  • Lack of variation in raw food diet

By acquainting yourself with new raw veggies you never had, and adding a variety of spices, herbs, and flavors in your raw food recipes, you will have an entirely new and unique variety of food.

A lot of many people who have switched to the raw food eating regimen discover raw foods more delightful overcooked food.

In raw food diet, one cannot get enough of proteins and other essential needed supplements

In fact, this is another basic misguided judgment. There are a lot of high protein raw vegetarian sources, for example, sprouts, veggies, seeds, nuts, grains, and beans.

The protein from plant sources is of higher quality and preferred for the human body over proteins come from animal sources. Supplements normally found in dairy products or animals like magnesium, calcium, and iron can easily get from plant sources.

  • Eating raw food is expensive

In reality, your financial budget for raw food diet can to a great extent be controlled by you, much the same as some other kind of eating regimen.

Surely there are some extraordinary ingredients that are costly and some raw food ingredients are more costly at specific circumstances of the year.

But you will be able to find deals in the market. Besides you can grow your own veggies which aren’t as troublesome as it might appear and can bring about huge savings for you.

RELATED: Juice fasting- Is It Worth Trying?

  • Raw food diet needs high maintenance

In reality, it may appear as troublesome and tedious to prepare raw food. There are various kinds of raw foods and a large number of recipes out there.

While some might be somewhat intricate and require a significant time to prepare, there are a lot of recipes that can be prepared in minutes.

  • Raw food eating regimen is considered as a diet

The truth about this myth is that raw eating regimen is more about the lifestyle choices. Other normal diets are thought of as impermanent shifting in eating designs for wellbeing or appearance benefits.

The raw food eating regimen is intended to be all the more of a permanent decision and not intended to have confinements as far as calories, the number of meals in the whole day, macronutrients, and so on like most different weight control plans have.

RELATED: Ketogenic Diet- Lose Weight With Fats

Topmost reasons to switch to the raw food diet

  • Raw food diet is a way to healthy living

The Raw Food Diet- A New Buzz In The Weight Loss JourneyYou will eat significantly more beneficial and healthier food once you switched to raw food diet as these foods are low in saturated fats. Raw foods, in fact, are stacked with nutrition without the calories of highly processed, junk and cooked foods.

Eventually, your body will feel full and much more satisfied without the need of excessive calories. Moreover, it also reduces hunger pangs and cravings for foods.

Eventually, the result will be healthy weight reduction and essentially diminishing the danger of major cardiovascular-related illnesses, tumor, and diabetes.

  • Raw food diet raises the levels of energy

The Raw Food Diet- A New Buzz In The Weight Loss JourneyOnce you switched to raw food diet, you will feel energetic throughout the day. You will not feel drained after consuming highly processed or spicy cooked food.

This is on the grounds that highly processed foods result in glucose spikes and afterwards it drops down and eventually depleting the levels of energy.

With the higher energy levels that keep going for the duration of the day, you will be considerably more active and productive and have the capacity to achieve significantly more. Raw food diet does not require much more energy to digest as compared to the cooked food.

  • Raw food diet to detoxify your body

Since processed foods are full of poisons and other awful chemicals, they store in your body with this kind of eating routine. When you switch your eating lifestyle to the raw food diet, your body will remove the poisons to the point that they are totally gone from your body systems.

The outcome is that the frameworks in your body will turn out to be more productive and will be less stressed too. You will see improved circulation, nervous system, respiration, and immunity. You will feel alive, energetic, and healthy.

RELATED: Asparagus- A Royal Vegetable With An Amazing Weight Loss Benefit

  • Raw food diet helps to lose weight

Individuals who are on raw food diet can easily their excess weight as compared to the individuals who are on cooked food.

Uncooked nourishment have more fiber in them so will influence you to feel more full without consuming abundance calories, and since raw food diets are packed with a lot of supplements and fiber, your body won’t crave for extra calories.

The outcome is less nourishment intake and less sugar consumption. There has likewise been a connection between healthy looking skin and raw food diet. This is because of the detoxification impacts and higher concentrations of anti-oxidants in raw foods.

Anti-oxidants are cancer prevention agents which kill harmful free radicals. At the point when there are excess radicals in the body, this can bring about dry and patchy and a poor complexion.

  • Raw food diet for mental clarity

Individuals on raw food diet generally feel mental clarity and increased concentration and focus.

With higher levels of energy and higher concentration, the inspiration to achieve your objectives and complete things becomes less demanding and easier. By and large, you will feel relaxed and tension free.

Super Seeds to Add to Your Dog’s Diet

Break out your grinder, dust off your food processor, find your power blender. You’ll need it to help your dog take advantage of a humble pantry staple: seeds. Whether big (pumpkin and sunflower), small (sesame, hemp, chia, flax) or grain-like (quinoa, amaranth), seeds supply an extra buzz of protein, along with fiber, amino acids, fats, vitamins, minerals and other useful micro-nutrition morsels. You can add them as an ingredient in your dog’s home-cooked meals or sprinkle them on as a topper.


Caveats: In order for your dog to benefit from their many pluses, seeds should usually be ground; some should also be refrigerated to avoid rancidity. Raw and unsalted are best. Because they tend to be calorie-rich, use them judiciously. Finally, try a single variety at a time in small quantities until you know how your dog responds to and tolerates them.


Quinoa and amaranth are “ancient grains,” seeds from plants that have been cultivated the same way for thousands of years. (If your dog has arthritis or kidney problems, it’s probably best to give quinoa a miss; it’s fairly high in naturally occurring oxalates, which can exacerbate these conditions.) Amaranth contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein.

Chia and flaxseeds are best refrigerated. Chia is said to be an immune-system booster and is credited with supporting dogs’ electrolyte balance. Flax is high in fiber, and both are high in anti-inflammatories.

In addition to being mineral-rich, sesame seeds have two unique elements, sesamin and sesamolin, which have been shown to increase vitamin E in animals and to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

Hemp seeds are a high-protein, easily digestible source of immune-system support.

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds both supply extra anti-oxidants. Pumpkin seeds rank high in zinc, a mineral recommended for dogs with copper toxicosis, aka copper storage disease. (Sunflower seeds, on the other hand, are high in copper, so if your dog has liver problems, check with your vet before feeding.) Pumpkin seeds are unusual in that their nutritive value has been shown to improve with age—those pumpkin seeds that have been languishing in the back of your pantry since Halloween are better now than when you bought them!

Consumer Reports: Is raw pet food right for your dog?

There’s a growing and controversial trend in pet care: the raw food diet.

It’s not just cutting up raw meat – sales of commercially prepared raw pet food have soared – more than tripling in the last seven years.

Proponents claim better health and more energy in their pets. But Consumer Reports said raw food can be dangerous for both the animal and their families.

Kaibab is a 6-year-old mixed-breed who loves to run free in the mountains and woods. Owner Gregory Kanter attributes the dog’s health and energy to a diet of raw supermarket chicken.

“Her coat is shiny. Very healthy looking teeth,” Kanter said.

However, Consumer Reports said an exclusive diet of raw meat may not contain everything your pet needs, whether it’s from the meat aisle or is a commercial formulation found in the pet section.

There are also safety concerns. Public health agencies and many veterinarians, including Dr. Daniela Goldman, said raw food can contain bacteria like Salmonella, E.coli and Listeria.

“Even raw pet food that you buy commercially, prepared in a pet store, is still potentially dangerous because it can still contain harmful bacteria,” said Julia Calderone, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

The symptoms in animals?

“Certainly seen vomiting and diarrhea come in with raw food diets,” Goldman said.

“The harmful bacteria in raw pet food is not only potentially dangerous for your pet, but it could be harmful for anyone in the home too,” Calderone said.

That’s because the bad bacteria can be transferred to whatever the raw food touches.

If you do choose to feed your pet raw food, Consumer Reports said to take these important precautions:

-Use hot soapy water to clean everything the raw food has touched.

-Then disinfect either with a commercial product or a solution of one tablespoon bleach and four cups of water.
-Wash your hands vigorously for 20 seconds with warm water and soap after handling raw food, playing with your pet or cleaning up after her.
-Kisses from your pet can also transmit bacteria. Avoid that as well.

Consumer Reports said before making any big changes to your pet’s diet, consult with your veterinarian to ensure your pet will be getting all the nutrition it needs and to discuss any safety issues.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org

Football Star Héctor Bellerín Credits Vegan Diet for Health and Sleep Improvements

Footballer Héctor Bellerín, who plays as a right-back for English club Arsenal as well as for the Spanish national team, has spoken out about his vegan diet. According to Bellerín, eating plant-based has improved his sleep and overall health. 

“When it comes to nutritional literature, everyone is very old-school,” Bellerín told fashion publication Mr Porter. “[People think] ‘You need milk, eggs, meat.’ But actually, you are able to get the same amount of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins from plants.”

Bellerín explained how his energy had improved since making the change. He said, “I used to be that guy who snoozed the alarm 20 times. Then all of a sudden I was waking up with the sun at 7.00am.” According to the publication, Bellerín also commended the positive effects that his vegan diet has on the environment. 

The athlete added that his post-game recovery time had undergone vast improvements, something he has commented on in a previous interview. Bellerín first spoke out about his vegan diet in a video for Players Tribune. At the time, he had been following a plant-based diet for six months. He accredited the meat and dairy-free lifestyle to reduced inflammation post-exercise. “I always had a little problem with my ankles when I had played very hard games they would get a bit inflamed and stiff, and now I don’t even have to strap them to play anymore,” said Bellerín.

When the athlete isn’t practising his football skills, he can be found engaging in meditation and yoga.

While the athlete donned a number of animal products in his photo shoot with Mr Porter, including wool, and leather, it is possible Bellerín will later adopt an entirely vegan lifestyle. Increasingly, the public is shifting to “flexitarianism” and celebrating small changes over time. Fellow sportsman Lewis Hamilton initially adopted a plant-based diet after watching the 2017 documentary “What The Health” but has since made ethical connections to the lifestyle. Musician James Arthur followed a similar path when he went vegan after discovering the ethics behind the lifestyle. Before this time, Arthur had followed a plant-based diet for health reasons.

The footballer is among many athletes ditching animal products to boost their performance. NBA player Kyrie Irving credited his plant-based diet for his increased energy, while Yankees pitcher CC Sabitha adopted a raw vegan diet to improve his performance recovery time. 


Image Credit: Hector Bellerin


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A Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Eggs Is Spreading & Here’s What You Need To Know

With all of the reports of food borne-illnesses as of late, you might feel like the only things that are safe to eat and drink are bread and water. While this isn’t exactly the case, unfortunately, more illnesses are being reported. A salmonella outbreak linked to eggs is spreading, according to CNN, and there are a few things you should be aware of in order to stay healthy. You may remember the chicken-salad salmonella scare back in April, and the ongoing E. coli romaine lettuce debacle. Now, you can cross eggs off your list of safe foods to eat, especially if you bought your eggs at Walmart or Food Lion, the Centers for Disease Control reported.

The CDC noted that the contaminated eggs have been traced by to Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County farm, and 35 people in nine states have been sickened over the last month. While 11 people have been hospitalized, no one has died as a result of the salmonella contamination. According to the CDC, the eggs were sold under a number of names, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, Publix, Sunshine Farms, and Sunups. If you purchased one of these brands, the CDC recommends you check the package for the following numbers: “P-1065 (the plant number) and another set of numbers between 011 and 102 (the Julian date), or, for Publix and Sunups egg cartons, plant number P-1359D and Julian date 048A or 049A with Best By dates of APR 02 and APR 03.”

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If you discover that you do have these eggs in your fridge, throw them out immediately, even if you’ve already eaten some and haven’t gotten sick. Next, the CDC advised that you should disinfect the shelves or drawers in your fridge were the eggs were stored. And, just to be safe, you might want to skip eating any kind of runny eggs, even if they’re not on the recall list. “Eggs should be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny,” the CDC noted.

Although some people with salmonella infection don’t have any symptoms, others can experience severe gastrointestinal distress. “Others develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within eight to 72 hours. Most healthy people recover within a few days without specific treatment,” the Mayo Clinic noted on its website. “In some cases, the diarrhea associated with salmonella infection can be so dehydrating as to require prompt medical attention. Life-threatening complications also may develop if the infection spreads beyond your intestines.”

Adam Berry/Getty Images News/Getty Images

You can contract salmonella infection from eating undercooked foods or from drinking contaminated water, the CDC stated. This is why it’s important to keep raw foods, like salads and vegetables, separate from raw meat. “Cross-contamination of foods should be avoided. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after touching uncooked foods. Hands should be washed before handling food, and between handling different food items.” In fact, unclean cutting boards are a major source of food contamination.

What’s more, if you’re preparing food, make sure to wash your hands before touching anything edible. This is especially important if you’ve been handling animals, or performing a task like cleaning Fluffy’s litter box. In the first five months of 2018, six salmonella outbreaks have been reported by the CDC, which is why it’s always a good idea to be vigilant about making sure your food is cooked thorough. However, if you have intestinal distress that won’t stop, it’s time to see a doctor to make sure you don’t become dehydrated.

Adding “wild” foods to your diet







Ready to “eat wild?!”

Audrey Barron, Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe, explains how to could add a variety of wild plants into our diet!

Audrey says:                                                 

Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables tend to lose both vitamins and minerals as they age.  Don’t get me wrong, we should still be consuming a large variety of plants in our diet (the more local the better!).  But when we add wild foods into our regular routine, we are adding another level of mineral, nutrients that we’re probably missing in our “non-wild” diet. 

Eating wild does not need to be hard or scary.  In fact, it’s probably much easier than you might realize.  And when you harvest it yourself, it’s not only extremely fresh, it’s FREE!

So let’s talk about our three wild foods we’re working with in today’s recipes.

Nettles:

You might have heard about nettles. They’re often called “Stinging Nettle” and considered an unwanted weed!  They can be found fresh growing in wooded areas. You can also purchase seeds and grow it yourself if you have the yard space (beware, it will take over). They get their name because they do in fact have stinging hairs along the stem and under the leaves. Those stings bring with them a medicinal quality that acts as an antihistamine as well as an anti-inflammatory.  The fresh leaves can be eaten as a green in soups, pesto and you can even eat them raw in smoothies. You can use dried nettle to make a highly nutritious tea. Nettle is extremely rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and even protein.

Dandelion:

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know what dandelion is. It grows seemingly everywhere!  You can use the leaves in salads, smoothies, pesto and even soups. The root can be used as a tea or coffee replacement and the yellow flowers can be used to help with skin issues. When taken internally, dandelion helps the body naturally detox. It’s also high in antioxidants and promotes healthy skin.

Black Wild Rice:

Black wild rice is the most nutrient-dense of all the rice available. It’s extremely high in antioxidants, protects the heart and it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s also very nourishing to the adrenals, helping the body fight fatigue. This one is not quite as easy to harvest yourself in the wild, so look for it in your local health food store

Chef Audrey’s Nettle Rosemary Pesto

Yields approximately 1 ½ cups of pesto

3 cups fresh nettle leaves

5 garlic cloves, diced

1 cup walnuts

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

To make your pesto, add your walnuts, sea salt, nutritional yeast and garlic and process until coarsely ground. 

Now add your nettle and rosemary and process again for a few seconds.

As the processor is going, stream in your lemon juice and olive oil and watch as it becomes a beautiful emerald pesto before your eyes.

Store in your refrigerator for up to a week in an air-tight container.  You can also freeze this pesto!

Wild Rice & Veggies with Nettle Pesto

Serves 6

My family absolutely adores this dish. It’s comforting, fresh and vibrant all at the same time. And it makes me feel so good knowing we are eating wild food that brings in a level of nourishment that supports our well-being on a higher level.

Pesto

You will use the nettle recipe above. You can actually make the pesto as the rice is cooking.

Rice and Veggies

6 cups cooked black wild rice

1 cup diced red pepper

4 cups fresh ramps (wild garlic) – chopped (or use green onion)

2 cups quartered brussel sprouts

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt to taste

To cook your wild rice, you want to first soak over night if you can. Drain the water and then cook.  To cook, add 1.5 cups water per cup of rice in your pot and allow it to come to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook with the lid on. I like to add sea salt and fresh turmeric root to my rice as it cooks.

When rice is cooking, sautee your ramps (or green onion) and Brussel sprouts in your olive oil and sea salt until tender.  Don’t overcook – you want them to be nice and bright green.

When rice is finished cooking, add your red pepper, ramps and broccoli and allow to sit.  The red pepper will warm and soften with the heat. 

After a minute or so, add about ¼ cup of your pesto and stir until everything is coated.

Serve with a sprinkle of hemp seeds and allow your cells to soak in the goodness.

Wild Dandelion Fruit Smoothie

Makes 1 smoothie

Smoothies are an awesome way to sneak wild foods into your life. I love smoothies because they make eating healthy so easy! In the Midwest, we are blessed to have wild dandelions everywhere in the Spring and Summer. When you don’t spray your yard, you can literally walk outside and grab your greens for you smoothie! (or salad, soup, etc)

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 frozen banana

1 ½ cup fresh almond milk

1 tablespoon almond butter

2 kale leaves

5 leaves of dandelion

It doesn’t get much easier than making a smoothie.  Just add your ingredients and blend!

I like to have smoothies in the morning for my breakfast.  They are easy for the body to digest, easy to make and filling.  And you can add your wild greens, superfoods and anything else you want in before you blend. 

Cheers to your wild health!

Would you like to take a class with me?  Check out our class lineup and more about Ezra’s Café at www.ezrasenlightenedcafe.com.

Want to follow me (Chef Audrey) to see what I’m up to at our farm and behind the scenes at the café?  Find me at @GaiaChef or www.gaiachef.com.