Some of US’s Wealthiest Athletes Prefer 69¢ Snack At Work

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For their homes, many members of the NBA (the National Basketball Association), the top paid four of whom take home a total of more than $100,000,000 per year, have private chefs. At work, at stadiums across the country, one of players’ favorite pre-game snacks is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Maybe more than one, given the size of these guys, who tend to be well in excess of 6′ (1.83m) tall and hardly bean-pole thin!)

Unknown to large swaths of the world beyond the US, PB&J, as the snack is affectionately known to virtually every American, is a centuries-old tradition – dating back to the early days of peanut growing in the US, even before George Washington Carver found hundreds of uses for it (but he did not invent peanut butter!).

One use I suspect he never pursued, perhaps after one trial of it, would be peanut butter soup, a “delicacy” high school classmates of mine and I created on occasional Sunday evenings, when, unlike the rest of the week, we had “requisitions,” kid-selected foods, in our dorm. Why we made it more than once is a mystery, since the stuff hardly halted on its journey from mouth to the other end!

Yep, PB mixed with milk and heated will clean you out quicker, with less pain, than raw or lightly-sauteed Habanero peppers!

Today, there is scarcely a household of native-born Americans that doesn’t have at least an “emergency” jar of PB somewhere handy.

Among those that does is Donald Trump’s. His choice for White House Chef reportedly has no cheffing experience, but his boss declared, when announcing the appointment of Mike Wave, whose cooking-for-cash experience is more or less limited to six months with Blue Apron, the meat kit maker, “he makes a mean PB&J,” the leader of the free world (and under-valued sandwich fan) said. Then he took another bite if his!

The Automat Returns! Bon Chance, Eatsa!

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A story last month (February) in Business Insider described Eatsa, a new restaurant chain, as “unlike any fast-food chain we’ve seen before.”

The reporter, Hayley Peterson, who appears to be, in her photo, in her youngish thirties, clearly was using the ‘royal we’ – speaking as one as if she were, like the queen, somehow greater than the sum of her parts.

But then, no one of her generation ever had an opportunity to see Eatsa’s spiritual and practical predecessor, because Horn & Hardart, shut down its last New York City Automat in 1991 – a fact that Haley later alludes to in her well-done, highly-illustrated article.

Horn & Hardart, which opened its first restaurant in 1902 in Philadelphia, quickly caught the public’s attention for a couple of reasons. Its several walls of shiny glass-door compartments held individual portions of sandwiches, salads, desserts and more. Combinations of nickels (five-cent pieces) would be deposited in a slot by each door featuring a desired item. The door would unlock, and the item became yours!

On one side of the usually-large rooms – some seemed to be nearly the size of Rockefeller Center’s ice rink – there were steam tables where hot dishes were available. Whether you stopped by the hot tables or skipped them, you sat wherever you wanted – beside whomever happened to be there – and tipping was discouraged.

There was, after all, no service: You could enjoy a pretty good ‘fast food’ experience – this was, in fact, the nation’s first true fast-food restaurant chain – without once interacting with a person, with the possible exception of a ‘nickel thrower’: A woman who exchanged your larger coins and/or bills for their value in nickels.

The food was prepared either behind the scenes on the same location or at a central commissary elsewhere in either New York or Philadelphia, the two principal cities where Automats operated. The food was, by standards of the day, healthy and nutritious, and ordinarily pretty tasty, too.

So what happened to the Automats – which, by the way, were based on an earlier automat concept in Germany? A couple of things: The arrival of McDonald’s, Burger King and local variations on the same theme(s) provided a more ‘exciting’ atmosphere and, significantly, drive-thrus. At the same time, in the late- ‘60’s – early ‘70’s, as food costs rose, there weren’t a lot of things that could be offered for a combination of nickels.

Then there was the rent factor: For obvious reasons, Automats tended to located in high-traffic locations. Horn & Hardart at one time operated 40 of their restaurants in New York City, and as the rents rose – as they seem to do with tide-like regularity in ‘The Big Apple,’ their share of overhead, coupled with the higher food costs, made Automats economically unviable.

A company calling itself Bamn! attempted to revive the concept in New York City’s East Village in 2006.  It survived a mere 2.5 years – probably, in part, because the street it was on, St. Mark’s Place, has been ever-more ridiculously pricey real estate since the 1960’s, when it was a popular draw as home to Gerdy’s Folk City, when ‘folk music’ was all the range, then to clubs of more advanced genres, the kind of gift/memento stores tourists flock to, and, for a while, to one of NYC’s hottest jazz clubs, The Five Spot – frequently inhabited by Thelonious Monk.

(I often ‘hung’ there when Monk was in residence – selling nonsense poems written on bar napkins to tourists!)

Eatsa is a truly modern-day version of the automat-type restaurant. It’s brightly lit, it’s décor is plain but in tune will Millennials’ tastes.

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It’s computer-based ordering system – for the sole specialty, a bowl of quinoa priced at $6.96 and topped with whatever the customer orders, from a wide range of choices – is recorded and stored so when a customer returns, his/her previous preferences are  displayed and alternates are suggested as part of the approach to encouraging repeat visits.

So far, there are Eatsa locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nation’s Restaurant News has reported that the chain plans to open at least ten more locations this year.

From that, point who knows?

 

Donut Try This At Home

 

The-Krispy-Kreme-Challenge.pngFor reasons you can only wonder at, there’s been for the past 12 years, an event in Raleigh NC that sorely tests the concept that some people are – as they’re most certainly not – qualified to gain places as students at North Carolina State, a misnamed kindergarten, it would seem.

The event is the Krispy Kreme Challenge charity race – destined, without a doubt, to provide an entry to DarwinAwards.com. The web site follows a book about people who remove themselves from the gene pool through acts of utter stupidity.

The ‘challenge’ is supposed to be, according to its website, “a student run, charity-based race.” Student run can, of course, be interpreted two ways: As a race run by students, or one organized by students. One of this year’s entries more than likely was organized into the event, to his family’s eventual regret.

He – who hasn’t been identified, publicly – was 58. Like his fellow challenge-takers, was intent on running 2.5 miles, then downing a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, then carrying on for another 2.5 miles. Doubly sadly (if you like Krispy Kreme donuts, which probably were created by a cardiologist anxious for more patients), our man didn’t make it beyond the first mile. Meaning, he didn’t cross mile point 2.5, at a Krispy Kreme shop, and collect his dozen donuts.

At age 58, with chest pains during that last mile of his, he should have reckoned it would be wholly risky for him to proceed. An exkreme risk, you could say.

The Facebook page for the challenge, funds from which go to North Carolina’s Children’s Hospital, said:

“We regretfully confirm that a participant of today’s Krispy Kreme Challenge has died.

“He was transported by EMS to Rex Hospital where he was pronounced dead. We are deeply saddened and wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.”

Indeed.

Maybe, should this odd tradition be continued, it should be limited to college-age individuals, an unfortunate number of whom are likely to expose themselves to the risk of consuming, as this challenge requires, 2,400 calories within one hour. Still, they’re far more like to be up to the challenge than is today’s typical 58-year-old.

May he rest in peas, not flour- and sugar-based concoctions.

 

NYC to Fast Feeders: ‘Na’ To Excess Salt

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For reasons that defy gravity, there are opponents to New York City’s new rule that items in chain restaurants containing more than the FDA-recommended daily allowance for sodium – chemical name NA – be specially labeled with a salt shaker emblem. That recommended daily maximum of salt intake is, by the way, 2,300 milligrams – roughly a teaspoon.

Foods with that much sodium are plentiful, and plenty popular, in many fast food facilities. But that’s hardly news: It’s always been so, since Ray Kroc did a deep-discount deal with the McDonald brothers and turned a small quick-service restaurant into a monster that has, in the interval, nearly engulfed the world.

(There presently are more than 35,000 McDonald’s restaurants spread across no fewer than 119 countries. Their 1.7 million employees serve some 68 million customers daily, according to Wikipedia. A large portion of their fries probably comes close to offering up that daily maximum recommendation of sodium.)

Put into effect earlier this month, the new rule doesn’t have to be reflected on chain outlets’ menus until March, 2016, before they face fines of $200.

The Associated Press says that, “Public advocates cheer the measure [because] experts say Americans consume too much salt, raising their risks of high blood pressure and heart problems.”

The AP also notes that, “Salt producers say the city’s policy is misguided and restaurateurs” – a rather highfalutin term to associate with purveyors of fat-rich meat patties on buns – “say the city should leave the matter to federal regulators.”

The National Restaurant Association (an NRA not associated or affiliated with the gun-or-three in every household one) believes – and has asserted as much in a suit against NYC – that the salt-warning rule is “another in a series of burdensome, costly and unnecessary regulations the city has heaped upon local restaurateurs,” the NRA’s web site asserts.

“Customers should,” they went on, “have the same access from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon” – a sentiment the crafters of New York City’s new regulation undoubtedly would heartily agree with.

So, as it happens, more than like would the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), if anyone bother to encourage them to extend NYC’s rule nationwide.

“But,” the FDA’s web site and that of the National Kidney Disease Education Program declare, “nearly all Americans consume more salt than they need, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are published every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.”

Significantly, the FDA also notes that, “The natural salt in food accounts for about 10 percent of total intake, on average, according to the guidelines. The salt we add at the table or while cooking adds another 5 to 10 percent. About 75 percent of our total salt intake comes from salt added to processed foods by manufacturers and salt that cooks add to foods at restaurants and other food service establishments.”

And there – in the last sentence – is the rub: Processed foods of all sorts, particularly those processed for fast food feeders, have, in addition to their ‘natural’ salt, at least two doses of it added along the way from field to our digestive track: During the processing phase, as a preservative, and at the table, for a (truly unneeded) flavor boost. Fast feeders compound the excess-salt problem by employing even more of it in their food preparation processes – most notably (but hardly exclusively) in the preparation of fries.

(For people such as yours truly, who have CKD [Chronic Kidney Disease], not only is a low-salt diet a must, we’re similarly advised to stay away from the likes of potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, oranges and a broad assortment of other food items with high potassium.

(CKD sufferers are advised to have no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day. On average: And it’s the latter fact that allows for a bit of cheating – say, the occasional order of fries, or a tomato slice on a burger, or pasta with tomato sauce on it.

(Passing on many off-limits things, on a CKD diet, isn’t all that hard, generally speaking, when you’re eating home-cooked, carefully-chosen foods. But meals out and holidays present a host of problems, because much of what people most crave for on such occasions is salt- or potassium-rich.)

Another ‘villain’ among salt-adding enterprises is the movie-screening field. Their mission is similar to that of the fast-feeders: Because salt makes you thirsty, when you eat movie theaters’ popcorn, you’re also inclined to buy their similarly-over-priced drinks.

(Most movie theaters make most of the little profit they enjoy through the sale of candy, snacks, popcorn and, yes, drinks. They make very little on ticket sales, because producers have to rake in the most they can to support the outrageous sums they pay performers. And if one could get an exclusive contract on cars to be blown up or wrecked beyond repair in movies, a car manufacturer could do quite well on that business alone, thank you very much.)

In addition to raising blood pressure and adding to the potential for heart problems, excess salt can do a lot of damage to kidneys – more than most diets acknowledge. Because I have CKD, my dietitian and my nephrologist (kidney specialist) recommend I take in even as little as 1200 mg of sodium daily.

It’s a struggle sometimes to determine how much a portion of this or that contains, particularly when one’s portion size is not typically the size – often distorted, compared to how people normally eat – described on a package’s mandatory Nutrition Guidelines.

It’s a rare occasion when I eat in, or from, a fast food restaurant. When I do, I always choose from the low-price menu, and request no condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, etc.) be added. All of those are highly processed, and hardly what you’d call ‘healthy’ for someone with kidney issues. And Chinese food is, for all intents and purposes, a no-no, as are such other highly-spiced ones as Indian food.

I happen to love some Indian foods – the combination of spices they involve are so unlike what you find in other cuisines – and some Chinese dishes. So I cheat – by making my own, minimizing the potentially harmful ingredients and boosting, if I care to, others. (You’d be surprised how readily available most of the spices used in Indian foods are.)

A really good ‘cheat’ for a CKD sufferer is – if you’re fortunate enough to have a Vietnamese restaurant nearby – to stop in, sit down, and order a vegetarian pho (a kind of soup) . . . then, after consuming half of it, take the rest home and ‘build’ your own pho, complementing their broth and some of their ingredients with your own.

Rice noodles – a very healthy choice for CKD sufferers – can be found in any store specializing in foods for people from, or descended from people from, the far east – China, Vietnam, Korea, etc.  As well as eating them with sautéed vegetables, I also use them as a rice substitute in various dishes – including my home-made chili, which I can’t eat a lot of at a given sitting both because it employees a lot of tomato (a no-no) and as it’s bean-rich (most beans are off limits). And while I enjoy it with rice, which always is a healthy choice for me, the rice noodles make an interesting change.

Change: That’s something that, one way or another, a lot of us – most of us – should be doing to improve or retain our health through our diets.

While no one wants ‘big brother’ to be telling us what to do – and that certainly proved true when former NYC Bloomberg tried to limit the size of to-go soda containers that could be sold – there is something to be said for the likes of New York City to ‘advise’ consumers about how much sodium their food contains.

Wendy’s restaurants, like some others, posts a chart spelling out that and much more about the nutritional values of what they serve. That’s a good start. But forcing a salt shaker alongside a really-heavy-salt-bearing item seems like an even better idea.

 

Sometimes the best of intentions . . . burn, as it were, the Canadian bacon

egg-mcmuffinMcDonald’s, yielding to extensive, years-long pressure from EggMcMuffin lovers, gave in recently, and declared that, in selected locations, breakfast foods would be available all day.
This clear give-in to protests by hoards of shift workers who were (substitute a euphemism for ‘weak coffee’) off about the fact that, when it is their morning, and breakfast time, they were not offered, in their favorite sometimes-moderately-fast-food establishment, either pancakes or a concoction based on an egg encased with cheese in a so-called English muffin – an item totally unavailable in England.
And, they added, even the coffee offered to just-off-second-shift workers has been, um, shall we say, lacking an appropriate bouquet.
So workers and hoards of students, doing whatever it is they do overnight, as they populate tens of thousands of McDonald’s outlets after 10:30 a.m. – the company’s traditional cut-off for breakfast foods — had so successfully united that a monster corporation had . . . well, either asked or required . . . franchises to shift to the new all-day-shift for breakfast.
Many breakfast-food-loving customers are delighted. Some others are not.
Franchisers seriously are not ‘lovin it’.
Foodservice.com, an industry blog, reports that franchisees say “the company’s all-day break the company’s all-day breakfast launch has been a nightmare. The new menu is slowing down service, reducing average ticket costs, and causing chaos in the kitchens.” several franchisees told Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski in a new survey.

“In small stores, the problems are vast with people falling over each other and equipment jammed in everywhere,” one franchisee wrote in response to the survey. Another wrote, “All-day breakfast is a non-starter. We are trading customers down from regular menu to lower-priced breakfast items. Not generating new traffic.”

A third called the new program “erratic, distorted, disorganized direction from McDonald’s.”

Even more concerning, to the parent company, must have been a remark by one franchisee that “Customers are abandoning us in droves because we are either too slow, or sub-par quality,” a Business Insider article (as reported by Yahoo) said.
Then there’s the view from the Twittersphere.
Example 1:
HEY @McDonalds WTF IS THE POINT OF ALL DAY BREAKFAST WITH NO MCGRIDDLES OR HASHBROWNS? NO ONE LIKES A TEASE.
Examples 2, 3 & 4:
• Update there’s no mc griddle so I don’t care anymore
• mcdonald’s all day breakfast menu doesn’t have hash browns or mcgriddles. aint no point tbh @mcdonalds.
• McDonalds caused all this hype bout all day breakfast only to not have the McGriddle on all day? SMH
Between franchisers’ complaints and customers’, with many in each camp decidedly not ‘lovin’ it’, it would be a good bet that IHOP might just grow its menu and open some drive-thru lanes in the wake of not-the-smartest-of-moves by the biggest of fast-food franchisors.