No Cell Phone Zones and Digital Dining Etiquette for Healthier Habits

No Cell Phone Zones and Digital Dining Etiquette for Healthier Habits

No Cell Phone Zones and Digital Dining Etiquette for Healthier Habits

Gaps in my childhood memories are like holes in Swiss cheese, yet recollections of meals evoke a solid sense of belonging and comfort.

Feeling gushy about meals is easy when you nourish yourself, nurture friends and family and take a break from daily busyness to listen, share, laugh, commiserate and connect.

Commensal vs Convivial Eating and Cell Phones

Eating together, or commensality, is common—anyone, even animals can do it, but convivial eating, or fully engaging with someone during a meal is becoming rare.

Conviviality, a conscious social choice, separates dining together from simply eating food.

No cell phone zones Digital dining couple“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling our body to a ritual of family and community, from mere animal biology to an act of culture.” Micheal Pollan

Often, at restaurants, I see tables full of diners, heads bent over their glowing laps. They’re being commensal, but where’s the conviviality?

Most adults (82 percent) surveyed by the Pew Research Center, felt cell phone use during social gatherings hurt the atmosphere or conversations of the group.

Yet, despite their concerns, 38 percent felt it was generally okay to use cell phones at restaurants. But family dinners? No.

Cell Phone Digital Dining Table setting with phoneDon’t set a place for phones since only 12 percent felt they belonged at a family dinner.

Physical and Emotional Health

Multiple studies link commensal family meals with positive benefits ranging from:

  • better food choices,
  • more moderate portion sizes,
  • improved food recall and enjoyment,
  • better school outcomes,
  • lower risk of obesity, and
  • less drugs or alcohol abuse by teenagers.

Studies focusing more on conviviality, link social interaction at meals as one key component in strengthening family ties and teaching children empathy and how to notice and interpret facial, eye and vocal tone cues.

Tech experts and psychiatrists can connect cell phone use to elevated stress levels and changes in how we interact with people IRL (text for In-Real-Life). Children and young adults, in some studies, shared feeling insecure and neglected because of adults dining with devices at family meals.

No Cell Phone ZoneFamily Dining Al Fresco

Making a meal a mobile event or inviting the phone to the table can weaken social ties and ruin opportunities to create an environment of comfort and support.

“Your dinner table can be a sanctuary from the outside world, with its angry cries for and against. It can be a place to process the events of the day, the week, the month, the year, and always to celebrate the delicious.” Sam Sifton 

Rebecca Wheeler, culinary instructor, food tour guide and mom, treats their family dinners as sacred times since work schedules or events limit the number of sit-down family dinners during the week.

“So, we take that time to light a candle, say what we’re grateful for, and talk and listen to each other.”

Along with her husband, they’ve achieved a no-phone zone (or other electronics) at the table. Their concern was that even picking up or glancing at a phone or device was a distraction and a subtle message that something else was more important than eating together.

As parents, they’ve resisted their own tech temptations at the table, instead modeling their message to teach their kids good habits around technology.

 “for this reason there are no exceptions. It’s just easier to have some family rules be black and white.”

 

Mobile Meal Etiquette for Healthier Dinner HabitsNo cell phone zone digital dining time for change

For people who commonly invite their phone to dinner, the idea of a no-phone zone at meals may trigger stress, even nomophobia—elevated anxiety due to “nomore-phone” access. In the case of periodic use of phones at meals, consider adopting some basic phone etiquette to help create healthier and more socially considerate habits.

Icon fork knife spoon whiteExamine your motivations and priorities. Is that phone call, text, email, social media post critical or does just feel like it? What’s behind the need or desire to respond? Can it wait until after the meal? Will a crisis evolve if you take break to prioritize people who want to enjoy your company and a meal?

Icon fork knife spoon whiteNuke the Notifications: Don’t tempt yourself. If you decide to devote your attention to socializing with others, turn off your phone or notifications and place it out of sight. Its presence on a table signals to your IRL friends or family members that more virtual distractions are likely.

Icon fork knife spoon whiteDon’t look distracted or disengaged: Even a text, short email or glance at the phone to check for updates immediately communicates that someone else who is not at the meal is more important. Don’t buy into the myth that you can multi-task conversations in meaningful ways; no-one’s brain does this outside of science fiction movies.

Icon fork knife spoon whiteAcknowledge your fellow eaters. If a potential phone distraction is likely or feels unavoidable, share that you have a time-sensitive or important issue which may require your attention and apologize, in advance.

Icon fork knife spoon whiteDon’t invite a virtual-third party to the table: If you must take a call, leave the table to talk without being overheard. This practice avoids disrupting the meal and making your priority everyone else’s business.

Icon fork knife spoon whiteProtect against Pathogenic Phones: Clean your phone often and wash your hands after using it. Over 90 percent of phones carry common bacteria such as Bacillus (think dirt) or viridans streptococci (mouth and throat) and some harbor worse pathogens like e-coli (poor bathroom washing behavior) or even the antibiotic resistant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Put your best fork forward”. Eating well isn’t just nutrients, but how you think about eating. Consider the month of March a time to adopt new cell phone habits. A no-phone zone or better meal phone habits can pay-off with better health, well-being and relationships. At the very least, your memories of engaging with friends or family over a meal last forever, unlike your latest cell phone.


Geeky Resource List:

Pew Study: Americans Views on Mobile Etiquette
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042390/   Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study
NBC News cellphone and distracted parenting
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/the-importance-of-eating-together/374256/
http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/family-meals-small-investment-big-payoff
http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/100713p30.shtml
http://www.medicaldaily.com/distracted-eating-front-your-tv-or-your-phone-makes-you-fat-more-likely-snack-later-336438
Scientific American study nomophobia or fear-of-being-without-a-mobile-phone
https://www.statefoodsafety.com/Resources/article/category/Resources/article/the-dirty-cell-phone-25-107-bacteria-per-square-inch
http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/how-dirty-is-your-phone/

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Purse Crêpes (Aumônières de Crêpes)

Purse Crêpes (Aumônières de Crêpes)

Purse Crêpes (Aumônières de Crêpes)

Beggar’s Purse Crêpes Aumônières

Purse Crêpes

Purse Crêpes (sometimes called a Beggar’s purse) are an ironic description for a crêpe-based dish given that these elegant, plump flavor packages allow for an extra cha-ching to that restaurant bill. For the home cooks, this food bling bling upgrades your status as a chef de maison and offers fun ways to showcase what is truly a “fast-slow food”. Purse crêpes are versatile and can be stuffed with savory or sweet ingredients.

Crêpe batter is easy to prepare (5 ingredients in 5 minutes)

After learning a couple simple tricks, crêpes are easy to make—see my take on crêpes.

Aumônières de Crêpes

My chefs in Paris had me adding some chopped chervil into the batter and calling the recipe Crêpes Celestine without any mention of the “purse” food styling. Celestine refers to in the style of and often includes green, leafy herbs. Typically the French version is called aumônières de crêpes where aumônière means purse in French.

The tasty morsel above is from Amarosa vineyard and restaurant in Tuscany, Italy. The herbed version below I made in Paris where the chefs had us stuffing them with a creamy scallop filling.

Beggar’s Purse Crêpes Aumônières

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Galettes de Bretagne or Buckwheat Crêpes

Galettes de Bretagne or Buckwheat Crêpes

Galettes de Bretagne or Buckwheat Crêpes

When I ask other Americans about a French food they are most familiar with, crêpes are at the top of the list. In cooking classes, we often make crêpes because they are the easiest fancy food ever.

“Crêpes have a gourmet mystique

yet fold into on-the-go street food and with a few tricks are easy to make.”

 

My favorite types are galettes de Bretagne or buckwheat crêpes which originated from Brittany in Northwest France. Buckwheat (Sarrasin in French) crêpes don’t look or taste like most crêpes served in the U.S. From a sensory perspective, the color, when cooked is a toasty brown, the texture is crispy around the edges and are made thicker than all-purpose flour crepes.

This first crêpe from Crêperie Josselin in Paris is filled spinach and goat cheese and served with the required alcoholic cider beverage.

Buckwheat crêpes: healthy, happy eating

Nutritionally, for people who must eat gluten-free, buckwheat crêpes can expand their food options. But for eaters without restrictions, these are a fun addition to your meal time for both savory and sweet dishes. I will be posting some recipes and nutritional details in upcoming posts.

Crepe Brittany Josselin ed

My egg and “lardon” crêpe may cause some hesitation by those avoiding dietary cholesterol but I was hungry after four hours of walking about Paris running errands.

“I didn’t hesitate because dietary cholesterol doesn’t have a significant impact on blood serum cholesterol levels.”*

Also, because I don’t eat based on the amount of exercise I do, rather I eat when I feel hungry and what appeals to me per my no-food-rules life.

I confess to only eating half this crêpe and sadly leaving the rest behind as it was too filling. Next time, I bring a friend to split with me so I can have a salted caramel dessert crêpe!

Crêperie Josselin https://plus.google.com/104826267487524352578/about?gl=us&hl=en Buckwheat Crêpes josselin

 

 

*The 2015 Dietary Guidelines and decades of research! This applies to the majority of people even those with high cholesterol blood serum levels; however, there’s always exceptions as everyone is unique.

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

I love Paris in the cheese time | French Cheese

I love Paris in the cheese time | French Cheese

I love Paris in the cheese time | French Cheese

In a country that brags about 1,600 types of raw milk cheeses plus pasteurized options, shopping in a French cheese store (Fromagerie) stimulates or anesthetizes your senses depending on your tolerance for an overwhelming variety of options and the unique sensory aroma experience. One of my favorite French cow milk cheeses is Langres from the region of Champagne Ardenne on the Langres plateau. From a sensory experience, the barn-yardy odor hits you first and visually it looks like a tiny orange cake with powdered sugar—the orange color is from annatto seed. The concave cap is sometimes filled with a splash of champagne before eating, but I just dig in to enjoy its bready, earthy, sour-cream, mildly salty, sometimes fruity finish creamy experience. When I visit or work in France, it’s one of my first go-to cheeses. So far, I haven’t found a U.S. equivalent nor an imported version that survives the travel distance or the U.S. pasteurization requirements. If anyone has tried these or knows of any American cheeses with similar characteristics, please share your experiences or send me some cheese please.

French Cheese Langres | thetasteworkshop.com
French Cheese Langres | thetasteworkshop.com

French Cheese Please

The French get a lot of grief for their high cheese consumption. That they eat so much of it, so often, and without weight or health concerns. They even have verifiable better health outcomes than us Americans who may worry about frequently eating French cheese or any cheese. I explore these French eating paradoxes in other posts, but for now I propose that cheese can be a healthy part of a diet, presuming you’re not, sadly, lactose intolerant.

The biggest cheese challenge I have in France is which of the 1,000+ officially designated types of cheese to buy and not whether it’s “healthy”.

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Culinary Nutrition & Fats: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

Culinary Nutrition & Fats: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

Culinary Nutrition & Fats: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

Culinary Nutrition in Paris: Fats that Give Back

We launched this culinary nutrition fats class by discussing dietary fat myths and questions such as:

  • Can cooking oils become less healthy upon heating?Culinary nutrition fats LCB coconut oil
  • Does coconut oil stimulate weight loss?
  • Is coconut oil an all-purpose oil?
  • Is olive oil really the better oil for health?
  • What’s the latest on saturated fats and butter in healthy diets?
  • What happens when you eat higher carb foods with fattier foods?

Culinary Nutrition: “Fat” Techniques

We explored further questions during the class culinary techniques and tips such as:

  • Why do smoke points matter for food quality and taste?
  • How smoke points relate to culinary techniques & health?
  • What are the best tricks for non-stick sauté & tasty results?

    Culinary nutrition questions and answers

    Culinary technique questions in my favorite demo room

  • Which techniques pair with different oils?
  • What happens when you mix a low and high smoke point fat?
  • Clarified butter uses and can you overheat it? (we did a live test of this thanks to a curious student!)
  • How does Culinary Nutrition relate to cooking great tasting food and health?

Slurping Fats for Flavor

Palates were challenged with an olive oil tasting. Participants tasted two mystery French (Oils A & B) and one mystery Italian olive oil (Oil C).Culinary nutrition fats olive oil tasting

How do you taste oils? Briefly follow the steps below but for more detailed info, email me for a handout.

  • Sniff
  • Slurp (rudely works best)
  • Feel
  • Swallow
  • Breathe out

Participants discussed what aromas and flavors they perceived, rated the oils and guessed their sources and types.

Olive oil

Many students guessed the Italian versus the French versions.
The Italian version was from Umbria and had complex notes of grass, artichoke, spice and a creamy finish with hints of pepper.

This pricey oil (29 euros) limits it to finishing techniques and vinaigrettes. This can be found at http://www.oliviersandco.com/il-tempio-dell-oro-olive-oil.html

Another olive oil was Puget which has made oils in France since 1857. It had high acidity and a pungent and peppery finish–a good all-purpose affordable oil. This can be found at any grocery in France.Olive oil puget

Food Tastings and Recipes

Tastings are designed to illustrate key differences in flavor components of cooking oils and fats and how techniques affect flavor. Key culinary techniques such as key tips for “non-stick” saute and knowing the four signs that a cooking oil is ready relate to flavor in several ways.

Recipes are developed to be straight forward with quick prep but maximize flavors, textures and balance or highlight the five tastants. Recipes developed by the Taste Workshop for this class and tastings included:Lemon olive oil sorbet edcpfav

 

      • Salmon rillettes with hint of spice & citrus
      • Besan shrimp fritters w/ catsup chutney
      • Crispy chicken with sherry-vinegar mustard pan sauce
      • Meen Molee (Fish with coconut, lime and spices)
      • Citrusy almond and cornmeal olive oil cake with tangerine and Grand Marnier glaze
      • Lemon olive oil sorbet

 

Thanks to LCB Paris and WICE for amazing support and for the interesting and engaged participants for this class. For more info visit:Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and WICE Culinary events

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

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