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Vegan, Vegetarian, Macrobiotic…What’s the Difference?

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by: Sara Kate Kneidel & Sally Kneidel

So, you’re vegetarian and you don’t eat eggs, but your brother’s a vegetarian and he eats fish. And your best friend, she doesn’t even drink milk, but your neighbor calls herself vegetarian, even though you saw her eat chicken the other day. What’s going on? The truth is, being a vegetarian can mean lots of different things. Everyone has a different definition of what they do and don’t want to eat. Fortunately, if you want to be more specific, there are a number of useful terms. Let’s break it down.

Vegetarian

This is a general term. About five percent of the current U.S. population considers themselves to be vegetarian, although a number of varying dietary habits fall into this category. Usually this term refers to someone who doesn’t eat any kind of meat, including beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and seafood, and many choose to be vegetarian as removing meat from you diet is known to reduce your risk of heart disease. However, there are many people who don’t quite match this description, but still use this label. These include…

Pollo-Vegetarian

This is someone who follows a mostly vegetarian diet but is known to eat the occasional McChicken sandwich or nibble at some turkey jerky. In reality, birds are meat, so this isn’t really a form of vegetarianism, but lots of people who call themselves vegetarians do indulge in a bit of chicken every so often.

Pesco-Vegetarian

Again, this is someone who follows a mostly vegetarian diet but who does eat a little meat—generally as some don’t consider aquatic creatures the same as other animals. Also, fish is generally a much healthier choice than pork or beef and takes less time to cook. Our Grill-Poached Fish Skillet recipe, for example, takes roughly 20 minutes to cook and serves six! Other people choose to eat fish because it doesn’t affect land use as much as raising livestock does. However, overharvesting and polluting our seas and lakes is a significant environmental concern. Nonetheless, this is a popular diet, although, like pollo-vegetarianism, it’s not technically vegetarian.

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian

This person eats no meat, including seafood, but does eat dairy products and eggs. Most lacto-ovo-vegetarians follow this basic rule: if you have to kill the animal to get the product, then don’t eat it. Therefore, milk is okay, but gelatin, which is made from horse hooves, is not.

Lacto-Vegetarian

This person eats no meat or eggs but does eat dairy products. Dairy products include cows’ milk and any food you can make from cows’ milk, such as ice cream, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter, and so on. Other animal products, such as goat cheese, are also included.

Ovo-Vegetarian

A person on this diet eats no meat and no dairy products but does eat eggs. This isn’t too common. (The lives of hens that provide table eggs are at least as miserable as chickens raised for meat, and eggs are no healthier in our diets than meat, so it’s little wonder there are few ovo-vegetarians.)

Vegan

About one percent of the U.S. population follows a vegan (pronounced “VEE-gun”) diet. This excludes all meat, eggs, and dairy products, and usually any other food produced by animals, such as honey. A strict vegan also avoids products that may seem innocent, such as refined sugar (white table sugar), because animal bones are used to process it. Many vegans also refuse to use non-edible animal products, such as leather, silk, wool, feathers, and so on. This can get really complicated. For example, did you know that camera film isn’t vegan? Gelatin is used to manufacture it. Or that some lotions contain lanolin, which comes from wool? Strict vegans have to be very well-informed.

Macrobiotic

A follower of the macrobiotic diet is mainly vegetarian, but this diet sometimes includes seafood. All other meat products are excluded, as well as eggs and dairy products. Basically, this diet focuses on eating local and seasonal foods that balance each other in harmonic ways. Some people follow this diet as a philosophy of life and others follow it for health reasons.

Fruitarian

A fruitarian is a person who eats only fruits and vegetables, often including beans, nuts, and grains, usually raw. (Our autumn salad is perfect for fruitarians, by the way!) It’s important that these things are taken from the plant without killing it.

Raw or Living Food Diet

A person who follows this diet eats only raw foods. The concern is that heating foods above 116°F destroys important enzymes that help with digestion. This person also believes that cooking diminishes the vitamin and mineral content of the food.

Hurray for all types of vegetarians! All of these choices can be healthy—some more than others—but it’s important to be well-informed about the health benefits and risks of any diet that you choose to follow. Although people often feel strongly that their choice is the best and may be critical of others, the reality is that cutting your meat consumption in any way is a positive step. Reducing the amount of meat in your diet benefits your health, promotes animal well-being, and helps the planet support the growing human population.

Table Talk

One of my favorite movies is the great “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Not only is this show hilarious but there are so many instances that remind me of my family. I come from a family of 8 and it is awesome, and then you add in my 17 aunts and uncles, my little over 80 first cousins, and then all the great grandkids that come along. We are a wild bunch on both sides of my family and gatherings are always full of excitement and stories to tell. When you have a big family there always seems to be more opportunity for diversity, in good ways and bad. One of the most famous scenes and one of my favorite lines from the movie is when the finance is meeting the huge greek family for the first time. One of the very outspoken aunts finds out a horrific knowledge about him that is quite different from their family culture. “He don’t eat no meat!” Which she quickly follows with, “Well, I make lamb.” It is such a funny moment because meat, you can tell, is the big focus of their family meals and get togethers, so it’s shocking that he would not eat any meat. Have you ever had a funny moment like that happen in your family?

Growing up my family had a very colorful and versatile pallet of food. My parents cooked a variety of dishes that gave us some pretty good pallets. However, we are a pretty typical American family that has a meat as a main dish most of the time. Even if we did a salad for dinner there was almost always a meat to go with it. So, needless to say, we like our meat to. But it is always really interesting to see what things you can substitute for certain foods on your menu all the time. I have nothing against meat at all, but it can be nice to try and discover healthier alternatives or ways to make a dish without it. There are many ideas out there, but lets face it, a lot of them can be absolutely not beef! If you want a hamburger, you want a hamburger. However, there are some ideas out there that can be used in simple stir fries or dishes where a lot of meat may not be needed. One of the most famous ones I think of is Tofu. In the right dish and cooked in the right way, tofu isn’t half bad. Here is a little bit about this secret meat substitute:

• First used in China around 200 B.C., tofu has long been a staple of Asian cuisine.

• Tofu soaks up flavors and is best when marinated for at least 30 minutes or served with a flavorful sauce.

• There are two types of tofu that you’ll want to try: fresh, water-packed tofu (always refrigerated) for when you want the tofu to hold its shape, such as when baking or grilling, and silken tofu, which is packed in aseptic boxes and usually not refrigerated, for pureing.

• Try firm or extra-firm tofu for baking, grilling, sautéing, and frying and soft or silken tofu for creamy sauces, desserts, and dressings. Silken tofu is used for making a heavenly chocolate cream pie but will fall apart if you try to make it into shish kebab.

• When baking tofu, cook it in a marinade so it will soak up more flavor.

• To give tofu a meatier texture, try freezing it for two to 24 hours and then defrosting it.

• Press the water out of the tofu prior to preparing it. Wrap the tofu in a towel and set something heavy on top of it for at least 20 minutes, and it will be ready for marinades, sauces, freezing, and cooking.

So there you have great substitute to try out next time you want to cut back on your meat intake or just try something new. You may even shock this greeks with how good a non-meat dish can be! What foods do you use to substitute for meat in your dishes? I’d love to hear more ideas, comment below.

How to Get Enough Iron in Your Diet Without Eating Red Meat

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Getting enough iron is a health concern that many women have, but it’s also one that men may also have too.

Depending on dietary choices, activities, hormones, and overall health, a person’s iron levels can vary during the course of their lives for many reasons.

Not Sure How Iron Works in the Body? Here’s a Little Rundown…

Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin which makes up red blood cell tissues.

Like all minerals, you need iron for optimal health, but you should be careful about where you get your daily iron from and how much you consume.

Iron is also especially important for athletes since it delivers necessary oxygen to the muscles to fuel grueling workouts.

Iron even supports metabolic function because it makes up the protein in the body known as myoglobin. This protein provides oxygen to the muscle tissues helping to boost energy and aid in proper growth and repair of the body’s muscles and connective tissues.

The bottom line is that without iron, you simply cannot function at optimal levels. Anemia is not the only condition associated with low iron levels. Mental fogginess, depression, and even injury can all be associated with too little iron in your diet. However, popping an iron supplement may not be the best option for your health.

The Problem With Iron Supplements

Iron is also one of the only minerals that accumulates in the body, and you don’t excrete it in large doses, especially when you take large doses of supplemental iron.

It’s possible to consume too much from the concentrated amounts in supplements, but much harder to get too much from whole foods.

So how are you supposed to get enough iron without taking iron supplements? It’s actually easier than you think when you add the following iron-rich foods and tips to boost your iron levels into your routine!

If you eat red meat a few times a week, your iron needs will probably be covered. If you’re trying to limit your red meat consumption, or you’re vegan or vegetarian, these are some alternative options.

9 Iron-Rich Foods to Eat Instead of Red Meat:

1. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are a great source of iron and one of the most overlooked sources, containing 16% of your daily needs in just 3 tablespoons!

They’re also rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, chlorophyll, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. Hemp protein powder is even higher in iron since it’s more concentrated containing up to 30% of your daily iron needs per serving depending on the brand and variety of hemp protein that you choose.

Hemp seeds or hemp protein are a great way to add more plant-based iron to your diet. Since it’s a complete source of protein, hemp is also a great protein option for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone looking to add more easy-to-digest plant-based protein to their plates.

Add some hemp seeds to your smoothies, oatmeal, salads, entrées, or you can even bake with them if you like too! Hemp has a nutty, earthy flavor and is easy to enjoy in a variety of ways.

2. Oats

One of the most well-loved grains is also a great source of iron, believe it or not. Plain oats contain 10-15% of your daily iron needs per ⅓ cup serving depending on the brand and variety of oats that you choose.

However, you may want to give your oats a soak overnight before you consume them since natural compounds known as phytates that are found in all grains, beans, seeds, and nuts can lead to the prevention of iron absorption.

3. Tahini

Tahini, also known as sesame seed butter, is a great source of iron that’s delicious and easy to add to your plate.

It contains 15% of your daily iron needs per two tablespoons which is easy enough to add to your day either as a dressing, dip, spread, or as an ingredient in your smoothie or porridge. Tahini is savory, slightly nutty, and makes for a great ingredient to include in your salad dressings or as a replacement for peanut butter. It’s also low in carbs, high in protein, and is a good source of monounsaturated fats.

4. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are well-known for their nutritional benefits, but most people aren’t even aware that they’re also a rich source of dietary iron and a complete source of protein too. Chia seeds provide around 2.2 milligrams of iron per two tablespoons which is about 12% of your daily iron needs.

Chia is also a great source of other minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc so they’re a wonderful mineral-rich food to add to your plate for complete nutritional benefits.

5. Leafy Greens (Spinach and Kale)

Three cups of boiled spinach provide around 17% of your daily iron needs which is more iron than what’s found in chicken, turkey, and most forms of beef. Raw spinach is also a good source of iron but cooking spinach does improve overall iron absorption, so be sure to keep that in mind when counting your total sources.

Cooked kale and raw kale are also good sources of iron although they are not as rich as spinach. Other greens such as watercress, romaine, dark lettuces, dandelion greens, and many other greens contain smaller contents of iron as well.

Eat a variety of leafy greens per day for optimal benefits, and be sure you include some spinach a few times a week in your diet; it’s also a great source of magnesium, folate, protein, and Vitamin A, E, and C making it a nutrient-dense green you don’t want to leave out of your diet.

6. White Beans (Cannellini or Navy Beans)

Beans are high in protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron too. They’re a nutrient-dense food to add to your diet, although white beans do have more iron than most types of beans.

Choose from cannellini, navy, or another variety of white beans depending on which ones you enjoy, and cream them up into a savory dip or use them on top of salads, in soups, or in place of meat at any meal you prefer.

7. Dark Chocolate and Raw Cacao

Cocoa, raw cacao, and dark chocolate are all great sources of iron that are obviously a delicious way to get into your daily dose of the important mineral.

Cacao is also a great source of other minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, and copper so it’s a well-rounded source of nutrition that should be a part of your daily diet; just don’t use it as your only source of iron so that you can maintain a balanced intake of nutrients.

When it comes to the amounts of iron that chocolate has, they all differ depending on the variety that you choose.

Common cocoa powder has up to 15% depending on the brand and variety that you select at the store, and raw cacao is even higher in iron, containing anywhere from 10 – 25% of your daily iron needs depending on the brand you choose.

Some dark chocolate bars that are high in cacao content can contain up to 40% of your daily iron needs, and they’re a great source of healthy, monounsaturated fats.

Unlike other varieties of beans, cacao beans are high in fat so it’s still smart to limit your servings of chocolate throughout the day or be strategic with the varieties that you eat. For example, use cocoa powder which is low in fat in your smoothies or healthy desserts, or you can even use it in place of flour to bake chocolate goods with.

Top smoothies and oatmeal with raw cacao nibs, add some cocoa or cacao to your morning coffee, or make a smoothie bowl with some raw cacao powder. Then enjoy some dark chocolate now and again for a healthy treat.

There are limitless ways to work this healthy bean into your diet, and no one minds turning to chocolate to get their daily dose or iron, right?

8. Lentils

Lentils are one of the best sources of trace minerals you can eat, specifically iron. They’re also easy to digest making them one of the best legumes to eat if you’re not used to eating lots of legumes (beans, peas, or lentils).

Lentils contain 15% of your daily iron needs per ½ cup and they’re a great source of magnesium, protein, potassium, zinc, and some B vitamins. Blend them into a soup, eat them alone, or use them as a base for any dip that you enjoy. Red (split) lentils are the most popular variety and the smallest in size, but they’re also the most nutrient-dense variety. Green, black, and brown lentils are still a good choice, however, if you can’t find the red variety.

9. Cashews

Cashews contain around 11% of your daily iron needs per ¼ cup and they’re also a good source of many B vitamins. Enjoy ¼ cup of raw cashews per day, or feel free to use a couple tablespoons of cashew butter instead.

For more health tips like these, check out these 15 foods that are packed with nutrients that you can benefit from without breaking the bank!

What’s your take on these iron rich foods? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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Follow these 10 tips to add iron to your diet.

Everyone knows iron is an important part of any diet—but have you ever thought about why? Iron delivers oxygen to working muscles, making it necessary for blood flow and an essential component of a runner’s diet. Without enough iron in the bloodstream, you may suffer from iron deficiency anemia. Although it doesn’t sound too serious, the symptoms of iron deficiency are: these symptoms include extreme exhaustion, lightheadedness, headaches and frequent infections. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?

Related: Two Huge Causes Of Anemia In Female Runners

Unfortunately, iron from plants is not as well absorbed as iron from animals, so vegetarians and vegans are prone to developing anemia. That being said, it’s absolutely possible to get enough iron from plant sources if you eat a diet that is rich in the following 10 foods.

Spinach

There’s a reason Popeye used this leafy vegetable to make his magical muscles grow. Two cups of raw spinach—about the amount you would have in a large salad—has 15 percent of your suggested daily amount of iron. If eating veggies isn’t your thing, throw a handful into a fruit smoothie.

Lentils

Lentils rank pretty high on the list of plant-based iron-rich foods. With more than 35 percent of your daily value of iron in just a cup of cooked lentils, they serve up more of the oxygen delivering nutrient than most meats. Add lentils to your next Meatless Monday dinner recipe, like a meat-free bolognese or lentil loaf.

Pumpkin Seeds

The fall season calls for everything pumpkin, right? Just one ounce (about a handful) of this fall favorite delivers a good helping of iron. Munch on some of these nutrition-packed seeds as a pre-run snack.

Tofu

Not only is tofu a good source of protein: it’s also rich in iron. Just six ounces of this vegan favorite has about 20 percent of your recommended daily dose of iron. Tofu is pretty tasteless, so it easily takes on the flavors of whatever it’s marinated in. You can use it in place of eggs in a tofu scramble or chicken in a stir fry.

Dried Apricots

Looking for a sweeter way to get your iron in? Look no further than this fruity treat. One cup of dried apricots is a great source of iron, and they make delicious toppings for salads or oatmeal.

Amaranth

If you’ve never had amaranth, it’s an ancient grain that is higher in iron than quinoa. It also contains other important nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Substitute the amaranth in for the grain in your Buddha bowl.

Enriched Cereals

Want a quick and easy breakfast with iron? Many cereal options have iron added in, so just take a look at the nutrition label the next time you’re grocery shopping.

Flaxseeds

This tiny seed has big health benefits. With omega-3 fatty acids and about 10 percent of your daily iron requirement in two tablespoons, flaxseeds are a great addition to smoothies, salads and hot cereals.

Chickpeas

Everyone’s favorite legume is actually a good source of iron, with close to 10 percent of your daily value in one cup. You can use mashed chickpeas in baking, or toss them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven with some olive oil and salt for a crunchy snack.

Potatoes

White potatoes sometimes get a bad rap, but these tubers are loaded with beneficial nutrients, like 25 percent of your daily value of iron. Potatoes also make a great addition to practically any meal. Make a hash for breakfast, toss them in a salad for lunch or load up a baked potato for dinner.

Related:

A Strange Sign That You Might Be Suffering From Anemia

5 Questions Vegetarian Runners Are Tired Of Answering

Key Nutrients For Pregnant And Active Moms To Consume

12 Ways To Get Iron, Besides Eating Meat

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You can get enough iron on a plant-based diet, and this list shows you how with 12 vegan sources of iron!

Iron is an essential nutrient for everyone. But its ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles makes it especially important for athletes. Without enough iron in the bloodstream, you can suffer from iron deficiency anemia.

It may not sound all that serious, but iron deficiency anemia is accompanied by extreme exhaustion, lightheadedness, headaches and frequent infections. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?

The recommended daily intake for iron is 18 milligrams (mg). If you think you’re not getting enough, talk to you doctor about checking your iron levels. Too much iron in the blood can actually be toxic, so don’t take a supplement unless it’s necessary.

Heme versus non-heme iron

Many vegetarians and vegans are prone to iron deficiency anemia, since iron from plants is not as well absorbed as iron from animals.

As a matter of fact, there are two types of iron.

  1. Heme iron: This is the iron found in meat, such as chicken, beef, pork and seafood. Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body.
  2. Non-heme iron: This iron is found in plant sources and animal byproducts, such grains, fortified cereals, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and dairy. Non-heme iron is not as well absorbed by the body, and you need more of it to meet your iron needs.

The good news is that it’s possible to get enough iron from plant sources by eating a diet that is rich in the following 12 foods.

1. Chickpeas, 1/2 cup, 1.5 milligrams (mg) (8.3% daily value (DV))

A half cup of chickpeas contains about 6% of your daily iron needs. Not to mention that chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein for muscles and fiber for heart healthy.

Chickpeas are incredibly versatile! Roast them in a bit of olive oil for a crunchy snack, throw them in a wrap for a plant-based protein lunch, or mix them with tomatoes, feta, and cucumber to create a savory side dish.

2. Spinach, 2 cups packed raw, 1.4 mg (7.7% DV)

Dark leafy greens, especially spinach, provide plenty of iron. As an added bonus, they also contribute plant-based calcium to the diet for healthy bones.

Get a hefty dose of iron with just one hearty, delicious and nutritious Strawberry Spinach Salad.

3. Oats, 1 cup, 1.7 mg (9.4% DV)

Oats are quick to cook, satisfying, and extremely versatile. One cup has almost 10% of your daily iron needs and can be a hearty breakfast or snack.

Obviously, oatmeal is a very well-known breakfast, but did you know you can use raw oats to make energy balls? These Tahini Maple Oat Balls will provide long lasting energy during any workout.

4. Tofu, ½ cup, 3 mg (17% DV)

Vegetarians and vegans are no strangers to tofu, and that’s a good thing because this soy-bean based protein is packed with iron. Plus, it takes on the flavor of any marinade, so you can use it in basically any dish.

If you’re feeling adventurous, bake up a batch of these tofu croutons to add to your next salad.

5. Lentils, 1/2 cup cooked, 3.17 mg (18% DV)

Lentils, along with other legumes, are a great source of iron, specifically for vegetarians or vegans! Just half a cup of cooked lentils provides almost 20% of the iron you need in a day, as well as plenty of fiber and protein.

The nutrients in these tiny legumes help keep you full for hours. And two of the most popular recipes on this site are made with lentils: Moroccan Lentil Soup & Greek Lentil Power Bowl.

6. Potatoes, 1 medium potato, 1.87 mg (14% DV)

News flash– potatoes aren’t bad for you! As a matter of fact, they are a healthy carb for any fitness enthusiast, and they pack in serious iron and potassium. Keep the skin on for an added fiber boost!

If you’re a fan of potato wedges, make them at home in your own oven! These Dill Roasted Potato Wedges are a favorite in my house.

7. Cashews,1 ounce, 1.72 mg (13% DV)

Nuts and nut butters, specifically cashews, contain quite a bit of non-heme iron. Whether you’re adding them to smoothies, salads, or eating alone, this crunchy nut helps you meet your daily dose of iron.

I like to add chopped cashews to roasted veggies for a contrasting texture. Try it: Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Cashews.

8. Edamame, 1 cup, 2 mg (11% DV)

Going for sushi night? Highly recommend ordering the edamame as an appetizer (if you don’t already!) Aside from being delicious, these green soybeans are packed with iron, protein and fiber.

Or have a sushi night in with this Vegan Quinoa Sushi Bowl.

9. Sesame Seeds, 2 tablespoons, 1.2 mg (7% DV)

While sesame seeds aren’t always on people’s radar, they should be. Not only do they add a nice crunch to protein or salads, ground sesame seeds make tahini–a nice alternative to nut butters.

10. Flax Seeds, 2 tablespoons, 1.2 mg (7% DV)

Flax seeds have gained some serious popularity over the last few years and for good reason! They contain healthy omega-3 fats, fiber and (you guessed it) iron. Blend them in a smoothie or mix into your yogurt!

11. Beets, 1 cup, 1.34 mg (7% DV)

This royal purple root veggie is packed with antioxidants and contains a nice serving of iron. Beet juice also has some added benefits for athletes. Learn more in the video below!

12. White Mushrooms, 1 cup cooked, 2.7 mg, (15% DV)

The “meat” of the plant-based world not only has a nice bite, but it’s also an excellent source of iron. Throw mushrooms into a stir-fry, salad or make these Freezer Mushroom Breakfast Burritos.

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At $12 or so, Red’s is not Maine’s cheapest lobster roll. But it has consistently proven itself to be Maine’s best. More than a whole lobster goes on the toasted, buttered bun – plenty of claw and tail meat. Melted butter and/or mayonnaise on the side. That’s it. Nothing else. That’s all a lobster roll should be. Aesthetic purity at its most delicious.

There seems to be nothing that Red’s doesn’t do well. Have since tried both their hot dogs and their batter fried clams. I’m not a fan of batter clams, but if I were, and thanks to Reds I might convert, I’d rate these excellent.

The hot dog is actually a “Sturdly.” That’s a hot dog with cheese. Had mine topped with onions, bacon and mustard, too. Asked why it’s called a “Sturdly.” The answer didn’t shed all that much light, “It’s a New York thing. They put celery salt on their hot dogs.”

Al Gagnon, Red’s Eats owner, passed away in June of 2008. You can see Al talk about his commitment to serving Maine’s best lobster roll in the Sandwiches That You Will Like segment on YouTube.

Al’s family is continuing Al’s legacy.

Even more despised than the Brunch People are the vegetarians. Serious cooks regard these members of the dining public—and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans—as enemies of everything that’s good and decent in the human spirit. To live life without veal or chicken stock, fish cheeks, sausages, cheese, or organ meats is treasonous.

“It’s been done, but I don’t think it’s been redone.”

Like most other chefs I know, I’m amused when I hear people object to pork on nonreligious grounds. “Swine are filthy animals,” they say. These people have obviously never visited a poultry farm. Chicken—America’s favorite food—goes bad quickly; handled carelessly, it infects other foods with salmonella; and it bores the hell out of chefs. It occupies its ubiquitous place on menus as an option for customers who can’t decide what they want to eat. Most chefs believe that supermarket chickens in this country are slimy and tasteless compared with European varieties. Pork, on the other hand, is cool. Farmers stopped feeding garbage to pigs decades ago, and even if you eat pork rare you’re more likely to win the Lotto than to contract trichinosis. Pork tastes different, depending on what you do with it, but chicken always tastes like chicken.

Another much maligned food these days is butter. In the world of chefs, however, butter is in everything. Even non-French restaurants—the Northern Italian; the new American, the ones where the chef brags about how he’s “getting away from butter and cream”—throw butter around like crazy. In almost every restaurant worth patronizing, sauces are enriched with mellowing, emulsifying butter. Pastas are tightened with it. Meat and fish are seared with a mixture of butter and oil. Shallots and chicken are caramelized with butter. It’s the first and last thing in almost every pan: the final hit is called “monter au beurre.” In a good restaurant, what this all adds up to is that you could be putting away almost a stick of butter with every meal.

If you are one of those people who cringe at the thought of strangers fondling your food, you shouldn’t go out to eat. As the author and former chef Nicolas Freeling notes in his definitive book “The Kitchen,” the better the restaurant, the more your food has been prodded, poked, handled, and tasted. By the time a three-star crew has finished carving and arranging your saddle of monkfish with dried cherries and wild-herb-infused nage into a Parthenon or a Space Needle, it’s had dozens of sweaty fingers all over it. Gloves? You’ll find a box of surgical gloves—in my kitchen we call them “anal-research gloves”—over every station on the line, for the benefit of the health inspectors, but does anyone actually use them? Yes, a cook will slip a pair on every now and then, especially when he’s handling something with a lingering odor, like salmon. But during the hours of service gloves are clumsy and dangerous. When you’re using your hands constantly, latex will make you drop things, which is the last thing you want to do.

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Finding a hair in your food will make anyone gag. But just about the only place you’ll see anyone in the kitchen wearing a hat or a hairnet is Blimpie. For most chefs, wearing anything on their head, especially one of those picturesque paper toques—they’re often referred to as “coffee filters”—is a nuisance: they dissolve when you sweat, bump into range hoods, burst into flame.

The fact is that most good kitchens are far less septic than your kitchen at home. I run a scrupulously clean, orderly restaurant kitchen, where food is rotated and handled and stored very conscientiously. But if the city’s Department of Health or the E.P.A. decided to enforce every aspect of its codes, most of us would be out on the street. Recently, there was a news report about the practice of recycling bread. By means of a hidden camera in a restaurant, the reporter was horrified to see returned bread being sent right back out to the floor. This, to me, wasn’t news: the reuse of bread has been an open secret—and a fairly standard practice—in the industry for years. It makes more sense to worry about what happens to the leftover table butter—many restaurants recycle it for hollandaise.

What do I like to eat after hours? Strange things. Oysters are my favorite, especially at three in the morning, in the company of my crew. Focaccia pizza with robiola cheese and white truffle oil is good, especially at Le Madri on a summer afternoon in the outdoor patio. Frozen vodka at Siberia Bar is also good, particularly if a cook from one of the big hotels shows up with beluga. At Indigo, on Tenth Street, I love the mushroom strudel and the daube of beef. At my own place, I love a spicy boudin noir that squirts blood in your mouth; the braised fennel the way my sous-chef makes it; scraps from duck confit; and fresh cockles steamed with greasy Portuguese sausage.

I love the sheer weirdness of the kitchen life: the dreamers, the crackpots, the refugees, and the sociopaths with whom I continue to work; the ever-present smells of roasting bones, searing fish, and simmering liquids; the noise and clatter, the hiss and spray, the flames, the smoke, and the steam. Admittedly, it’s a life that grinds you down. Most of us who live and operate in the culinary underworld are in some fundamental way dysfunctional. We’ve all chosen to turn our backs on the nine-to-five, on ever having a Friday or Saturday night off, on ever having a normal relationship with a non-cook.

Being a chef is a lot like being an air-traffic controller: you are constantly dealing with the threat of disaster. You’ve got to be Mom and Dad, drill sergeant, detective, psychiatrist, and priest to a crew of opportunistic, mercenary hooligans, whom you must protect from the nefarious and often foolish strategies of owners. Year after year, cooks contend with bouncing paychecks, irate purveyors, desperate owners looking for the masterstroke that will cure their restaurant’s ills: Live Cabaret! Free Shrimp! New Orleans Brunch!

In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family. It’s a haven for foreigners—Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Chinese, Senegalese, Egyptians, Poles. In New York, the main linguistic spice is Spanish. “Hey, maricón! chupa mis huevos” means, roughly, “How are you, valued comrade? I hope all is well.” And you hear “Hey, baboso! Put some more brown jiz on the fire and check your meez before the sous comes back there and fucks you in the culo!,” which means “Please reduce some additional demi-glace, brother, and reëxamine your mise en place, because the sous-chef is concerned about your state of readiness.”

Since we work in close quarters, and so many blunt and sharp objects are at hand, you’d think that cooks would kill one another with regularity. I’ve seen guys duking it out in the waiter station over who gets a table for six. I’ve seen a chef clamp his teeth on a waiter’s nose. And I’ve seen plates thrown—I’ve even thrown a few myself—but I’ve never heard of one cook jamming a boning knife into another cook’s rib cage or braining him with a meat mallet. Line cooking, done well, is a dance—a highspeed, Balanchine collaboration.

I used to be a terror toward my floor staff, particularly in the final months of my last restaurant. But not anymore. Recently, my career has taken an eerily appropriate turn: these days, I’m the chef de cuisine of a much loved, old-school French brasserie/bistro where the customers eat their meat rare, vegetarians are scarce, and every part of the animal—hooves, snout, cheeks, skin, and organs—is avidly and appreciatively prepared and consumed. Cassoulet, pigs’ feet, tripe, and charcuterie sell like crazy. We thicken many sauces with foie gras and pork blood, and proudly hurl around spoonfuls of duck fat and butter, and thick hunks of country bacon. I made a traditional French pot-au-feu a few weeks ago, and some of my French colleagues—hardened veterans of the business all—came into my kitchen to watch the first order go out. As they gazed upon the intimidating heap of short ribs, oxtail, beef shoulder, cabbage, turnips, carrots, and potatoes, the expressions on their faces were those of religious supplicants. I have come home. ♦

This morning, the world awoke to the devastating news that Anthony Bourdain is dead from an apparent suicide at 61 years old. The chef, author, and TV host has spent the past two decades shaping our collective understanding of the culinary world, and it all started with a 1999 New Yorker essay entitled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” a revealing and pointedly visceral glimpse behind the swinging doors and into a restaurant kitchen.

It begins, “Good food, good eating, is all about blood and organs, cruelty and decay. It’s about sodium-loaded pork fat, stinky triple-cream cheeses, the tender thymus glands and distended livers of young animals. It’s about danger—risking the dark, bacterial forces of beef, chicken, cheese, and shellfish. Your first two hundred and seven Wellfleet oysters may transport you to a state of rapture, but your two hundred and eighth may send you to bed with the sweats, chills, and vomits.”

Bourdain, who was executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan at the time, goes on to offer guidance (order seafood on Tuesdays; never, under any circumstances order your nice steak well-done) all the while encouraging diners to reckon (in a healthy way) with the unglamorous-verging-on-gross nature of dining out as omnivores.

The essay became the basis for his book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and Bourdain parlayed that into more books and several TV shows, including A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, and, most recently, his CNN series, Parts Unknown, which he was in France filming at the time of his death.

Bourdain’s voice—on the page and in life—was totally his own, and he exuded a cool that prompted the Smithsonian to call him “the Elvis of bad boy chefs.” But people are always more than their personas.

Rest in peace, chef.

And if you are in crisis, please get help: 1-800-273-8255.

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Don’t Eat Before Reading This.docx – Alexander F Moeller…

Alexander F. Moeller Writing 1301, Section 32 October 26, 2018 The Invisibility Cloak of Quality Food The article “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” by Anthony Bourdain highlights the realities, both good and bad, of a successful restaurant and dining experience. He begins by first explaining how being a professional chef has changed over the years. He lays out how things today, with all of the advances in modern cooking equipment has made being a chef a less grueling and more suitable profession. Though it is easier than in times past, being a chef is still not the most glorified position. The cooks are greasy, sketchy individuals who are so-called low- lives. However when these types of people band together, the meals which they produce are beautiful creations which go against every stereotype that they might fit into. Bourdain then goes on to explain how a boy that just picked up a knife and got a job at the local diner can work his way up the totem pole until he gets to the position in which he is the head chef and is in charge of his own “crew of cutthroats.” After bombarding the reader with the sad truth about chefs, he hits home with the gory details about the food you eat and how it is prepared. He lays out when you should order a menu item, when you will get the best dining experience and what you should and should not care about as a restaurant goer. After almost sending the reader into a head spin and barring them from any restaurant ever again, Chef Anthony Bourdain wraps up his article with how all of these horrible-seeming conditions melt together to create something beautiful. The camaraderie between the cooking “family” behind the kitchen doors is

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