Braden Feliciano 's Entries

2 blogs
  • 20 Aug 2017
    Nobody brags about eating junk. A healthy diet includes veggies and eschews too much sugar, and if you eat that way, you can feel satisfied that you are eating “clean.” But you know what? Eating clean is a trap.   Sure, it feels good to eat a “clean” meal or two. Nevermind that there’s no consistent definition of “clean.” I liked the word when I first heard it, because I took it to mean unprocessed foods (fresh vegetables, home-cooked meals) and it wasn’t wedded to any particular theory, like eating low-carb or low-fat. But the same vagueness that was once its appeal has been co-opted. Now anything can be clean if it’s sold by someone standing on a beach looking gorgeous.   This was probably inevitable. For years we’ve heard that diets don’t work; what you need to be healthy is a lifestyle change. So, breed that mostly sensible concept with our modern craze for the all-around enviable lifestyle, and what you get is an influencer (Instagrammer, movie star, supplement huckster, et. al.) who can paint you a picture of the amazing person you will be if you eat what they eat.   Here’s how the appeal works: each guru presents a simple idea held up by a scaffolding of half truths and cherry picked data. Debunk one small pillar, and the others still stand. Nobody has time to debunk them all, and if you try, you look like a killjoy. But from a distance, that one big idea looks like a beacon of clarity in a confusing world.   Here are some examples: You just need to eat nothing but vegetables. Or avoid most vegetables. Or cut out gluten. Or eliminate dairy, grains, and sugar. These aren’t variations on one basic idea of healthy eating; they’re each a different gimmick masquerading as common sense. Bee Wilson writes in The Guardian that we’ve been snookered by a “dream of purity in a toxic world” and “[w]e are so unmoored that we will put our faith in any master who promises us that we, too, can become pure and good.”   This fantasy backfires, though, when we look at the foods and diets and people who don’t qualify as “clean.” Does that mean that other foods, and the people who eat them, are “dirty”? It’s not like quinoa is that different from rice, or sweet potatoes are that different from regular potatoes. Coconut sugar is far more expensive than regular sugar, as Wilson points out, but nutritionally almost identical.   The same goes for processed food. It’s not as if processing is inherently bad. (Cooking is a form of processing, after all). Twinkies, for example, aren’t “unclean.” They’re just high in sugar and low in a lot of healthy nutrients, so it makes sense not to eat too many of them. Without the halo of clean eating, we’re back to evaluating foods on their merits, and figuring out whether they fit into the diet that makes sense for each of us. Sorry if that’s less romantic
    0 Posted by Braden Feliciano
  • Nobody brags about eating junk. A healthy diet includes veggies and eschews too much sugar, and if you eat that way, you can feel satisfied that you are eating “clean.” But you know what? Eating clean is a trap.   Sure, it feels good to eat a “clean” meal or two. Nevermind that there’s no consistent definition of “clean.” I liked the word when I first heard it, because I took it to mean unprocessed foods (fresh vegetables, home-cooked meals) and it wasn’t wedded to any particular theory, like eating low-carb or low-fat. But the same vagueness that was once its appeal has been co-opted. Now anything can be clean if it’s sold by someone standing on a beach looking gorgeous.   This was probably inevitable. For years we’ve heard that diets don’t work; what you need to be healthy is a lifestyle change. So, breed that mostly sensible concept with our modern craze for the all-around enviable lifestyle, and what you get is an influencer (Instagrammer, movie star, supplement huckster, et. al.) who can paint you a picture of the amazing person you will be if you eat what they eat.   Here’s how the appeal works: each guru presents a simple idea held up by a scaffolding of half truths and cherry picked data. Debunk one small pillar, and the others still stand. Nobody has time to debunk them all, and if you try, you look like a killjoy. But from a distance, that one big idea looks like a beacon of clarity in a confusing world.   Here are some examples: You just need to eat nothing but vegetables. Or avoid most vegetables. Or cut out gluten. Or eliminate dairy, grains, and sugar. These aren’t variations on one basic idea of healthy eating; they’re each a different gimmick masquerading as common sense. Bee Wilson writes in The Guardian that we’ve been snookered by a “dream of purity in a toxic world” and “[w]e are so unmoored that we will put our faith in any master who promises us that we, too, can become pure and good.”   This fantasy backfires, though, when we look at the foods and diets and people who don’t qualify as “clean.” Does that mean that other foods, and the people who eat them, are “dirty”? It’s not like quinoa is that different from rice, or sweet potatoes are that different from regular potatoes. Coconut sugar is far more expensive than regular sugar, as Wilson points out, but nutritionally almost identical.   The same goes for processed food. It’s not as if processing is inherently bad. (Cooking is a form of processing, after all). Twinkies, for example, aren’t “unclean.” They’re just high in sugar and low in a lot of healthy nutrients, so it makes sense not to eat too many of them. Without the halo of clean eating, we’re back to evaluating foods on their merits, and figuring out whether they fit into the diet that makes sense for each of us. Sorry if that’s less romantic
    Aug 20, 2017 0
  • 20 Aug 2017
    I used to get in debates almost every time I drank whiskey on whether or not it was appropriate to add water to the stuff. A few aficionado friends would always argue that the only way to drink whiskey was straight up, and I was ruining it with a few drops of H2O. I’d argue most whiskeys were a bit better with a few cubes of ice or a tiny bit of water. The fact of the matter is you should enjoy it however you prefer it, but now there’s actual science to back up my water claims.   To be fair, I’m far from the first person who has claimed water improves the taste of whiskey. While once taboo, connoisseurs have been embracing the fact that water can release some of a whiskey’s aromatics and enhance its flavor for a while. When I was traveling in Scotland earlier this year, distilleries actually provided tiny water pitchers with every tasting and encouraged drinking some bottles a little diluted. We all know some whiskey can taste a bit better that way; however, a group of Swedish scientists actually set out to discover why.   According to their research, the ethanol and guaiacol molecules in whiskey stick together, and they don’t really mix uniformly with water. Guaiacol is the stuff that gives something like scotch whisky a smoky smell and taste.   Researchers found that when water is added to a whiskey, the guaiacol molecules make their way to the top of the glass rather than remaining evenly distributed throughout. That means you’re getting more of that smell and taste up front when you take a sip.   The higher the ethanol concentration is of the whisky when it’s bottled, the more it will benefit from having a few drops of water added when it comes time to drink it. According to the study, Cask-strength whiskeys (which tend to be higher in alcohol than others) in particular can benefit from a tiny bit of dilution in order to increase “the propensity of taste compounds at the liquid-air interface.” Read: the flavor you taste when you drink it.   Does that mean you have to add water to every whiskey? Absolutely not. I always suggest that when someone is trying a whiskey for the first time, they pour a small amount and drink it straight up. Afterwards, try another tiny portion with a few drops of water and decide which version you like best. Let me emphasize the few drops part. Don’t add more water than you have whiskey (or do, but I can’t support you in that endeavor).   I’ll add a small amount of water to most scotch whiskeys, but when it comes to Japanese whiskey I prefer to drink them straight up rather than adding anything or putting them in cocktails. In the end, it’s all up to your personal preference.   That said, if you’re a water fan sometimes like me, it’s nice that we have a little science to back us up in that next bar fight.  
    0 Posted by Braden Feliciano
  • I used to get in debates almost every time I drank whiskey on whether or not it was appropriate to add water to the stuff. A few aficionado friends would always argue that the only way to drink whiskey was straight up, and I was ruining it with a few drops of H2O. I’d argue most whiskeys were a bit better with a few cubes of ice or a tiny bit of water. The fact of the matter is you should enjoy it however you prefer it, but now there’s actual science to back up my water claims.   To be fair, I’m far from the first person who has claimed water improves the taste of whiskey. While once taboo, connoisseurs have been embracing the fact that water can release some of a whiskey’s aromatics and enhance its flavor for a while. When I was traveling in Scotland earlier this year, distilleries actually provided tiny water pitchers with every tasting and encouraged drinking some bottles a little diluted. We all know some whiskey can taste a bit better that way; however, a group of Swedish scientists actually set out to discover why.   According to their research, the ethanol and guaiacol molecules in whiskey stick together, and they don’t really mix uniformly with water. Guaiacol is the stuff that gives something like scotch whisky a smoky smell and taste.   Researchers found that when water is added to a whiskey, the guaiacol molecules make their way to the top of the glass rather than remaining evenly distributed throughout. That means you’re getting more of that smell and taste up front when you take a sip.   The higher the ethanol concentration is of the whisky when it’s bottled, the more it will benefit from having a few drops of water added when it comes time to drink it. According to the study, Cask-strength whiskeys (which tend to be higher in alcohol than others) in particular can benefit from a tiny bit of dilution in order to increase “the propensity of taste compounds at the liquid-air interface.” Read: the flavor you taste when you drink it.   Does that mean you have to add water to every whiskey? Absolutely not. I always suggest that when someone is trying a whiskey for the first time, they pour a small amount and drink it straight up. Afterwards, try another tiny portion with a few drops of water and decide which version you like best. Let me emphasize the few drops part. Don’t add more water than you have whiskey (or do, but I can’t support you in that endeavor).   I’ll add a small amount of water to most scotch whiskeys, but when it comes to Japanese whiskey I prefer to drink them straight up rather than adding anything or putting them in cocktails. In the end, it’s all up to your personal preference.   That said, if you’re a water fan sometimes like me, it’s nice that we have a little science to back us up in that next bar fight.  
    Aug 20, 2017 0