Why This “Fat-Burning Man” Stores His Veggies, Standing up, in a Bowl

Photo: Abel James

To get a peek inside Abel James' refrigerator is no easy feat. For the past two years, the TV coach (on My Diet is Better Than Yours) and best-selling author of The Wild Dietknown for his Paleo-inspired, whole foods-based eating philosophy—hasn't had a permanent refrigerator.

Instead, the "Fat-Burning Man" blogger and podcaster, his wife, Alyson, and their yellow lab, Bailey, have been traveling the country by RV in an effort to "see how people are eating," says James. "We sold everything we had a couple years ago and decided to see the world and live in the middle of nowhere."

But despite the lack of a perma-fridge, James says the adventure has been eye-opening. "It's been a very rich food experience," he notes. "Eating local is harder in some places than others, but our goal is to show people that you don't have to live somewhere like New York City in order to go to a farmers' market. You can find fresh stuff if you know where to look. We're trying to prove that by example."

Here's a peek inside the refrigerator at the home the couple was renting during a stopover in Tennessee.



The first things I notice in your refrigerator are the two jars of green stuff on the top shelf.

Those are our green smoothies. We make one every day, and they're almost entirely comprised of vegetables. It's a ton of leafy greens, like kale, combined with chia seeds, a handful of berries, and a shot of olive oil or avocado to get in some healthy fats.

I've interviewed almost 200 people from all around the world—health experts, Olympians, doctors—and they all disagree on everything, except that we should all get more greens in our diets. So Alyson and I have a green smoothie or a salad every day. We knew we were going to be on the road today, so we made our smoothies ahead of time.

You have a jar labeled "Refrigerator Pickles." Do you make your own?

Yes, sometimes! These are cucumbers from the farmers' market, and there are a bunch of cloves of garlic at the bottom of the jar. We eat them straight from the fridge or with burgers.

I spy not one, not two, but three cartons of eggs.

We have a ton of eggs in our fridge at all times. You can always use them to whip up something quick and easy, like an omelette or breakfast scramble, or you can hard- or soft-boil them and have them as snacks. Eggs are a crucial ingredient in so many of the things we make—we'll even blend them with plantains to make a pancake batter.

There are two jars tucked away on the fourth shelf. Dare I predict one of those is homemade bone broth?

It is! We have some bubbling at all times. We use pasture-raised bones, usually beef or a chicken carcass or piece of leftover turkey, and drink at least a cup a day. The other jar is homemade yogurt—this particular one is coconut. It's not hard to make your own yogurt using a starter culture and old-fashioned coconut milk. You let it ferment for a day and it's delicious.

Most people choose to store their veggies in the crisper, but yours are on the middle shelf, standing up in a bowl.

I have a background in brain science, and I believe in setting up your environment for success. If you open your fridge and see cookies, it doesn't matter how much willpower you have, you're going to eat what's in front of you. Putting the vegetables front and center makes your body start to crave them. You know they're always there, so reaching in for the carrot, cucumber, or celery stalk will be natural behavior.

You have a lot of La Croix. Are you a big seltzer drinker?

We use seltzer as mixers with vodka or tequila and some fresh-squeezed citrus. It's much better than a high-calorie, high-sugar margarita.

You also seem to have lots of sauces in there—which is your favorite?

I'm a huge hot sauce fan! I've lived in Austin, TX, on and off for the past six years and I've fallen in love with spicy food. I like clean hot sauces that focus on the spice, like this Williamson Bros. sauce, instead of chemicals or salt. I use the Paleo Chef Ginger Cilantro marinade in soups and stir-fries to add a nice savory flavor.

What are you using the raw cashew butter for?

My wife tends to go dairy-free, and you can use raw cashew butter to make Alfredo sauce and cheesecakes. It tastes so indulgent.

And then, there's that bottle of maple syrup.

I'm from New Hampshire and my family makes maple syrup—we're all about the good stuff!

Cashew butter cheesecake? Interesting! Also interesting: the growing class of bespoke and small-batch nut milks and these next-gen nut butters.

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