Caryn talks about fasting, making maki, food borne illness and the law, the VegNews Comfort Food Shindig, and… bowel movements.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. How’s it going today? I’m going to be talking for the next half-hour and then I’m going to bring up a guest, James Aspey, in about a half-hour, and we are going to talk about his year of not talking. And I think that’s going to be a really, really an interesting time. Can you imagine? Not talking for about a year? For a year exactly. There’s a lot we can learn from that and we’ll discover what he learned, coming up in a little bit.
It’s fall! It’s not fall yet and we have another week of summer, but the cool air is coming through. I’ve even got a sweatshirt on which is fun and I bought a new teapot. To me, fall is about being comfortable either in your leisure time or during work and getting a little cozy and drinking tea. And I’ve just got a new teapot. Now, I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’m really anti-tea bags for lots of reasons. And I like to use bulk tea and teapots that come with these lovely little baskets that you can put the bulk tea in. And that way you can make it as weak or as strong as you like. And you don’t have all of that environmental waste of paper or nylon that they use in some of the fancier tea bags. And I just got this cute little teapot. I’m so in love with it. I think I might buy another one because this one is so particularly cute, but I always have to see how they hold up. Because we go through teakettles and teapots a little too quickly, which is why I go with stainless now because I tend to break the porcelain pots, unfortunately. Yeah, so if you go to my What Vegans Eat blog you can see what my new teapot looks like because I posted it yesterday and today.
And another thing I want to share with you – you may remember John Joseph? I had him on years ago. He wrote a book. Please excuse me if I offend you by saying his title, but it is called Meat is for Pussies. And the title is actually offensive to many people, but what I like about him and his work is he appeals to a very specific demographic. He’s had a very challenging life and he’s come out of it very miraculously and a hero with a wonderful message. And he’s just been featured in a great video. You might go to munchies.vice.com/ and check out the Fuel the Vegan Iron Man Diet of Cro-Mags’ John Joseph. Oh yeah, he’s also a punk rocker of the group Cro-Mags’. It’s not my kind of music, but some people like it and I don’t care what kind of music or what people do for their entertainment, as long as they don’t hurt anybody. All I care about is eating plant foods, that we all should eat – healthy delicious plant foods. I can’t say it’s all that I care about, but you know that it’s really important to me. So, you might check out munchies.vice.com for that really inspiring video. One of the things that it made me want to do is work out more and we could always use a little inspiration to work out more. Don’t we? Couldn’t we?
Now, today is, starting at Sundown in New York, the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. I can’t say how many times I’ve said it on this show – I am not a religious person. I like holiday parties and food. And this particular holiday is not really about food until the holiday is over because during this holiday you are supposed to fast from sundown to sundown and I do not plan on fasting. But I want to talk about fasting. I thought it would be a good topic to talk about. We touch on it from time to time. This show is called It’s All About Food. Well, what happens when you abstain from food and why would you want to do that? Folks that are doing it during this holiday, it’s what I was told originally when I was going to religious school when I was a little girl, is that people are supposed to be so wrapped up in their prayers: their prayers for forgiveness, their prayers for what all of this holiday is about. It’s the Day of Atonement where we ask for forgiveness for all of the things that we’ve done that we shouldn’t have done or made mistakes during the year. That you’re so wrapped up in these thoughts of prayer, that you don’t have time to eat. And I think that most of the people that I know, they’re thinking about eating most of the day while they’re not eating. They’re not that wrapped up in the concept of forgiveness. And fasting can be a wonderful, wonderful thing. And there are different kinds of fasting. There’s the popular juice fast that many people will partake in; and I think juice fasts are great, but I don’t really think they’re fasts. I think they’re just a very simple way to get nutrients which is very light on your digestive system and can help cleanse and can help alleviate a lot of different problems. Fasting is really when you abstain from foods and water fasting is the true type of fast, where you’re not really eating food, but you are drinking water as necessary because it really isn’t healthy to go without water. Water is really important and it’s an important part of fasting. The essential thing that we have in life, number one, is we must breathe and as soon as we stop breathing the game’s over; then after that it’s taking in water. We absolutely need water and of course we need nutrients, but water takes priority in terms of how long we can go without it. So, you may not know this, but Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who I have said many times is my favorite doctor, has written some wonderful books about food and eating and his famous Eat to Live Diet. His first book was about fasting, called Fasting and Eating for Health. And anyone who might be curious about fasting and thinking about whether they should or should not fast, I really recommend his book Fasting and Eating for Health. I really enjoyed it when I read it, which was sometime around 1999 or 1998 – I don’t remember when it came out. But I was fascinated by it and it did ultimately lead me to do a three-week water only fast. I did it mostly out of curiosity. Some of my family and friends thought I was a little nutty at the time. And just like we are going to talk about not talking later on, not eating for a substantial amount of time really opens you up to learning a lot of things. And during a fast when you’re not eating the one key thing that’s necessary, other than not eating and drinking water, is resting. It’s really not advised to have a prolonged fast and continue normal activities. When I did my three-week water only fast, I was a bit of a chiseler. You had the opportunity to go to Dr. Fuhrman’s fasting center and I really couldn’t afford to do it for three-weeks, so I fasted at home for about 10 or 11 days; and during that time I didn’t slow down that much. I had a lot of energy and I was feeling pretty good. It was actually over Thanksgiving and I made a Thanksgiving Dinner for a few people. That was the early part of my fast. I didn’t eat anything. That was kind of a fun thing to do: make a lot of food, not taste it, and then serve it. But that fast, the key part was the resting portion of it. When I was at the fasting center, which he doesn’t have anymore, there was a lot of time for self-reflection. I would go on walks and my metabolism was so slow at this point that I felt like I was in slow motion or everyone else was in super speeded up, fast forward kind of motion. As I walked along everyone was moving at a much more rapid pace. But this is an opportunity for your body to focus on areas that need healing. And there have been some miraculous stories about people that have been in health crisis and have done water fasting and have healed themselves. Dr. Fuhrman has his own personal story. And so when we’re talking about a day fast during a religious holiday, there are things that I think people should consider – and they don’t. Very often people think that if they go on a fast for a few weeks that they’ll lose a lot of weight. It’s true, you do lose weight, but the ideal way to fast, for anyone who’s doing a day fast or any length of time, is you want to be eating an ideal healthy diet before you fast and to continue with a very healthy diet after you fast. If you think the fast is going to clean some things out and then you go back to a toxic diet, that’s not healthy. That can be really damaging. And I know people who have spent the money, gone to one of these fasting centers, lost a bunch of weight and then gone back to their regular unhealthy diet. And what happens? Not only do they put on the weight again and probably even more, but they’re probably doing themselves some harm. So, before you go into a fast, you want to be eating well. And maybe even you want to ease into it by eating particularly clean before you go into a fast. I have to admit that I did very well during my three-week water only fast, but some years later I thought I would try another fast, just on my own for just a few days. So, in Dr. Fuhrman’s book he recommends a long fast once every five or ten years and I didn’t follow up with something like that, but I thought I might try it. And I wasn’t being careful and I had a bit Thai dinner before the day I was going to fast. And I could not do the fast as long as I wanted to; because that Thai dinner which was rich and full of that starchy rice noodle stuff and fat and oils, that kind of just got stuck in my intestines and I could not continue a prolonged fast. You need to have a lot of hydrated foods with lots of fiber, so that it’s going in and coming out, and then when you’re ready to fast your body is prepped for a fast. Now, some people find that a prolonged fast is scary and is not something that they want to do or can do because of their schedule, and fasting once a week has shown to be very, very positive for many people. And there is even some evidence that those people who are going through chemotherapy have a better impact or better results with chemo if they fast the day before they have chemotherapy. There are a lot of fascinating things about fasting. People often think if they’re tired they need to eat or maybe they’re not eating the right foods and I think for most of us who are fortunate to be able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, the problem is probably too much food or not the right choices. So, when we’re tired, we don’t need more food, we need to sleep or maybe we need to eat different foods; food that are energizing, rather than foods that slow us down. Things to think about for fasting.
Now, let’s get back to eating food because that’s really the fun part. And I want to talk about some foods that I was fortunate to enjoy this week. So, just yesterday, for example, we were thinking about the restaurant Beyond Sushi – I think I mentioned that a few times. It’s a relatively new restaurant. It’s been around a few years here in Manhattan. I’m not sure if they’ve branched out yet to other places, but they make some great hand rolls and vegetable maki and sushi. It’s all vegan and in addition to just white rice, like you’ll get in most Japanese restaurants, they’ll use black rice and red rice and a number of other grains and some wonderful sauces – like different flavored vegan mayonnaises that you can use to dip or enhance the different items that you are buying. So we thought last night that we’d kind of make our own. And I had some tri-colored quinoa, red, black and white and I used that to make our maki. And thanks to Gary, I said, “We got to make one of those good tasting mayos or aiolis that they have at Beyond Sushi”. And he did just that. He made one of these, wow, this great, spicy aioli. And I posted the recipe for you today should you want to try it. And it’s great. It’s great for anything that calls for mayonnaise or an aioli: for dipping, you can spread it on bread and make a sandwich. Of course you can use it for vegetable maki and it’s not hard to make and wow, it’s good. And he made enough so I can have more whenever I want.
And then we went to the Veg-News, the Veg-News Comfort Food Shindig. I don’t know if any of you are subscribers of the Veg-News magazine – I’m sure you are. You may know that Veg-News went through some difficulties. I spoke with Colleen Holland a few weeks ago, who is the publisher of Veg-News. And boy, vegans know how to party! Let me just say that. We love our food. We love having a good time. And this party was at Mooshoes, which is a vegan shoe store in Manhattan and they are so generous there. Eric and Sarah Kubersky, the owners of this store, have hosted many great events, book launches and other vegan events. And we were at this Veg-News party. Jay Astafa, who is this young celebrity chef, was making little treats for us, like little mini cheeseburgers and fries and vanilla shakes. And my favorite was the mini grilled cheese with creamy tomato sauce served in a shot glass – that was fun. And Vegan Treats offered up so many stunning deserts. It was quite a party! And then, we were given goody bags filled with all kinds of wonderful foods that I don’t normally buy because, I don’t know, I’m not someone who buys treats very often. If I want to have a treat I usually make it. But if you look at my What Vegans Eat blog, I think it was number 219, you can see all the goodies we got in our goody bag and some of the people who were there at that party. It was major fun.
What else is in the news? I wanted to mention, when we eat, for example, any food that comes from a grocery store, food that comes from a restaurant, food that comes packaged to go, in a convenience store, whatever, it is always a leap of faith. We really need to trust where that food came from, every step of the way. And we want to believe that the companies that are producing this food take care in keeping their facilities clean and buy quality products. That we have a government that inspects along the way to make sure everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. And there are all kinds of rules to follow and we just take a leap of faith and assume that these rules are being followed. Well, if you follow what’s going on with food borne illnesses, you can realize how much of a leap of faith you are taking every time you eat in a restaurant or eat food where you haven’t followed it every step of the way and checked it every step of the way. And one of the big food borne illness related cases was just resolved yesterday. I don’t know if you remember the story about the salmonella tainted peanuts that sickened 714 people and killed 9 in the year 2009. One of many food borne illness cases, it was a particularly fascinating one because the people involved, Stewart Parnell, his brother Michael and an employee, Mary Wilkerson, were all served yesterday: Stewart Parnell, 28 years in prison, his brother Michael, 20 years, and the employee Mary, to 5 years. And they were involved and they knew. They knew that they were shipping salmonella tainted peanuts. And where it gets complicated. This is where efficiency comes in. And this is one of the reasons why I don’t like the word “efficient”. Being efficient or thinking of efficiency as an important parameter. In some ways it is, but what do we lose when we try to be very efficient when we merge companies? When companies get so large it’s really impossible to keep track of where things come from. So, if you have a company that makes a particular product, that needs peanuts, for example, and they buy peanuts from a variety of sources, and they blend them up and cook them up and extrude them and put them in packages. It’s really hard to tell where the problem started when you have salmonella lurking in your food product. And I would prefer to see, in addition to better inspection and better ways to keep people honest, that companies could be smaller. When it comes to making food, companies should be smaller, locally sourced. This big corporation thing, especially when it comes to food, can be very, very dangerous. This is just one small story out of many, but the good news is that justice was served and these particular people didn’t get away with it. And I think that we’re going to be seeing more of that. And you hope that this is going to be a deterrent for food manufacturers, so that they work very hard at keeping the bad bugs out of their food.
What else do we have here to talk about? I talk about bowel movements sometimes on this show, right? The thing that’s amusing and interesting is I think most people realize when they change their diet and when they start to incorporate healthier foods in their diet one of the first things they notice is what happens when it all comes out the other end. Because things change and anytime you change your diet, it can be adding good food to your diet or it can be adding bad foods to your diet, your bowel movements are going to change. I always like to tell the story that I went to a raw food conference in Costa Rica, a little over 10 years ago, and the food was so full of oils and nuts, was so rich, that I actually became constipated; which you wouldn’t think is what would happen when you’re eating raw foods, but the diet changed and it was challenging for a few days. So, I like to talk about bowel movements because they’re really important and they let you know how healthy you are.
I can’t imagine going a day without moving. And I think two foods, for me, that are really powerful in keeping my intestines scrubbed are oats, which is one of the reasons why we eat a lot of oatmeal here at home, for breakfast, not everyday, but many days, other than the fact that we love it, but it’s really a good scrubber, and lentils. Wow, I love lentils. I love their flavor. You can do many, many things with them. You can put them in a puree, you can put them in a soup, you can put them in a loaf, but no matter how you eat them they keep you clean and they keep things moving. Now, fiber is a really important thing to keep things moving and rather than taking fiber from a jar and mixing it with some water and thinking you’re going to get the fiber you need, fiber is best from food and fiber is the most delicious from food. And it just boggles my mind, that this food that we eat, these wonderful plant food dishes, they are delicious, they are nutritious, they keep things moving, they keep you energized, and yet it has taken so long for people to get on this wagon – this plant based food wagon. Come on! It’s fun, it’s delicious and it will take you a long way, deliciously! I really believe that.
I just wanted to mention one more thing before we take a little break and then bring on my guest. That’s just a little message from Coca Cola. Coca Cola, the CEO last month promised that he would make Coca Cola’s funding transparent. And they have done that. You might visit the Coca Cola website. They have a number of different pages, frequently asked questions and they tell you who they have partnerships with, which the scientists are working on their research and they tell you whom they’re funding. And they say they will continue to update every six months. And okay, that’s nice that they’re being transparent, but I don’t think that anything’s going to change because who has time to look at these sites and make the connections that the people that they’re using to do research are also supporting their agenda? They say, and this is just an amusing thing to me, amusing, sad, but they say, I don’t have the exact wording, but there is a one piece in one of these transparency pages where they say that they’re concerned about obesity and want to work getting people to reach their ideal weight. And they say that they will do it and they do it already by offering low sugar and no sugar beverages. That’s amusing to me because aspartame actually encourages your appetite; it increases your appetite. People that are drinking these no calorie beverages thinking they’re not getting any calories are made hungrier and these companies know that. Yes, they know it. So, I’ll leave you with that little thing to digest for a moment and we’ll take a quick break and then be back to talk with James Aspey of Voiceless365.
Transcribed by Jolene Gervais, August 7, 2016