7/7/2015: Dinner Party Menus, Paleo Diets, Gluten

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caryn-in-caliCaryn talks about returning back to New York after being away for a month, the REAL anniversay, The “no-poo” method, planning dinner parties for guests, the Paleo diet and Gluten, referring to the recent New York Times article, The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten.

Transcription:

Hello, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food.

How are you today? I’m home, and I can’t tell you how good that’s been. So, as you may know, I’ve been in California for a month, just got back a week ago. And, it’s so good to be home. And it’s this lovely summer weather. Fortunately, it hasn’t been too crazy humid, at least not yet, anyway. And I’ve been enjoying the summer breeze, makes me feel fine… And, it’s just been really lovely.

But you know what’s been the best part about coming home? The best part is coming home and finding my kitchen. And getting in my kitchen and making the food that I love.

So let’s talk about that a little bit. I have a blog post. You may know about it, it’s called What Vegans Eat. And there I post all the good things that I’ve been eating, because it’s a lot easier. Actually, it’s not easy, it’s kind of challenging to do this. Every day I photograph and remember what I’ve been eating. But, when people ask me what do I eat, this is it. It’s long been documented, you can just go here and see for yourself. And then, if you want to know more, you can always email me at info@realmeals.org . But this is it, the real food that this real vegan is eating. Very simple.

But it was great to come home, and especially to celebrate July 4th, which is kind of a special day here, at Responsible Living headquarters. Because myself and my co-founder, Gary De Mattei. A couple of things happened in July for us. One is that we launched our non-profit Responsible Eating and Living in July. And the other thing is, we have our own little romantic anniversary on July 4th. So it’s a very special day.

And if you look at our What Vegans Eat post for July 4th, you can see what we had, and I’m kind of looking for it right here. Oh yeah, there it is, Day 145. I had requested one of Gary’s wonderful tofu scrambles. And he makes them like no one else. If you go to Responsible Eating and Living and go to our What Vegans Eat Day 145 page, you can see. I kind of want to lick the page, just looking at it. But he makes it really gooey with a lot of flavor, and some great baked home fries on the side. That was great for a July 4th.

And then, later in the evening, he made a really lovely sangria from really fresh fruit, strawberries and oranges and pears, and a lovely red wine. And diluted just enough so it was cool and refreshing. And we just kind of snacked on celery and carrots and guacamole, and a great cheese sauce made from beans, believe it or not. We’re really moving into these cheesy kind of nacho sauces that are made from beans. Maybe with a little cashew throw in for fat. And then some great seasonings.

I am so over cheese. And if you want to get over cheese, you might want to turn this way. I don’t know if we posted any of these recipes, these bean-based cheese sauces yet, but stay tuned. You should see them soon.

Yeah, so we founded Responsible Eating and Living, and we’ve been celebrating since we’ve been home, making our own food, and I’m feeling good about it.

Now, something I’ve been wanting to mention for a really, really long time. Well not that long, maybe a few months. But, this isn’t exactly food-related, but it is food related. You know how I take about personal care products, and I personally want to know that the things that I put on my body are things that I could actually eat. Not that I would want to eat. But when you put things on your skin, they go into your skin, and it’s just like eating those things. So you want to be careful about what you’re using. And the latest thing that I’ve tried is the No Poo Method. Now, have you heard about it? A lot of people have been bloggin about it, but I actually tried it, and I wanted to give you my spin on it.

So the No Poo Method is not using shampoo on your hair, and the most popular items that are being used either together, or separately, are baking soda and water, and apple cider vinegar and water. Now, I love baking soda, I clean a lot with it. I use it in my baking products. It’s terrific, and I make a lot of my salad dressings with apple cider vinegar as a base. And I also use apple cider vinegar in my baking products. So, I’ve got plenty of both ingredients, and I love the idea that I can clean with them. And clean my body with them, because I eat them, it’s that simple. And also, it’s kind of lighter on the environment if you use these products, because you’re not getting those extra plastic bottles.

So, I tried it, and I love it. Now, I have to say that I’m one of these people, I have dry, curly hair. And it’s easy for me to go a longtime without using regular shampoo or washing my hair. I know some people can’t go without a day of washing. So that’s the first disclaimer, that I can go a few days without washing, and sometimes even two weeks, my hair’s that dry. But you know, there are times when I want to feel clean, and I really enjoy this No Poo method. Now I’ve been reading that maybe the baking soda isn’t the best thing for hair because baking soda, especially when you add with water, is very alkaline, with a pH of about 12, which is very high.

And maybe you’ve seen, back in the old days, shampoos used to say, “pH balanced.,” because we learned that shampoos really should be on the acidic side, with a pH of less than seven. And vinegar is an acid, with a pH less than seven, and I love what the vinegar does. It is magical. Now some people would think, “Ew, I don’t like the smell of vinegar.” I actually think apple cider vinegar has a nice, fruity smell, it’s from apples, actually. And I find that, this is the crazy part, I find that I have no more tangles. “See how shiny and manageable my hair stays now.” I don’t know if you remember that tagline, I don’t even know which hair product that was from, decades ago, but the little girl was like… Oh it’s from No More Tangles, that’s where it’s from. “No more tangles. Mommy just sprays it on, and no more tangles. See how shiny and manageable my hair stays now.”

So that’s what the vinegar does. It makes my hair shiny, manageable, and I have no more tangles. So that’s what I wanted to report on the No Poo Method.

Now, I have to apologize here, because I’m right by a park. It’s very noisy, and I’m going to try and close the windows here. I’m going to shut them, it’s not going to be as cool. Bear with me, there we go. That’s nice, now that’s a little bit quieter. I’m not exactly sure why young people feel the need to scream, but I suppose it’s better for them to get it out in the park, than take it out violently on others. I actually read some articles about that, about how in schools, the children that are allowed to roam around and have recess, get out their extra energy and all that stuff, they end up behaving better when they have to sit down. So, I’m not going to mind those kids that are screaming, but we just don’t need to hear it right now, do we?

Okay, let’s move on. People have been asking me about meal planning, and what to make for special dinners. Now, at Responsible Eating and Living, we put up a number of menus, and you can actually look at the few menus that we have put up. We put up one specifically for Thanksgiving. We have a winter Christmas dinner. Putting together some of our fancier, more complicated recipes for elegant dinners. But you don’t have to do fancy, elegant menus for dinner. It really depends on you and your style, and who’s coming. And I want to underline the who’s coming, because that’s really important, and I have a story to tell.

I lived in the South of France for four years, and I was a vegan, as I am now, I’ve been vegan for almost 30 years. The French people found that I was kind of an odd curiosity back then, in the early 90s. But they were really great, my friends, in supporting me.

So, I had no problem eating there. And I did make dinner parties. And the thing is, back then, I would create things, make up things that I had never tried before, and I would typically do it when I was having new people over for dinner. And I really don’t know how I had the balls to do that kind of thing, because it didn’t really always work out. And I give those polite French people a lot of credit for eating what I served them, because sometimes it wasn’t the best thing. I was always trying to do more, or I don’t know what I was trying to do, actually.

Because a lot of people in France, especially, like plain, simple foods, and that’s what’s elegant. So you could make a plain green salad, you don’t even have to add any other vegetables in it. Toss it with a lovely vinaigrette, that’s your salad. And then vegetables prepared simply, sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic. And most of them love that kind of stuff.

And if you’re planning a meal, let’s say for people who aren’t vegetarian or vegan, I think it’s really best to present simple foods, foods that everyone knows, that maybe they don’t realize that you can make an entire meal around foods that they’ve already eaten. It’s really not that complicated.

And then one time, this was the disaster story of all. Some of my French friends, a family, one of the daughters was living in New York for a brief time with her husband, and her dad was coming out to visit, and her brother was coming. And I invited them all for dinner. And I remember having conversation about food with her father who was really traditional French. He would tell me about foie gras and how the birds would love to get the tubes shoved down their throat to get all this food, they would run to the farmers to have this process. He just wouldn’t believe that there was really any cruelty involved and that the animals were unhappy. So we would have some pretty lively discussions.

But the one thing I knew about this family was that they really liked simple foods, foods that were clean, not mixed-up too much. And for some reason, when I was thinking about what I was going to prepare for them, I just went in the 180 degree direction of what I should make for them, and I don’t even remember what it was that I made. But I knew that it was something that was breaded and fried and complicated.

And one thing that I learned when I was in France was that the traditional French don’t really like cinnamon. Now I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I don’t think it is, but it could be for certain areas. And for some reason, I’m planning this meal, and the recipe that I picked out called for cinnamon. So I put together all the things in this meal that I knew these people wouldn’t like. Now this was a long time ago, and I would never do that again. But I’ll tell you, I don’t know what I was trying to prove, but they were polite and we all laughed. And in the end, I really didn’t convince them of anything, other than I was some crazy vegan.

Now, when I make dinner for guests, I know who I’m cooking for, so if I’m having some vegans or vegetarians come over, first of all I ask them what they like and what they don’t like. And it’s really clear if they’ve got food allergies or whatever. Because you don’t want to make the people uncomfortable when you’ve made something for them, and then find out they have an allergy or can’t eat it. Everybody feels bad. So it’s really good to find out ahead of time what it is they like.

And for people that aren’t vegan or vegetarian, something like a lasagna, something that they know. Something that’s familiar is easy to make and everybody enjoys it. And people can see that they’re not eating something that has flesh, at least for one meal. I think it’s good.

But we love entertaining and having people over and I think it’s a lot of fun. But the thing is, if you’re going to make something new, if you want to try something out on friends and family or a new dinner party, practice. Make it first. Make sure you know how to do it, and you like it, ahead of time. That’s really important, because you don’t want to be nervous, whether you’re going to like it, or it’s going to come out okay. Take it from me, who’s done it that way too many times, practice is so important.

And then I’m thinking of another story about when we were young, and my older sister was wanting to make a really special New Year’s Eve dinner for her boyfriend, it was going to be some kind of like steak and lobster thing. And she was doing it at home. Her plan was that everybody would be out of the house. I guess my parents were going to be out, and maybe I was going to be out I don’t know. But what happened was I got a stomach bug. And I was in my bedroom as my sister prepared this meal. Now we were not vegetarian at the time. And she was making this steak, and I found the smell so horrible, with this stomach virus that I had. It was just a miserable night. And we laugh about it today, but back then, and that evening, it was just horrible.

And then, shortly thereafter, I became vegetarian. Now my mom likes to say that she thinks I became a vegetarian because of that evening, because I had this stomach virus. And the smell of meat cooking, and I put the two together and decided I didn’t want to eat meat. That’s not what happened, but it makes for interesting stories.

And my sister doesn’t like to cook in the kitchen. And is it because of that particular event that that happened? I don’t really know, but you have to be careful when you’re entertaining guests, and who your audience is. And you want to make sure that you don’t have a little sibling that has a stomach bug in another room. Right?

Now, for those of you that are moving to more plant foods. You know, I’ve found that many people that say they don’t like cooking, it’s not that they don’t like cooking, it’s that they don’t know how to cook. And just like any other skill, it’s something that requires a little patience and a little practice, but it is not difficult, and the results are so rewarding.

Okay, now, I want to talk a little bit about Paleo diets. Now there tends to be a little animosity between those of us who are vegan and those who are Paleo. And we all get on our grandstands and talk about why what we eat is better than the other. But I just want to bring something up that I recently learned. Now, according to anthropologists that study nutrition, during the Paloelithic period, humans got between 100 and 150 grams of fiber per day. That’s a lot of fiber. Do you know what the minimum of fiber recommended today is? Thirty-two grams! Thirty-two grams. Apparently, in the Paleolithic period, humans got 100 to 150 grams and the recommendation today is 32 grams. Now, the average American today maybe even gets 15 grams of fiber, that’s half the recommended amount.

So, what’s going on here? What I want to know is, are Paleo people today, people following a Paleolithic diet, are they getting enough fiber? Are they getting 100 to 150 grams a day, like their Paleolithic humans back in the day, a long time ago? I don’t think so.

Now the good thing about Paleo diets, no question, is eliminating refined foods. Sugar, dairy, white flour. All those foods contain very little fiber. And we know dairy isn’t good for us, and I’m right there with them, with the fact that dairy products aren’t healthy. That’s a good thing.

But what do people on a Paleo diet eat? Well, they eat a lot of meat and eggs. I know some of them do, anyway. And there’s no fiber in meat and eggs. So, what I want to know is, if anyone’s Paleo out there, and diggin’ their Paleo diet, I want to know if you get 100 to 150 grams of fiber a day. So that you can be like your Paleolithic ancestors. That’s all I want to know, are you getting 100 to 150 grams of fiber a day?

And what I’m thinking is, that the vegan diet, which is based on all foods containing fiber, it’s a lot easier to eat a high fiber diet when you’re eating all plant foods.

So there’s some food for thought. Send me an email at info@realmeals.org if you want to comment on Paleo diets and fiber. Let me know how much fiber you’re getting.

We’re learning a lot about nutrition, and I like to say that there’s no one ideal diet. At least the science has not shown us there is an ideal diet. And the science does point to us eating more plant foods. Where am I going with this? Oh yes. We’re really guinea pigs. And as guinea pigs, we’re all experiments in nutrition. Now, we’re trying out things and I like to say follow your intuition and eat what feels good to you.

Now I had a personal guinea pig. You know I really shouldn’t use the ‘guinea pig’ expression. And you know where that comes from, the fact that we do animal testing, right. And we can do testing on guinea pigs, and mice and rats, etc. I don’t support any of that.

So, let me take all of that back. I recently, not intentionally, did an experiment. So, I was not eating a lot of soy foods recently, and normally I eat tofu, tempeh, soymilk, the minimally processed, organic, non-genetically modified soy foods. I believe they are healthy. In fact, if you go to responsibleeatingandliving.com, you can listen to my soy story. It’s one of our Real Good News In Review reports.

So, I’ve always been eating a lot of soy foods. I stopped eating soy foods. The reason being, we’re not very happy about Trader Joe’s lately, and I’ve not been shopping very much with them. I find that their business is not very transparent. I learned that from interviewing someone on this show, as a matter of fact, whose name escapes me right now. And we tended to buy our tofu or tempeh and our soymilk from Trader Joe’s because it’s the best price. So we weren’t getting any, and I wasn’t having any.

And guess what happened? Well, you may know a little bit about me, that nine years ago, almost, I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. I had a total hysterectomy, and I put my body into early menopause, shocked my system. And my body’s been trying to balance all this time, since that event. And I’m happy to be here, I’m happy to be healthy. But I don’t have ovaries, and ovaries are what help women balance hormones and produce hormones. And I don’t have them, so my body’s kind of got to do it somehow, somewhere else.

Well, I have hot flashes as a result. And it’s been almost nine years now, and I still have them. I think they’ve gotten a little less intense since the beginning, which is good.

And I found that when I stopped eating soy foods, they became more intense. They became more intense on so many different levels. And this was from not eating any soy. And then, when I added the soy foods back, everything came back into balance again. Now this is an anecdotal story. I’m just sharing it with you because I was really amazed that it happened. And now I’m back putting soymilk in my cereal, and eating tofu on a regular basis. Tempeh too. I love these foods. And I’m glad I’m eating them.

And we are still shopping at Trader Joe’s a bit, although shopping at other places as well.

And that’s my soy story, and I’m sticking to it.

The last thing I wanted to bring up before I take a little break here, and get on to my special guest of the day. I want to talk about an article that just came out in The New York Times, it actually as in the Sunday Review. It was someone’s article as an opinion, actually. It was called, The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten. Did you get to read it?

You know what I love most about this article? And this isn’t usually true. What I loved about it were the comments. Now normally comments to an article, maybe not the New York Times, but from many other places, people just rant and rage about all kinds of ridiculous things. But I found that the comments were really intelligent and spot on against this ridiculous article. I didn’t like the article at all. And I think that the bottom line of this article was, if you don’t have celiac disease, get over yourself, there’s no problem with our wheat today.

A couple of things that were pointed out in this article that I want to bring up, and that is that the author was saying how people use as one argument, that both milk and wheat came into the human diet about the same time. And that we haven’t had enough time to adapt to these foods. Have you heard that? Well, his point was that we’ve had enough time with respect to milk, because he doesn’t think we have a milk problem today because more people have learned how to adapt.

The thing is, we have a lactose intolerance after being babies, and there have been a select group of people on the planet, Western Europeans, that have adapted to having lactose as adults. And it spread over different areas. And he was saying most Scandinavians now are not lactose intolerant.

So he was saying if it happened with milk, if we adapted to milk, why not wheat? And I’m thinking, “We haven’t adapted to milk.” Milk is the cause of so may illnesses today. And I was just really disappointed that he made that point, because milk is evil. I think milk is a lot more evil than gluten is on many, many levels. For animal cruelty, the devastating impact on the environment. But it’s also not healthy for us, and it’s linked to so many different auto-immune diseases, and cancer, and osteoporosis, and on and on.

The other thing I didn’t like was mentioning that some people say that wheat varieties today have more gluten than they used to, and he was saying that it’s been tested, and it hasn’t changed in nearly a century. But what he didn’t realize is that most commercial bread manufacturers today, if you read the label on your bread, they add in more vital wheat gluten. It’s added in, so there’s more gluten in it. And the processing that they do today to make bread is to maximize efficiency, a word that you know that I don’t like. It’s to speed up the process.

So, in traditional bread baking with a starter, the processor fermentation works. And actually breaks down some of the gluten. And there’s enough time to do that, and there’s less gluten in the traditional breads. But today, because speed is important, and we’re using these quick-acting yeasts, the gluten isn’t broken down, and they’re adding more gluten to the breads, so we’re getting more gluten. I’m not saying gluten’s bad for us, but too much of a good thing is not always good. And I just thought the article itself was poorly researched, and the comments were really worth reading.

So there you have it. Okay, let’s take a very short break, and when we come back, I’m going to be speaking with somebody I’ve been trying to speak to for months. And she’s going to be with us today, Rowena Jayne. Let’s take a short break and we’ll be right back.

Transcribed by Cindy Goldberg, 10/10/2015

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