Caryn discusses some of the questions that came up during last week’s Food Revolution Summit, including concerns about canola oil. She goes into detail about the garbanzo bean regarding its versatility as a whole food, as a flour and now as aquafaba.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you, thank you so much for joining me today as you do when you do. I so appreciate it. And I know you’re there; I can feel you. It really makes a difference to know I’m not talking out to nobody, but I know there are many of you out there. I hear from you, and I’m very grateful that we’re all in this together—this crazy world that we’re living in—making it better for what we get on our plates. Because not only is it about food, and it is all about food and what we put on our plates, but we all know how connected it is to all life on earth—not just human life, not animal life, plant life, life that we haven’t even been able to perceive or discover yet. There are so many mysteries out there.
I wanted to first talk about the Food Revolution Summit, which I discussed a little bit last week. We were in the middle of it—this nine-day extravaganza, talking about our food system, just like we do here on It’s All About Food—but the difference is it was done in a very concentrated dose with some really wonderful people. John and Ocean Robbins as the hosts of this program. John, of course, who is a wonderful leader and got many of us on this path to plant-based eating, vegan eating, and thinking about the connection between food, with our health, with the environment, with the treatment of animals. The summit was really amazing. It’s over now—it ended on Sunday—and for those of you who missed it or for those of you who only were able to catch a little bit of it, you do have the opportunity to hear it all. It’s not free anymore, but you can purchase the Empowerment Package, and if you have missed it, and you are curious about it, this is a great, concentrated, all-in-one-place package with interviews with some amazing people. I recommend it. And there are bonuses that you get if you get the Empowerment Package. If you’re interested in just taking a look at it, you can go to my website—www.responsibleeatingandliving.com. On the right, there’s a link to the Food Revolution Summit Empowerment Package. You can check that out.
Now as I mentioned last week, there was a bit of confusion because not all of the speakers were preaching the same gospel, and that left a lot of people with questions and concerns, and I tried to answer them as best I could on the forum that we had for the Food Revolution Network. But still there are a lot of open issues, and I tried to address that last week. I wanted to cover some other questions that came up from the summit. And one of them had to do with the recipes that I was providing. I gave one new recipe each day of the summit, and in two recipes, I think, where the vegetables were sautéed or there was a need for some sort of oil, I recommended using organic canola oil, and the recipes said canola oil, but there’s a little asterisk that recommended using non-GMO varieties, and we recommend organic canola oil. Now that got a lot of comments, and some of them were not very nice. People were like up in arms; they couldn’t believe we were recommending using canola oil, and you may have heard all of the horrible things about canola oil on the Internet. Some of it isn’t true, and the things that may not be good about canola oil are related to the GMO version. And basic organic canola oil—the kind that was around before it became genetically modified and not organic varieties—is, in general, for an oil, an okay oil to use. The thing that people get confused about is that organic canola oil—the original canola oil that was created in the early seventies—is a variety of rapeseed that was crossbred. It was not done in methods that would require it to be related to GMO—was not genetically altered at the DNA level. It’s been crossbred as farmers have been doing for as long as I know humanity’s been around, we’ve been trying to improve plants. And there was an improvement made on the rapeseed varieties to reduce the amount of erucic acid in it, which was found to cause problems. This was—rapeseed oil was used quite a bit for centuries in Europe, in India, China, and Japan. And then this erucic acid was discovered and found to be problematic, and also cooking at high temperatures with this particular unrefined rapeseed oil is related to an increased risk of lung cancer because this high-temperature oil can give off chemicals that cause mutations in cells, and so this earlier version of rapeseed oil is not a healthy oil, but the crossbred version—canola oil—that came out in the early seventies is a relatively good oil.
Dr. Dean Ornish—and you’re probably familiar with him. He’s done a lot of great research on cardiovascular disease and, more recently, prostate cancer, and he’s another one of the people in the forefront of promoting a plant-based diet because of its great characteristics in reducing risk of heart disease and then later in reducing the risk of prostate cancer or at least turning the symptoms of prostate cancer around. He pointed out in an article in Reader’s Digest where he pointed out that canola oil has been used much more than olive oil in the Mediterranean, and this may be one of the reasons why there’s benefits to the Mediterranean diet—maybe it’s not olive oil; maybe it’s canola oil. And there was a study done also showing the benefits of canola oil over olive oil. And canola oil is more stable for cooking than olive oil or hemp or flaxseed. So when we cook, and when we put recipes out that require a little oil, we recommend organic canola oil.
What surprises me, though, is when people make comments. I don’t know what it is since the Internet has come about, or maybe it’s part of the evolution of our generations, but people are not polite. They’ll just say the nastiest things and act as if they know everything, and people were just saying they couldn’t believe there was canola oil in the recipes, and I can’t believe it, and what are you people doing, and don’t you know any better, and then we would try and inform people where we were coming from and why we did what we did. So I’m at peace with using organic canola oil. We’ve talked about oil a lot on this program, and again I don’t think oil is a nutritious food per se. It’s something that should be used very sparingly. I prefer to get my fats from whole foods. Raw nuts and seeds. Avocado and coconut. And whenever I can eliminate oil from a recipe, I do so. I’m even trying to go back to—a lot of the recipes we have at www.responsibleeatingandliving.com—the baked-goods recipes—and whenever I can, I’ve gone from using a vegan butter like Earth Balance, trying to substitute it with oils and then going and substituting that with like a nut butter instead and making the recipes always delicious but more healthful whenever possible. So when I have a chance to revisit recipes, I like to do that.
The next thing was the Healthy World Burger. I think I mentioned it last week. So I came up with these nine recipes, and the one recipe that I am the most excited about is our Healthy World Burger, and I posted it at www.responsibleeatingandliving.com a few days ago. This is—drumroll please—this is the best veggie burger I’ve ever had. The best. It’s good for you. It’s delicious, nutritious. It’s not made with any isolated soy proteins like the kind of veggie burgers you can find in the store. Also unlike the kind of veggie burgers you find in the store, it’s not mushy, soft. It has a nice chew. What I like about it is a lot of things but one of the things is we use some ancient grains in the recipe. Black rice, red rice, and turanicum, and you can use brown rice if you have a gluten intolerance because turanicum is an earlier ancient wheat variety, and it has gluten in it. But this is an incredible recipe. You can find it at www.responsibleeatingandliving.com. I don’t think it’s very difficult to make, and I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.
If you were listening to the Food Revolution Summit last week, and you had some questions that weren’t answered, hey, this might be a good time to ask me, and I will do my very best to get you an answer: you can e-mail me at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s this restaurant that I love in my neighborhood. It’s called Green Zenphony. I may have spoken about it before. I live in Queens, New York, and Queens is a really fascinating place. There are a gazillion languages spoken in Queens. I’m not sure if there are more languages spoken here than anywhere else, but I heard at one time that was true. I’m not sure if it’s still true. And as a result, there are many restaurants with lots of ethnic cuisines all over the place. But we don’t have a lot of vegan restaurants, though there are a few, but Manhattan really wins out in that department. For a long time, I was wanting something convenient in my neighborhood, and we had a restaurant come around couple of years ago called Simple Veggie, which I talked about a lot. We even did a little film about Simple Veggie; it was great. But the owner for one reason or another didn’t want to stick with it, and Green Zenphony moved in, and whoa, I’m so happy with Green Zenphony! It’s really a lovely lovely restaurant. And we were there a few days ago. We’ve been working really hard. Okay, we work hard all the time, but we’ve been working extra hard, and we had pushed pushed pushed and did a lot of cooking and recipe photography like a week or two ago, and as a result, we kind of have not been doing as much cooking. Just kind of taking it easy. And as a result, we’ve been at Green Zenphony a little more often than normal. A few times a week rather than once or twice a month. I discovered they have some fresh-pressed juices there. You know I’m big on green juice, and I like to have a green juice every day. I hadn’t had my green juice, and they have a red cabbage juice with lemon on their menu, and I had it. Really loved it. It was a really nice change from my green juice, but red cabbage is also a potent anti-cancer food loaded with all kinds of good things. And I thought okay, I can have this in place of my green juice. You might try it. Just juicing red cabbage, adding a little lemon. Lovely lovely drink. It’s not bitter. It has a little sweetness. I think the red—whatever the red, whatever the red coloring is (some sort of carotenoid or something)—adds a sweetness to the juice. Try it out.
Now, the next thing I want to talk about. I want to, I want to sing my praises to the humble chickpea. The chickpea, which is also known as a garbanzo bean. In French, we used to call it—or they still call it—the pois chiche. And in Middle East, it is known as hummus—hummus—with a [hard aspirate h] sound. Hummus. And that’s where we got hummus from, the chickpea spread that is traditionally made with olive oil, lemon juice, sesame tahini butter, and salt. We call it hummus, but really hummus means chickpeas. All right. I want to sing the praises of the chickpea. So I just mentioned hummus, and the lovely thing about hummus is that for vegetarians and vegans, it today seems to be a guaranteed dish that you can find at parties and events when you’re concerned about if there will be anything to eat. We always like to joke and say at least there will be hummus. It may not be the best hummus; unfortunately, today it’s usually purchased from that company Sabra, which I don’t recommend ever because Sabra—not only do they not use olive oil, they use soybean oil, and it’s likely that that soybean oil is genetically modified. It is not a traditional hummus. If you read the ingredients, you will see they are not very good. Hummus should be made with chickpeas, and even if you get a bean spread made with another bean, that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be made with soybean oil, especially not genetically modified. And the store-bought brands tend to have preservatives, too much salt, and they take a really good delicious healthy food and make it not so.
That’s the beginning of chickpeas, but there’s more amazing things about chickpeas. And we are starting to learn more about chickpeas. So one of the things I’ve talked about a lot is chickpea flour. If you grind up the dried chickpea into a flour, it becomes this miracle flour that is easy to use; we make crepes from chickpea flour. You can find on www.responsibleeatingandliving.com all of our chickpea crepes, and I’ll say crepe/omelette because we use it also for omelette-like recipes. You just mix it with water, and you put it in an oiled frying pan—and we like to use organic canola oil, by the way, when we oil our pans. It makes the easiest crepe or pancake. You can make it a little thicker by adding different things to it—vegetables and onions—and make wonderful omelettes. Add some vegan cheese to it or cashew cream or something, and it’s just rich and luscious. Chickpea flour is amazing. We have some frittata recipes, and chickpea flour is often in our batter bases, because it nicely holds things together, in a way, like eggs do. And I keep thinking about how different this world would have been if we had started with the chickpea as the base of many foods instead of an egg.
And now you may have heard about aquafaba…aquafaba. Aquafaba is the name given to the liquid that chickpeas are sitting in. So when you soak and cook chickpeas to make them soft, and you get them in a can, or you cook them yourself, the water that is there with the chickpeas that thickens and is a little slimy actually; you can whip it like egg whites, and it becomes meringue. There’s a huge movement—there’s a Facebook page for aquafaba, there is all this excitement around it. People are doing things with this chickpea liquid that has never been done before, and what they are doing is replacing egg whites. This is phenomenal. Now I’ve never been a fan of meringue or meringue-like desserts, but there are many recipes out there that call for them, and now people are making them with this aquafaba. And it’s fabulous. The reason why I mention it is because the New York Times just featured an article about aquafaba and the guy that got it started and the frenzy that’s all around it. And now even Sir Kensington, the company that makes a lot of condiments, they’ve now jumped on the bandwagon of vegan mayonnaise products. We’ve talked a lot about vegan mayonnaise over the last few years. And they now have one that they are offering to the public, and it contains aquafaba. And that’s how they got their vegan mayonnaise to do whatever it was they wanted it do and have the flavor that they wanted it to have. Aquafaba. It’s just incredible how we have chickpea flour that can make these wonderful crepes without eggs and frittatas without eggs, and now we have aquafaba, and people are starting to use it not only to make meringue products, macarons, and are using it in baked goods to make a softer, moister crumb. It’s spectacular. And here is something—I love it because it was a waste product. People were throwing it away. In fact, I was reading in that New York Times article, there’s a company that makes hummus—hummus—in upstate New York, and they were indeed throwing away their chickpea water—the aquafaba—and now they have a buyer for it. Sir Kensington is connected with them to make their vegan mayo with aquafaba. So there is a really lovely happy ending or happy beginning with this spectacular product.
I don’t know, does anybody have a problem with chickpeas? Are there any chickpea allergies? I’m sure some people can’t eat chickpeas, but I think for the most part it is a food that has fed people for a very long time. It’s very very popular in the Middle East. Even just eating chickpeas in things. Chickpea in soups and chickpea in stews, put chickpeas on salads. They’re very satisfying, they’re very nutritious. This is I think my new favorite in terms of food. You know we used to talk about the incredible edible egg, that it was a complete whatever, and now I think it’s chickpeas. Chickpeas should take that position because it’s very nutritious, and you can do so many amazing things with it. That’s my praise for the simple chickpea. Thank you for listening.
Then the last thing I wanted to mention, sing praises for, I think I mentioned last week I got my new delivery of dried mushrooms from Fungus Among Us. Have you tried them? This is the best way, I think, to get your mushrooms. Now mushrooms—in fact, I remember a long time ago everybody thought there’s nothing nutritious about mushrooms, and yet we have learned that mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse with anti-cancer fighting properties. I like to call mushrooms natural chemotherapy with no bad side effects. We should have mushrooms every day, and the question is how can you eat mushrooms every day deliciously, and I buy organic dried mushrooms. I get them from Fungus Among Us. It’s really economical because you can get these mushrooms that you don’t normally see in the stores all the time, and you can get them and have them all the time dried, and then when you’re ready, you just rehydrate them, and I just can’t get enough of them. So we’ve been, for example, having mashed potatoes the last couple of nights, and who doesn’t love mashed potatoes. I just rehydrate these mushrooms, and I’ve got this great mushroom topping for the top of my mashed potatoes. And I’m very very happy. Yes, I am. If you go to www.whatveganseat.com, which is our daily blog talking about what we’ve been eating every day, you’ll see how I’ve been using these mushrooms. They’re great. When I can’t think of what to make or what to do, and I have a little hunger, I make this really quick broth. Hot water on top of the dried mushrooms. I might add a little miso stirred into it. And there is a nutritious, really quick, wonderful soup. It kind of puts a stop in my hunger until I’m ready to sit down and have a really nice meal.
So let’s take a little break, and when we get back, we’re going to be talking about a very popular food called bacon. We’ll be right back.