Manuel Gonzalez and Stephanie Bogdanich

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Part I: Manuel Gonzalez, FoodBytes!
max-gonzalezManuel Gonzalez was born in Mexico, is Managing Director, Head of the Western Region Corporate Clients for Rabobank and founder of FoodBytes! Formerly he was Country head of Rabobank Mexico and holds an MBA from Georgetown University.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Part II: Stephanie Bogdanich, The Taco Cleanse
Taco ScientistsWes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly R. Frisinger, and Jessica Morris live in Tacotopia (Austin, TX). They introduced the Taco Cleanse at the 2013 Vegan Month of Food by eating tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 30 days. Veganmofo.com said, “It should come as no surprise that the newsworthy, tortilla-stockpiling Taco Cleanse . . . not only tops my own list of memories, but everyone else’s.”

TRANSCRIPTION PART I:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello, everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and thanks for joining me today on It’s All About Food. And today we’re really going to dig deep because it is all about food, and I think we’re going to be learning a lot today. I’m really excited about this program, and I want to bring on my first guest because I know he’s a busy guy, and I want to get right to it, so my guest is Manuel Gonzalez, who was born in Mexico; he’s Managing Director, Head of the Western Region Corporate Clients for Rabobank and founder of FoodBytes. Formerly, he was country head of Rabobank Mexico and holds an MBA from Georgetown University. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Manuel.

Manuel Gonzalez: Hello, how are you?

Caryn Hartglass: I’m well. Well, actually, I’m not well. I’m actually running a slight fever, but I’ll get better. But I’m very passionate about this show, and I wouldn’t miss it for a moment, so I’m here. I have a lot of listeners on this program who are not only passionate about the food they eat, but they really care about the food system and how food gets to our table from all around the world—our food system, food politics, and certainly the investment behind food. So I thought you might begin by letting us know what Rabobank is, their mission, and then telling us about founding FoodBytes.

Manuel Gonzalez: Sure. Well, Rabobank is a Dutch bank, and it’s a very old bank—we’re over 100 years old—and it was actually born out of agricultural credit unions in the Netherlands that just grew and grew and became a bank. So we—our roots are with agriculture and farmers; we’re still a cooperative, so we are a private bank—we are not a public bank, and we have no shareholders because we are a cooperative and…. In the Netherlands, it is the largest bank; it’s an old finance bank but has a commanding leadership in financing agriculture and food. And outside of the Netherlands, we only work with food and agriculture, so we do from farmers all the way up to large companies, the whole value chain—that’s our focus with what we do—and our mission is to make food succeed, which sounds a little bit strange, but I guess it’s—it comes from our origins and why we exist and maybe because we are private, we can afford to have that kind of mission.

Caryn Hartglass: So the mission is to make food that feeds—I wanted to make sure I heard that properly.

Manuel Gonzalez: Succeed…succeed, yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I like it.

Manuel Gonzalez: To make food succeed.

Caryn Hartglass: But at the same time, you want to make money doing it.

Manuel Gonzalez: Well, you know, if you want to be sustainable, and if you want to be around, certainly, you have to be a bank that makes money. In that sense, we, yeah, we certainly—we do business, and we do it well. We know very well the sectors that we work in, and that’s why we—we’re good at it.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so that brings us to FoodBytes. I just went to the FoodBytes Brooklyn event. It—last week; it was great. And why don’t you tell me why you founded it and what FoodBytes’s mission is?

Manuel Gonzalez: Well, we were looking at—there are many reasons why we started, but—outside of the Netherlands, we’re very focused on the larger food companies, on the larger farmers, and as you know, lately, over the last ten years, a lot of new companies, new ideas, are coming out, and I think more than ever, we see a lot more innovation, things that are more disruptive, and for us being a knowledge bank and being focused on that, we thought, we felt that we needed to know more about it, but also we thought that we needed to help as much as we could the people that were putting all on the line to work on their ideas and to innovate and are risking a lot to make this happen, so we thought maybe we could have an event that could bring together people who were interested in helping them, investing in them, or in partnering with them, and just to bring them in a place where they could talk and network and just find each other. And that’s why we started doing it, because of course we wanted to know about it, we wanted to learn about it, make it part of the knowledge that we have, but in that mission of making food succeed, there are three very distinct things that we do to make that happen, and one is to improve the access to finance and the access to net worth and the access to knowledge to the people that are working in the food and agricultural business. So that was the idea, and you were at the event—it’s very much about networking; it’s very much about the entrepreneur and about their ideas. And they are the stars. There are other events where you have a lot of very interesting people talking—you know, conferences and things like that—but we thought that we needed to start something where the star was the entrepreneur, and that’s why we created FoodBytes.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s great, and it’s hard being in the food business; it’s hard starting a food business. There are so many things that people have to consider, and they need as much support as they can get on many, many levels. So thank you for doing that. Now my understanding is for this particular event in Brooklyn, you had maybe over 200 people who wanted to be selected to present, and you only chose ten.

Manuel Gonzalez: That is correct. We received 200 applications, and from the very first one—the very first FoodBytes was February of last year, and it was in San Francisco and based there in the West Coast. From the very first moment, we had over 100 applications and this time, 200, and so you can see also that this is growing. It wasn’t easy to choose—it was pretty difficult. There were many very interesting ideas, and I hope we did a good job, but I have to tell you that—I would say two-thirds of them were very, very good, which is encouraging, and it was very interesting and again very hard to choose.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I want to talk about the companies that I liked who were at FoodBytes. The people’s choice was food made—True Made Foods—and that came with a really nice story about a guy who struggled with his weight and eating vegetables, and his wife ended up blending vegetables into ketchup and barbecue sauce, and now they’re bottling them. It’s made with minimally processed ingredients, and everybody seemed to like it, and that’s great. And then there were some high-tech kind of options to make growing food easier in terms of monitoring things with soil and moisture. Certainly we have a lot of great software now and apps and things where we can get a lot better control in order to maximize yields, minimize problems, so I see a lot of great future in that. There was another app that was involved—Food Temp—forgot what it was called. That was involved in keeping—

Manuel Gonzalez: Fresh Temp.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, please.

Manuel Gonzalez: Fresh Temp.

Caryn Hartglass: Fresh Temp! There we go, right. Yeah, using, again, technology with thermometers and measuring temperatures. I don’t know how many people are aware—I got my food-handling certification here in New York, and it’s fifteen chapters of intense stuff that can go on in a food-manufacturing facility, and you have to be so careful. So things like this can make food manufacturing safer and easier. So that’s good. My favorite—my personal favorite didn’t win, but that was Sophie’s Vegan Kitchen. This is a company that’s making vegan fish, which some people may say, “You can’t say that.” But what I see for the twenty-first century being disruptive technology is using plant ingredients to make products that people love that used to use animals and make basically the same products, which are environmentally sustainable and less expensive and healthier.

Manuel Gonzalez: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: So that’s where my heart is. Now—yeah?

Manuel Gonzalez: No, tell me.

Caryn Hartglass: No, no, no—you, please!

Manuel Gonzalez: Yes, I think there are different tracks, different sectors in food and ag that are coming up. Certainly, protein—alternative protein—and in that I would put not only vegetable- or plant-based protein but also different ways of raising animals. So those two tracks in protein I think are very hot and, but I agree with you—in particular, plant-based protein is growing and is increasing, and I think in general with respect to food what you see is that today the focus is not only on the ingredients and sustainability but also on taste. And I think in the past, that was probably what people were missing. That this has to taste good, right? I mean, people need to like it in order to eat it, and if you really want to make an impact, your food has to taste well because people, you know—we’re going to eat it, and you’re going to taste it, and it has to be good. That certainly is one, and I think with respect to agriculture, what we saw—Arable, which was the company we’re talking about with a…it’s a very interesting piece of hardware that you put in the land and just gives you incredible amounts of data that can help you improve what you’re doing, so those are the things in precision agriculture; big data, which is data management; robotics, which we didn’t have this time, but we had before—all those things are very important. I think in food you’re also going to find convenience as something that is coming up, and it’s improving, and one of the companies that we had in FoodBytes that came from Israel, DouxMatok, which is sugar. I think also protein—very big in food but also sugar. By that I mean ways—keeping the same taste profile of sugar but making it less sugar, so that is very important as an ingredient but also as sugar itself for example. That’s going to be very, very big, and those are the big tracks right now that we see in food, and there’s a lot going on. I think every single aspect of food and agriculture can and will be probably disrupted at some point.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, now, you may know this already, but I’m going to disagree, and I don’t think that the world needs more animal proteins and seafood. I don’t think they’re sustainable, and it’s true that as developing nations become more affluent, they’re going to want to have animal proteins, but I would like to see a major educational force worldwide to steer people away from that because we now have mounds of data showing that increased animal products cause diabetes, heart disease, increased risk of cancer, and yet we’re kind of ignoring that when it comes to global manufacturing of animals. We’re learning at the same time where animal food causes health problems, plant foods strengthen the immune system and our health, and it’s not necessarily one or the other. That’s my issue I would like to see us going away from figuring out how to create more animal protein, and you know if you really do the math—people don’t like factory farming of animals. It doesn’t have good press because it’s horrific; it’s environmentally devastating; it’s horrifically cruel; but when we “humanely” raise animals—and I put humanely in quotes because I, personally, don’t agree with it philosophically—we don’t have the land mass on this planet to feed 7 billion people, going up to 9 billion, animals like we’re eating in this country, in the United States. We just can’t do it unless we confine animals, which I don’t think is a really good direction to go in, so ultimately we’re going to need to eat less animals. That’s how I feel about it.

Manuel Gonzalez: Yes, and let me tell you that the biggest impact in animal consumption is going to be when the plant-based protein, it really satisfies the taste of the people. And then it will happen naturally.

Caryn Hartglass: I hope so. I really look forward to that. I’ve been doing it for 28 years, and I think it tastes great. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit more about sustainability because one of the companies that was one of the ten featured companies was Love the Wild where they talk about sustainable fish. I think that’s an oxymoron. I don’t think that we can have sustainable fish. Our oceans are depleted already. We can’t take anymore out. We’re doing tremendous damage. We’re just learning about the microorganisms in the oceans that are responsible for the oxygen that we breathe. There’s so little we know about the oceans, and we’re killing them.

Manuel Gonzalez: Well, Love the Wild is focusing on aquaculture, so I think they would agree with you and—which is why they want to be 100% aquaculture. That is the point.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but aquaculture—aquaculture—where do they get the feed from to feed the fish? I mean most aquaculture today gets smaller fish to feed the fish, or they grow soy to feed the fish. It’s really inefficient. I, personally, from everything I’ve read and studied, I think sustainable fish is an oxymoron. So you heard it from me. There’s probably a business in it now. I just hope we don’t destroy the planet in doing so. And another thing I wanted—I noticed that Rabobank is into a number of priorities, including palm oil. And that’s getting a lot of press, too, because people don’t believe it’s sustainable or that the folks that say they’re making sustainable palm oil really aren’t. What’s going on with palm oil today?

Manuel Gonzalez: That’s a hard question for me because that’s something that mostly you will see in regions that are different to the one where I work in, so probably in Asia and South America. I know that in the past, that a lot of things have changed, but I couldn’t give you a good account on what’s going on in palm oil.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, very good. So let’s get back to FoodBytes, the event last week, because I wanted to say there was a lot of great food there, and I really appreciated that there was a menu card on every table. You had to be able to read fine print to see the different dots that let you know whether it was vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, but I really appreciated having all that labeling. Some of the food was really, really outstanding. Do you know who provided the food?

Manuel Gonzalez: Yes, the hall—they prepared everything.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, the space?

Manuel Gonzalez: Yes, the venue.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, they did a great job. And I was really happy to be a recipient of the Gotham Greens at the end of the event, and apparently they had a lot more than attendees, so I took a lot of boxes home with me. But I’m very excited about Gotham Greens as a company.

Manuel Gonzalez: They have a beautiful product, and I think they’re going to do really, really well. They’re very passionate, and talking to them is like going to a wine tasting and tasting vegetables, which is amazing. They do a great job. I think they’re a very exciting company.

Caryn Hartglass: So they’re in New York City, they’re in Chicago, and they build greenhouses on top of buildings in urban environments. And the food is incredible. And it’s genius. That’s something that I get really, really excited about. I love greens; I think that’s the most important food for us to be eating—leafy green vegetables and any—we should be growing them in every space we possibly can.

Manuel Gonzalez: And that’s one of the developments that you see in ag—vertical agriculture, all those things, and precisely doing what you’re saying—producing more food in smaller spaces, a lot of the greens, and also local food that respects where you are. Certainly, that is a big, big development that we’re going to see moving forward more and more and more efficient and better.

Caryn Hartglass: Where’s the next FoodBytes, and what can people who are interested in building their companies do about getting involved or seeing if they can get involved?

Manuel Gonzalez: The next FoodBytes is San Francisco in June. We’re almost sure it’s going to be June 16, but we’re looking at it—it’s going to depend a little bit on the venue. We want something that is similar to what you saw, that has that kind of space. But most probably it’s going to be that day—June 16. If not, it’s going to be around that date, but it’s mid-June. And then in October we will be in Boulder, Colorado, which is a place that’s innovating quite a bit in food.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s great. What about Chicago?

Manuel Gonzalez: Well, maybe, maybe next year. We will move around a little bit and find new places. Austin is another great place. And we found that there are a number of places in the US that want to innovate and do new things, so it’s always difficult to decide where to do it.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I was thrilled to be a part of this year’s FoodBytes in Brooklyn, and thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food.

Manuel Gonzalez: No, thank you, thank you very much, and best of luck. I hope to see in you in the next one, too.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, very good. Manuel Gonzales of FoodBytes, thank you for joining me.

Manuel Gonzalez: Thank you, bye-bye.

Caryn Hartglass: Bye-bye. Okay, let’s see. I want to talk a little bit more about the event that I went to. Some of the things that I was really excited about. If you go to my What Vegans Eat – Day 387 post, you can see my report on it and all the food that I ate—because it is all about food. So the most amazing thing that I tried truly was the vegan smoked salmon, and—well, I have to admit, I was never really a fan of smoked salmon back in the day when I was young, and people would put it on bagels, but I tried it, and the flavor was as close to my memory of what smoked salmon was, and I really liked it. Amazing. And I think with a good vegetable vegan cream cheese, a good bagel, I don’t think people would know the difference, frankly. So that’s exciting, and the thing is, you can buy it online if you’re interested in trying it, but I think it comes in like ten packages or something, so you have to buy a lot of it—make sure you’re going to like it. But I thought it was really exciting and another product that I tried by that same company, Sophie’s Kitchen, is their crab cakes. Really fun. They have a number of vegan options—breaded vegan shrimp, vegan crab cake, vegan lobster mac and cheese, vegan seafood jambalaya, and, of course, the salmon and probably some other products. Pretty amazing stuff. Like I was saying before, personally, I don’t think there’s any such thing as sustainable fish, and I think we’re kidding ourselves. From what I’ve read from a number of environmental sources, we have these agencies that certify whether certain companies are sustainable in fish production, and there are environmentalists that are suspect of these certifications, including the Marine Stewardship Council and others. I remember talking to Dr. Richard Oppenlander when he wrote his book Food Choice and Sustainability, and he goes into detail about these fish sustainability labels and how they’re—they can’t be trusted. Of course, when money comes into play, as it always does, these organizations that offer certifications and labeling, they charge a fee. The more companies that want certifications, the more fees they get, so it’s kind of tempting to give more certifications. That is pretty much it for the FoodBytes event. Another thing I wanted to bring up before I go to my next guest is something that—I can’t tell you how excited I am; I’m going to burst. But you may have seen it in yesterday’s New York Times—maybe a couple of days ago in the New York Times, in the business section—called “Trade Group Lobbying for Plant-Based Foods Takes a Seat in Washington.” This is really exciting. Michelle Simon—we had her on the program years ago, and I’m going to have her back at the end of the month to talk exactly about this. She’s a public-health lawyer and food-policy advocate, and she’s founded this new group. It’s starting out with 23 companies, including companies like Tofurky and the new companies that are making protein products from plants. What happens is they are going to now be represented—safety in numbers, strength in numbers—they will be competing against the most powerful lobbies in Washington, and this is a wonderful new beginning. I’m very excited. More on that coming up very soon. Okay, let’s move on, shall we?

Transcribed by Kris McCoy, May 24, 2016

TRANSCRIPTION:

Caryn Hartglass: I’m going to bring on my next guest because she’s here already. I’m excited about that because I really think this is going to be fun. We’re going to lighten up and talk about my favorite subject (food) in terms of eating it and how delicious it can be.

I’ve got Stephanie Bogdanich—she’ll tell me in a minute how I butchered her name (chuckles)—and she’s one of the four authors of The Taco Cleanse: The Tortilla-Based Diet Proven to Change Your Life with over seventy-five vegan recipes. I just read this book and it’s really a lot of fun. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Stephanie.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Hi, thanks for having me.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, hi! How are you? Did you have your taco today? (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: I did. A taco a day keeps the doctor away, and that’s what we always say.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I probably need them because I have a fever today.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Oh yeah! Tacos can help with that!

Caryn Hartglass: Tacos can help! So I’ve read. Awesome.

Stephanie Bogdanich: You can sweat it out. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Okay, so just give me a little history: how did this Taco Cleanse get started?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Well, all the authors are from Austin. We were sitting around, drinking margaritas and talking. Jessica had said she realized she hadn’t eaten anything but tacos all day.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: And we were wonder about how long we could go for. She was like, “Oh, we should try to do it for three days.” I was like, “Three days would be easy! Let’s try and do it for a month.” So we decided to eat nothing but tacos for a whole month, and all four of us did. It was really fun and we loved it. We ended up writing recipes and a little bean for all of our friends. It ended up getting turn into a whole book because everybody wants the Taco Cleanse.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) But does it really cleanse? That’s the question.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Well, it depends on what your definition of cleanse is. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, what is your definition?

Stephanie Bogdanich: We believe, as taco scientists—

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) Yes, you’re taco scientists. Very good. Does that mean you put TS at the end of your name?

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) Sometimes.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: We all have different degrees. I’ve got my doctorate of tacology.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, right. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: Molly is a professor of pseudoscience. So we’ve all got different little things. Jessica’s our T.D. registered taco dietitian.

Caryn Hartglass: Excellent. So define what a cleanse means to you.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. For us, the typical cleanse of having juice—Master Cleanse or something like that—where you starve yourself to fit into a smaller pair of pants is kind of ridiculous. The whole idea of detoxifying your liver—you don’t need to do that; your liver does it fine for you. (chuckles) The whole idea of detoxifying is scientifically unproven; if you want to detoxify because you’ve been poisoned, take you into the hospital. You don’t need to detoxify if you’ve been eating ice cream.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: So we think the idea of cleanse is that it would be a cleanse of your mind, and to get the over the used relationship with food of being this thing that you have to really be tyrannical about. Instead just enjoying it and plant-based food and having fun with it.

Caryn Hartglass: All right, can you define a taco?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: Please do.

Stephanie Bogdanich: A taco, for us, is anything that sits onto an unleavened piece of… grain? Bread? (chuckles) Tortilla or tortilla-like substance. Originally, before we came up with that definition, we had all sorts of things. It got kind of confusing. Like we have a couple of waffle tacos in the book.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: And decided that we could grandfather those in. But, in the end, we couldn’t go with the pancake in the same way because we had to make the rules somewhere.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. All right. Let’s bring up the pancake for a second. We got the taco police here.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) ‘Cause I was looking at all of your wonderful recipes, starving and going nuts reading them, of course. But there is one dessert taco that looks a lot like a pancake.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm. With the crepes taco?

Caryn Hartglass: The Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Taco looks a lot like a pancake. (laughs)

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, I know. It really does. The most important thing is a burrito isn’t a taco. It’s all about the single fold.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Stephanie Bogdanich: And that’s how you know what you’re really getting. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: But you can take a large tortilla and fold it in half. Then that qualifies as a taco.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. Then it’ll be a giant taco.

Caryn Hartglass: A giant taco, which you warn against. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes. We like our tacos to be small and delightful so that you can eat many tacos.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. So I want to talk about my earliest taco memories. It was in the late seventies, I think; I was in high school.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: You probably weren’t even born yet.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: And I got tacos from Jack In The Box.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Oh, gross.

Caryn Hartglass: They were gross!

Stephanie Bogdanich: Was it American cheese sliced? (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Oh my God, it was this grounded up, brown oil plop.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) Uck.

Caryn Hartglass: And the taco itself was so oily it was disgusting. Then I moved to California, and things kind of cleaned up from there. I’m originally from New York; I’m in New York now. And I discovered avocados, guacamole, and tacos, and it was a beautiful thing. Then I moved to France in the early nineties, and they didn’t have tacos there. The only thing they had were those hard disgusting ones in the box like El Paso or something.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm. Right, like the kind we had in elementary school.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. We didn’t have them in elementary school. (chuckles) But I did exactly what you recommend in the book. I ended up making my own tortillas.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Nice!

Caryn Hartglass: I had to!

Stephanie Bogdanich: Did you mix the flour one there? I’m sure you couldn’t find masa.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I made the flour ones. They’re easier too. When you make with wheat flour, it’s a little easier to roll rather than squash.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Well, when you’ve got the presser, it’s super easy to make the corn tortillas. I can make enough for a meal in about five minutes.

Caryn Hartglass: I just actually had another taco memory flash. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) Oh great.

Caryn Hartglass: I think I was living in California, and I think I bought one at one of these artsy-fartsy kind of home stores a tortilla press.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: And I went looking for masa harina and made it and used the press. That was amazing. That was a long time ago. Yes.

Stephanie Bogdanich: It’s fun stamping them out.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s good to make them. Have you ever heard—

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, there’s a huge difference. You know, originally, before we got masa in this country, I read that tortilla used to come in cans.

Caryn Hartglass: Ew, already made.

Stephanie Bogdanich: How weird is that? Have you ever thought of anything more gross than a canned tortilla? (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: At least it wouldn’t be hard and crunchy, probably.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) That’s true.

Caryn Hartglass: Which is pretty gross ‘cause they’re like cardboard.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) Yes, they definitely are.

Caryn Hartglass: All right, something we need to talk about in terms of the taco and the tortilla and the quality ingredients, which are really important. I always like to talk about what’s in your blank. Like what’s in your peanut butter, for example. I rage on this. You should only have peanuts in your peanut butter, not hydrogenated oils, sugar, and all kinds of junk. But looking at the back of most of these corn and wheat tortillas in the stores today?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: The ingredients are scary.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Really? Because I live in Texas so I have access to really good tortillas. And I’m vegan too so I’m always checking recipe titles. I don’t buy tortillas very often, I usually make them or I usually buy (chuckles) already made tacos.

Caryn Hartglass: Mm.

Stephanie Bogdanich: But in the case of corn tortillas, it’s almost always just corn, water, and salt.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, that’s what it should be. We go to Whole Foods and get the organic ones, which are refrigerated because they don’t last long once they’re made. That’s what you want.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: But if you look at the popular brands —Mission and some others— the list of ingredients is like lines long. They have preservatives, they have cellulose, they have all kinds of things. It’s like, “What does this doing in my taco?” Mm. It is quite the—

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm. They’re probably just trying to keep it soft.

Caryn Hartglass: Look out for the ingredients in your tortillas, everybody.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, and at least try to make ‘em once. We have quite a few recipes in the Taco Cleanse book, but you can just Google it too. So many people are convinced since writing the Taco Cleanse to try making your own tortillas. It’s surprisingly easy, way easier than making bread, bagels, pizza or any of those things that are leavened with yeast. You just stamp them out, and they take about a minute on each side to cook.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, they are pretty easy, and I never thought about making plantain tortillas. Those look awesome.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Which ones?

Caryn Hartglass: Plantain.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Oh! Yes! That we put in because we wanted to be able to have every kind of ear to come on a Taco Cleanse. And there are so many people who’re afraid of gluten, soy, corn, or all these things.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Stephanie Bogdanich: So we came up with a recipe made out of just plants, which in this case is plantain and a little bit of starch. It tastes surprisingly more like a tortilla than it does a plantain. It’s not a sweet, yummy plantain like you get at a Cuban place. It definitely tastes more like a regular tortilla.

Caryn Hartglass: Wow, I definitely going to want to try that. I was very excited about plantain tortillas!

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, I love fried plantain tortillas.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: There’s this recipe plantain style pizza, which I’ve got hooked on in Costa Rica. I love that. Hand pressed is the best.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. I just came back from Costa Rica, and I had fried plantains there. But I never had the plantain tortilla.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, I doubt it’ll stay in Costa Rica. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: That will come very soon.

Stephanie Bogdanich: We also really love the Dutch Waffle Tacos. The vegan sausage and the syrup: they’re super yummy.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, so the idea is like you have your Ten Commandments; a burrito is not a taco.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) Ah!

Caryn Hartglass: But if you fold a tortilla in half, it can be considered a taco, even though it might be a little too big.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes. Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: Now, is that because you don’t want to overload it? ‘Cause I bought some—

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes, exactly. That’s one of the big problems that we veterans have. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: I’ve bought some mammoth burritos, and you eat one of those: it’s like a bomb has landed in your belly. It’s so huge and so filling.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Totally. Burritos are something I get when I’m starving, I’m going to watch TV, and I don’t want to move or do anything for the rest of the night. So I’ll get a giant burrito and live with that.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) I have a question: I’m looking at your great recipes for what you call “supplements.”

Stephanie Bogdanich: That’s right, there’s a whole chapter on supplements. ‘Cause when you get diet books, it’s going to have a chapter on supplements. And in our case—

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) The supplements are martinis and tequila drinks.

Stephanie Bogdanich: That’s right. There’s a lot of cleansing properties in tequila.

Caryn Hartglass: So I’m looking at this picture of this Everyday Mexican Martini with the martini in it, and it has black salt on the top. What is that?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Well, it’s black salt. It’s made from Hawaiian lava.

Caryn Hartglass: Wow, that’s beautiful.

Stephanie Bogdanich: There’s actually black salt in Indian things, but that’s actually pink. This black salt is made with lava, and I just did it for the picture. You don’t have to use black salt. But it is really nice and minerally.

Caryn Hartglass: Does it taste different?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, it does!

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, tastes minerally.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Lots of salts are kind of fun to experiment with, and it’s definitely stronger too. I really like smoked salt too, if you ever get your hands on that. It can add a lot of a pot of beans; just add in a teaspoon of smoked salt and you get that nice smokiness that you don’t get in the plant-based diet as much.

Caryn Hartglass: I am. I also love the beergarita where you actually add the—

Stephanie Bogdanich: You know, the beergarita is often fixed. I don’t know if I’ve seen that anywhere else. But they sure are fun.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, this is original. You’ve actually got a bottle of beer poured upside-down into a margarita cup.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, you kind of have to plunge your beer into the margarita. It’s great on a super hot day.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) So it slowly empties out as the liquid in the cup goes away, I guess.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Beautiful. (chuckles) That’s funny. Okay, I love that you’ve got the holidays covered.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) Yeah, you know! Because in any diet, that’s going to be a struggle. But not with the Taco Cleanse! There’s a taco for all occasions, as it were.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Okay, my all-time favorite is the one for Passover. I come from a Jewish background—I’m not religious at all—but I’m into food for all holidays.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: And you have the collard tortilla, which a tortilla made from a collard green.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: And you add these typical foods for Passover: roasted horseradish sauce and toasted matzo kernels.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, you got to have that little bit of crunch with the matzo.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) That’s terrific. What else here… I like your Halloween taco costumes.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. At one of our book signings, we had my dog in a taco costume. We were like, “Feed the Taco Dog.” People were very excited for that. Then at the end of the night, my boyfriend was putting him in the car and taking the costume off. Then someone yelled from across the parking lot, “That’s not a taco dog! That’s just a dog in a taco costume!”

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) Okay, so you’ve got a very good and comprehensive book.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Oh yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: And you cover taco yoga positions. Beautiful.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. One of our friends who has been teaching Iyengar style yoga for almost twenty years, and she did the taco yoga sections for us. Her blog is called Vegan Eats & Treats, and she just made a video of taco yoga too.

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: So if any listeners want to check it out, it’s really funny and she’s giving away copies of books too.

Caryn Hartglass: I actually look forward to doing the crossword at the end of the book. I haven’t done that yet.

Stephanie Bogdanich: You have the crossword all worked out.

Caryn Hartglass: I have to say I found the guacamole pie in the taco pretty quickly. That maze wasn’t too challenging.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, that’s more of a beginner game. (chuckles) That’s wonderful.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. (chuckles) And it’s lovely. You have a lovely certificate of completion at the end of the book, which will make any participant in the Taco Cleanse feel very, very proud.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. We’ve been watching fill them out and put them on the refrigerator on Instagram. That’s been really fun.

Caryn Hartglass: You know, I was just talking to the founder of FoodBytes!—not sure if you’re familiar with it—but they’re a bank that invests in agricultural businesses, and they had an event in Brooklyn last week. There was this one company—I didn’t see them there although they emailed me and said that they would be there—called flatev (f-l-a-t-e-v.com).

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: They make an appliance that kind of looks like a toaster.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: But the opening is on the bottom, and they sell these little pods of tortilla dough; kind of like a Kauri.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: You put the pod in the machine and the tortilla comes out of the bottom.

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles) That’s like something that you would see in SkyMall.

Caryn Hartglass: They have a cute little commercial that makes it like it’s not that easy to make your own tortillas, like you were saying, ‘cause they’re so time consuming.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Oh yeah. I can imagine the, “Oh no! Dough all over the flour!” (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. It’s an interesting unit. I don’t know where it’s going to go. You know it’s out there. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: flatev.com. Anybody want to check it out. Then the other thing is the ingredients when I was at this event last week, there was a company called Masienda and they’re promoting heirloom varieties of corn from Mexico.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Oh yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: Because unfortunately a lot of our corn is getting contaminated ‘cause we grow so much genetically modified corn today.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, since corn air pollinates, you can’t really isolate it. There are some beautiful kinds of corn in Mexico that make such colorful tortillas. It’s like every color of the rainbow.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, now tell me: have you had some celebrities take up the Taco Cleanse? I think you did; I know I read about them.

Stephanie Bogdanich: In a January interview, Jennifer Aniston said that she was buying the book. When that happened we got an explosion of people saying, “Oh my God! Jennifer Aniston loves the Taco Cleanse!” That was a lot of fun because—

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Did that help sales?

Stephanie Bogdanich: It just went everywhere. We were on E! True Hollywood Story or E! Entertainment.

Caryn Hartglass: Did you ever talk to Jennifer?

Stephanie Bogdanich: No, but we sent her a signed copy.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh good. ‘Cause I thought she wasn’t a very vegan friendly person.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes. I don’t think that she even knew it was vegan. I think that she just saw Taco Cleanse and was all, “Oh, that sounds nice.”

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: Then next thing you know, on E! Entertainment News there’s “The Taco Cleanse: How Jennifer Aniston Got Her Red Carpet Body.” We’re like, “No.”

Caryn Hartglass: No. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: That’s totally not how she got her red carpet body. That’s a combination of genetics and probably a lot of personal trainers. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Okay now. A lot of your recipes recommend that you can sometimes use premade ingredients.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes. We want Taco Cleansing to be really easy. You can go the homemade route, but we want it to be approachable to people who are trying vegan foods too. So we always recommend the best vegan products out there.

For example, we have Infinite Fish Taco, which involves breading your own tofu which takes three different bowls, tastes really good, and is a lovely recipe. But if you don’t want to do all that and mess up your kitchen, you can buy the Gardein Fish Fillets, which are really delicious. You pop them in the oven and they’re done.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. So the Taco Cleanse book is out. What are your plans after this?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Well, we’re talking about making all gluten book next.

Caryn Hartglass: All gluten?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Aw. (chuckles) So that’s like a lot of seitan?

Stephanie Bogdanich: And pasta, cupcakes, and all the foods that—

Caryn Hartglass: And for those of those who can’t eat gluten, they know to stay away from it and not even open it. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: Exactly. Don’t even look at the book. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Aw, that’s sad. I don’t have a gluten intolerance, although I think wheat sometimes gives me a headache. That doesn’t keep me from eating it; I just don’t eat as much as I used to. But wheat has certainly gotten a bad rap, and people need to know that if you don’t have celiac disease, you don’t have intolerance. As long as you’re eating whole minimally processed forms of wheat, you should be fine.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. It’s definitely a big, popular diet here at the vegan restaurants. People order the seitan on their gluten-free bread. And the seitan is a form of gluten.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that’s funny.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: Do they even know what they’re doing? That’s funny. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: That’s the question. (laughs)

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s talk about that for a minute. I don’t want to judge here, but I’m just maybe judging. I’m observing!

Stephanie Bogdanich: (laughs)

Caryn Hartglass: There are people out there who like to give themselves labels.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: They like to call themselves vegan, they like to call themselves vegetarian, or they say that they eat gluten-free. Then they see something they like which isn’t vegan and they say they’re vegan. Then they’re like, “Okay, I’m not, I’m not!” Or somebody orders, like you said, the seitan on the gluten-free bread. I mean, what’s that about?

Stephanie Bogdanich: I don’t know. (chuckles) We have a part in the book called “Is the Taco Cleanse right for you?” One of the questions is: do you experience recurring feelings of hunger on a daily basis? Everyone’s favorite one is: do you enjoy attention from peers based on dietary restrictions?

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) Ah, yes. That’s definitely a trend.

Stephanie Bogdanich: It’s definitely a trend ‘cause I don’t know what’s that about. For us, one of the reasons we got so into the idea of the Taco Cleanse is that we were just so tired of the nutrition people taking over vegan food.

Because for us, we’re not in it because we want to lose weight or anything like that. We’re in it because we love animals and we love the world, and we don’t want to see anymore environmental destruction for meat and cows. Chopping down trees in the amazon so that cows can graze is not what we’re at. That’s where we stand.

A lot of times people think we’re vegan just because we want to have dietary restrictions for fun. So I think a lot of it comes from that.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m really glad you brought that up. That’s a really important point for us not to forget. Those of us who are vegan why we’re vegan. For me, it always about animals, and the health and the environment were just amazing bonuses.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes, bonuses.

Caryn Hartglass: Amazing bonuses.

Stephanie Bogdanich: And I think that the health brings a lot of people to veganism, which is great because it is a very healthy way to live. But I think at the forefront it’s about cruelty to animals. That’s why we avoid all the animal products in our clothes, our makeup, and everything else.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but it makes it a little harder—getting back to what we were just talking about labels—when people say that they are something that they aren’t. It makes it harder for those of us that are.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. Isn’t that the truth? I don’t know how many times that I ordered something—

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! Because people think, “Oh! It just has a little in it,” you know.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Uh-huh. (chuckles) “You can eat around that, right?”

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) Yeah, so please: if you’re not pregnant, don’t say you’re pregnant. If you’re not vegan, don’t say you’re vegan. Say you eat a plant-based diet and occasionally maybe something else.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah! People love saying that they’re vegan when they’re not. I don’t get it because being vegan, people give me a lot of shit. So I wonder why. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Exactly. Why do you want to have that shit?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah! Exactly. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, you have to believe in something very strong. Again, I’m bringing up the guy I was just talking to. I don’t like to have sensational kinds of programs and argue with people.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s not who I am. But I made it clear that their company, which supports “sustainable businesses”, some of them really aren’t sustainable.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Mm.

Caryn Hartglass: But they see them as sustainable, and I think they see them as profit centers. Sustainable fish, sustainable palm oil, sustainable beef: they’re oxymorons.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. I don’t know how you can have sustainable beef and oil with this many people eating beef.

Caryn Hartglass: Exactly, just do the math. You can’t do it. There’s not enough landmass, period.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, okay. And he actually said this—my guest, Manuel Gonzalez—that these plant-based alternatives, these plant-based businesses at some point should take over. I hope to see that sooner than later.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, I see that as the future too. Like you were talking about Jack in the Box: people are so attached to their meat and they’re like, “Oh, I can’t go vegan ‘cause I love meat,” or whatever. And I’m like, “But you’ll eat at Jack in the Box!”

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: Is that really so good? Would you know any difference if you were eating meat or if you were some soy crumble in your nasty Jack in the Box tortilla? You don’t. No way! (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Exactly. You don’t know what that stuff is at the bottom of your oily tortilla; you just don’t know. But you mentioned soy products—

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah, wouldn’t you rather have it made out of soy rather than outta some weird animal parts?

Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. Can you talk about Soy Curls? You mentioned them a few times in the book.

Stephanie Bogdanich: About who?

Caryn Hartglass: Soy Curls.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Oh, Soy Curls! Sure. They’re absolutely a minimally processed food. They’re just straight up soybeans that are soaked, blended, dehydrated, and then stripped. They’re made by Seventh Day Adventists who are often vegetarian and I think they’re from Oregon.

You can’t find them everywhere because they’re a pretty small company, but they’re totally worth ordering a box. One of our co-authors has a vegan store called Rabbit Food Grocery, and you can get them there. But they are just the most delightful vegan ingredients because they’re super high in protein, they have this wonderful texture, they’re really easy to make; you just soak them. I usually soak them in vegetable broth and then fry them in a pan with whatever ingredients.

You’ve got plenty of recipes in the book that use Soy Curls. You can use seitan instead, but Soy Curls are so easy and we all really like them. They’re super popular amongst vegans these days.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad you brought them up because I haven’t had them in ages, and I’ve just kind of forgot about them. Now I have to look for them again, Soy Curls.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes. I wonder if you can find them up there. I know that there’s that vegan store.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I’m sure. Now, before we go, I just wanted to mention I appreciate you adding at the end of your book some resources. You mentioned Vegan Tacos: Authentic and Inspired Recipes for Mexico’s Favorite Street Food by Jason Wyrick. I spoke to Jason when his book came out, and I just want to say that book is very different from your book. They’re both wonderful.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes, very different. But I love his book too, yeah. It’s great.

Caryn Hartglass: He’s an amazing chef. He really knows what he’s talking about.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Really authentic recipes.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, he goes into great detail and I just went crazy over that cookbook because it was just amazing.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yeah. We love that one and Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero too.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, she lives here in my neighborhood in Queens. (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: She’s very good. Yeah, she gets to hang out with him in the book too. But Viva Vegan! is my favorite one.

Caryn Hartglass: Which is?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Viva Vegan!

Caryn Hartglass: Oh yeah, there’s a lot of recipes.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Sure is a Latin cookbook. Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: A lot of them. Well, Stephanie, this has really been delightful. Now I got to figure out how to get a taco really and get over with my fever.

Stephanie Bogdanich: I know. That’s the problem. Several people have written and they’re like, “I’m having trouble getting off the Taco Cleanse.” And I’m like, “Yeah.”

Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)

Stephanie Bogdanich: It kind of becomes a way of life. That’s why I could never leave Austin ‘cause how could I not have breakfast tacos every day? I mean, what do other people eat?

Caryn Hartglass: It’s not dangerous. You could stay on a Taco Cleanse for life, can’t you?

Stephanie Bogdanich: Yes, definitely. Hopefully. (chuckles)

Caryn Hartglass: Well there, that’s wonderful. (laughs) Thank you, Stephanie.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Thanks so much for having me, and have a wonderful day.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, you too. Be well.

Stephanie Bogdanich: Bye-bye.

Caryn Hartglass: Whew, okay, we have a minute left or so. That was totally fun, wasn’t it? Taco Cleanse. It’s just a really fun book; it’s fun to read. Probably would make a great gift because it’s very fun, and the recipes are really, really good. I really like it. Can I say really, really, really, really enough?

Meanwhile, back to Responsible Eating and Living, where I live. I hope you’ve been checking out our most recent recipes. My daily blog is now on day… day 390? 391, for goodness sake’s. The thing about prepared food: sometimes they really come in handy. Right now, we have this addiction for Sky Valley Organics Sriracha Sauce, which yesterday we put on some tofu and green beans. Gave it a real authentic Thai flavor. Sometimes that’s all you need: a great prepared sauce that has quality ingredients. So check that out if you like hot and spicy!

All right, thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. I’m going to go and have some tea and take care of myself. And you should have a delicious week.

Transcribed by HT, 8/19/2016

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