Caryn Hartglass, Patience, Digestive Issues


Caryn Hartglass, Patience and Digestive Issues
In this episode Caryn talks about the importance of having patience when working to improve one’s diet, especially when dealing with digestive issues. She also reviews the recent Women Chefs Rule: The Vegan Edition at the James Beard House in NYC.


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

I’ve covered a number of different topics recently. I’ve talked about having courage and kindness, and most recently, I talked about truth. Especially truth with respect to your own life—living your own truth. And it all ties in with food.

Today, I want to talk about patience. Because patience is so important when we want to make change, change in our own lives and change in the world. Things take time. And I think that things will be more long lasting—the things we want to achieve, the things that we want to accomplish—if we take time in preparing, organizing, and planning to get things done.

As you may know, my dad died recently on November 22nd of last year. One of the things that we loved about him was he had many favorite expressions. And the week when he was in the hospital before he passed, he added one more expression to his long list and that was no rushing. Now, he used it because he was very weak and tired, and we were trying to get him to eat and especially hydrated. Often I would bring the cup up to his lips and he would say, “No rushing.” He needed to move slowly and in his own time.

And I’ve taken that expression (“No rushing”) and I’m using it all the time. Because it’s important to be mindful in every moment and think about what it is that you want and what you want to achieve and know that, in the grand scheme of things, there really is no time. There is no time. You have all the time you need to do the things you want to do. It just takes patience. No rushing. Let’s not rush through this hour today, okay? No rushing, and talk about patience.

I’m going to tie this all in with food, I promise you.

You may also know that I’m a singer. I’ve sung around the world in opera musical theater. When I sing, from time to time, people will come up to me. They’ll thank me and they’ll give me compliments, which is always very lovely. Sometimes they will tell me that I have talent. I want to respond to that thought and say that it’s not talent, it’s work.

It’s still work. I’m still singing, I’m still practicing, and it takes a lot of patience. It takes time, practice, persistence, patience.

When I was younger, I decided I wanted to win a vocal competition and I worked hard at it. I did many different competitions and I lost a lot. But I also won two international competitions, one in Clermont-Ferrand, France and in South Africa. It’s practice, and practice requires patience.

I also remember when I learned yoga from doing video programs. I had three or four tapes that I watched over and over. They were a part of the Yoga Journal series with Rodney Yee and Patricia Walden. I remember something Patricia Walden said in one of the tapes—and I’m sure many yoga instructors and many people have said this over time. She said it’s the consistency of practice that matters. If you only have ten minutes a day to stretch and do some exercise, use ten minutes a day. It will matter; it will be helpful; it’s healthier; it will make a difference.

I always think that I want to exercise for two hours a day. That’s my dream, to have two free hours to workout, to take my time, not to rush, and do the things that I enjoy doing. Maybe some things I don’t enjoy doing, but get it all in. And I just don’t have two hours a day to exercise. I try and incorporate movement in so many things that I do so that I get in the exercise. If I don’t have two hours a day and I find I only have twenty or thirty minutes, then I do twenty or thirty minutes. Again, it’s the consistency of practice that matters.

That requires patience.

And this is not what our culture teaches. We live in a fast-paced world where everyone wants instant convenience. Things that you can grab and go, move on, and do more.

I want to encourage you to take control of your life within the parameters of our culture. To be more mindful. Realize what it is you’re doing, where you’re going, why you’re doing it. And breathe. (inhales) Breathe in and out. Consciously, mindfully. And don’t rush.

Now let’s get on to how this connects with food. I think I notice when I talk to people about food, there have been two big issues that people have. Many people want to lose weight, whether it’s a hundred pounds or that little last ten or five pounds—to get to that ideal weight. People struggle with weight.

The other thing people struggle with is digestive issues, and there’s a big range of what that means. We’re learning more and more about digestive issues and how important digestion is, how important the microbiome is in our stomach, in our intestines, and it plays a significant role in our wellbeing.

Weight and digestion. Many times when people try a new diet, a new kind of eating in order to lose weight, either they have new digestive problems or they find that the digestive problems they had before are now exasperated. Intensified.

I want to talk about digestive issues—the myths and the truth. And how it requires courage, kindness, and patience to heal and deal with this issue.

Let’s talk about food combining. The first thing I want to tell you about food combining is it is a myth. It’s a myth. Maybe some of you are saying, “No, no, no, no. I know. I have some issues, and there are certain foods that I can eat with other foods and it works for me.” I’m going to tell you if something works for you, great. You keep doing it.

But I’m going to tell you what the science tells us. #1: Whenever we take on some new kind of diet—or we decide to try the food combining guidelines or when people read the book, Eat For Your Blood Type, and wanted to follow some of the guidelines in that book—I wanted to tell you before I say anymore: Eat For Your Blood Type? The premises that are put forth in that book are not supported by science. I am not promoting that book, that’s my disclaimer.

When people read these guidelines and believe that they’re going to bring some sort of wellness and improve some of the inflammation or the discomfort that they’re experiencing, there is a placebo effect, and the placebo effect is powerful. If you believe something, often times, it’ll come true. The amazing impact of the sugar pill. The placebo effect. Some people will believe that if they eliminate certain foods or if they combine certain foods, they get relief.

The other thing is that when you’re undertaking a mindful, ritualized approach at mealtime, when you’re thinking about what you’re eating and you have some guidelines about what to eat and what not to eat, often times you get a benefit from that because you’re paying attention to what you’re eating rather than just grabbing, eating, and going. Many of these diets will give you benefits. The Eat Right For Your Blood Type diet, for example—which, again, I am not promoting, there’s no science behind it (chuckles)—, it does recommend a number of beneficial things like eliminating refined foods, white sugar, white flour foods.

Anybody that moves from a diet of highly processed foods to more whole foods is going to find relief. Great.

Now, the food combining theory said a number of things. Again, I’m going to keep saying I do not promote food combining, it is a myth. Food combining tells you to eat fruit alone, to pair protein with non-starchy vegetables, and to pair starches with healthy fats and vegetables. Leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables go with everything. Water should be drunk separately from meals. They also promote eating minimalist meals, or mono-meals, where you’re just eating one food at a time. Those are the guidelines. Again, it’s a myth.

I’m not going to go into the digestive process right now, but you can read about it online. It’s complicated. We’re learning new things about it all the time. What I do want to say is the body is powerful, and there are lots of incredibly strong digestive fluids that are used to digest our foods. The body has no problem digesting different things at the same time.

Take the legume, for example—or any plant food for that matter. All plant foods have carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The bean has protein, carbohydrate, and fat. It’s a very healthy food. If we’re supposed to not pair protein with… oh, I don’t know; I can’t even follow these guidelines. If we’re supposed to not pair protein with a starchy vegetable, then a lot of vegetables couldn’t be digested. It’s nonsense. Food combining is a myth.

But there are many people who have digestive problems. If they follow the food combining guideline, some people may actually find some relief. And why is that? Well, maybe because they’re being more mindful. Maybe they’ve discovered certain foods that they shouldn’t eat. Or maybe because they’re not combining certain foods with foods, that they’re eliminating certain foods. I don’t know, all I know is that there’s no science behind it.

The other thing I want to say is that everyone is absolutely individual, which makes it very difficult when you go to the doctor’s office and say that you have a certain kind of problem. Because the doctor is not you. The doctor does not have your microbiome nor is the doctor able to examine you based on the wide gut floor that you have, which is unique to you.

If you do have digestive issues, there really is only one thing you can do. You can work with a functional doctor who’s familiar with working with people who have digestive issues who may be helpful in guiding you along. But again, it’s really up to you.

I found what I believe is the best thing to do in this case: an elimination diet. This is where patience comes in, and this is why I began the show talking about patience.

The elimination diet is when you eliminate the foods that are commonly known to cause a problem, that are allergenic, and then add to that list other foods that you know you have a problem with. What you do for three to four weeks is that you don’t eat any of those foods. Then slowly, patiently, you add back one at a time over a two to three day period each one of these foods and see how you respond. Hopefully, after doing three to four weeks of doing this elimination diet, your symptoms become minimal or going away. When you add back the foods, if the symptoms return, aha! You know that food is a problem. And you don’t eat it.

Kind of simple, but it requires patience. And only you can make this determination. But no pain no gain, right? And it’s not an expensive, costly process. It just takes time and patience.

I’ve mentioned this a number of times before, but digestion starts in the mouth. Since it starts in the mouth, we want to chew, chew mindfully, chew slowly, chew carefully, and chew long enough to fully masticate—to fully grind up the food that you’re eating to a liquid with the digestive juices in your mouth before sending it on its way. Through the throat, the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine—which is about twenty feet long—, then the colon—which is another five to six feet long—, then finally some of it comes out through the rectum and the anus. That’s the path it takes for food to be digested. You know this, we all know this.

And yet the food combining people will tell us that certain foods take twenty minutes or forty-five minutes to digest. I’m going to tell you that that is ridiculous. It takes about 24 to 72 hours for food to get through all of that stuff, from the beginning to the end.

Whether you believe in food combining or not, I hope that you’re courageous, kind, and patient with yourself in solving your own issues regarding wellbeing.

Just to review: With the elimination diet, the most allergenic foods are dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, soy, and wheat. Then there are many other foods that may be problematic for you.

For example, there are foods that are called FODMAP. Have you heard of FODMAP? I recommend going to my non-profit website and searching on Jo Stepaniak (that’s “S-t-e-p-a-n-i-a-k”). She’s a long time vegan, she’s written numerous cookbooks, she’s a lovely person. She struggles with the autoimmune condition, IBS. She put out a book called Low-Fodmap and Vegan.

FODMAP is a list of short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. FODMAP is an acronym because we don’t want to remember all of the things that it stands for. It stands for “Fermentable Oligo, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”. FODMAP is easier to remember.

Many of us have no problem eating foods that are considered high FODMAPs, but some people do. If you do have digestive issues, it would be good to go online, search for a list of foods that are high in FODMAPs (f-o-d-m-a-p). If you’re doing an elimination diet, you might want to eliminate these foods as well. It’s a big list, but the plant kingdom is vast and there are many low FODMAP plant foods that you can consume.

If you want to, you can listen to my interview with Jo Stepaniak and you might even want to get her book, Low-Fodmap and Vegan, with lots of delicious recipes.

There are many foods out there that can be problematic to individual people. There is hope, and many people have found ways to deal with issue and heal. I like to say “deal and heal”, It requires patience. Which is what we’re talking about today.

If you do have digestive issues, the first thing is the elimination diet. Find out what foods you cannot eat or give you significant problems. Once you’ve gotten to a level of peace with digestion and you find foods that you can consume that don’t give you much problem, then you might want to try adding back certain foods. This can be very complicated if you have severe inflammation, and it’s probably good to work with a medical expert who has a lot of experience with this. Many times probiotics are recommended.

The thing is that you do want to consume the foods that are health promoting and boost immune systems. This is where there is a catch-22 because when your gut is significantly inflamed—when you have a leaky gut, for example, and you have intestinal permeability and stuff is getting into your bloodstream undigested and wreaking havoc—this isn’t good and you need to heal that gut lining. We recommend eating plant foods that are loaded with fiber, but fiber can really irritate the gut lining when you are very inflamed and you have particular problems.

What’s recommended in this case is consuming cooked vegetables that are puréed. When you eat them, you chew them a lot first. In addition to cooked puréed food, you can have raw juices: juices where the fiber has been extracted.

Many of you know the difference between juice extracting and blending, but I just want to repeat here if you have a NutriBullet, Blentech, or a Vitamix. These are great tools, I use them all the time. They blend and they mix all of the things in the whole food together, including the fiber. They do break open the cell wall and make foods easier to digest, but they do not remove the fiber. Juicing does that.

Depending on the juicer you have, some juicers extract juice and seperate the fiber more efficiently than others. I use a bubble juice plus elite—something like that. I’ve had it for about eleven years, I’ve only replaced the filter mesh strainer, whatever you call it. It’s lasted me and works very well. What I like to do is when I push the vegetables through and the remaining fiber and pulp is collected in the container, I recycle that. I put that back in the juicer several more times to get more juice out of it. Because this particular juicer isn’t as efficient as some others that really separate the juice from the fiber very well.

For those sensitive to the fiber: when you juice, you will still get the powerful nutrients from the leafy green vegetables, the minerals from the celery, the flavonoids from the lemon skin, and whatever else you put in your juice. And that can help heal. That can help heal so that ultimately you can incorporate more fiber foods which will ultimately restore the health to your gut.

Many, many people talk about the problem eating beans. Especially when moving from a standard American diet, a SAD diet, to a plant-based diet. Many people—many courageous and kind people—are wanting to eliminate animal products from their diets. Many people are learning every day how horribly cruel, environmentally polluting, and inefficient our food system is. How horrific animal agriculture is. Many of these wonderful people want to make a difference in their own lives, and they decide to reduce or eliminate the animal products and move to a more whole foods plant-based diet. Hooray, I applaud you and I want to help you.

Then some of you may be consuming these beans and noticing, “Oh my god, I’m gassing and I’m bloating. (chuckles) Just doesn’t feel good and it’s embarrassing.” I know. What you need to do, as my dad said, is no rushing. Go slowly. Take your time. Be patient.

When you’re trying a new food and you find it gives you some sort of indigestion or discomfort, don’t eat that much of it.

Beans, for example, here’s what I recommend. You buy a can of beans. You rinse them. Divide it up into maybe five different containers and you put four of them in the freezer. One container you put in the refrigerator. I’m doing the math in my head here. There’s about a cup and a half of beans in a can. You’re going to have a quarter to a third cup—four or five tablespoons of beans in each container. Each day, you consume a tablespoon. See how you do with a tablespoon. If a tablespoon gives you discomfort, then have two or three beans. See how many you can eat without having any discomfort. Then do that every day. After a week or two, double it and see how you feel.

What’s happening is your gut is creating the bacteria necessary to digest that food comfortably. But it takes time, it takes patience. Are you getting my drift? You have to do it slowly.

You might try this suggestion where you get the can of beans, you separate it, put some in small containers in the freezer, you take one out at a time in the refrigerator, you consume it—slowly, mindfully—and see how you do. That might be necessary for different types of beans. You know there are over 45,000 kinds of kinds of legumes on the planet. But after a while, you should be able to consume most beans without a problem.

And there are many, many different things that you can do to make beans more comfortable. I recommend using canned beans to start with because they tend to be very well cooked. That can be helpful when you have an issue with bloating and gas consuming legumes.

What really is ideal is to start with dry beans. Organic is best, of course. You can rinse them, remove them of any little debris or stones, and soak them. I would recommend soaking them for at least two days. Every twelve hours or so, you change the water. Pour out the water, rinse the beans, add fresh water, and let them soak. You can let them soak on the counter, you can let them soak in the refrigerator—whatever is comfortable for you. Keep them covered. Finally, you’ll pour out the water, rinse them, and then you can cook them in lots of water. Try that. The longer you cook them, the better. Especially if you have issues with digestion.

Lots of people have different tricks where they add kombu, which is a kelp sea vegetable. Some people add baking soda. There are a variety of different things that people swear by that they help with bloating and gas. I can’t say that I’ve had personal experience with any of those things, but you’re welcome to try them.

While we’re on the subject of digestive issues, I must talk about wheat. Wheat has gotten a lot of bad press. Whatever happened to the image of the land of milk and honey and bread, and all of those historical romantic images we have with bread, butter, and gatherings? Bread has been like the staple of life for so long.

Now there are lots of discussions about the history of wheat, how we’re growing wheat, how wheat has been hybridized in so many ways that it’s nothing like it was originally, and how it’s affecting our digestion. There’s also a very serious issue about the glyphosate in the herbicides that are used with wheat especially. When wheat is harvested, many times this glyphosate product is used to desiccate the wheat and help with harvesting. There are more and more studies showing how devastating this is on health and how cancer causing, although lobbyists and governments don’t want to admit to this for many, many reasons. The biggest reason, of course, is profit.

But all of that aside, wheat has been a big problem in the last few decades, especially with celiac disease (where people absolutely cannot consume gluten of any kind). Gluten is found not only in wheat but barley and rye. For people with celiac disease, wheat cannot be consumed. Other people are finding that they have an intolerance to wheat. Or maybe an allergy to wheat. I’ve noticed that I have problems with wheat.

When you do something like an elimination diet, at least with wheat, I recommend to try first if it is related to eating refined wheat versus eating a whole grain product that is a wheat product or contains gluten. What do I mean by this?

Well, I’ve discovered—and I have been very patient with my food intake and analyzing what makes me feel good and what doesn’t. But it’s taken a long time, I’ve been very patient about this. And I have discovered that I can eat a whole grain barley, rye, wheat in the form of farro (wheat berries, for example) when they’re cooked like grain and rice. But I have problems with refined wheat, white gluten that has been milled with all of the whole vitamins removed. Highly processed with few vitamins or fiber. The kind that’s found in pastas, cakes, cookies, etc. I have a problem with that. I know I don’t have a problem with gluten, especially in whole foods.

If you think you have a wheat intolerance, I do suggest not consuming any refined wheat. Then see how you respond to a barley or a farro or a wheat berry. ‘Cause you may find that you can eat those foods, and those foods are very health promoting if you don’t have a digestive problem with them. They have been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, help with controlling weight—these are healthy foods for many people and have served many people for centuries. For a long, long time.

There’re the paleo people that do not want to consume grains and legumes, saying that people in the paleolithic era did not eat these foods. Even though the people in the paleolithic era didn’t live very long so it’s not necessarily (chuckles) the best time period to compare to or want to emulate. But there has been evidence that these people did consume grains and beans. But they were beans and grains in the whole food or in the minimally processed form. Those might be more easily digestible for many people.

I hope this has been helpful for you. If you have any questions or need more information on anything that I’ve spoken about during this first part of the program, please don’t hesitate to send me an email at I’d be happy to find the answers for you if I’m able or send you links that may be helpful to you.

There are many, many reasons—not just for health—why I encourage people to consume plant foods and not animal foods, as I briefly mentioned before. The raising of non-human animals for food has become a nightmare, has become like out of a horrible sci-fi movie. What we do to non-human animals today to raise them for food for humans is… there are no words, actually. It’s horrifically cruel. It’s devastating to the environment. And we’re discovering more and more that these foods that are made from these innocent and exploited animals is not healthy.

I’m just reading today that our current administration here in the United States officially withdrew an Obama era rule that would have set higher standards for the treatment of animals whose meat could be sold as organic. This rule created under the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) was going to require that chickens be housed in spaces large enough to move freely and stretch their wings.

You may know that these birds have been confined either in cages or in factories where there are so many of them on the floor that they just cannot move. They cannot spread their wings. They live in excrement and filth. This is either for the animals raised for meat and the egg-laying hens. Livestock would have been required to have some access to outdoor space year round.

Many people feel that when they buy organic meats, there’s this underlying assumption that the animals raised in this manner to get the organic certification were treated well.

I have to put aside the fact that any animal that is slaughtered for meat can be considered treated well. I don’t think killing animals for food is treating the particular animal in question nicely. If you ask them, I don’t think that they would want to give up their lives for your meal.

Putting slaughter aside, let’s just talk about how they are raised until their life is cut short. Many people believe that those that are considered organic are treated well. In some cases, they are treated better. But there are no regulations that will require improved treatment over the poor, unfortunate non-human animals that are raised for meat in what’s considered “conventional” animal agriculture that doesn’t get the organic label. Those that get the organic label are supposed to be fed better and are treated in certain ways. But it’s not regulated enough in terms of the space that they’re raised in.

This rule would have set higher standards. We need much higher standards for these poor, unfortunate animals that are raised for food across the board.

If I was in charge, of course, (chuckles) I would make everyone vegan. But I’m not, and you may be happy about that.

What can we do when the government is not listening to the people? Because most people you talk to who do consume animals want those animals to be treated well—up until the end where they’re slaughtered. And even then, they would like the slaughter to be painless. Most of us agree, and yet the government is not listening. They’re not listening to—I think it was some 45,000 responses and there were only very few that were supporting withdrawing this new rule. The people that are behind it are people that control the money, apparently control our government. And to some degree control us.

This is where I want to remind you about being courageous, kind, and patient, and living your truth.

If you do not like the way animals are treated in order to get meat on your plate, there’s one simple solution. And I’m going to quote one of my dad’s expressions here, it’s one of my favorites. It may actually be my favorite. “If you can’t solve the problem, eliminate the problem.” Stop eating the meat. If more people do that, we will see dramatic, positive changes.

Whatever you can do, stop eating animals.

They are treated horrifically. Our government does not support the overwhelming wish of the people to do better and to treat these animals better. There is only one solution: get these innocent beings off your plate.

Okay, and this last part of the program I want to talk about delicious food. Because that’s the very, very best part about eating a whole foods plant-based diet. The plant kingdom is vast. Herbs, spices, and so many different fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains. It’s just endless, and it’s just amazingly tasty.

We recently heard that the James Beard Foundation was hosting an event, Women Chefs Rule: The Vegan Edition presented by women chefs and restaurateurs. It just took place on Thursday. We mentioned it, I think, a few shows ago that we were going and we went. And it was fantastic. I have to say it was way out of my budget, but we decided to splurge and go, and kind of get the pulse on things.

The James Beard House promotes new chefs around the country and the world. James Beard was a famous chef. When he died, this non-profit organization bought his home and now has events there. As I would love to go to all of their events (#1. I can’t afford it and #2. they aren’t vegan), I think as of last year they’ve now had two vegan events. I missed the one last year and I went to the one this week. My partner Gary and I went. We were very excited.

To start with, I had just bought Gary a new winter coat. I got the coat on sale from a company called Vaute Couture, a vegan fashion company. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment.

I wanted to say… While we’re living our truth, which I think I covered last week, there are so many ways that we can do that. As we dig deeper, we find as consumers we may very often innocently buy products that support things that we don’t believe in. You have to be mindful about every little thing—and we can’t always do that. We do the best we can.

I start first with food. I’ve chosen to buy organic food, preferably as local as possible but not always. Certainly always vegan. This is my truth. I’m not saying it’s yours. I encourage you to live your truth and determine what that means to you.

For me, my next concern was with clothing. Now I don’t buy a lot of clothing, not perhaps as much as I used to and not as much as our culture wants us to do. Because many stores offer very inexpensive clothing and I was raised to always look for a deal. Get the best price for things and really marvel when you got something that you liked that didn’t cost very much. You have to dig deep. You have to figure out that even though it may not have cost you very much, what was involved to get that into your closet. Unfortunately, very often, there are many people involved that were exploited and treated poorly, paid poorly, in factories all around the world. Some of them even here in the United States that we may not even know about that are doing things illegally.

At some point, I said: “Self (chuckles), we have to change this.” If we’re going to buy clothing, we want to (as much as possible) support companies who do things that we believe in. The difficulty is—I get it, everybody—it’s expensive. It’s expensive.

Our society has offered us clothing at very, very low prices so that we can continue to buy and buy a lot. But at a big cost—a cost to the treatment of people that are sewing these clothes. Very often, these factories are polluting. The creation of the synthetic fabrics that they use are very polluting and use up natural resources (petroleum based products). This is not good, not good on so many levels.

I decided to support Vaute Couture. And they had a flash sale so I did get a deal. (chuckles) But it was still way, way out of my budget.

Anyway, I bought Gary a beautiful coat. It arrived a couple days before this event, and I couldn’t wait for him to wear it out. He did. Then we got to the James Beard House and we co-checked our coats and we sat down at our table, ultimately.

And guess who was sitting at our table? The founder of Vaute Couture. Yeah! It was crazy. Her name is Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, and she’s a lovely woman. She actually donated a pencil skirt a few years ago to my non-profit, Responsible Eating and Living, when we were having the Happy B’Earthday Revue, The Swingin’ Gourmets. It was really a beautiful gift to auction off, and I’m very grateful for that. It was amazing that she was seated at our table. I was just going crazy telling her how much I loved the coat.

Also seated at our table was Liz Dee. Have you heard of Liz Dee.? Her grandfather actually started the Smarties candy company. Do you know Smarties candy, the Smarties candy roll? She is now co-president of Smarties candy company. She’s also the co-founder and CEO of Baleine & Bjorn Capital, and the founder of Vegan Ladyboss. She’s an awesome entrepreneur and business person, and was sitting right at our table.

There were many wonderful people at our table and at this event. It was really fun to mingle with them. In fact, they did something that I recommend if you’re ever going to organize an event or a party.

There were different rooms in this house for people to sit at. We were in one room that had no tables set, and they just squeezed all the attendees in this one room as the servers carefully walked around them and served us appetizers. We could have wine and champagne. We were packed pretty tight. You couldn’t help but talk to people who were right there next to you, because we were all there for the same reason so it was an easy opener. “What brought you here?” We were all having a fun time eating the appetizers, and the wine flowed a little too freely. I’ll talk a little bit about that in a moment too.

Then we sat down for dinner. They set up the table in the room that we had been standing in. Once everyone had cleared out and sat at their tables, we sat down at our table. I was surprised to find that many of the people at this event were not vegan. We were lucky to have Leanna and Liz at our table, these amazing vegan entrepreneurs. Most people at the event were not vegan.

We met one couple, a woman who is the founder and CEO of a biotech company called Terra. Her husband is a professor in bioengineering at Columbia. They are curious, curious about plant-based eating, and they came to this event. Another couple on the other side of us, they specified that they were plant-based eaters. They would probably be vegan but they were both involved in the food industry. The woman was a pastry chef and the man worked in hospitality at an upscale hotel. I guess they find that they have to make food for all of their clients. At home, they make plant-based. They were really enjoying the food. We were having some really lovely conversations about food, my favorite subject. It was really fun.

I haven’t been to very many of these events, but the few that I have been to we typically eat before. Because we know that food isn’t either going to be very good or there won’t be very much and we’re going to be hungry. That did not happen at this event. There was an amazing amount of food and some of it—no, no, all of it—was really quite fine. I just want to highlight some of my favorites.

My favorite appetizer was a toasted quinoa cake with whipped fava bean hummus, dill oil, and onion flowers. Yum. We actually had four different entrees served one at a time, and each dish was served with a different wine. There was a lot of wine flowing. I’m going to say which one was my favorite, but now that I’m reading all of the choices, I was like, “Oh no, I like that, and I like that.”

One of the dishes had a hedgehog mushroom. Have you ever tried a hedgehog mushroom? I haven’t or I don’t remember ever having it. It has a very unique texture, and it was served in a Vietnamese yellow curry and had some lovely flavors with it. It has these tooth-like projections rather than gills under the cap surface. That’s what I think gave it its interesting chewy texture. I want to say it was kinda spongy but not in a negative way. (chuckles) You’ll have to try it to know what I’m talking about.

We also had a lovely pan-seared creole tempeh with toasted quinoa, collard salad, and turnip purée. It was piled high. It was the turnip purée, collard salad, and the tempeh on top. It was stacked. Turnip purée, I don’t know what it was but I really, really loved it. I typically love turnips in other things, like in a soup, for example. I often don’t like turnips on their own. I know that there were other things in this turnip purée because it was very comforting and creamy. So, so good.

I have to confess one thing, however, something we didn’t prepare for. We’ve made some commitments—my partner Gary and I—about what we’ll do when we go out and, although we love the taste of fine wine—I particularly like a really good martini or a Manhattan with bourbon—, I don’t like what drinking does to my physical body, and the next day I never feel good after drinking. Well, I don’t want to say never because there have been a few occasions where a small amount of alcohol has been fine. There are all different kinds of studies that come out saying that whether drinking alcohol is healthy or not. I think for the most part it’s best not to drink or not to drink often. And we kind of forgot when we got to this event because the atmosphere was festive and everything was just so easy, and we both drank a lot of wine. A lot of different wines. When we woke up the next morning, we paid a price.

Fortunately, that feeling has passed. I drank a lot of water and mint tea. We rested—well, actually I didn’t rest. I had to get going and take care of things. But something to remember. I hope we keep that in mind the next time we do one of these festive events. It’s okay to sip and try these things, but be mindful about what you’re putting into your body. Sometimes the price is more than what you realize upfront with how you feel the next day.

That was the women chefs vegan edition, and it was awesome. I hope perhaps to have some of these vegan chefs on the show in the future. I really would like to interview some of them and hear about their careers, their journeys, and their art.

One last thing before we go: I wanted to highlight my website, Responsible Eating and Living. That’s where I live. It’s a non-profit organization that promotes healthy plant foods. We have recipes, videos, and we archive all of these programs and get them transcribed for you for free. We just posted a new recipe called Tempeh Tikka Masala. You might want to check that out. It’s really quite good.

Also, a few more details on this event that I just talked about. You can see some of the photos of food. I posted it all in my daily blog, What Vegans Eat. It’s in Day 1122. What Vegans Eat, Day 1122.

Oh, speaking of my daily blog, I wanted to mention this before with the digestive issues. If you want to discover things about you and your diet, and discover the foods that are giving you issues and problems, journaling is a great way to do that. You write every day what you’re eating, when you eat. You keep track of how you feel each day. Then you may find some trends. The thing is, when you eat something, you may not have an immediate reaction. It may take a day or two or three. Without journaling like this, you can’t see the trends or you can’t remember the trends. Journaling is really wonderful.

And I do it publicly. I do it in my daily blog, What Vegans Eat. Now over eleven hundred posts, and I invite you to check them all out.

Thank you for joining me today on It’s All About Food. I’ve really had fun and I hope you’ve had too. You can always reach me at and visit me at I wish you really good health. Don’t forget to chew your foods, enjoy it, and think of wonderful things while you’re eating whatever it is that you’re eating. Okay? Have a very delicious week.

Transcribed by HT 4/8/2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *