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Caryn brings in summer with recipes for refreshing drinks, summer picnics, events and barbecues. While on the road in the Bay Area she discusses some of the eateries she has been visiting along with the fun treats she has discovered.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody – we’re back for the part two of today’s program. Thanks for joining me. And it is indeed, summer. Have you been looking at the moon?
You know, this show is called It’s All About Food, and I’ve heard different terms for the full moon, a few days: some have called it a Strawberry Moon; and a Honey Moon; and that’s because the June full moon and the solstice fell just within hours of each other and it was just a stunning, stunning, ripe, luscious moon. And it was just a beautiful way to bring in the summer.
Okay, so the summer is here. And it’s felt like summer for me for quite a while, now, because we are in the Bay Area in the Los Gatos area; northern California and it’s pretty hot. I mean, for example: it was pretty cool this morning. We went out of for a walk at the Lexington County Park Trail – there’s a reservoir there and there are some really wonderful trails. And when we do it takes about 2 hours up and down. I like to go earlier in the morning because it’s not so hot. But it’s still hot. And I come back and all I want to do is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I had a mango and then I just couldn’t stop drinking enough and this is a time in the hot weather. Now, some of you, you may be on the other side of the planet, right now it’s not hot. Okay, so just file this to listen to it when it is hot.
But we really have to be careful to hydrate enough when we’re in really hot weather. And so I thought I would talk about some fun ways to do that.
So water is one way, right? But water – water isn’t really that much fun. Except when you are parched and dry and all you can think about is drinking water. I know sometimes when I’m sleeping, I usually drink before I go to sleep, I usually have some sort of herbal tea or something. But sometimes, especially in the wintertime when the heat is on and the air is really dry – I can get really, really parched and I can dream about wanting to find water, I am so parched. And then when I finally wake up – water is the best thing ever!
But sometimes we want to spice it up a little, dress it up a little, color it up a little. And I know that most Americans have a habit of grabbing a Coke or a Sprite or a Fanta or some kind of extra sugary, colorful thing. And we know that’s really not good for us, right? And yet there are some really wonderful things that we can do that are fun and fresh.
So the first thing I wanted to talk about, and I just posted this on the ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com website, are my version of Aguas Frescas.
And this is a drink that you can find, probably anywhere, but it’s typically made from water and fruit, sometimes some grains and sugar. And I make mine very simply with fresh fruit. I find melons are really good for the aquas frescas. Aguas Frescas for those of you who “hablos espagnols” means: fresh waters. So I like to blend a whole watermelon, for example. And I like to buy seeded watermelon; it’s kind of a thing with me that fruits should have seeds. They are hard to find. It’s probably easier to make this drink if you don’t have seeds, but you can blend it up with the seeds too, especially if you have a Vitamix® or you can pick them out. And you can do this with cantaloupe, or honeydew, or any really ripe melon: scoop out the seeds and blend up the melon and that’s it! You can drink it. If you want you could add a little sparkling water to it and dilute it a little bit. But just put it in a tall glass, add a sprig of mint, a straw and you have a really fun, colorful, sweet, refreshing – so refreshing – drink.
And sometimes I like to make ice cubes out this mixture, too. And put the blended melon or the blended fruit into an ice cube tray and then take them out when they are frozen; and then they make these wonderful, colorful cubes that you can put in a glass of sparkling water. And these are really fun, wonderful, fresh drinks.
So check that out – it’s called ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com. There is a recipe there, but you don’t really need a recipe. Just blend up the fruit, pour it in a glass. And I like to add ginger juice or lemon juice or lime juice in addition. Sometimes that fruit sweetness is too sweet, so I like to cut it a little with something tart.
And speaking of something tart, another great thing to make fresh summer rehydrating beverages with is hibiscus. And I had the opportunity to harvest some hibiscus and dry it and then peel away the leaves from the prickly parts of it, when it dries when I go down to Costa Rica and visit my friend’s farm, but you can buy hibiscus. It comes in a tea bag sometimes, or you could buy it loose, or you can go to a country that grows it or grow it yourself. There are certain areas in the country where you can grow hibiscus. And these leaves – they are really good for you: they are full of Vitamin C. I heard that some people have actually made a veggie meat using the hibiscus leaves. They have a real nice chew to them. But you can just make a simple hibiscus tea with the leaves. It’s caffeine free, it’s tart, it hydrates really well – that tartness really feels clean going down. And then if it’s too tart, you can sweeten it with other fruits; you could mix it, for example, with one of these blended melons. But it has a great red color. I love that.
You could also take some raisins for example, or dates and dried fruit – and soak them and then the water that you created from the dried fruit you can mix with your hibiscus or other beverage. And it’s a nice, natural sweetener. And then you can still have the dried fruit to chew on. That’s a bonus.
Another one that I want to remind you of – when I was talking to Dr. Michael Gregor a few months ago – I guess it was the end of last year – December? When his new book, How Not To Die, came out – one of the things that he mentioned that really surprised me is if you make tea, like green tea, without boiling water – just putting the tea in cold water and just letting it sit overnight or for a number of hours, the tea will actually be more nutritious than if you brew it with boiling water. So here’s a great drink: it’s naturally cold – you can put a bunch of tea leaves in a container and let it go overnight and then the next day you have iced tea – iced green tea, for example- you can do it with white tea, you can do it with black tea. Iced tea that actually has more health promoting properties than if you brewed it hot. Something to keep in mind. I guess when people make Sun Tea it’s like that, too. Putting the tea and letting it brew out in the sun. Then it doesn’t get too hot to destroy the nutrients.
So there’s the hibiscus tea, the melon drinks, green iced tea….and then there’s Rooibos or red bush tea. Have you tried that yet? We drink that almost every night, now, as a non-caffeinated tea. Again, it has a great color which makes it a festive looking beverage for the summer time. Lately I’ve been drinking a mix from Teavana©, it’s here in the pool house that we are staying in. I didn’t purchase it and I wasn’t even sure what it was because it was just in a plastic bag. But I looked it up online and I’m pretty sure it’s their blueberry bliss which is Rooibos combined with dried blueberries and raisins. And I thought, “Okay.” In the future I just may try a mix of Rooibos with raisins, and brew a tea like that. It’s really, really delightful. And Rooibos has, also, some excellent health promoting properties and it has a really nice flavor – it’s a bit tart. But when you chill it, it makes a wonderful, wonderful beverage.
So there you go, you have hibiscus tea, Rooibos tea, green tea that’s cold brewed, and then our Aguas Frescas.
Now, we’re in the Bay Area, as I mentioned before and as much as I want to prepare food at home where we are, we have an efficiency kitchen and I’m grateful for that. It’s not as easy to prepare food all of the time because we don’t have any pantry or any big storage. We are constantly going out, buying food – which is kind of like the way people used to do it in the olden days. And some people still do it in other countries, very often. And maybe there are still people who do it here, today: go out everyday or every other day and buy the food that they are going to eat. It’s fresh. But most of us are used to hoarding food in our pantries and anyway – we do go out a little more often, while we’re here. That was my point of all of this.
And recently we discovered that Pinkberry has a few non-dairy items on their menu and I couldn’t help myself when I saw their non-dairy items – I immediately went into the store and I said, “What are the ingredients in these items?” And so, wonderfully, I was offered their product book. You can actually look at it online and you can see what the ingredients are in their products. So they had two particular ones available: one was a coconut milk. They just called it a ‘dairy free coconut’ flavor. And then they had just fruit – a tropical mango. So I love coconut and I really wanted to try to coconut and then I read the ingredients. And I’ll read them to you: water, organic coconut milk (thumbs up for that), sugar, malto-dextrin, dextrose, coconut milk powder, tapioca, malto dextrin, non-GMO corn starch and /or coconut milk powder which is coconut milk and tapioca syrup. (I guess it’s either/or, tapioca maltodextrins – that’s a popular ingredient in this mix, stabilizer, which consists of dextrose, guar gum, rice starch, stabilizer locust bean flower, xanthium gum, malto dextrin, soy lectican, more sugar, coconut flavor which consists of coconut cream, cane sugar, filtered water, natural coconut flavor, fruit pectin and titanium dioxide. (little pinch of sea salt)
Okay – in the grand scheme of things, this is not a horrible product. it’s better than a lot of others out there, but it does have a lot of sugar and the gums – and I’m not particularly a fan of eating titanium dioxide. I don’t know if you know this, but right out of college, I got my degrees in chemical engineering. I went to work for Dupont – making titanium dioxide. So I know how it’s made and I know what it does to you and although it’s approved to be put in food, I would really rather not consume it. It’s not a terrible thing, and I like it in my sunscreens, but not in my food.
Anyway – I did get taste sample of the coconut, but I ultimately went for the tropical mango because it’s just made from mango puree, banana puree, white grape juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, pear juice concentrate, natural flavor, citric acid and water.
It’s true that the juice concentrates do make it a very sweet product and there’s no added sugar, but fruit juice can be really, really sugary-like. So if you are looking to reduce sugar product, this is probably too sweet. But I’m glad it’s there; I’m glad it’s non-dairy; I’m glad it’s vegan, and made primarily from fruit purees. For an occasional treat, I can feel like everybody else in the summertime. Going out and getting a nice colorful, little swirl of something fresh and sweet and cold – in a cup. But you know what? The best thing is when you make these types of desserts at home, for yourself. And I resisted a long time getting a Vitamix® – getting a high powered wonder, and I made a lot of things in my simple, inexpensive blender. And you can make a lot of wonderful fresh fruit smoothies, that are cold and very fun to have in the summertime. You can add that to your list of these beverages I was talking about before.
But I really got into making these soft serve desserts in the Vitamix®, especially in the summertime. And we’ve got a bunch of different recipes at ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com, but let me just throw a few out for you:
One of my absolute favorites, and it’s like the simplest thing to make, but you do have to plan in advance. And that’s my Orange Creamsicle recipe where you take oranges, peel them, and section them and freeze them. And as soon as they’re frozen you can put them in your high powered blender with some cashews and blend them up – add a little vanilla extract – and it’s that wonderful vanilla, orange, cool flavor that I remember as a child when I used to eat dairy foods and I would get Good Humor Ice Cream. And I’m sure it’s not exactly the same taste – I think it’s a better taste – but it gives me that same happy memory with the vanilla orange creamy flavor.
And frozen strawberries make a wonderful ice cream. And again, you could make it light with, like a sorbet or you can make it heavy or richer. So if you’re just making it like a sorbet, you just blend up strawberries with some water; you can add some other frozen fruits to it if you want; if you want to make it creamier you could add frozen bananas. If you want to make it richer you can add cashews. And these make the most wonderful soft serve, frozen ice-cream treats. And I like to add some plain, unsweetened cocoa powder too, to my strawberry mixes, sometimes. Or my banana mixes and gives it a chocolatey flavor.
And you can do this at home if you are having a barbecue, outside – this is a really fun dessert to make with everybody: the kids and the grown up kids, because everybody likes ice cream. And it’s fun when you make it yourself. I used to always like bringing out that old wooden, churning ice cream maker. But I guess I’ve gotten lazy and I’m going with all non-dairy fruit products that I blend in my Vitamix®.
Some other restaurants that we’ve been visiting while we’ve been here: have you heard of Lyfe Kitchen? L.Y.F.E. Lyfe Kitchen. There’s a bunch of them and they have an interesting history: they were started by a couple of guys, executives, from McDonalds, who left McDonalds and wanted to come up with some healthier, more environmentally friendly foods. Now – Lyfe Kitchen is not vegan; but they consulted with Chef Tal Ronen who is wonderful vegan chef, and he created the vegan items that are the Lyfe Kitchen menus. They have a bunch of locations: I think they are all in California – (I’m looking at their website). It’s LYFE Kitchen.com. They’ve got them in Colorado and Texas and Tennessee and Evanston, Illinois. I didn’t know that! Did you? Chicago, Illinois. There’s a lot of them. That’s good to know. I just went to my first one the other day and Gary got a burger, which was amazing. And I got some soup: I wasn’t really very hungry, but I wanted to try something so I got this broccoli potato soup. And we’ll be going back on Saturday to try their brunch items. So Lyfe Kitchen is fun because they clearly label their food with the letter ‘e’ is for people who eat everything: the omnivores and then they have ‘v’ for vegan and then they have gluten free and they also let you know if there are nuts in the product. So this is another exciting fast food place: it’s counter service – to look for in your travels. And I thought it was pretty awesome.
Now another thing I wanted to mention, I mentioned the burger at Lyfe Kitchen. It’s going to be barbecue time in the summer, right? And you need some great things to put on the barbecue, as a vegan. Lots of great vegetables go great on the barbecue. You can think of potatoes, sweet potatoes: wrap them up, you can sit them in the coals and they cook very well. And corn does really great on the barbecue; but we have some veggie burgers for you and my most favorite veggie burger is the – it’s made from black rice and red rice; it has a really lovely, lovely chewy consistency. And you can prepare them in advance and then you can bring them with you to a barbecue. I call them The Healthy World Burger. And we have some wonderful side sauces that you can make: a chipotle sauce, although I just saw “Just Mayo” has their Chipotle Sauce which is fun to get if you are looking to get something really quick and easy to bring a long on a barbecue or a picnic or something like that. So check out our burger recipes; especially the Healthy World Burger. It is an awesome burger and I hope you put it on a grill sometime, really, really soon.
And don’t forget fruit is great on the barbecue, too. You can put a little balsamic vinegar on it, a little light marinade and barbecue strawberries and peaches and nectarines: they’re awesome on the barbecue, so don’t forget them.
Plant foods are great at barbecues. We don’t need any of those other fleshy things that most people seem to think of, when they think of a barbecue. We need to change that! Because plant foods are best on the barbecue. And they go really well with potato salad and kale salads and other wonderful plant salads.
Okay its summertime and I wanted to leave you with a song. and so I’m going to do that. This is from Porgy and Bess and it’s me singing “Summertime.” So have a delicious week and here’s the song.
Transcribed by Doreen Mortan, 1/10/2017