10/20/2015: Halloween Traditions and Changes, Makeup and Kitchen Counters


Caryn talks about Halloween traditions, new REAL recipes for the Halloween Food Show, vegan makeup along with some new findings from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab called Kitchen Counter Foods that Relate to Your Weight.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello, everybody. Hello, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You are listening to It’s All About Food. How are you today? I’m good. I’m really good. I love autumn. It’s autumn in New York and we’re feeling that chill. Yesterday, it was especially chilly [and] I went to the dentist yesterday. Not a thing that I really enjoy doing. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious or problematic. But my dentist is about four miles from where I live, and I took the opportunity to walk. It was such a lovely fresh walk. Cool. Fortunately, I knew to check the weather and I dressed properly. It was so lovely. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to walk. If you think you don’t have the time, think about places that aren’t that far from where you are, or you could do a chore, buy something, pick something up, visit someone. It’s quite a novel concept— walking. Here in New York City a lot of people walk. New Yorkers are very well known for being walkers. But walking is so good for you. You can also see things differently. When I walk down a street, I see different things than if I ride a bike down that street than if I take a car down that street or if I’m nearby and I take a train down that street. Every view is quite different and you can shake up some things that are the same in your life, just by making a subtle little change like that.  So get out and walk. So I went walking.

Now, the next thing I want to talk about. I have a wonderful guest coming out, and we’re bringing her on later in the program—Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. I am really excited to have her on. I’ve had her on a couple times before and she is just like dynamite— all energy, and all love and compassion. I can’t wait to hear what she has to talk about. But before we get to Jenny Brown, I wanted to bring up a few things.

I’m on an email list for Cornell University’s food and brand lab. They do lots of interesting things. I just got the results of a study, that they did. It has to do with what is on your kitchen countertop. They found that it actually might predict your weight or the two things seem to correlate. So, just think for a moment. What is on your kitchen countertop? Right. Do you know what is on your kitchen countertop? Do you know where your kitchen is? I like to say that a lot. Well this study looked at photographs of more than 200 kitchens in Syracuse, NY. Now this is not necessarily a comprehensive of all places but Syracuse is a nice place. They were testing how food environment relates to body mass index of adults at home. What they found out was, women in the study that kept fresh fruit out in the open tended to be normal weight compared with their peers. As this study says when snacks like cereals, like Special K, and sodas were readily accessible. People were heavier than their neighbors by an average of more than 20 lbs. Now, is this profound? Not really. If your soft drinks and your sodas are accessible and nearby, you are more likely to drink them and get unnecessary calories. The same thing goes with keeping a box of cereal on the counter. So you could go, I guess what people do is that they grab a handful when they walk by. I was thinking that it is not a bad snack. Well, it can put an extra 20 pounds or more on you.

So when I invite you to find your kitchen and learn how to make healthy foods, it is good to have a bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter. Now I keep some fruits and some vegetables out on the counter, only because I have learned that some fruits and vegetables don’t do well when they are refrigerated. I tend to keep my pears out on the counter because in the society that we live in we tend to get fruits that haven’t totally ripened. I like them to ripen and get soft. Then when they are really soft, if I haven’t eaten them by the time they are really soft then I will put them in the refrigerator because I don’t want them to start molding. I keep bananas on the counter because I listened to that very popular song for decades— by Chiquita Banana— and “you should never leave bananas in the refrigerator, la la la la la.” Did you know that? Well you’ll have to listen to the whole song. I could sing it to you but I have to many things to talk about. So no song from Caryn, right now. I like to keep onions and potatoes, actually root vegetables, I like to keep them, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, in a paper bag in a cool, dry place. Not necessarily on the counter. The fruit is conveniently there, and I think that it is great for kids and teens if the fruit is on the counter, all ready for them to go and grab and eat. There you have it. There is an actual study that talks about what is on your counter, and how it relates to what you weigh.

Now, speaking of soda. Yeah, speaking of soda. I was just thinking, not only do I not have soda on the counter, I don’t know if I have ever had soda in this apartment I’ve been living in for 16 years. If you don’t have it, there is less opportunity to drink it. There is a lot of conversion about soda going on. Marion Nestle, we’ve had her on the program a number of times, she is a phenomenal person and has written a number of wonderful books about food politics—in fact, she also has a website FoodPolitics.com. She has a new book that just came out about soda. It’s called Soda Politics” We have been talking about this for years now— Soda Politics (Taking on Big Politics and Winning)— which is exciting. Here in New York, our former mayor Bloomberg tried to increase tax on soda and there was a lot of brouhaha about that. For people that are informed about food, we know soda is not something that should be drunk at every meal. It is unnecessary calories and even the sugar-free varieties have their own problems. For those that live in food deserts, for those that have limited information on food, even in the schools, soda is very accessible and very cheap. We talk about putting taxes on food like soda, and of course the industry—food industry lobbyists— fight that. In fact Marion Nestle reported in today’s blog, I think it was today’s blog, about a soda tax in Mexico. Unfortunately, they were trying to get a larger tax—they had a ten percent tax for drinks that had five grams of added sugar for 100 ml or more—they wanted it to go from ten percent tax to twenty percent. After the industry lobbyists worked with the government, they actually reduced the tax to five percent. A lot of people are up in arms about that and if you want to add your two cents or more, you can go foodpolitics.com. Marion has added some twitter posts that you can tweet about and also send letters of support for increasing the tax not decreasing the tax. Meanwhile, you at home, you know what to do drink water, flavored waters with lime and lemon, teas are lovely. Fresh fruit juice has a lot of sugar in it. It is probably a better choice than soda, but it is still kind of sugary. It is better to eat the fruit itself. So there are some thoughts on soda and beverages.

Now, I want to move on to a very fun topic. Halloween is coming up in eleven days. I know for vegans that Thanksgiving is probably the most treasured holiday but Halloween is probably very close. I wanted to talk a little bit about it. Number one because we just finished filming a new food show for Responsible Eating and Living on Halloween and it should be up shortly. I want to talk about some of the dishes that we made. The thing about Halloween and all traditions, you need to know that we live in a world where everything is dynamic, everything changes, even something that is a tradition. It is not cast in stone; it is not something that is very permanent. All traditions, if you review history, have morphed and morphed and morphed. They are going to continue to be modified to fit society’s needs. Let’s think about Halloween for a minute. In my culture, they way I’ve been brought up, we dress up and include images of scary monsters, ghosts, dead people, zombies, vampires, witches, all these scary/spooky images, and we eat lots of candy. Then in addition, it has been extended where you can dress up like anybody. There is this scary theme of monsters and the eating of sweet treats. It didn’t start out that way. If you read about the history of Halloween, it didn’t start out that way. I don’t want to go into the history of Halloween; I just want to make the point that it started differently in different countries. Then cultures came together, they came to the US, and a lot of different events merged actually into the current holiday of Halloween. I say let’s keep morphing this holiday, let’s keep modifying it and make it even better. Let’s veganize it. That what I’m getting to. Interesting things, a lot of the foods that people make for Halloween parties for examples are what? They are like body parts, human body parts—eyeballs and fingers and bloody things. So we are kind of glorifying and making fun of this concept of, the scary concept of eating human body parts. What I find kind of bizarre and interesting, is that most people everyday, they may not be eating human body parts but they are eating non-human body parts. Not thinking twice about the horror, not thinking twice about how scary it is: the slaughterhouses, and the factory farms that these animals live in. Animals that are grown for food are living in this scary Halloween nightmare everyday of their lives. It is kind of an odd twist and something I think we should be thinking about. I’m thinking about it.

Maybe we should morph this holiday and rather than celebrate gore and celebrate blood and body parts which is pretty routine in our society today and not just animals either.  There’s so much terrorizing going on with people.  Why don’t we start to celebrate some of the lovely things, for example if it’s a, if part of the holiday is about celebrating the dead, we can celebrate some of the people who have come before us that have done wonderful things.  I like the idea of maybe dressing up as a famous vegetarian in the past like Pythagoras or Leonardo Da Vinci and even more recently, more currently, our dear friend Rynn Berry who passed a few years ago and he was a great vegetarian historian.  So, I don’t know if you’re thinking about dressing up, but now’s a good time to think about it because there’s nothing like waiting ’til the last minute and not being prepared and things are so different now.  I remember when I was a kid, I think creativity used to be encouraged a lot more and I used to enjoy making my own costumes and I still like making my own costumes.  It’s fun, it’s original, and you have a different feeling about a costume when you’ve taken the time and the thought to put it together.  Who has the time to do that now, right?  It’s so much more convenient to go into a store and they’re everywhere, these Halloween stores, where you can buy any costume for what you want to be, anyone you want in that moment and the reason why I’m bringing it up is because I really believe that the more you invest in something, and I don’t mean monetary, the more you invest in time, in your heart, in your soul, into something, the more you’re going to get out of it.  If you just run into a store, get a costume, put it on and wear it for a party, it’s fun, but if you take the time to think about what you want to be and think about how you might create a costume, it’ll be a lot more fun, I think.  Now, we just did a food show as I mentioned and we’re editing it now.  The plan is for it to be up before Halloween, but I wanted to tell you a little bit about it because there are some recipes that we made that you might want to consider for an upcoming Halloween party or actually any party.  I think probably the most popular foods for Halloween at a party are the foods that are popular any time of year:  pizza, right? Kids get together and like the pizza [laughter], like to have soda, you know how I feel about soda, well, we decided for our Halloween food show to have a fondue party and it was great!  Preparing the foods and then finishing the filming and then eating them. We’ve come up with this lovely, luscious, cashew cheese fondue recipe that makes a great fondue. For people that have been looking to eliminate dairy in their lives and for vegans that haven’t had cheese in a long time and are used to some of the store bought cheeses that, you know, are okay, but most of them aren’t very good. Even though there are a few today that are actually using a more cheese-like method to create their nut and seed based cheeses with probiotics and enzymes and giving those cheeses a nice tang to them that you get in animal milk-based cheeses.  We really like our nut and seed-based cheeses and this cashew cheese fondue recipe that we came up with which you can get at ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com right now is so incredible and it works really well in the fondue pot. We had a lot of fun making it and a lot of fun dipping things in it.  It was really, really, really good!  And then we were talking for a while about chocolate fondue because it would be good to have savory and sweet, and Halloween is certainly about a lot of sweet treats, right?   And, my partner, Gary and I were talking about what we might use to make a chocolate fondue. I thought about this chocolate sauce recipe that I made earlier in the year.  Perhaps you’ve tried it?  I thought that it would make a great fondue and I was so surprised at how excellent it is.  It’s only three ingredients plus water.  How simple is that?  Cocoa powder, coconut oil, and some evaporated cane juice which is vegan sugar and that’s it and it mixes up so easily and it makes this fabulous, creamy, rich chocolate fondue.  A great party food!  [Laughter].  I don’t know if you hear it, but [laughter] I was thinking that because the weather’s getting colder, because it’s autumn that, during my program I wouldn’t hear the Mr. Softee truck. But sure enough right on cue this Mr. Softee truck is here and going around the neighborhood and I’m just wondering how much colder will it have to get for the truck to stop coming and keep things quiet.   Anyway, it always makes me laugh to hear that song.

We made some wonderful foods and one of the traditions that we have is I love making almond biscotti. For Halloween, I like to make them in the shape of fingers and we did that for the show. We also made homemade graham crackers and we got Dandee marshmallows, these are vegan marshmallows, we got them in our gift bags when we went to the VegNews Comfort Food Shindig a month or so ago, and we’ve been saving them just for Halloween.  So, pouring the chocolate fondue over the graham crackers with the Dandee marshmallows is an unimaginable phenomenal Halloween treat or treat for anytime.  It’s so good!  What I love about these particular graham crackers, I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to the store and looked for graham crackers, but they always have honey in them.  It’s like next to impossible to find a graham cracker that doesn’t have honey in them.  Do you know of one?  If you do, please let me know.  So, a while ago I made a gluten-free graham cracker recipe, no honey, it’s funny because graham was named after the man who was vegetarian and promoting whole grains a while back.  I’m looking exactly how many a hundred years ago or more, and the cracker was named after him, Sylvester Graham, from 1794 to 1854 [1851]. He founded the American Vegetarian Society and the graham cracker is kind of named after him because he stressed using whole wheat flour and my graham crackers don’t have wheat in them.  So, they’re not really graham, but they taste a lot like graham because they have molasses in them and they’re really good.  So, that’s another recipe that we made for the food show.

Now, the last thing I wanted to talk about is makeup.  Now, for Halloween, a lot of people need makeup and there are more and more options for vegan makeup these days and I’m not promoting any and I can’t really recommend the best makeups because I haven’t done a study.  I know from myself, I typically go to Aveda because it’s easy and I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but for Halloween, I might want to have a, a little face powder or something if I want to look a little gory, lighten things up, ghostly. But I did want to mention that I recently, when I was in California a few weeks ago, I stopped into a 100% Pure company.  Have you been to any of these?  They actually have some products in Duane Reade which really blew me away and most of their products are vegan and I picked up these lovely little lipsticks called Vitamint Fruit Pigmented Sheer Lip Color and I tell you how, I’m really, really enjoying them.  I like them because, they’re not made with any synthetic ingredients, they’re colored with fruit and they really have a nice color and as the weather gets colder, I find, as the skin gets drier and more chapped, it’s nice to have something like this to keep, to keep things moist and dewy.  How does that sound?  So, if you want to learn more about them, they’re at 100percentpure.com and a, check out the Vitamint Vegan Lipstick if you’re into wearing lipstick.  They have some nice colors.  I especially like the Cherry Tomato, it’s a bright red and I don’t normally see that kind of color in a clean, clean vegan lipstick.

One last thing.  I mentioned this last week and I’m going to mention it again.  I told you that our documentary, the Loan Vegan: Preaching to the Fire which we put out last year is now being featured on the Culture Unplugged Green Unplugged film festival and I invite you to go to cultureunplugged.com and what I didn’t know last week, which is why I’m telling you again, I’m going to be telling you a lot, is the festival actually goes ’til the end of December and they’ll be adding new films all the time and then there are some nice prices for the films that are the most viewed or the most, or the people’s favorite.  There’s a number of different categories.  So, I was thinking if every one of you listen to this program today, went to cultureunplugged.com and searched on Lone Vegan and saw our Lone Vegan: Preaching to the Fire film and rated it, we’d have a good chance of winning a prize.  So, I’d hope that you would do that and support us, tell people about it.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a vegan film that won?  A very cool festival and as I mentioned last week too, they have lots of other great films up there.  They’re all free and they’re from all over the world.  It’s just an amazing amount of great creative art and informative documentaries.  I wish I had more time to sit and watch all of them.  So, that’s culturedunplugged.com.  Got that?

Good.  All right.  I think what I’d like to do now is take a brief little break and I want to remind you that you can always e-mail me at info@realmeals.org.  I’d love to hear from you and you can just say “hi”, you can just say you like the program, you can say maybe you don’t like the program [laughter] whatever.  Ask me a question.  I really like to have the back and forth.  So, please, info@realmeals.org and let’s take a little break and we’ll be back and bring on Jenny Brown.

Alexis Richter and Nanette Gagyi 10/31/2015

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