Caryn reports in from Monte Sereno California, where she has been for the month of June. She talks about food while traveling, things to look out for in restaurants, the light and dark sides of coffee and tea and recommends reading Michele Simon’s new report, Has the American Society for Nutrition Lost All Credibility?
Hello, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food, and I happen to be in Monte Sereno, California. I’ve been here for one month, the entire month of June, and we’re leaving today. We’re leaving today to return back to New York to heat, hearth, and humidity. It’s been an absolutely spectacular time. I’ve been here for work and a little bit of play. It’s felt like a vacation even though I’ve been doing a bit of work, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity. I really feel quite fortunate, staying at a family member’s stunning home, in their pool house by a luscious pool. I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors. Of course, it’s summer, and it’s warm, and I just love being outside. I’m outside right now. I’m using every opportunity I can to be outside. We sleep indoors and then have our breakfast outside most of the time. I’ve been spending a lot of time running and swimming and romping and playing, and I love it. It’s a tremendous contrast to where I live in New York City, this concrete jungle, urban life. I keep wondering about myself what it is about these different places because they are so different, and I really love being outdoors, and it’s a lot easier to be outdoors here where I am now, but it is in that more – What’s the word I’m looking for? We have those crazy seasons in New York, when it’s cold, when it’s wet, and when it’s wet and hot. Anyway, I’m going back today, and I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like because I’ve been away for a month. So when I get back, I’ll let you know how I feel. I’m sure I’ll like it when I get back.
One of the things that, sort of, I’m learning and absorbing while I’m here: I don’t like driving in California. I came out here for the first time in 1982, and I called it the Promised Land back then because, well, it hasn’t change too much, but the weather is phenomenal, the sun is shining all the time, and the sky is blue, the air is dry, there’s a drought. The drought is one thing that is one of the prices you pay for being in a place like this, along with the potential for earthquakes. Every place has its ups and downs, but there’s something really lovely about this place, and I wasn’t the only one who figured that out. I lived here for nine years and then I traveled very often to California for six years after that. It’s really crowded now, and the traffic is really something you don’t want to be in. I find I’m really glad where we are because it’s within walking distance to downtown Los Gatos. It’s a really lovely, cute little town, and I understand more the benefit of the way European communities were set up, for example, where there’s a residential area built around a main street and a main commercial area where you have access to basically everything you need within walking distance. I have had no desire really to drive around, and I hope to see more of that as we continue to build to get back to centering little cities and towns around a commercial area where everybody has access to what they need within close proximity. That means healthy food, too, of course. Not just fast food and restaurants. So that’s been really phenomenal.
What else? I’ve been swimming, and when I lived in California in the late ’80s, early ’90s, I had access to one of these large, half-Olympic-sized swimming pools, and I would swim a mile a day. I love it, and I’ve been swimming here. I don’t really have the opportunity to swim when I’m in New York. It’s more like a treat when I’m near a nice pool or near a pond. I love swimming in fresh water, and I don’t really like swimming in the ocean very much. It’s not my thing. But to be able to do laps, I find it not only a great exercise, but it’s very Zen. It’s very meditative being in that giant womb, and I’ve had a great opportunity to swim almost every day here. It’s just really fabulous, so I am grateful. I am so grateful, and it’s good to think about things we are grateful for. I’ve been doing a lot of visiting while in California of friends and family, and recently we visited a friend in Watsonville. One of the things that gave me pause was driving around Watsonville, where a lot of America’s food is grown, and you could see the large fields of fruits and vegetables growing and see the people who are harvesting them because this is the big harvest period, well, at the beginning, and there were lots of people out in the field, and bending over in the hot sun. I’ve seen it in pictures. I’ve seen it in paintings. I know what goes on, and it goes on all the time. But to see it in reality, I really wanted to take in a deep breath and say thanks to these people, most of them who are not paid very well, do not have great benefits. There’s only a handful of farming companies that really treat their workers well, and these are the people who bring us our food, our food that we eat every day. I’m glad that I have the real image in my mind, knowing where my food is coming from. At least it comes from California. I can’t say what it looks like when it comes from Mexico and beyond, but I’m sure it’s not any different. It may even be a little worse in terms of how people are treated, so I’m just grateful to all those of folks who bring us our food, and I look forward to a day when everyone is treated fairly. We just had this amazing thing happen with the Supreme Court in the United States, approving same-sex marriage – marriage equality – and now we need to move on to all those other issues, so that people can have equality – true equality – food to feed their families all the time, and so that everybody truly has an opportunity to live their life the way they want to and express themselves the way they were meant to. We’re all unique individuals. We all have something special to bring to this planet. I look forward to seeing more opportunity for everyone, and that’s what I think of when I see simple little images like people working in a farm picking strawberries.
Let’s talk about the strawberries for a moment, shall we? The strawberries are really phenomenal right now. The prices are dropping here because they’re groomed right here. I said I was in Watsonville, and a lot of the strawberries are grown here. I, for the most part, only eat organic strawberries because, as you may know, one really nasty chemical is used to grow strawberries and keep those pests away, and it’s methyl bromide. I understand a lot of politics around methyl bromide and a lot of effort to not approve its use. Hopefully we’re going to phase out of its use. Unfortunately, some of the things that chemical companies have come up with to use instead we’ve discovered are worse, like methyl iodide. But I recommend as much as you possibly can, even if those strawberries look so perfect and red and delicious, if they’re not organic, I would try to avoid them for the most part. Occasionally, I will have a strawberry, and I don’t know where it comes from. When I do eat one, and I don’t know if it is organic and I think it probably isn’t, I enjoy it, and I tell my body to enjoy it and not worry about it and have it take the good from it and let the rest go. Our bodies really do have the capability of removing toxins. The problem is when we take in too many toxins. Then the body gets overwhelmed, and it just kind of gives up or does the best it can, but it can’t remove everything. But we can remove. We are designed to remove things that aren’t meant to nourish our bodies, and I like to remind people when they’re eating, “Don’t judge when you’re eating. Just enjoy. Food is meant to be enjoyed. You can worry about it later.” Well, don’t worry because worrying doesn’t get you anywhere, but I like to encourage positive conversations with our bodies all the time. I think it has a tremendous impact on our health, and it feels so much better when we’re cheering ourselves on rather than beating ourselves down. It just feels better to feel better. How silly does that sound?
Back to Watsonville. When we visited my friend in Watsonville, he was so excited to show us his coffee-making setup. Now, I’m not a coffee-drinker – I want to get into coffee a little bit now that I’ve picked on that subject – but he buys his own beans, and he roasts them himself. He has a simple little roasting apparatus, and then he grinds them and has a really stunning, high-end espresso machine, so I decided I would have a cup of espresso. As I said, I don’t drink coffee. I might have a cup of espresso once a year at most – usually if, by chance, I’m in Italy, which doesn’t happen very often anymore, or in Costa Rica. I kind of have this little tradition with myself. I used to fly to Costa Rica a lot between 2004 and 2006, and now I try to go at least once a year, although it doesn’t always happen. In the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, they started offering little samples of coffee because they like to sell their coffee beans to tourists. It’s a great gift to bring home. Costa Rica’s known for their coffee, and when they started offering this thing, offering little samples of coffee and little samples of chocolate, they had different varieties, little balls of chocolate. Some of them were filled with jelly fillings or covered in nuts, and I was a little excited because I read the ingredients and some of them were vegan, and I would enjoy a little half-cup of – half espresso cup, not very much – of organic Costa Rican coffee and have a little piece of chocolate, and it was just a fun way to enter the country and a fun way to leave the country whenever I was in the airport. Well, it seems like nothing lasts forever and where nothing stays the same, and I guess that idea did so well and more people were coming to Costa Rica. The airport’s gotten larger. They have more of these gift shops in the airport. They’re offering lots and lots of samples of coffee and chocolate, and I found it just doesn’t feel as much fun anymore. The quality of the chocolate has kind of gone down. It’s not vegan anymore. They add these shellac-like coatings – which are from bugs, by the way – that make the chocolate shiny. I’ve kind of given that up, but that was my moment with a tiny little bit of coffee. What I don’t like about coffee, and here’s the thing, the studies on coffee have really been mixed. There’s some that say it’s not good for us for a variety of reasons, and then there are new reports all the time that say, “Oh, it’s good for this and that”. You just have to make your own choice about coffee. I find that I don’t like the breath that results after drinking coffee, either my own or on anyone else. Coffee breath – I don’t think it’s very pleasant, and I use that as a gauge, saying, “If I don’t like that, I don’t think it’s good to have.”
Okay, back to my friend in Watsonville. He really wanted to make us his own special espresso. He roasts his coffee beans, and he does it at a very low roasting temperature and does it slowly and makes sure that he doesn’t burn the beans. This is important. When I had his cup of espresso, there was no bitterness. It was really smooth and actually quite lovely. I think in a lot of commercial bean-roasting, you get a wide range, but just like in anything, manufacturers are always looking for a way to make things faster and less expensive, so some may use a higher temperature at a faster roasting time, so that it can be done more quickly, and as a result you get that bitter flavor in the coffee, so it was really delightful to try his own brew. Now I’m set for at least another year until I have another coffee. There are some things that really irk me about coffee, and I’ve probably raged about it before on this program. I remember when this Keurig appliance came out and it was all the rage. It still gets used quite a bit. The thing that bugged me about it – Well, a few things bugged me about it. One of them is how far from life do we want to get? How many experiences do we want to give up? How hard is it to make a cup of coffee that we need to make little individual things in plastic packages? The packaging is what really irks me, these tiny little pieces of plastic. Not only is it an environmental disaster, using plastic, and using plastic to cover small individual portions of anything – it can’t be healthy for us as the plastics leech into the food we’re going to consume. And it’s true of coffee, so there’s that. I’ve tasted a few of these, actually the tea versions, and I found them terrible, just no flavor, and it’s not really worthy of my time to drink. I’d rather just not drink anything. I just get frustrated with how far we can go with convenience. There’s always a price. There’s the price in quality because the flavor and taste go down in food that are prepackaged and prepared for us to do quickly. That’s what the slow food movement’s all about: bringing back the quality and taste and joy in taking the time to prepare food and taking the time to eat food. When you invest in something, in anything, you will get so much more out of it. So when you invest in your food – not just in purchasing quality food or purchasing expensive restaurant food – when you take the time to invest and preparing and eating, you will get so much more out of it, and it’s better for you.
All right, let me continue to rage about coffee a little bit. I started drinking coffee when I was in high school. I did it because it was an adult thing to do, and I was so adult. One of my pleasurable memories –and you might think this is a little strange – but I loved my math classes. I was taking a calculus class in high school, and I found it like a big puzzle, a game. I really enjoyed doing my homework, but I wanted to do it in a very peaceful environment, and that just couldn’t happen in my house until everyone was asleep – my parents, my younger brother. My sister was already out in college. I would wait for all of them to go to sleep, and I would make myself a big pile of eggs, like scrambled eggs or eggs over easy, and my version of café au lait. I have a tremendous French influence from studying French in junior high school and high school. I loved all things French, so I wanted to make café au lait, but I didn’t know anything about café au lait. I didn’t know anything about coffee and roasting and beans, etc., so I used what we had in the house, which was some sort of instant coffee and the kind you just pour boiling water over or stir in your cup. I would put it in a saucepan with some milk and sugar and mix up my own café au lait and pour it in a big bowl and have my eggs and toast and coffee and stay up for a few extra hours and do my homework. I really enjoyed it. I don’t know how I enjoyed waking up in the morning. I know I missed the school bus a lot. My father had to take me to school, but it all worked out. And then in college, of course, I did lots and lots of coffee. I never slept back in college. I can’t do that anymore. I absolutely need eight hours of sleep a day, which is why I really cut back on drinking any sort of caffeine. But back then I was drinking coffee, and I then started to hear about how it wasn’t so good for you and decided I would stop drinking coffee. I moved over to tea, and then I began my journey and discovery of teas, and that’s been another long journey. It’s interesting how we learn things. I’m always fascinated, of course, about food and how things change over the decades, what we think is good one week or one month or one year and discover it isn’t so good later on. That’s when I get back to making sure whenever you consume anything you really enjoy it because I really believe the body will take the good from it and leave the rest behind. I think about all of the things that I consumed when I was younger, and I wouldn’t touch them know. But back then I thought they were good, and so my body got that message and thought they were good, too.
So I moved over to tea, and first I drank a lot of tea with sugar in it because my palette hadn’t adjusted to the bitter tea flavor. I say “bitter” intentionally because I wasn’t drinking quality teas, and they were bitter. A lot of people don’t like tea because it’s bitter, but that’s because they’re drinking a crummy tea. Tea shouldn’t be bitter at all. So I finally weaned myself off sugar and over the years I experimented with a variety of different teas: flavored teas, herbal teas, green teas, white teas. I didn’t quite understand when I started hearing about white tea, what all the fuss was about, and it’s been a journey, but now I understand what the fuss is indeed about. Just like with Keurig coffee-packaging, tea went in a bag, an individual tea bag also has packaging, and it’s something I personally didn’t even notice for a really, really, really long time. It’s funny what we choose to see, and what we somehow choose not to see, but tea is presented in a bag very often because it’s convenient. Why? Because otherwise we would have to spoon out loose tea and put it in a mesh tea egg or a little mesh basket and put it in a teapot and brew it, and for some reason that is just too much trouble. We need everything individualized and as easy-easy and convenient as possible. I’m really starting to dislike that word: convenient. Can you tell? So the tea bags come with problems that I never even thought about for such a long time. Some tea bags are made of paper, and some are made of plastic. Number one, it’s another one of those environmental wasteful things that is not necessary, and some of these tea bags that are made of plastic, now they tell us that the plastic that they’re made in is safe. They’re pretty much made from nylon or PET, which is polyethylene terephthalate, and they’re two of the safest plastics. They have a low leeching potential and a high melting point, but there haven’t been a lot of studies done on this, and I think that anytime you’re mixing heat and plastic, you’re going to get a little in your cup. So I’ve moved away from tea bags. It really amazes me because a lot of the high-end restaurants will serve your individual tea in one of those lovely silk pouches, one of those fancy tea bags, and that’s nylon. It’s like tea bag in a pair of pantyhose! Myself, for a while, I go for the image of silk and elegance and smoothness. But it’s just plastics, folks, and I would prefer to avoid it, and if you really want to go all the way, if you’re served a tea bag in one of these pouches, you could ultimately open it up, free the tea leaves, and brew your tea without them. I think it’s a better way to go. Now at home, I love our tea. I have an entire tea drawer of flavors. We drink a lot of teas, and they’re organic, they’re loose-leaf, they’re fair trade, no tea bags, and some people may think this is extravagant, but I really believe I’m actually saving money on the amount of tea that I drink instead of buying in bags. I’m buying a high-quality tea in bulk, and it really is very cost-effective, and it gives me enormous joy – enormous joy, to wake up in the morning and know I’m going to have a delicious brew of some lovely fragrant flavor, toasty. It can be rich. It can be light. There are so many different options, a whole wide range of flavors. I really go nutty over my tea.
I mentioned before when I first tried white tea I didn’t like it, and that’s because it was some crummy, low-quality white tea in a tea bag, so I got that extra plastic flavoring along with the white tea. A friend of mine gave me a gift of a variety of green and white bulk teas, and I went nuts over some of these white teas. It was a self-discovery, and when I went through what I went through, I learned that it wasn’t unusual what I was doing, so I would prepare these teas. And you may know that it’s recommended to brew black teas with boiling water, and then green and white teas brewed at a slightly lower temperature. Typically, you boil the water and just wait a minute or two for the temperature to go down, and then you can brew your green and white teas. It brings out the best and leaves out the worst when you brew them at the recommended temperatures. So I began experimenting with a number of different white teas. I would brew them at the required temperature. I would take out a thermometer and made sure they were the right temperature. It was kind of fun for a while and, yes, there are appliances that make this very easy for you, where you can set the temperature you want the water to be at before you brew your tea. Although it’s tempting, I have not gone for one of these things. I’ve given up the thermometer now, and I just play it by ear.
But the white teas were so amazing. I would start by taking in a great, big whiff of the tea leaves before I brewed them. [breathe, ahhh] It’s always good to breathe number one and really be aware of breathing and discover all the good smells or not so good smells in that breath. I find it very, very exciting and invigorating and when I breathe in these white tea leaves, it’s a lovely, fresh grassy smell but it gets better so I brew my tea and then I can breathe the wet tea leaves after I’ve had my tea and I feel sometimes that I can visualize an entire field of wild flowers and native grasses so fresh in morning air. It really brings me somewhere and why not? It’s fabulous, so I love my tea. That’s my white tea story and now I pretty much stick to Bai Mu Dan, which is a white tea. I also like Jasmine green and a variety of different green teas. I haven’t gone to the really high end varieties just because I can’t afford it, but I do like the ones that I allow myself to get and can afford, but tea can be like a fine wine. You know, there are so many expensive bottles of wine out there and there are low end and high end and you can really enjoy them all. I’ve had some really inexpensive bottles of wine that are lovely, but the more expensive they are, the more time that’s been taken to produce them. There’s usually more layers of flavor, more things to discover. So much for tea so I recommend getting organic, fair-trade, loose leaf tea and I don’t get any reimbursement for plugging anybody, but I purchase most of my tea from Arbor teas. I like them a lot. One more thing about tea before I move on. When we got here to Monte Sereno in this lovely little pool house that we’re staying in our host made sure there was a tea kettle for us to boil water for our tea because she knew we love tea, but we didn’t have a tea pot. Now I had packed with me a little tea egg to put our loose leaf tea in and I brought a number of different packets of loose-leaf tea English Breakfast and Kukitcha. I love Kukitcha. Kukitcha is called twig tea. It looks like little pieces of twigs because it is made from trees. There are different kinds. I prefer the browner variety more like black tea. There are also greener varieties of Kukitcha. I find it’s very sweet, and nutty. It’s just a lovely, complex flavor and less caffeine, there’s some caffeine in it, but less than black tea. It’s lovely and I brought some peppermint tea and some Teeccino because we like to have tea at night that has no caffeine in it. Okay. We thought we needed a tea pot so we went out and we thought we’d buy a tea pot and leave it here as a gift in the pool house. Well, there were no tea pots to be found. We went into all of the finest houseware stores here Sur La Table, William Sonoma some other smaller brand but lovely housewares places nobody had a tea pot. We finally had to get in the car and go to I think we got it at a Target of all places, but it was really a statement to me that people definitely choose convenience and convenience means making tea with a tea bag or making tea or coffee with a Keurig rather than taking the time to scoop out the coffee or the tea and pour the hot water over it and brew it. Ahhh, that gave me pause for a moment but we did find a lovely tea pot and Karen was happy very happy indeed. We went to a lot of restaurants this month and I don’t enjoy eating in restaurants very often. I like it as a treat because it’s lovely to sit and relax and be served and not have to do the dishes and have a wide variety of choices. I think it’s a lovely concept I don’t like to do it every day because number one I love to prepare my food but I also believe that my food is better [laugh] not just the way we prepare it but it’s simple. I don’t have to worry about sugar, salt, oil mysterious ingredients that I don’t know what they are. When I make my food at home for the most part I know what’s in it. I‘d like to say that when we eat food it’s really a leap of faith unless we’ve grown it ourselves. We don’t know where the food’s been, who’s touched it, what soil it’s grown in, what water’s been used, what’s been in the soil in the water, how it’s been packaged, what temperature it’s been at along the way, how long it’s been stored, what’s happened to it when it’s been in the store. I really like to keep that story to the minimum by buying produce with a few number of middle men in between from me and the farmer and then preparing it myself and I feel better that way. Very often when I eat in a restaurant, I’m overloaded with salt no matter how careful I am and I don’t feel good, but we did pretty well this month and I want to talk about some of the places that we did visit that we did enjoy and some of the choices we made. So, one of the great discoveries was a restaurant called Mandalay in Los Gatos and they have a few restaurants and we went to their patio and that was especially nice because I said that I loved eating just living outdoors and it’s so lovely eating outdoors and they have a nice back patio. They have a Tofu Taco and you can get it in a number of ways and every way is absolutely fabulous so they make these French fry looking strips of Tofu and you can have them sautéed and that comes with kind of a Mexican tomato sauce served on a soft tortilla with guacamole and some other vegetables. I can’t believe how fabulous it is or you can get it fajita style where these strips are lightly fried on the outside and then you don’t get the tomato sauce on your soft tortilla, corn tortilla or you can have your corn tortilla fried crispy so it’s hard. All three ways, all good and they were just so delicious and I don’t know how clean this place is, but they do have a card on their table and I appreciate it because it makes me feel like they know what the issues are and they’re thinking about them so they advertise that the meat that they use is grass fed, that the produce that they use for the most part is sourced and sourced from California locally sourced food they make a lot of sauces they use in house and you can tell the difference so there were we took five different little cups of different sauces. They had a creamy peanut sauce and a salsa and then a green tomatillo kind of sauce hot sauce oh no, and then some kind of pickled jalapeno’s. All of them were amazing and it was tough because the dishes were already perfectly seasoned, but I wanted to try all of these different sauces. It was really a lot of fun. We went there a few different times and there’s this lovely Los Gatos Creek Trail here and I would invite friends that I hadn’t seen for a while to walk the trail with you or I would walk with my partner Gary or we would run which was extra challenging because one particular trail goes up some nice hills and it’s hot and you get really, really hot, but it’s nice afterwards to come down the hill from your run, you’ve had a nice workout, and then get a lovely meal at Andale that was really fun. On the other side, we were invited a number of times to a restaurant called Aldos. And Aldos is a nice Italian restaurant everybody’s talking Italian inside. There are real Italian’s working in this place. And we went there for a number of celebrations. Gary’s birthday, we celebrated early in the month and his dad’s 90th birthday we celebrated towards the end of the month and I don’t eat a lot of pasta or a lot of noodles. I really try to avoid refined flour I do have pasta occasionally I do enjoy it but it’s one of these foods that’s so convenient that for a long time I was eating a lot of pasta, a lot of people were eating a lot of pasta, and then you know we thought it was a healthy food [laugh] and now I’m discovering that refined flours really aren’t nutritious and I try and stick with whole and minimally processed grains and I’m happy with that. In fact, I like the chew and the fuller flavor in the whole grains. The pasta just doesn’t have enough flavor for me anymore. Okay, enough raging on pasta, but when you’re in an Italian restaurant like this particular one, there aren’t many vegetarian options unless you get a pasta. I ordered a wonderful salad, a radicchio arugula salad with a light, basil vinaigrette it was lovely fresh tasting I really enjoyed it and I thought afterwards that I should have ordered three or four of these and made that my meal. But there was a vegetarian pasta on the menu; it was a wide rigatoni noodle served with eggplant, peas and mushrooms in a light tomato sauce. I thought maybe I could just get vegetables without the pasta in tomato sauce and I explained that to the waiter and mentioned he could throw in some other vegetables as well and when it came I was kind of kicking myself because I thought, “Caryn you should know better.” But the problem is I’ve been spoiled in so many restaurants out there today that are so vegan friendly and accommodate those of us who just want to eat plants and minimally processed plants. And what happened was I got this big bowl that normally serves the pasta dish and I got the vegetables without the pasta, but that meant that there weren’t many vegetables so I enjoyed my small, little bowl of vegetables and it wasn’t even the vegetables that I had asked for – it was broccoli and carrots in a tomato sauce, which was nice, just not a lot. I didn’t want to make a fuss about it. I had already had a nice salad. It was fine, it was a light meal, I was happy to be with the family with this big celebration, and just made a mental note to talk about quantity the next time I have the privilege to be eating in a restaurant. Because it is a privilege and it is such a good thing to have the opportunity to talk, to talk about food, to talk about food and to eat wonderful food. I just like to express my gratitude all the time about it because I know there are people out there who are struggling and can’t afford food, can’t afford good food or don’t know how to prepare healthy food to make it good. A moment of gratitude. Some of the other restaurants I want to highlight. I talked about Vegetarian House before, we really love them. They catered our Happy B’Earthday review back in 2013 when we did it here in San Jose for Responsible Eating and Living. We’ve been there a number of times. During this trip we decided to host a party of friends who wanted to see us that we hadn’t seen in a while and there were about 25 of us and we were at the Vegetarian House. It was really great. What I loved about it was most of the people there weren’t vegetarian. It was a new experience for them to try this kind of food and everybody had a great time and everybody loved it and I hope that they go back and try this food again and discover that they don’t need to have meat and dairy at every meal let alone any meal but here’s the thing that really tickled me this time. When we go to the Vegetarian House we typically order a big bowl of soup one of these Vietnamese style big bowls of soup I like what’s called the Flying Buddha it doesn’t have noodles in it they do have big bowl noodle soups but this has more interesting little chewy nuggets of different things, I’m trying to think of what they are, different roots like tarot and sweet potato, yam, but they do different things to them so that you don’t even know what you’re eating they’re just tasty chewy little pieces of things in this big, lovely bowl of brothy soup. I love it. If you’re ever in San Jose, go to the Vegetarian House and get the Flying Buddha and tell them I sent you. I never noticed this before there were non-alcoholic beverages on the menu. I don’t think they have a liquor license I don’t think they even want to serve alcohol. The people behind this restaurant sort of have a spiritual bent to them and they have non-alcohol beers and wines and I never noticed them before and my friends at the part were ordering them. It was really fun to see the server come with a tray filled with those tall, beer glasses and bottles of non-alcoholic champagne and wine and everybody was just enjoying the festivity and it made me think a minute about drinking alcohol. I love beer and wine, but I don’t love what it does afterwards. A lot of time drinking alcoholic beverages doesn’t make me feel my best and I love the idea of enjoying the idea of it having a drink, toasting, but not experiencing the after effect. Okay, maybe these non-alcoholic beverages don’t have the complexity and full bodied taste of regular beer and wine, but I thought it was really fun that people were going for it and having the full dining experience in this place. It was really, really fun. One last thing, as I mentioned, we celebrated Gary’s birthday early in the month and his dad’s 90th birthday just a few days ago and we were able to get a vegan, gluten free cake at a local bakery in Los Gatos called Icing on the Cake. It’s something you need to custom order, but it is available. When we got it the first time for Gary, it was a delightful surprise because it was really, really delicious. We got the carrot cake. We got the same cake only larger this time for his dad but it still tasted great but it was really crumbly. It was very hard to cut. It didn’t seem to matter to people. Everybody was happy to have cake and they just ate it all up. There really wasn’t anything left over, but I like cakes to be beautiful. I wanted everything that was vegan to be the best it possibly could be for everyone that was there who knew nothing about this type of eating, so, I was a little disappointed that the cake was crummy, but it was delicious. Some things to think about when you’re in a restaurant and it can be really frustrating and you have to decide is it important or is it not important to know what you can get. Now, I try and avoid genetically modified foods, but I know I’ve got some in my body. I’ve allowed some of it, knowingly or unknowingly, to enter and the real hard part is in restaurants. Unless restaurants say that they don’t use genetically modified ingredients, you’re probably getting them and where are you getting them? In places you least expect. I like to order a salad because I can see everything that’s there. I can see the ingredients. I can’t see the ingredients in the salad dressing. So, in really questionable restaurants, I will not get a dressing. I will just get a lemon wedge or a lime wedge and squeeze it or ask if they have vinegar and olive oil, but olive oil, you may have heard this, sometimes is thinned with other oils and salad dressing is made very frequently with soybean oil or could be corn oil and both of those are very often genetically modified. If they’re not organic, they’re very likely genetically modified. So, if you’re eating clean and you’re getting a light little salad dressing on your lovely salad, you’re likely getting some soybean oil that’s GMO. Ouch! And the same is true with a sauté of vegetables. You don’t know what oil they’re using in the back. Very often they say they’re sautéing in olive oil again I don’t know if it’s pure olive oil or thinned olive oil or not or just a vegetable oil, but it may be genetically modified soy or corn oil so just something to keep in mind. The same is true when ordering any soy product, edamame tofu. It may be genetically modified. You may ask and I encourage asking. Asking in a loving, non-judgmental, polite, fun way, if you can, to the server. They’re most likely not going to know, but the more of us who ask bring the importance of it to the front. It’s taken decades to get where we are with vegan friendly food in restaurants and it’s because of those of us who’ve been nagging lifelessly about it. Unfortunately, because of all of the food allergies that exist today especially with children the good part that has come out of that is that restaurants are far more aware of the ingredients they’re putting in their foods because they don’t want people going into shock or dropping dead in their restaurants. It would not look very good. Now, I have had the opportunity to prepare food while living here. We have a simple, little efficiency kitchen which means we have a tiny, little refrigerator that’s actually a wine refrigerator. So, there’s a very little space that’s actually really cool to keep certain foods cool. So, basically what we’ve been doing is having rolled oats in the morning with some soy milk and a variety of different fruits or nuts and I love it and everyday it’s a little different because I get a little different fruit in it or dried fruit or different raw nuts and seeds. One day it could be strawberries, another day it could be mangos, another day I can have dates. One day I can have peanuts or cashews or walnuts and just mix up the ingredients a little bit. Theme and variation it makes every morning a delight and I really look forward to it. Some of the other things we’ve prepared, simple things, we purchased some corn tortillas, avocados, fresh tomatoes. I like to make a simple, little almost like a sandwich just with a corn tortilla. I don’t even cook it then spread some mashed avocado on it and some fresh tomatoes and it’s great, but can we take a little break right now where I rage on corn tortillas? The first thing is, I don’t want to buy corn tortillas with genetically modified corn. So, if it doesn’t say it’s organic, it may be genetically modified corn and then the other thing have you read the ingredients on so many corn tortillas out there? [Sigh] Why do we need to add cellulose gum and a variety of other gums and all kinds of other things? My corn tortillas are organic corn, water and a trace of lime. That’s it. Done. And they’re fabulous. So, we use those simple, corn tortillas and just put a few things on them. That’s been a nice little meal or snack. One day, I had the most satisfying meal and it was really nothing to it. So, we have a jar of Tahini because we like to make Tahini dressing. Have you made Tahini dressing yet? I highly recommend it. You can go to Responsibleeatingandliving.com and Google put in the search bar Tahini or simple Tahini dressing will come up. It’s just feeding water into the sesame butter which is Tahini and feeding it until it’s nice and white and creamy adding enough little water so that it’s not too thick, but comes nice and creamy and then you can squeeze a little lemon juice or vinegar to taste and it’s the best dressing you possibly can have and so simple. So, we have this Tahini dressing. I just had some celery stalks, some chick peas from a soft container of chick peas not from a can there are these bricks now that you can get in Whole Foods and other stores that contain chick peas and when I can’t soak them and cook them at home this is the best bet. So, I just had a plate of chick peas, celery and Tahini and I was so satisfied it was the simplest dinner and really great. We’ve been making a lot of Cal salads. One day, I came up with a little, great, little late night dinner treat which was sliced bananas and then some sesame butter dotted with some lovely dates. It was a little banana, Tahini, date sandwich. Fabulous. Then, we did go to Carmel, which is over the Santa Cruz Mountain down towards Monterey. It’s a lovely, lovely little stunning town. Lots of tourists. We ate in a restaurant called Basil. What’s wonderful about Basil is they locally source their produce and they really know how to prepare vegetables. It’s not a vegetarian restaurant, but they are very vegan friendly. We ordered a number of sides and one of the things we ordered was cauliflower and I could see that one of the bus people walking into the kitchen with these beautiful heads of yellow and purple heirloom cauliflower. It was phenomenal and then later on, when we were in Whole Foods a day or two later, we saw these same yellow and purple cauliflower available organic heirloom and extremely inexpensive. I bought one of these large, yellow heads of cauliflower. It was $2.50 and I can never find a regularly white organic head of cauliflower for less than $5.00, really. But here we were we’re buying food that’s locally grown, in season and just spectacular. At the restaurant, they prepared the cauliflower with some pine nuts and yellow raisins. It was really great. Last night, we roasted that cauliflower. Just cutting it up, just lightly oiling the baking pan, putting the pieces of cauliflower with some bell peppers yellow and red and some bits of garlic cloves and some tomatoes and roasted them up and it was spectacular. I made a side of Pistou and Pistou should not be confused with pesto. We do have a recipe for Pistou at ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com. Pistou, I think pistou was created before pesto came along, but Pistou is just basil, garlic and olive oil. And it’s really a lovely garnish you can add a very little bit of it in soups or on vegetables and it bursts with flavor and it smells up the whole room this phenomenal deliciousness so good. Okay, I think the last thing I want to touch on is a report that recently came out. Maybe you’re familiar with Michelle Simon she has a website Eatdrinkpolitics.com and she does phenomenal work. She’s a lawyer and she digs deep and a lot of people have been talking about the fact that can we trust our scientists today? Can we trust the journals that publish the reports that we’re seeing. You know, there used to be a time where we thought these scientific journals where we could find trust worthy peer reviewed information on the latest scientific research. And now people are becoming suspect because there’s so much money out, the pharmaceutical industry, big Ag, meat and dairy industries and they want to show that their products are helpful and the question is are they buying up scientists and scientific journals to make a product look good. And if you read this report by Michelle Simon you’re really going to think that, yes, they do buy these journals up. She has a new report called, “Has the American Society for Nutrition lost all credibility?” The American Society for Nutrition is the nation’s leading authority of nutrition, scientists and researchers and she’s discovered that they have some cozy relationships with Pepsi Co., Coca Cola, Nestle, McDonalds, Monsanto, Morris, the Sugar Association and in her report she’s dug up lots of interesting information where these different companies donate to advertise in their journal. They donate at their conferences and the result is not very good as you can see in her report. I recommend reading it. Some of the conclusions made really floored me. One of them, I am looking for it. Well, you may just have to read it to find out [laugh], but really a spectacular report. So, that’s Eatdrinkpolitics.com. It’s her June 14th article, “Has the American Society for Nutrition lost all Credibility?” Sad news. I don’t want to end on sad news because it’s now time to end the program. So, I just want you to join me for a moment. Just close your eyes and imagine you’re in this really peaceful, beautiful surroundings. Can you hear the crows cawing and the water flowing? It’s really lovely. The air is warm, the sun is shining, and the sky is blue. It’s really such a peaceful place. If you close your eyes you can join me here for a moment take in a breath [breathe in], the air’s delicious let it go. Take it in again [breathe in] let it go. I’m Caryn Hartglass. Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food. Have a really delicious week. See you next week in New York!!