Dining News

How to Make Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

Soft, fluffy, moist, spicy Perfect Pumpkin Muffins bring the flavors of fall to your table. These are wonderfully light and flavorful and super easy. It’s a great way to usher in the Pumpkin baking season.

These are perfect for an afternoon snack or for breakfast paired with Sausage Avocado Burritos or Southwest Baked Ham, Eggs and Potato Hash. 


Fluffy, soft, moist perfect pumpkin muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

It is finally that time of year and we can officially call it Fall. These perfect muffins are the best way to get the baking season off to a perfect start. They’re not too crazy, not too dull, just the ideal spiced warm aroma and tender flavor that says it’s time!

I love packing these in lunches, or setting them out for snacks or having a batch coming out of the oven in time for breakfast. They are just that good. Slathered with maple butter, or cream cheese or eaten straight from the tin, they will be perfect.

Muffin Ingredients:

Simple ingredients but amazing results.

  • Flour– All purpose, or unbleached bread flour
  • Baking Soda– Raising agent
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves– The best spices for pumpkin
  • Salt– Balances the sweet
  • Sugar– White Sugar
  • Brown Sugar– Adds color and rich flavor
  • Eggs-Large or extra large eggs.
  • Pumpkin– do not used pie filling but canned pumpkin
  • Oil & Milk- Adds delicate moisture

Bake the Most Perfect Muffins:

A few steps and you’ll have the perfect muffins.

  1. Dry- In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt and whisk together.
  2. Wet– In another medium bowl beat the sugars, eggs, pumpkin, oil and milk till thoroughly combined.
  3. Mix– Combine the dry and wet ingredients and fold till combined.
  4. Bake– Fill the muffin tin lined with liners till almost full.  Bake for 20-22 for 375 degrees.

How to make soft, fluffy perfect pumpkin muffins.

Variations for Easy Pumpkin Muffins:

This is a terrific base for pillowy soft scrumptious muffins, so it’s very versatile.

  • ADD INS- Add chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, oats, shredded coconut, chopped fruit, or even crystallized ginger.
  • Spread– Spread these muffins with peanut butter, almond butter or even pecan butter for extra protein packed snack.
  • Toppings- These can be topped with a streusel crumb topping, cream cheese frosting, or a simple maple icing drizzle. You can really get creative.
  • Substitutions- Change out the Vegetable oil for coconut oil. Use Whole wheat pastry flour instead of white.

Fluffy, soft, moist perfect pumpkin muffins.

Storing Homemade Muffin:

  • Keep in an air tight container or loosely tied bag. The moisture in these muffins can make them “sweat” and turn sticky and not last as long. They will keep up to 3 days at room temperature, 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer


Fluffy, soft, moist perfect pumpkin muffins.

More Delicious Muffin Recipes:

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Author Alyssa Rivers

Servings 12 Muffins

Soft, fluffy, moist, spicy Perfect Pumpkin Muffins bring the flavors of fall to your table. These are wonderfully light and flavorful and super easy. It’s a great way to usher in the Pumpkin baking season.

  • 2
  • 1
    baking soda
  • 2
  • 1/4
  • 1/4
  • 1/4
  • 1/2
  • 1
  • 1/2
    light brown sugar
  • 2
  • 1
    15 ounce can
  • 1/2
    vegetable oil
  • 1/4

Nutrition Facts

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

Amount Per Serving

Calories 270
Calories from Fat 90

% Daily Value*

Fat 10g15%

Saturated Fat 8g40%

Cholesterol 32mg11%

Sodium 205mg9%

Potassium 53mg2%

Carbohydrates 42g14%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 26g29%

Protein 3g6%

Vitamin A 60IU1%

Calcium 24mg2%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

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Politics, Elections, and the Post-Truth Era

Let’s talk politics and lies. Why are they so rampant today? In today’s Psych Central Podcast, our host speaks with author and communications expert Tim Ward who explains why the truth matters so much — especially regarding our elected officials. They discuss our cognitive biases, like the “halo” and “anchoring” effects, that can cause us to turn a blind eye and believe the lies we hear.

Learn about the different types of lies politicians tell and learn how can we avoid being the victims of fake news.  Click on the player above to listen now!


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Tim Ward is co-owner of Intermedia Communications Training, Inc. Based in the Washington D.C. area, he works with global organizations helping them communicate better. He is a former print journalist, and the author of ten books. Tim is also publisher of Changemakers Books. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife and business partner Teresa.


About The Psych Central Podcast Host

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website,

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Post-Truth Era’

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the field of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.

Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of The Psych Central Podcast, I’m your host Gabe Howard and calling into the show today, we have Tim Ward. Tim is the coauthor of the book Pro Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics with previous guest, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky. Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim Ward: It is my pleasure to be with you today and thank you to your listeners for inviting us both into their minds.

Gabe Howard: Tim, I’m really glad to have you. Now, you and Dr. Tsipursky’s book is advertised as, and I’m reading this, this book sets out a practical plan to make truth matter in the 2020 elections. Find out how citizens can turn back the tide of post truth, politics, fake news and misinformation. Now, that’s a big statement. And frankly, it sounds like something that I would expect to hear from a politician that you kind of roll your eyes and think you can’t do that. Can you address this?

Tim Ward: Well, you’re right, I can’t do that, but we can do it. People are sick and tired of hearing politicians lie to them. They’ve realized that it not only affects their jobs, their world, but their health, when people lie about the pandemic and what’s causing it and what we can do to protect ourselves. So, if you elect people because they lie well, you’re going to end up with people who govern lying well. It’s all connected. And I think the people in America don’t want to live in a post truth society where truth doesn’t matter. Truth does matter. And we together can send a strong message this election season so that politicians of all stripes, we are not picking on anyone, of all stripes see that you have to respect your voters. And the way to do that is by telling them the truth.

Gabe Howard: One of the phrases that you use was post truth, can you explain what that is?

Tim Ward: Sure, this is something that was, I think, Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016, and it means in this era, whether things are true or not matters less than whether or not they emotionally appealed to voters, that if you tell a lie that is really emotionally convincing, voters won’t punish you for that. They’ll just say, well, it serves our side. Well, you know, politics is a lot about

persuasion, but it also has to be persuasion for the public good. And when people are only using persuasive techniques to lie and deceive people about what’s actually happening, you’re not really serving the public good. And why is it that people will do that? Well, you know, we get strongly invested in our side winning. If you think of anybody who watches a football game when their team gets a penalty flag, what’s the first thing you do? The ref’s blind?

Gabe Howard: Yeah.

Tim Ward: That’s an unfair call. The ref is biased. So, there’s this tendency to want your side to always be right. That’s a natural human tendency. And in a football game, what difference does it make if that’s how you feel? But when it comes to politics, there’s a lot more at stake.

Gabe Howard: I’m cynical, I just want to say that right up front, but don’t all politicians lie? I am forty-three years old and the one truth is that politicians lie.

Tim Ward: Well, let me, first of all, agree with that and then qualify by saying that some do it worse than others. Lots of fact checkers are out there, which can give you a rating. How many lies have been told? And also, in terms of quality, there are different kinds of lies. There are some lies that are overgeneralizing, exaggerating, maybe hiding some things that are truth. And then there are blatant lies, you know, in your face saying one thing one day and another thing the next day. And then there’s gaslighting, which is with the media reports on a lie saying, no, they’re the liars, not me. Trying to get people to doubt their own sense of reality. So, one of the things we encourage people to do is say, OK, suspect all politicians of lies, but especially the ones that you may favor. Fact check for yourself and see what kinds of lies you’re being told. Are you being told more white lies or exaggerations or are you being deliberately and systematically lied to?

Gabe Howard: One of the things that I think that Americans don’t understand is evolution, especially with politicians that have been in the public eye for a long time. And the example that I use is myself, when I was 15 years old, if you asked me, Gabe, what is the best soda in the world? I would have said Mountain Dew. And now at forty-three, if you ask me, you know, Gabe, what is the best soda in the world? I would say Diet Coke. It is certainly possible that somebody putting those two films back to back would be like, OK, were you lying early in your political career or are you lying now to become whatever I’m running for? Now that’s just a change in opinion. Of course, we call that flip flopping, I suppose. But

Tim Ward: Right.

Gabe Howard: I also think about it, like you said, exaggeration. Is there a difference between this is a small house, this is a tiny house, and this house is a thousand square feet? I’d have to imagine that Bill Gates would think that my house is small, whereas anybody that lives in a New York City Manhattan would see my house is huge. The fact remains, it’s still two thousand square feet.

Tim Ward: Right. So, there’s something really important about being able to say it’s two thousand square feet because that’s a fact,

Gabe Howard: Right.

Tim Ward: Big or small, cramped or spacious. Those are value judgments that can only really be interpreted when anyone brings it back down to a fact. So being able to speak about facts is an important thing. If a politician says my plan is going to fix this about the country, it’s legitimate to say, oh, yeah? What are the specific details of your plan? And if they say, well, that’s a secret.

Tim Ward: Or if they give you some ideas about the plan and you say, but that’s the opposite of what you said in the past, have you changed your mind? And the politician says, oh, I never said that. Well, that’s what you have to worry about. It’s not so much whether somebody changed their mind, it’s whether or not they say, I never said that if they actually did. We’ve got to be smarter about listening for lies in when politicians speak. So, there are lots of different ways that you can try to fool people. What really matters is the intent. If a political figure is really trying to explain what they’re doing, they may be exaggerating. They may have some hyperbole. That’s one thing. But if they’re saying things that are false, maybe even about their opponents’ plans, that’s something that should be a red flag for us. When we get those red flags, we should have a higher standard leading to fact check everything else we hear from them.

Gabe Howard: You claim that the current political and media landscape is tilted against truth and facts. Why do you believe that? And how do you think it got that way?

Tim Ward: A big part of it is social media. We used to live in a world where the mainstream media, big networks, big, big newspapers had budgets to rigorously fact check everything. And by and large, they got things right. But the Internet has completely changed the game. It’s pushed us on to a 24-hour news cycle. It’s slashed the budgets of the serious news organizations. So, it’s easier for them to report the news of not just the day, but the news of the minute. Somebody tweets something they just send out boom, news report, so-and-so says X without seriously fact checking X to begin with. So, claims are put out and opinions are put out. And it’s harder to get to those facts. That’s compounded by the fact that on social media, people share stuff and your friends read it and we tend to trust more things that are said by our friends and our family. So, if I see oh, my friend Gabe just sent me this article. Oh, it says alligators are migrating to the Great Lakes. Wow. I’ll send that on to my friends because it comes from someone you trust. You tend to think it’s more true. You tend to send it out easier. And so that’s why you have huge amounts of misinformation in social media.

Gabe Howard: I just can’t help but think, is this just another book that’s anti Trump? Is that really what you’re saying, that Trump is bad? He’s got to go. He’s a liar. And you just wrote a book to prove it?

Tim Ward: Well, there are books out there like that. We have a different stand and our stand is the truth matters and any politician who wants to show the truth matters and sign the pro truth pledge, which is connected to the book and is then ready to follow that standard, we’ll embrace them wholeheartedly. We believe people can change. And if they do change, they should be rewarded for choosing to tell the truth, for deciding to be truthful, especially if they’re public figures. Over a thousand elected officials

have signed the pro truth pledge to date. As to Trump, according to most news sources, he’s repeated over 20,000 falsehoods and misleading statements since he’s been elected. It’s an incredible number and it shows an incredible disregard for the truth. So, I would say anybody who listens to the president should rigorously fact check whatever they hear him say. And specifically, if he says something without evidence, they should ask themselves, why is there no evidence for this? Surely if he had evidence, he’d give it. So, when somebody makes claims and they don’t provide evidence, that should be a red flag. That should be a warning. This claim may not be true.

Gabe Howard: Now, many people would argue that he hasn’t made 20,000 false claims. That the liberal media has lied, that the fact checking websites are biased against him, that it’s all fake news, and that, in fact, he is an incredibly honest person who’s just being attacked by a smear campaign. Now, that really speaks more to a cognitive bias, I suppose. And it also makes me wonder — we as a society believe that all politicians are lying except for our guy. We never

Tim Ward: Yeah,

Gabe Howard: Think that the person that we voted for is lying. It’s all the other ones. It really is a cognitive bias. Right? Can you explain what that is and why people believe it?

Tim Ward: Sure, cognitive biases are mental blind spots that everybody has, you know, our brains have evolved to help us survive well in the African savannah and the social mechanisms that are connected to how our brains evolved and told us to trust and to create lots of shortcuts for who we should trust and why we should trust them. And once people display the characteristics of the kind of person we should trust, it’s easy to continue trusting them. So, someone might simply say, OK, Donald Trump, celebrity, successful business person, I trust him. So that’s a bias called the halo effect. And that means like a halo on an angel. If they’re good in some things, you tend to put a halo on them, on other things. You think of it like, you know, movie stars who endorse a health product or a brand of watch. Why do they do that? Because we think, oh, this movie star, he likes that. It’s got to be good. But in fact, their ability to act well or look handsome has nothing to do with whether or not their watch will work. So

Gabe Howard: Very true, very true.

Tim Ward: So, that’s one example of a bias that really can make people make chronically bad judgments. I will connect it to one other one, which is called the anchoring bias. And this is once we make a strong impression, it becomes very difficult to dislodge us from that impression. You could think of love at first sight. It’s a good parallel to that. Sometimes you meet someone, we fall in love with and we get infatuated and it may take us months to see they’re actually not a very nice person.

Gabe Howard: Or they’re not good for us, it’s there’s

Tim Ward: Exactly.

Gabe Howard: A concept that I love, it’s called new relationship energy. Everything is perfect until that

new relationship energy kind of wears off. Right.

Tim Ward: Right.

Gabe Howard: Whether that takes days or weeks or months, they’re perfect. But then eventually reality sets in.

Tim Ward: Right, right.

Gabe Howard: But during the new relationship energy phase. Oh, it’s addictive.

Tim Ward: Yeah, I think, indeed, for many people, one of the things they found attractive about Trump initially was he wasn’t like a politician. He seemed to say exactly what he was on his mind. He seemed not to be carefully crafting policy positions to please others or the media and a lot of people, I think, like that. So, they had what was the name of that? That new energy.

Gabe Howard: That new relationship energy. He was different. Yeah.

Tim Ward: Exactly. And, you know, in 2016, that’s understandable for some people. Four years later, I think that’s worn off. The new relationship has worn off for a lot of people.

Gabe Howard: We’re going to step away, but we’ll be right back after these messages.

Sponsor Message: Gabe here and I wanted to tell you about Psych Central’s other podcast that I host, Not Crazy. It’s straight talk about the world of mental illness and it is hosted by me and my ex-wife. You should check it out at or your favorite podcast player.

Sponsor Message: This episode is sponsored by Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you.

Gabe Howard: And we’re back with Tim Ward, co-author of Pro Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics.  Now, one of the things that you mentioned earlier was that over a thousand politicians have signed the pro truth pledge. Can you tell our listeners what that is?

Tim Ward: The pledge is something that was created by my coauthor, Gleb Tsipursky, and Dr. Tsipursky is by training a behavioral scientist specializing in cognitive neuroscience, how our brains process truth, truth and lies. So, he created this set of 12 behaviors that, if you follow them, will help you be more truthful and less likely to spread misinformation, especially online, but will also help others, help your friends, your networks better value the expressions of truth, too. The pro truth pledge can make you somebody who can be more certain that you are spreading truthful information online and not inadvertently spreading lies. So, doing things like fact checking, like being willing to question sources from your friends before passing something along, can cut the spread of misinformation and give us a healthier Internet. So that’s the purpose of the pro truth pledge. And I’ve signed it myself and I can attest it’s changed my behavior.

Gabe Howard: I believe you when you say that it has changed your behavior, but we’re not interested in Tim Ward right now. How do you know, or how does Dr. Tsipursky know that this pro truth pledge is going to change people’s behavior at all?

Tim Ward: Right. Excellent. That was Gleb’s question too when he came up with it. Because he’s a scientist, what he did is he reached out and he offered to other scientists the opportunity to conduct research experiments on the pro truth pledge. And not one, but two peer-reviewed studies have been published in scientific journals now attesting to the significant behavior change that those who signed the pro truth pledge have made in their social media. So, what they simply did is they studied people’s social media behavior. Then people took the pledge and then they studied their behavior after that. Now, because social media is out there it was actually easy to do. From the time I signed the pledge, they could track their behavior the four weeks after they signed and the four weeks before they signed and see whether or not they were forwarding on and passing along stuff which was not properly fact checked or true. So those studies are now published. The details about them are in the book. And we invite anybody who wants to not only take a look at the research, but there’s scope for doing more research into it too.

Gabe Howard: I like anything that that’s backed up by fact, and it’s interesting that you said you would look at the four weeks before on social media. One of the benefits of that, of course, is they haven’t signed it yet and they probably don’t know they’re going to sign it. Right. So, when you go

Tim Ward: Right.

Gabe Howard: Back to those four, it’s pure.

Tim Ward: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: I mean, it’s, that’s kind of incredible if you think about it from a scientific research standpoint. So, let’s talk about the subtitle of your book, A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics. Without reading us the book, can you tell our listeners about this plan?

Tim Ward: Sure, there’s three basic steps, the first step is in the book, read it and become smarter at distinguishing truth from lies. Protect yourself. There are practical things you can do, so it’s harder to fool you. The second thing is spread good practices by signing the pro truth pledge and practicing truthful behavior on social media and with emails, with what you share. Beyond that, there’s the social aspect. You can join the pro truth movement. Signing the pledge is the first step, but you can volunteer. You can

post about the pro truth movement. And there’s other ways that you can support the movement. Tell your friends about them. If you’ve got friends who you think would respond to being more truthful, you can give them a copy of the book or simply email them about the pledge. Explain why you signed it. So those two steps, personal, your own relationship and then working as part of the movement. We believe this plan can make an impact in politics. And let me say one of the practical things that I’m working with, the person who’s in charge of our volunteers right now to set up is not just the presidential elections, but there’s all these debates that are going to be going on in town halls with officials up for election. We want people who are pro truth to stand up and ask them questions. Obviously, it’s virtual now so,

Gabe Howard: Right.

Tim Ward: Ask them questions, phone-in and ask them questions. Do you value truth? Have you signed the pro truth pledge? And if they haven’t signed it, to say, will you sign the pro truth pledge? Give them an opportunity to sign it.

Gabe Howard: One of the things that I think about in everything you just said is that that just sounds way too simple. So, I’m going to go to ask basically the same question using radically different words. How do you convince people who believe in lies that align with their emotionally motivated reasoning? They believe it. They’re emotionally invested in it. How do you get them to turn away from that and instead believe in facts which are probably very uncomfortable to them? How do you stem that tide? Because it’s comforting lies versus uncomfortable facts, and most people want to be comfortable. How do you change their mind?

Tim Ward: You are absolutely right, and the sad truth is you can’t change their mind. There are things that you can do with people who hold that view, but people who are simply invested in their side and they don’t care about the facts. These are not the ones that we’re working on reaching with pro truth and the pro truth pledge. We’re working on the ones who’ve had enough. We’re working the ones who want their country to be more grounded in truth and facts in its politics. And let’s say only one in 20 people have come to that realization that truth matters over the last four years. Well, five percent of voters would be enough to swing most states.

Gabe Howard: That’s very, very true. We have this tendency when we say one in 20, one in 20, that’s not very many. That’s five percent. There is nobody in my life that if they received a five percent raise, that their job wouldn’t take everybody out to dinner and think that it was just the most massive number in the history of ever. If they got a five percent rebate on something that they bought or their car or their house just on and on and on, five percent suddenly is this gigantic number until we start saying, well, you know, we get one in 20 to believe the truth. That’s nothing. Why do you think that is? Why? I mean, why.

Tim Ward: Well, now, Dr. Tsipursky may roll his eyes at this because I’m not going to provide scientific research for what I’m going to say, to me, it’s just something that makes common sense. Human nature is deeply rooted in emotions. People we care about, ideas that we care about, they move us as much as hunger and fear. And we can think about numbers, but we don’t feel them deeply. And that means we can easily be misled about numbers. We’ve got very peculiar cognitive biases around numbers which can

lead us to make very bad decisions sometimes. People will hear one percent as something that’s very small and insignificant or as we’ve just talked about, five percent of small and insignificant, when in fact five percent can mean the difference between a flood that washes over a city street and one that doesn’t.

Gabe Howard: Right. It’s interesting what you said about math, because even as you’re talking about math, I hate math. It was my worst class in school. I dreaded them and

Tim Ward: Uh-huh.

Gabe Howard: And I’m not good at it. I don’t like numbers because they’re so rigid. And that is, that is how I am wired. I like the gray. I like to discuss things, whereas math, five plus five is always ten. There’s no

Tim Ward: Yeah,

Gabe Howard: Wiggle room. There’s no discussion.

Tim Ward: Yeah. Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Five plus five is ten. There’s nothing to talk about and I, I really like to talk but I like that human connection

Tim Ward: Yeah,

Gabe Howard: As well, you know. I mean that’s.

Tim Ward: Yeah, I agree with you, the thing that we all have to do is figure out what are the numbers that we need to pay attention to and how can we know that those numbers are true? Right. So, there’s a really crazy number out there, which is the “r” number, which is very important for pandemics. It’s the rate of transmission of infections. And if you’ve got a pandemic going on and one person passes it to one person or fewer than your “r” is less than one and the pandemic will die out. But if your “r” is more than one, the pandemic will spread. So that number is really important to scientists. And one of the problems that we’ve seen in the US is we can’t get that number down below one. That means the infections continue to spread and it’ll never, ever go away if that number is greater than one. So it’s a number of great importance to the scientists who are working on how do we bring this pandemic under control.

Gabe Howard: And yet to build upon that, somebody else will find a completely different number, they will say, well, you know, only 2% die and therefore that’s not really important, or 180,000 people have been infected, but there’s 400 million people. So, are we really giving up our constitutional rights and civil liberties over such a small number? And it’s very interesting that we can use math in this way, because, I mean, one, I would argue that I don’t care if the death rate is one or 180,000, if it’s you or

somebody that you love, that number is really, frankly, irrelevant, because mom or grandma or your child or your best friend are gone. So, it’s interesting. And I think it goes back to the cognitive bias that you were explaining. We have this cognitive bias in our head that as long as it’s nobody that we know, it’s an insignificant number and hey, people die anyway. But that cognitive bias is destroyed immediately if it’s us or somebody that we love. And suddenly we get on board and we see this and people changing their opinions all the time. As a mental health advocate, the number one way that I can get somebody to pay attention to mental illness advocacy is if they or a loved one is diagnosed with it, they end up in the mental health system and they have a traumatic and or bad experience. Then suddenly they want to fix it. Whereas if I talk to that same person two years before when they knew nobody with severe and persistent mental illness, it’s well, it’s fine. I mean, people have health insurance. Well, if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, it’s they have all of these reasons that the mental health safety net is unimportant to America as a whole. Is it basically like that? Is that a good analogy?

Tim Ward: Certainly, what you’re pointing to is vitally important for us as citizens, but also for our political leaders, and that is finding out how you can take numbers that guide policy and connect them to realities that affect people’s lives. You know, there’s that horrible but brilliant quote that Joseph Stalin gave us years ago. One, death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. So, from the point of view of where we are today, knowing what numbers mean, how do numbers actually affect us is not only important, but being aware that politicians quite often will skillfully abuse numbers to forward their policy goals. They may even be true numbers. So, at the beginning of the pandemic, some politicians were saying, oh, there’s only 15 cases in the country that encouraging people to ignore it. And then they were saying, oh, sure, there’s deaths, but there are fewer deaths than the flu, encouraging people to ignore it. Those were true numbers, but they were ignoring the fact that pandemics have exponential spread. And if you ignore it when the numbers fall, the number gets very big and almost impossible to control, which is what happened.

Gabe Howard: The question that’s still on my mind here is, do you honestly think that your efforts can make an impact on our political system? I mean, this with all respect, but you wrote a book that said, hey, there’s a lot of lying in politics. Here’s what we can do better. And I think it didn’t we just know this already. And I think that shows apathy on my part. And I have to imagine that there’s probably a lot of apathy in America about what is happening in politics.

Tim Ward: Yeah, it’s out of my hands and it’s out of Gleb’s hands, we can each, both the two of us, but everybody who signed the pro truth pledge everybody who values truth and who is disgusted by the lack of truth in our politics today. Every person has the power to affect their friends, their networks, others around them, and to affect their own political system. Whether or not this is enough to create big change depends on how many people are motivated to make this kind of change. But if there’s one thing that I believe I know about the United States, it’s that when people have had enough, they’re ready to stand up and create change. I think this is the year the people have had enough of lives. And it’s my hope, and Gleb’s hope, that they’ll make truth matter and they’ll take a stand.

Gabe Howard: I like that, thank you so much, Tim, one of the stands that you want people to take is to sign the pro truth pledge. Where can they find that pledge and sign it?

Tim Ward: It is as easy as you can imagine,, You can not only read the pledge there, sign it, see others who signed it, but you can also find ways to become engaged and involved.

Gabe Howard: And the book’s title is Pro Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics.

Tim Ward: Yes.

Gabe Howard: Tim, thank you so much for being here and to all of our listeners, thank you for listening. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of Mental Illness Is an Asshole: And Other Observations also available on Amazon. Or you can get a signed copy for less money by heading over to Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please subscribe. Also, please rate us, give us as many stars as you feel that we deserve and also use your words. Tell people why they should give us a shot. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling any time anywhere simply by visiting We’ll see everybody next week.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to The Psych Central Podcast. Want your audience to be wowed at your next event? Feature an appearance and LIVE RECORDING of the Psych Central Podcast right from your stage! For more details, or to book an event, please email us at [email protected] Previous episodes can be found at or on your favorite podcast player. Psych Central is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, Psych Central offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at  To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at Thank you for listening and please share with your friends, family, and followers.

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11 Healthy Habits, Plus Packaged Food Picks, from a Nutritionist

Maya Feller

If you’re looking for practical and nonjudgmental advice about healthy eating: Nutritionist Maya
Feller’s voice is both refreshing and reassuring. This is true on the page—Feller is the author of The
Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook
—and over Zoom.

While all this time cooking at home can be wonderful for some, it can potentially exacerbate other
people’s already fraught relationships with food. “Perfection is not the goal,” says Feller. “Sustainability and
satisfaction are.” Her measured, long-term approach provides nutrition education from an antibias,
patient-centered, culturally sensitive perspective, with real-food-based solutions. “Our food and nutrition habits
are not defined by one stand-alone moment, but rather, the habits are shaped by the choices we make over time.”

Feller shared with us her tips for cultivating healthy habits right now—some quick hacks, product recs,
and a few bigger ideas that challenge how we can think about food.

Healthy Habits

By Maya Feller, MS, RD

Tip 1

Mind Your Liquids

Proper hydration is needed for every system of the body to function properly. And limiting your intake of
sugar-sweetened beverages and liquid carbohydrates can also support overall health. I lean on refreshing drinks I
can make at home, like iced herbal teas (hibiscus and tulsi are good choices), and water infused with herbs,
cucumbers, ginger, or jalapeño. I also enjoy zero- and low-sugar beverages, like Reed’s Zero Sugar Ginger Ale and Elements functional wellness drinks. Also, Hella
Cocktails Bitters & Soda Dry Aromatic
—having grown up drinking bitters with water, this combination is
incredibly appealing to me. The combination of clove, allspice, bitterroot, and orange peel is heavenly!

  1. Reed’s Reed’s Zero Sugar Real Ginger Ale

    Reed’s Zero Sugar
    Real Ginger Ale

    Amazon, $46 for 24 cans


  2. Elements Elements Sampler Pack

    Elements Sampler Pack
    Elements, $42 for 12 cans


  3. Hella Cocktail Co. Bitters & Soda Dry Aromatic

    Hella Cocktail Co.
    Bitters & Soda Dry

    Hella Cocktail Co., $30 for 12 cans


Tip 2

Embrace Fiber

Fiber, found in all plants, is beneficial for gut health, blood sugar regulation, and cardiovascular health.
Foods like dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, and chickpeas are rich in prebiotic fibers that pass through
the GI tract undigested and ferment to act as nutrition for the good bacteria. The end result is supportive of a
healthy microbiome.

One of the easy ways I add fiber to family meals is with Banza, plant-based mac ’n’ cheese. It’s made
from chickpeas and is a great source of plant-based protein and fiber—two times the protein and three times the
fiber of conventional pasta. Yolélé Fonio is another great option: This
quick-cooking ancient grain from West Africa cooks similarly to couscous. And it has triple the iron, protein, and
fiber of brown rice.

  1. Banza Banza Chickpea Mac and Cheese Variety Pack

    Banza Chickpea Mac and Cheese
    Variety Pack

    Amazon, $22 for 6


  2. Yolélé Jolof Fonino Pilaf

    Jolof Fonino Pilaf
    Yolélé, $7


Tip 3

Lean In to Flavorful Chef’s Helpers

Go beyond prechopped veggies and flavorless packaged mixes. Prepared simmer sauces and condiments can reduce prep
time in the kitchen and produce a flavorful and nutritious meal. Brooklyn
is hands down one of my favorites with an excellent ingredient list—the condiments and simmer sauces
make potatoes and greens sing. Saffron Road makes simmer sauces that are
delicious and go well with hearty veggies and greens that wilt easily, and meal pouches that can be rounded out
with a side. Maya Kaimal simmer sauces can take a fillet or whole
grilled fish to another level.

  1. Maya Kaimal Madras Curry Simmer Sauce

    Maya Kaimal
    Madras Curry Simmer Sauce
    Amazon, $5


  2. Saffron Road Thai Red Curry Simmer Sauce

    Saffron Road
    Thai Red Curry Simmer Sauce
    Amazon, $27 for 8


  3. Brooklyn Dehli Roasted Garlic Achaar

    Brooklyn Delhi
    Roasted Garlic Achaar
    Brooklyn Delhi, $12


Tip 4

Become a Spice and Herb Connoisseur

Boost your antioxidants and phytonutrients by adding herbs and spices to your meals. Herbs and spices have been
used for centuries, and many have health benefits beyond increasing the desirability and flavor of a meal. My
kitchen is always stocked with curry powder, turmeric, cumin, sweet and smoked paprika, black pepper, dried dill,
dried thyme, nutmeg, chili flakes, Aleppo pepper, cayenne, and dried ginger. Kalustyan’s in NYC ships within the US and has an incredible array of
spices. My favorite premade spice blends are the adobo and sazón from Loisa—they bring any vegetable, bean, grain, or protein to

  1. Loisa Adobo and Sazon Combo

    Adobo and Sazon Combo
    $30 for 2 Combo Packs


Tip 5

Know Your Swaps

If you’re trying to modify or potentially increase the nutritional value of a meal, consider swapping a single
ingredient. When building a balanced plate, swapping can be as much about changing the nutrient profile as it is
about trying something new and having fun. Always ask yourself why you are making the swap; this will guide your
choices. Try swapping canned tuna for canned sardines with a kick of flavor. They are a protein powerhouse and a good
source of calcium, vitamin D, iron, and EPA and DHA omega-3s. A starchy vegetable like winter squash is a great
swap for whole grains like brown rice. There are over fifty varieties that are known to be antioxidant-rich
(hello, vitamins C and E) as well as being good sources of fiber, magnesium, and potassium. They keep well for
months and are delicious.

Tip 6

Love Your Adaptogens and Superfoods

Adaptogens are natural substances, usually
found in plants, that are commonly known to help our bodies adapt or to enhance our bodies’ reactions to stressful
situations. There are many functional foods and spices, such as mushrooms and turmeric, that have adaptogenic
properties. When we don’t have access to these, there are supplements that can be supportive. It’s important to
consult your health care practitioner and read and understand the package directions when using supplements. And
remember that a supplement is not a magic pill or a cure-all. If you have a new or worsening symptom, discontinue
use and reach out to your primary care provider.

I like to use powdered adaptogenic blends and superfood supplements in smoothies, in baking, and in unexpected meals for an added nutrient boost. Some of my favorites are NOW Beet
Root Powder
, which can help us reap the benefits of nitrate-rich beetroot, known to increase the internal
production of nitric oxide. MBG Veggies+ packs sea
vegetables, which are helpful for supporting the thyroid, due to their iodine content. And Four Sigmatic Superfood Protein is an
incredible blend of vegan protein with chaga, reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane, and turkey tail—all mushrooms with
wonderful properties.

  1. Now Foods Now Sports Nutrition Beet Root Powder

    NOW Foods
    Now Sports Nutrition
    Beet Root Powder

    Amazon, $18


  2. Four Sigmatic Superfood Protein Packets

    Four Sigmatic
    Superfood Protein Packets
    goop, $40


  3. mindbodygreen Organic Veggies+

    Organic Veggies+
    mindbodygreen, $60


Tip 7

Get Fancy with Seasonal Produce

Eating seasonally is always in season! You are supporting the supply chain, thereby supporting farmers. You can
take it a step further and support local farmers by participating in a CSA or visiting a farmers’ market. Spring
and summer overflow with softer, sweeter greens, berries, and stone fruit. And fall and winter are known for
their colorful winter squash and hearty vegetables. Farmers’ markets and CSA boxes are an excellent way to
experiment with unfamiliar fruits and veggies. As we head into fall, I’m excited to try these Brussels sprouts sliders—still
deep and earthy, but this time as a bite-size bun. Chickpea patties or seitan can be swapped for a roasted
mushroom slice to add some extra umami. Kohlrabi slaw
makes an excellent side dish, is loaded with vitamin C and fiber, and helps maintain glucose and
cholesterol levels. This Hasselback
butternut squash
gives a new twist to the traditional potato dish and is easy to prepare.

  1. Kholrabi and Carrot Slaw

    Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw


  2. Brussels Sprouts Sliders

    Brussels Sprouts Sliders


  3. Hasselback Butternut Squash

    Hasselback Butternut Squash


Tip 8

Don’t Overlook the Grab-and-Go options

There are many well-balanced and delicious grab-and-go items designed to be enjoyed when we are in a pinch. GoMacro offers a
variety of organic, vegan, gluten-free packaged bars with a generous amount of plant-based protein (four to
sixteen grams per bar), whole grains, and dried fruits. Wonderful
pistachios are an excellent source of unsaturated fat, and they are teeming with fiber,
plant-based protein, B6, and antioxidants. If you’re craving cheese and crackers, Mary’s
Gone Crackers
(seaweed and black sesame) and a vegan, tree-nut-based cheese like Dr. Cow makes an easy and satiating midday snack
with lots of essential nutrients.

  1. GoMacro Coconut + Almond Butter + Chocolate Chip Macrobar

    Coconut + Almond Butter +
    Chocolate Chip Macrobar

    GoMacro, $35 for 12


  2. Wonderful Pistachios Wonderful Pistachios, Roasted Salted

    Wonderful Pistachios
    Wonderful Pistachios,
    Roasted Salted

    Amazon, $11


  3. Mary’s Gone Crackers Seaweed + Black Sesame

    Mary’s Gone Crackers
    Seaweed + Black Sesame
    Mary’s Gone Crackers, $5


  4. Dr. Cow Sample Cheese Box

    Dr. Cow
    Sample Cheese Box
    Dr. Cow, $85


Tip 9

Be an Informed Consumer

Health claims are just that—claims. They are meant to draw in the consumer with the promise of a specific
outcome. While some label claims are regulated by the FDA and USDA, others may be sourced through independent
companies or organizations and used by manufacturers voluntarily to inform consumers of what is in their product.
Labels and claims may or may not be meaningful, and some are just used as marketing efforts. For example, the Non-GMO
Project label is widely recognized and trusted to ensure a product is grown or manufactured without the use of
GMOs, whereas the labeling of water as gluten-free is merely a marketing tactic. Two resources to know are Consumer Reports, which details the meaning and
validity of well-known food labels and health claims, and CSPI (Center for
Science in the Public Interest), which is an independent, science-based organization focusing on consumer and
food-safety advocacy.

Tip 10

Create Time for Rejuvenating Sleep

Sleep is a biological need. When we are sleep-deprived, every system in our body is impacted. Setting yourself up
for a good night’s sleep requires a solid wind-down routine. Some things that have helped me are avoiding large
meals or brisk exercise for three to four hours before bedtime, limiting screen time for one to two hours before
bed (especially the news or anything anxiety-producing), and keeping my room dark and cool. I also enjoy the
soothing scent of lavender essential oil (either in a diffuser or a few drops rubbed on my pillow) and a calming
cup of lemon balm or chamomile tea.

  1. vitruvi x goop goop Exclusive Stone Diffuser

    vitruvi x goop
    goop Exclusive Stone Diffuser
    goop, $119


  2. vitruvi Dusk Essential Oil Blend

    Dusk Essential Oil Blend
    goop, $26


  3. Slip White Queen Pillow Case

    White Queen Pillow Case
    goop, $89


  4. Cocoon Tea Artisans 100% Organic Herbal Tea

    Cocoon Tea Artisans
    100% Organic Herbal Tea
    goop, $32


Tip 11

Honor your Cultural Foodways

Foodways are the intersection of your culture, history, and traditions. They shape how you think about and
interact with food. Our relationship with food is intertwined with our environment, our likes and dislikes, and
our foodways. Food is a major part of our identity, and as a common thread within communities, it strengthens,
nourishes, and unites us as people in solidarity and tradition. Honoring cultural foodways reinforces our
identities while honoring the connection to our familial roots. Remember there is no one plate that is the
pinnacle of health. Finding and honoring your foodways while prioritizing your health will look different for each
of us. So embrace your cultural foods, fill your pantry with flavor and spices, get acquainted with your kitchen,
and learn to make the foods that give you pleasure.

Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, is a nationally recognized nutrition expert. In her Brooklyn-based practice, Maya
Feller Nutrition, she provides medical nutrition therapy for the management and risk reduction of noncommunicable
diseases. Feller received her MS in clinical nutrition at New York University, where she is adjunct faculty. She
is the author of The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook.

We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.

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Trump Refuses to Commit to a Peaceful Transfer of Power After Election

When questioned by reporters, President Donald Trump would not commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November’s general election to Joe Biden.

“Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?” a reporter asked.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster,” he added, once again lying about the security about mail-in voting.

“There won’t be a transfer, there will be a continuation,” he said.

You can watch Trump’s remarks below.

Trump and Republicans have repeatedly disparaged vote-by-mail options in response to criticisms from voting rights advocates who’ve expressed safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.

But a study from Stanford University’s Democracy and Polarization Lab published in April found that contrary to the widely-held belief among the GOP that vote-by-mail gives Democrats an advantage over Republicans, vote-by-mail options do not benefit one party more than another.

“By comparing counties that adopt a vote-by-mail program to counties within the same state that do not adopt the program, we are able to compare the election outcomes and turnout behavior of voters who have different vote-by-mail accessibility but who have the same set of candidates on the ballot for statewide races,” researchers wrote.

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The Truth About Katie Holmes’ Dating Life

Two years after her romance with Jackson ended, Holmes began dating the American Pie star.

The pair got engaged in December 2003, but Holmes ended the relationship less than two years later—and just a few months before the TomKat era began. 

To end any speculation about the timeline of the actress’ engagements, Klein told Access Hollywood at the time, “People are going to write what they want to write. Her being with Tom has nothing to do with her and I discontinuing our relationship.”

Holmes, meanwhile, told W Magazine, “Chris and I care about each other and we’re still friends. Tom is the most incredible man in the world.”

Klein would reflect on their relationship in a 2012 interview with People, explaining, “We found comfort in one another. We had a similar upbringing, and we were going through the same experience. As the teenage craze came to an end, we found that our relationship was changing as well.”

He continued, “From my side there was a lot of denial and fear about the future. It ended as amicably as these things can end.”

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Armin van Buuren x AVIRA Unleash Joint ‘Hollow Mask Illusion’ EP [LISTEN]

Armin van Buuren has enlisted in Toronto-based producer AVIRA for a collaborative EP, Hollow Mask Illusion — for which each word represents a unique, wondrous soundscape to behold.

The joint EP boasts three brand new deep and melodic tracks, “Hollow” featuring Be No Rain, “Mask” featuring Sam Martin and “Illusion.” As far as we can tell, the mysterious and lingering “Mask” is the only track that can be heard in full on Spotify, and extended versions of the others are available exclusively on Beatport.

The Hollow Mask Illusion EP demonstrates “how two artists with different trademark sounds can find common ground and transcend genres altogether.” There’s an unspoken, underlying factor that’s quite haunting, perfect for the season we’re heading into.

This week, Armin and AVIRA are taking over the Trance & Melodic Techno Top 1000 playlist to celebrate the release of their newfound sound. In addition, Armin has updated his own playlist, Armin van Buuren Presents.

Listen here and get lost in the music!

Armin van Buuren x AVIRA – Hollow Mask Illusion EP


Photo via

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Breaking New

Adam Schiff Urges Trump’s Own Staff To Walk Out Now While They Can

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) urged Republicans working in the administration of President Donald Trump to walk away before it’s too late.

“This is a moment that I would say to any Republican of good conscience working in the administration: It is time for you to resign,” Schiff told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the November election, then attacked the voting process. 

“The ballots are a disaster,” Trump said. “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a peaceful … there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”

Schiff, who is chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said it’s clear what anyone with a conscience who works or has worked for Trump must do:

“If you have been debating about whether you can continue to serve the country by serving this president, you can’t. It is time to resign. And I would say to those who have been on the sidelines maintaining a dignified silence who have served in the administration in the past, you cannot maintain your silence any longer.”   

Schiff also warned them not to wait for Trump to try to “get rid of the ballots” before they act. 

“Because if you do wait, knowing what is to come, you will share some of the burden of responsibility for that chaos that comes,” he said, adding that Trump’s “autocratic intentions are as clear as the writing on the wall.”  

We want to know what you’re hearing on the ground from the candidates. If you get any interesting ― or suspicious! ― campaign mailers, robocalls or hear anything else you think we should know about, email us at

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Dining News

Despite COVID-19, Northern Michigan Restaurants Broke Records During Summer 2020

For generations, families have journeyed to northern Michigan to escape the summer heat. In the late 1800s, residents of Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, and beyond arrived by lake steamer or rail to early enclaves like Wequetonsing, Bay View, and Northport Point. This summer saw the same influx of visitors, but instead of escaping the heat, they were looking for respite from a pandemic. Despite COVID-19, or likely because of it, travelers came to northern Michigan in record numbers in 2020. Before the pandemic, area restaurants — which make a significant portion of their annual revenue during the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day — would have celebrated such a spike. This year, however, the crowds were a mixed blessing.

Over the past few months, beaches were adorned with just-bought sun tents. Trailhead parking lots were jammed with out-of-state plates. Boat ramps were launching points for kayaks with the tags still on. Newly installed bike racks were instantly full. In fact, the National Park Service tells Eater that Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan saw a record number of visitors this summer. Park visitation was up 19 percent in July and 23 percent in August over those same months last year. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior may break 1 million guests this year: The park has seen 827,752 visitors to date, up from 652,013 visitors at this point last year. Northern Michigan’s inland lakes were just as busy. The Narrows Yacht Club — which sells marine gas, rents boats, and offers a few lodging options on Lake Leelanau — reports that business was up 20 percent this summer over last.

In 2020, visitors didn’t just come north for a quick trip. They came to stay.

In this era of remote work, families that previously spent a few days vacationing in northern Michigan were in some cases here for an entire month — or longer. The Traverse Area Association of Realtors saw a 7 percent increase in closings on single-family homes in August 2020 versus the same month in 2019. The previous year-over-year increase was only half of that. “I was kind of blown away by how busy we’ve been this summer,” Adam McMarlin of Wren in Suttons Bay tells Eater.

In late May, just in time for Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave the green light for Up North restaurants to reopen, but they had to scale back to 50 percent capacity with tables at least six feet apart. Food supply chains were disrupted. Staffing, a perennial challenge in seasonal locales, was at an all-time low. And yet for those who adapted, this summer was more profitable than many expected.

Norman Dillard, food and beverage director for Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, had a successful summer. Despite not having any convention business and other large group events this year, “we saw record numbers,” Dillard says, noting that several restaurants broke all-time records for volume. One of the restaurants he oversees, the Gate House, had lines to get in all day long and was up 20 percent over the same peak weeks last year.

Others experienced a similar spike in business. Northport’s New Bohemian Cafe was up 20 percent for the month of August over the same month last year, owner Kevin Murphy says. Bubbie’s Bagels in Traverse City, which opened a month before the spring shutdown, surpassed its own projections for the summer. Owner Sam Brickman says there were weeks where he ended up doing more than double the sales predicted in his business plan. “I thought we would do 300 or 400 bagels a day,” he recalls. “By week three we were up to 1,000 bagels a day.”

Norman Dillard, vice president of food and beverage at Grand Hotel, added heaters and all-weather chandeliers to a previously underutilized patio at Woods Restaurant on Mackinac Island.
Grand Hotel [Courtesy photo]

Despite the sweeping cancellation of Fourth of July parades, firework displays, and major events such as the National Cherry Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival, sales were up for some businesses along Traverse City’s Front Street, a location that can count on crowds during these annual gatherings. “We met and exceeded [sales] during both of those weeks,” says Mama Lu’s Adrienne Brunette of the July dates when those popular festivals would have taken place.

Even the many establishments that saw the anticipated decline in revenue during this COVID summer admit that sales went much better than they had expected. Mike LaMotte, owner of Fitzgerald’s, a remote restaurant and inn with sunset views of Lake Superior on the Keweenaw Peninsula, was comfortable with the 15 to 20 percent reduction in revenue this summer over last. “Luckily, it turned out,” he says.

Many restaurants in the region were able to make up for the loss of so many indoor seats by capitalizing on the very asset that attracts summertime traffic to begin with: northern Michigan’s wide open spaces and comfortable temperatures. Mama Lu’s was able to add 20 seats on Front Street, which Traverse City closed to vehicular traffic from mid-June to early September. This helped recoup most of the 24 indoor seats that the beloved taco shop lost to social distancing and gave added seats to the Flying Noodle, a new Italian noodle shop that Brunette opened in during the pandemic. The five-person team behind Wren, which serves thoughtful expressions of regional assets such as whitefish ceviche, hung a reclaimed sailboat sail across its back patio to make 12 seats a bit more weather tolerant.

At Grand Hotel’s Woods Restaurant, Dillard and his team also turned to the outdoors. For relief from COVID-19 capacity restrictions, the restaurant took advantage of an “underutilized” patio. “We put heaters and all-weather chandeliers out back and were able to gain all of the seats we lost inside,” he says. As a result, the Tudor mansion in the island’s wooded interior saw a 15 to 20 percent revenue increase in July and August 2020 over those same months in 2019.

Two customers stand together in front of an open window wearing masks and holding up their takeout boxes.

Customers grab dinner at Fitzgerald’s, which has yet to reopen its dining room and only offered lakeside takeout this summer.
Mike LaMotte for Fitzgerald’s Hotel & Restaurant

Todd Chinnock, of Pour Kitchen & Bar and Tap 30 Pourhouse in Petoskey, also benefited from summer 2020 traffic. “In terms of sales, we broke all of our records,” Chinnock says of Pour. “It was crazy busy.” At Tap 30, he built a deck over two parking spaces that the city provided, adding 30 seats. “That really saved Tap 30,” Chinnock says.

Given their access to such open-air solutions, many restaurants in the region chose not to use their indoor spaces at all, relying solely on outdoor dining. Rock’s Landing on Crystal Lake, the Bluebird Restaurant & Tavern in Leland, New Bohemian, Fitzgerald’s, and countless others put tables in their previously unused lawn, erected enormous 40-by-60-foot tents, and built decks on top of what used to be landlord parking to get the most out of the outdoors. Fitzgerald’s LaMotte felt outdoor dining was the safest choice for his team — which includes a 66-year-old server and his health-compromised dad. “I’m not going to try to make more money rolling the dice on people’s health,” says LaMotte. “I’m not a scientist. I’m not an epidemiologist… but I’d feel terrible about getting someone sick.”

Initially, the Riverside Inn, a pillar of Leelanau County, opened its dining room at the beginning of the summer, but the restaurant ultimately shut it down in favor of the restaurant’s outdoor deck, patio, and lawn. “We just couldn’t get clients to do social distancing,” Kate Vilter says of the decision to temporarily eliminate indoor dining at the restaurant. “We felt if they couldn’t stop visiting each other’s tables, then [we’d] at least push them outdoors.” This fall, the Riverside Inn plans to revisit indoor dining as the temperatures cool off.

Adding open-air seats wasn’t the only thing area restaurant owners did to survive their critical summer season. To make the most of an exceptionally short tourism window that is bookended by months of cold, dark days north of the 45th parallel, many establishments increased their catering or takeout presence. For Mama Lu’s, 50 percent of summer 2020’s revenue came from in-house dining, 25 percent came from takeout, and another 25 percent came from catering. The Riverside Inn dedicated one of its three boat dock spaces entirely to carryout customers and added a “boater box” — a collection of bruschetta, charcuterie, and pickled vegetables — and to-go cocktails to its menu.

It didn’t hurt that per-person spending was reportedly up. McMarlin reports that Wren’s per-guest average was $20 to $25 greater this summer than in the past. “I think after being cooped up for 11 weeks people came out and wanted to spend money. People were so happy to be able to do something that resembles normal,” the chef says.

Doug Kosch, proprietor of Boathouse Restaurant, a white-tablecloth dining room on the Old Mission Peninsula, didn’t have to speculate about what was driving customers to dine at his business. They told him. “I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘This is our first night out since lockdown,’” Kosch says. “For people visiting from out of the area, our little bubble felt as normal as anywhere else, so people felt happier and more generous.”

But things didn’t go as well everywhere. At the Cooks’ House, despite putting up a tent to add seats, chef-owner Eric Patterson is still feeling the hit his restaurant took during the spring shutdown. “Our yearly numbers are not good,” Patterson says.

For those who had no outdoor space in which to expand at all, the numbers are especially alarming. Trattoria Stella — a 15-year darling of the Traverse City restaurant community — was down 60 percent this summer. In order to accomplish true social distancing in the historic, subterranean space, the restaurant operated with only 35 percent of the seats it had pre-pandemic. In June, owner Amanda Danielson filed an application with the state of Michigan to expand the restaurant’s seating into an interior corridor next to Stella’s existing space, but it still hasn’t been approved. “I wish the state would get out of the way and let us expand our dining room,” she says. “It would have meant six figures for our business this year.”

Danielson is among many industry leaders nationwide who are advocating for the national Restaurants Act, which is slated for review by the House Committee on Financial Services this week. Stella’s sister restaurant, the Franklin, shuttered this year. Like Little Bohemia, also in Traverse City; Gold Baby Biscuits in Suttons Bay; and Kolu’s in Elk Rapids, Danielson never reopened her downtown location following the spring lockdown — a decision she says was in part due to staffing shortages.

For many hospitality workers, unemployment was more profitable than going back to their former jobs. “Someone who’s been in this industry for 10 or 15 years is making 800 bucks a week working 55 hours a week,” Boathouse’s Kosch says. “They’ve never seen a weekend off or a Memorial Day or a Labor Day off. This was their chance to make the same or more money and actually enjoy summer.”

Other employees (or their parents) were scared to return. This included many J1 or H2-B visa employees — non-immigrant workers who come to the U.S. on a temporary basis to fill staffing voids in seasonal tourism hotspots. This year, those candidates were either uninterested or unable to come to the U.S.

Before the pandemic, Skip Telgard, whose family has owned Leland’s Bluebird for more than 90 years, had hired 15 students to come to Michigan from abroad in 2020. Only one ultimately made the journey. “Some kids dropped out of the program,” Telgard says. “We are the most COVID-affected country in the world, so some of the students were a little bit reluctant.” Telgard, who employs 60 staff members in a normal summer, was limited to just 25 employees this season. This meant closing his restaurant — historically open seven days a week — on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Legs Inn in Cross Village was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the same reason. Multiple restaurant owners told Eater that, especially this summer, weekdays were every bit as profitable as weekends in this region. Those forced to close for two days were missing out on some 30 percent of potential revenue. “You don’t want to close a single day in July or August,” Telgard says, yet he did it for his staff. “We just had to make sure that we didn’t burn people out.”

Telgard also had to walk away from his historically strong late-night business, closing at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. each evening instead of doing last call at 1:30 a.m. “Nothing good happens after 10 p.m., especially when you combine drinking and a pandemic,” echoed Tina Schuett of Rare Bird Brewpub in Traverse City, who made a similar choice to cut back hours. Fortunately, with the addition of an outdoor tent, she still managed to “hit almost the same numbers” as summer 2019.

And therein lies the paradox of this extraordinary summer in northern Michigan. While some restaurant owners managed to make it work, others seem to rightly ask themselves under what terms do they want to make it work. Unfortunately, social media was filled with stories of customer behavior that felt as unsettling as the pandemic itself. Young hostesses were berated for asking guests to put masks on. Customers argued with managers about empty, unstaffed tables. Groups of six wandered in at 7 o’clock demanding a table in a dining room that had been reduced by half. Guests cursed at employees for not opening their interior dining rooms. Some staff members were even spit on. As a result, businesses started closing on certain days of the week for the sole purpose of giving their staff a break from being treated poorly. “‘Do you really think a mask is going to help?’” Wren’s McMarlin remembers one customer asking him. “It doesn’t matter what I think. These are the rules, and if you want to be here and I want to operate, you have to wear a mask,” the chef recalls thinking.

Chefs across the country are asking themselves what this “Great Pause” is teaching us about the way restaurants are structured to begin with, and remote northern Michigan is no different. “The American restaurant industry is a really unhealthy thing that is due for some major overhaul,” New Bohemian’s Murphy says of a sector he feels has been making unsustainable decisions for 50 years. “We shouldn’t do things that are not profitable.”

Area restaurants are in the throes of leaf-peeping season, also an important money-maker for northern Michigan, but when the patio heaters have been shut off and the snow starts to fly, these businesses seem eager to reassess.

Boathouse ceased its lunch service this summer due to staffing shortages, and may not bring that mealtime back. Grand Hotel, which employed some 600 people this summer but has yet to have one single positive COVID-19 test since opening its doors for the season, plans to keep all of the cleaning and sanitizing measures it added this year. Wren may close for portions of the winter so that employees can spend time with their families, which they enjoyed during the spring lockdown. New Bohemian is contemplating a weekends-only approach after the fall season so that its team can take time to manage online learning for their kids. Rare Bird plans to make the outdoor space it added a permanent part of its summertime lineup. Mama Lu’s turned to compostable plates, silverware, napkins, and cups (all of which were easier to find than a dishwasher) and may not go back. And when Fitzgerald’s reopens its dining room, it will no longer be filled to the brim. “We would try to pack as many damn bodies as we could in the summertime,” LaMotte says. “That’s going to change.”

Numerous people told Eater that with scaled-back, streamlined menus and fewer seats to serve, they were more proud of their offerings than ever before. “I think the food we’ve been serving is the best food we’ve ever made,” LaMotte says.

McMarlin agrees that the spring gap he and his team took has been a positive effect of the pandemic. “Coming back from the shutdown, we came back better than ever,” he says. “We are just going to embrace being small and being able to take breaks.” In this highly seasonal location, long sought out as a place to slow down, less, indeed, may be more.

• Northern Michigan’s Chaotic Restaurant Reopening Offers Lessons for the Rest of the State [ED]
• Restaurants Prepare For a Complicated Memorial Day Weekend Reopening in Northern Michigan [ED]
• Restaurants and Bars in Northern Michigan, Upper Peninsula Can Reopen on May 22 [ED]
• Michigan Executive Order Closes Bars Up North for Indoor Service [ED]
All Coronavirus Coverage [ED]

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Prenatal Pot Use Impacts Kid’s Future Mental Health

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Expectant mothers who smoke pot in pregnancy could increase their baby’s risk for mental or emotional problems later in childhood, a new study finds.

Marijuana use during pregnancy was associated with a host of problems in the preteen years, researchers report.

Children exposed to pot in the womb were more likely to experience internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as externalizing disorders such as lashing out at others or ADHD, researchers found.

These kids also were more likely to have problems socializing with others and sleeping well, and were at greater risk of mental problems like schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

These risks held firm even after researchers accounted for other risk factors such as home life and family history of mental or emotional problems, said lead researcher Ryan Bogdan. He’s an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

“They are small associations,” Bogdan said. “They’re not whopping large effects that are going to increase the likelihood that children are going to be experiencing these problems by twofold or anything like that. But they exist beyond these confounding variables.”

Also, among the kids studied, a mom’s pot use during pregnancy — however small — influenced the course of a child’s development more than either alcohol or tobacco use, which also were considered, Bogdan added.

“The effects of marijuana in this data set were much larger and more consistent than the effects of alcohol or tobacco use,” Bogdan said.

This is cause for concern because marijuana is often seen as a legitimate means of treating medical problems like morning sickness, said Patricia Aussem, associate vice president of consumer clinical content development for the Partnership to End Addiction.

“While some pregnant women may be using marijuana for recreational purposes or to address nausea and vomiting, exposure to the substance during pregnancy can adversely impact the developing fetus,” said Aussem, who wasn’t part of the study. “If help is needed for nausea, pain, sleep or other problems, the best course of action is to discuss it with their health care provider and follow recommendations that are known to be safe during pregnancy.”


The study was published Sept. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry. Bogdan and his university colleagues evaluated data on children born between 2005 and 2009 to nearly 10,000 mothers across the United States. These kids have been studied since before birth, as part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study.

The researchers compared how kids fared if their mom kept using pot after learning she was pregnant against kids whose mom either never used marijuana or stopped during pregnancy.

Pot use during pregnancy was associated with a host of mental, emotional and behavioral problems tracked by widely used screening tools like the Child Behavior Checklist, researchers said.

It could be that the chemicals in marijuana interact with the fetus in ways that alter a child’s later brain development, Bogdan said.

Bogdan noted that the body’s endocannabinoid system — the brain receptors that respond to THC, the chemical in pot that causes intoxication — is not expressed until around six weeks after conception in humans.

“That is roughly around the time that most mothers in the study learned they were pregnant,” Bogdan said. Moms who kept using pot exposed those newly formed brain receptors to THC, potentially altering the course of development, he said.

But because this was an observational study, it’s also possible that other factors related to marijuana use or developmental problems could be to blame, Bogdan added.

Outside factors could include the parents’ genetics; their family history of mood or mental problems; prenatal vitamin use, or kids born early or with low birth weight.

Regardless, Bogdan said he would urge expecting moms to not use pot until more is known about the risks involved.

“These findings really suggest that clinicians and dispensaries should discourage use among women who are pregnant or even considering becoming pregnant,” Bogdan said. “These data and the potential impact of prenatal cannabis exposure on offspring, I think, gives us concern about the safety of cannabis use during pregnancy.”

Aussem agreed.

“There are many studies indicating that prenatal cannabis use can cause problems including low birth weight, impulsivity, problems with attention span and the ability to learn,” Aussem said. “Just as with nicotine, alcohol and other substances, pregnant women should avoid marijuana use throughout their pregnancy.”

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Ryan Bogdan, Ph.D., associate professor, psychological and brain sciences, Washington University in St. Louis; Patricia Aussem, M.A., L.P.C., associate vice president, consumer clinical content development, Partnership to End Addiction;JAMA Psychiatry, Sept. 23, 2020

Copyright © 2013-2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Trump Won’t Commit to ‘Peaceful’ Post-Election Transfer of Power

Hours after Mr. Trump’s assertions, Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, expressed alarm over the comments on Twitter. “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” Mr. Romney wrote. “Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”

Mr. Trump’s remarks are a continuation of a long series. During an interview with Fox News in July, Mr. Trump similarly demurred when pressed by the network’s anchor, Chris Wallace, to “give a direct answer” about whether he would accept the election results regardless of the outcome.

“I have to see,” Mr. Trump said. “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time, either,” he added, referring to his similar equivocation before the 2016 election, which he warned might be stolen from him.

Even after his election that year, Mr. Trump falsely insisted that he had lost the popular vote only because millions of immigrants ineligible to vote had cast ballots for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

In this campaign, Mr. Trump has primed his supporters to believe his defeat is possible only through what he has called a “rigged” or “stolen” election. “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” Mr. Trump said last month during the Republican National Convention.

Mr. Trump has also long joked about retaining power beyond legal limits, making frequent mention of serving beyond January 2025, when the Constitution — which limits presidents to two terms — requires that he leave office.

In 2018, after China’s Communist Party announced the end of a two-term limit for its presidency, Mr. Trump said at a closed-door fund-raiser that China’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, would be “president for life.”

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