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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Using Your Bean

With this issue Vegetarians in Paradise introduces VOW, a recently diagnosed diabetic, who has discovered the importance of beans in her diet. In subsequent VIP issues VOW will enlighten our readers with the further Adventures of the Bean.

Adventures of the Bean #1
The Adzuki Bean

by VOW

Includes Recipe Below

Sitting on a doctor's examining table wearing nothing but a paper dress is pretty intimidating all by itself. However, when the doctor has flipped through your most recent lab reports and pronounces, "You have diabetes," you could be standing buck-nekkid in an airport, because your world is turned completely upside down, and nothing is ever the same again. If you are like me, you simply grabbed the printed copy of the "American Diabetes Association 1800-calorie-a-day Diet," your prescriptions for oral medication, a glucose meter and test strips, and walked out of the office in a daze.

To a newly-diagnosed diabetic, I say this: LEARN. You've been handed a life-changing diagnosis, but it doesn't have to be life defeating. The first place you should go is to the bookstore and buy a copy of Gretchen Becker's book, The First Year Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. This book contains an absolute wealth of information presented in an easy-to-understand format, and it will help make life a lot less confusing for you. Once you are introduced to some standard diabetic terms, like complex carbohydrates and glycemic index, you can look at vegan eating as a very important tool in diabetes management.

Here's my story: My daughter began dating a young man who comes from a vegetarian family. After they had been going together for a while, she made the announcement that she wanted to become a vegetarian also. I'd say she was about 16 at the time. She's 20 now, still living at home, and engaged to the vegetarian boy. VOW

We had recently lost my mother who had been in extremely poor health. I'm sure the pain of her death upon the whole family was the motivation behind my support of my daughter's decision. I even protected her from the teasing by her brother and her father. And after I understood this was indeed a permanent lifestyle choice of hers, I respected it, and told her I would do whatever I could to adapt the kitchen to her needs.

We made a trip together to the market in a nearby city established by and populated with Seventh-Day Adventists. For those of you "in the know," I'm talking about Loma Linda, California The market carries no meat, poultry, or fish, but does have lacto/ovo foods. My daughter and I browsed the aisles carefully, educating ourselves, and selecting many items.

Thereafter, it was my goal to cook comparable foods for my daughter (and when he was visiting, her boyfriend as well), so she could eat with the family. I would sample her dishes, but I pretty much continued with the standard family menu.

We shared holiday meals with her boyfriend and his family, and I always made sure there were items on the menu acceptable to them. His mother was extremely appreciative. She said they had friends who would not make such an accommodation to their diets.

My daughter's fiance LOVES my cooking. He is eager to see just what I've invented lately, and I've often sent things home for his whole family to enjoy. I kid my daughter, saying he only wants to marry her because of my cooking.

I was diagnosed in December, 2002, with Diabetes, Type 2. In the extensive research I've done on the disease, and how to treat it, I found that a vegan diet obtains more positive results than any other recommended diabetic diet. One such enlightening article is this: http://www.pcrm.org/health/clinres/diabetes.html

Veganism was not foreign to me, since I have been shopping and cooking vegetarian for about four years now. So I made the decision: I'm going vegan.

My decision opened my eyes to a very diabetes-friendly, vegan-friendly food: legumes. So I invite you to accompany me on an excursion I call, "The Adventures of the Bean."

The Adzuki Bean




With the above links, I'm sure you learned more than you EVER wanted to know about Adzuki beans! One link even shows a picture of the dark red bean, a little bit bigger than a pea, with a white spot on it. Adzuki cooks up to a completely red bean, almost round in shape, colored like a kidney bean with a kidney-bean type flavor to it, but the skin is much more tender than what a kidney bean has.

Let's look at the nutritional information on the adzuki:

Adzuki beans, 1 cup (230g) (cooked, boiled)
Calories: 294
Protein: 17.3g
Carbohydrate: 57g
Total Fat: 0.23g
Fiber: 16.8g
*Excellent source of:
Iron (4.6mg)
Magnesium (119.6mg)
Potassium (1,223mg)
Zinc (4.0mg)
Folate (278mcg)

The calorie count looks pretty hefty, until you see all the goodies packed into that one cup of cooked beans! Over 17 grams of protein! For most folks, recommended daily intake for protein is about 50 grams. That means a cup of Adzuki beans at every meal would pretty much take care of your protein needs for the day! I'm not recommending a bean-only menu, but this does show a vegan diet CAN easily achieve adequate protein intake!

Diabetics who need to lose weight can refer to the Ornish/MacDougal/Pritikin-type diets, which recommend complex carbohydrates and low fat. Again, looking at the nutritional information for Adzukis, the near ABSENCE of fat in those little guys shines like a beacon in the pit of despair the newly-diagnosed diabetic inhabits. Adzuki Bean

At 57 grams of carbohydrate, it looks like our Adzukis are bad guys. Wait, though, read a bit further: there are almost 17 grams of fiber in that single cup of beans! That means a net total of 40 grams of carbs. And remember, our fantastical beans are in the category of complex carbohydrates. To a diabetic, those are the good guys. The fiber slows down the digestion of the beans, so that fuel doesn't get dumped into your bloodstream all at once. It's like putting a well-seasoned log of hardwood on the coals in the wood stove at bedtime, so you wake up to a warm house in the morning!

Here's my recipe using Adzuki beans (or any red-type bean you have on hand) that makes a fine soup for lunch!

Adzuki Apple-Bacon Soup

1 lb. (450 g) of dry adzuki beans, rinsed and picked over
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) piece kombu (dried seaweed)
5 slices fake bacon
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 cups (480 ml) veggie broth (or more)
1 14.5 ounce (410 g) can diced tomatoes
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) diced dried apple
1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine (optional)
2 sticks cinnamon, broken into large pieces
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Soak beans overnight in fresh water with kombu.
  2. In the morning, drain and place in crockpot (include kombu). Add broth, onion, celery, and garlic; cook on high through half the day.
  3. Cut fake bacon into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces, and add with chopped dried apple to crockpot. Stir in wine (if used) and broken cinnamon sticks. Taste beans.
  4. If almost completely cooked, dump can of diced tomatoes with juice into crockpot. If beans are still crunchy, continue to cook on high until they are almost done, then add tomatoes.
  5. Turn crockpot down to low and simmer until dinnertime. Remove broken cinnamon sticks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8

Note: the Kombu adds little to no flavor to the recipe and should completely disintegrate into the soup through cooking. If pieces are still visible and not aesthetically pleasing to you, the Kombu can be removed before serving. Kombu cooked with beans renders them more digestible, and reduces the "fragrant side effects" from eating beans.

One pound of dried Adzuki yields approximately three cups of cooked beans. At 8 servings for this recipe, it works out to about 20 grams carbohydrate per serving.

Next adventure: The Peruano Bean!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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