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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Using Your Bean

With this issue Vegetarians in Paradise continues the bean explorations of VOW, a 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 #10
Sometimes I Fall Off the Vegan Wagon

by VOW

Includes Recipe Below

Everybody ready for fall? I know I'm TIRED of the summer heat, and I'm looking forward to cool evenings and brisk morning air!

Hubster and I had a great time on our trip to Arizona. The environment is so different than what we tackle every day in Southern California. No graffiti, no litter, no traffic, and best of all, NO SMOG. When the Arizonans complain about traffic and smog, they associate it with Phoenix. Hey, Guys, when we drove through Phoenix, we actually ENJOYED your traffic!

Like everything else in life, it's relative.

And that's a great lead-in to the topic of discussion in this month's bean column.

I have a confession: I'm really only a quasi-vegan these days. My interest in veganism stemmed from my health problems. I changed my eating habits drastically and reaped the benefits. I'm still reaping, by the way. But my vacation was a heaping dose of reality. Just how dedicated could I remain to veganism and still accommodate a diabetic diet?

In various forums I encountered during my study of vegan eating, I would read where new vegans, especially, had a hard time trying to eat with non-vegans. Many times, I saw where people insisted the only things acceptable at the table were salad and bread. VOW

To a middle-aged diabetic, that simply isn't enough.

What to do? Pack a lunch every time I eat away from home? That might work for the occasional meal, but three meals a day, for however many days I "vacation" is a tad overwhelming. And when the places I visit aren't known for offering a variety of cuisines, I can be stuck.

One solution can be to take all my own food, and camp out. For some people, this works. Not at my house, though, LOL. Hubster is retired Army, and he had enough "camping out" to last several lifetimes. We only travel to places with real beds that have sheets, pillows, and blankets. Running water with flush toilets is MANDATORY.

My idea of a vacation doesn't include heating up a can of beans over the bare bulb of a bedside lamp in a motel room, either.

I didn't abandon everything, but I did decide to make some compromises. The main compromise was to add dairy products, cottage cheese especially. Fruit and cottage cheese make a filling, nutritious meal any time of the day. And that is relatively easy to order in most restaurants.

I found that more and more places are offering a vegetarian patty, alongside the hamburgers. I would order one of those, open the bun, and eat the patty with a knife and fork. That plus a salad filled me up. Oh, and one thing I really enjoyed was a breakfast of hot oatmeal, with a dab of brown sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pat of margarine. The addition of a little bit of fat will help lower the glycemic index of the cooked cereal, and make the meal more "satisfying" for a longer period of time.

I kept healthy snacks on hand, or I tried to! When travelling, meal times are often very irregular, and for a diabetic this can cause major problems. Soy jerky keeps well and tastes pretty good, too. Nuts are a fine snack, as long as you don't snarf handful after handful.

And a handy "breakfast on the go" for me is one of those "liquid meal replacements" called GLUCERNA. It's made by the same folks who make ENSURE, but it's concocted especially for diabetics. Balanced, and whatnot, LOL. The nice thing to know is that unlike 99% of the "nutrition shakes" on the market, Glucerna is soy-based. I keep a few at work, in the car, everywhere. They don't comprise a major part of my daily diet, but when schedules go haywire and I don't want to eat junk, a can of Glucerna can be handy!

So, for me, diabetes management, especially when traveling, must include flexibility. Like everything else, a little advance planning can save my butt AND my health. I do know that some people feel a slip-up (either unintentional or on purpose) from veganism means you don't have the right to call yourself vegan any more. I personally don't subscribe to that way of thinking. Life is a journey, and our decisions and our convictions and our beliefs are not static. I choose to do the best I can do. And I don't beat myself up if I cannot achieve perfection all the time.

In fact, diabetes management is the same way: I control my blood glucose levels through diet and exercise. Sometimes I eat the wrong things, some times I can't get the exercise I need. So, I enjoy that piece of chocolate and revel in my sloth, knowing that tomorrow the game starts anew. If I can't manage to get my protein through completely vegan sources and decide to have cottage cheese instead, I see that I am accommodating the moment, and the next time I can look for something else instead.

I'm choosing to stay at least vegetarian!

Okay, enough serious talk. Let's get to the FOOD part of the column! Summer days are fleeing, but salads can still be a good idea. Here's a cool salad that will warm you up! And it's got shortcuts to save you some time, as well!

Fiesta Bean Salad
(serves 8)

    1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
    1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
    1 cup canned hominy, drained
    1 cup red onion, diced
    1 cup raw carrot, diced
    1/4 cup sliced black olives
    1/2 cup chipotle salsa
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together the salsa and vinegar in a small bowl, then add to the other ingredients.

More vinegar can be added if the mixture seems too dry. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour. Serve over mixed greens. A sprinkle of grated cheddar-flavor Vegan Rella can make the salad a bit more festive!

Any other bottled or canned prepared salsa can be substituted for the chipotle salsa.

A few tortilla chips on the side would be nice, too!

Nutritional Information
(per serving, without Vegan Rella or chips)
330 calories
2 g fat
317 mg sodium
60 g carbohydrate
(23 g fiber, so that's 37 g net carb)
21 g protein

Enjoy, enjoy!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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