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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 #15
Understanding the Glycemic Index

by VOW

Includes Recipe Below

I am an information seeker. Picture me in a khaki work shirt, cargo shorts, hiking boots, and a pith helmet, as I stomp around looking for DIABETES DATA. There is admittedly a lot of garbage info out there, and you can see where I've scraped it off the bottom of my boots. But hey, if you step in a pile of Zebra poop, doesn't that mean there are ZEBRAS nearby?

I've got my diabetes magazines, and my Gretchen Becker book, and I have subscribed to some newsletters, too. When my junk mail produced a letter from Rodale Press offering a "free look" at one of their new books, I was interested.

Rodale Press publishes Organic Gardening Magazine and Prevention Magazine. I've subscribed to both of them at one time or another, and my nonprofessional opinion is that they provide pretty good information. Prevention Magazine is sponsoring this new book, called The Sugar Solution. The ad literature promised to explain blood sugar imbalances and how the Glycemic Index can help a person to effectively manage this problem.

I've mentioned the Glycemic Index before, and my conclusion is that for a diabetic to successfully control his or her blood glucose, understanding this concept is pretty much mandatory. The biggest hurdle I've found so far is that while the bare bones BASICS of GI are available, the day-to-day stuff is lacking. Part of the problem, I feel, is that the GI business originated in Sydney, Australia. I bought the book The New Glucose Revolution, and learned a lot, but the detailed information is given for foods that are not found in the United States. Now maybe one of the other volumes of TNGR series of books gives values for US of A foods, but I'm not willing to invest in them at this time. That's why when The Sugar Solution literature arrived in my mailbox, I was curious to see if the book gave an "American" slant on the Glycemic Index.

VOW Well! In my very first "Bean" column, I stated that every newly-diagnosed Diabetic should get a prescription for a glucose meter, test strips, lancets, maybe a medication or two, a diet, AND a copy of Gretchen Becker's book, The First Year Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. After reading the Rodale book, that advice should be expanded to include The Sugar Solution as well.

Ms. Becker's book explains the physiology of diabetes and introduces the reader to medical-speak, lab tests, and blood values. It becomes a lifeline as the initial panic sets in when your doctor hits you with such life-changing news. I see the Rodale book as the next step: why you feel the way you feel when you eat certain foods, and how other foods can make a huge difference in the rest of your life. It's simply not enough to tell you, "junk food is bad." We already know that! But junk food is the siren song that lures many of us to horrendous eating habits and rotten health. Admit it: it tastes good! And the more you eat, the more you want!

It's no secret that the gigantic "agribiz" companies understand completely how enticing their products are. That's why they make oceans of the crap, and cheaply, too! What is junk food, but basically starch, sugar, grease, and salt? By stirring these ingredients into different-flavored combinations, and selling them cheaply, the bigwigs sit back and count their money. Because once we start with the first bite, they know we'll be back for more!

In a way, you could say this cheap, processed "food" is addicting. THAT is the whole concept behind the Glycemic Index! You snarf a snack, it jacks up your blood sugar almost as soon as you swallow it, and you get a rising level of insulin right behind that. After a relatively small amount of the insulin interacts with the sugars in your blood so your body can use them, you are left with all this lonely insulin floating around. Guess what happens when that occurs?

You get HUNGRY. And the resulting blood sugar "crash" leaves you cranky, tired, and searching for another "fix" of junk food!

What's the answer then? Well, Number One, you gotta stay away from junk food. And Number Two, eat more complex carbohydrates. Your body NEEDS carbohydrates to function properly, so just omitting them from your diet is not a good idea. Select those carbs carefully, and guess what? BEANS are good food!

If you get a chance, do find a copy of The Sugar Solution. It's well-written, easy reading, and does a great job of explaining to non-science majors about how to make the Glycemic Index work for YOU. Here's a link to Rodale Press: http://www.rodalestore.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10002&storeId=10051&productId=14786&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=10202&nav_wt=bestsellers

And to top it off, there are sections with exercise recommendations, food lists, and even recipes and menus! Now, this is not a vegan book, or even a vegetarian book, but the information is so doggone valuable I think it would be worth your while to pick it up and give it a read!

Mexican Chocolate Soymilk Indulgence

This month, we're going to visit an old friend. In February, 2004, I bragged about my new soymilk machine, and raved on and on about the fresh, hot, delicious milk. I've put that gizmo to work regularly, and even made a batch or two of tofu. It's good stuff, but the store-bought is rather inexpensive, and doesn't mess up the kitchen as much.

My favorite soymilk production is somewhat of an indulgence: I mix one batch of milk with a tablespoon or more of Mexican vanilla, and two "cakes" of Mexican chocolate. If you buzz this in the blender while the milk is still steaming, the chocolate mixes easily. I even occasionally add a scoop or more of soy protein isolate powder, to increase the nutritional value of the indulgence. A mug of this ambrosia in the evening is relaxing, filling, and comforting beyond description.

Now, I TRIED, really TRIED to find the nutritional data for my indulgence. I discovered a place online that gave the information for OKARA, the soybean pulp that is left in the filter basket of the machine after the milk is made. And I can easily locate nutritional data for the half-cup of dried yellow soybeans I use to make a single batch of milk.

And I've always considered myself to be pretty good at math. And this is what I got:

3/4 cup okara = 77 calories
1/2 cup dry soybeans = 387 calories
1 cup okara = 103 calories
1/2 cup dry soybeans = 1-1/2 quarts soymilk = 6 cups
one cup soymilk = 47 calories????

USDA database (I assume this is a commercially-produced soymilk)
1 cup soymilk = 127 calories
11 g protein
12 g carb
3.2 g fiber
93 mg calcium
4.7 g fat

NO WAY is my soymilk less than half the calories of the store-bought stuff. My milk is richer, creamier, and THICKER by far.

The brand of Mexican chocolate I enjoy the most is Ibarra. And the nutritional information for one serving (minus the milk) is: one serving = 110 calories
< 1g protein
18 g carb
0 g fiber
3 g fat

So, if you follow my instructions for preparing the "Soymilk Indulgence," you'll pretty much have to wing it as far as the nutritional information goes. Type 2 Diabetics who are either controlled by diet and exercise, or who take oral anti-diabetes medication have a bit more leeway in their diets and you can introduce new foods by testing your blood sugar levels after ingesting. If you use insulin, you can start by estimating a mug of Heaven at 2 carb exchanges, and tweak your dose after seeing how your body reacts to it.

In my extremely not-so-humble opinion, it's worth the effort!

Excuse me now. I am headed to the kitchen to heat up a cup of Mexican chocolate!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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