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Vegan for the Holidays

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    What's in The Nut Gourmet

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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 #22
VOW Pressures Down for Kidney Sake

by VOW, of course

Got Kidneys?

I hope so!

Most people don't give their kidneys much thought. As long as you are going tinkle regularly, and you have no pain or fever and the tinkle is a normal color, kidneys and your other insides are mostly ignored while you spend your time thinking about more IMPORTANT things.

However, if you are a diabetic, kidneys are definitely something that requires attention. Most diabetics are Type 2, and this is a metabolic disorder. That means the entire team of innards are not singing in harmony. It isn't just the pancreas out of tune, the liver and the kidneys and the nerves and the blood vessels have all misplaced the songbook.

Diet and exercise, and if needed, medication all help the choir sing the same song, with the same tempo and the corresponding melody and harmony. One way your doctor can check on the overall performance is through lab tests. Your home testing of blood glucose levels and the regular HbA1c that your doctor orders go a long way in showing that all the participants are in tune. Some of the other blood tests tell your doctor how your liver or your kidneys are doing. It's a definite liability if either one of those innards misplaces the song book or starts singing off pitch.

VOW Many Type 2 Diabetics have other health concerns like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. These demons also play havoc with the metabolic musical.

Kidneys can get pounded by high blood pressure. Long before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I battled the Blood Pressure Monster. It didn't help that both my parents were on medication for blood pressure control, and I complicated my life by eating bad-for-you foods and not getting enough exercise. As a result, I packed on the pounds over the years and just kept getting bigger and bigger. By the time diabetes came knocking at my door, I was taking FOUR different medications for my blood pressure. It was running about 150/100, too, but my doctor didn't think that adding more medication would do much good.

Man, no wonder I was so tired!

Diabetes was my wake up call. I got plenty of exercise by trying to kick myself in the behind, knowing that I HAD to make changes, or I was going to be severely disabled or even dead before much longer.

One of my changes, of course, was diet. And with a lot of hard work, a lot of crying, a lot of frustration, and a few bright moments, I lost a lot of weight. Aside from getting rid of all my fat clothes and enjoying the compliments from friends and family, I thought one of my biggest event markers would be throwing away half my medicine chest.

That didn't happen.

I was heartbroken! Not only that, but I was investing a fortune in getting my prescriptions refilled every month. Thank Heavens, I DO have insurance, but even so, those co-pays add up! My blood pressure began to come down, but not enough to warrant any dosage adjustment. So, I resigned myself to taking pills forever, and concentrated on continuing my new healthy habits. (And cooking up FANTASTIC bean recipes!)

Three YEARS after losing a significant amount of weight, I began to notice slight changes. It got to the point that every time I stood up, I had to hang on to the furniture until the dizziness went away. I didn't think too much of it, I just figured something new was falling apart. I did mention it at my very next doctor visit.

The doctor started checking my blood pressure, first one arm, then the other. Then she had me lay flat on the examining table while she took it again. Then she had me sit up while she took the reading yet another time. Then she opened up my file to look at my most recent blood work.

Apparently, it was now time to adjust my blood pressure medication! I guess my body is a slow learner. Blood pressure pills are powerful drugs, and many of them cannot be stopped abruptly. Plus, my blood work indicated that my kidneys were singing out of tune. While HIGH blood pressure can demolish kidneys, LOW blood pressure doesn't do them any good, either.

I ended up making monthly visits to my doctor's office, for frequent lab tests and medication adjustments. It was an arduous process, but I didn't mind one bit! I was GETTING HEALTHY. Right now, my blood pressure appears to have stabilized. I have completely stopped taking two of my medications, and have had the dosage of a third one cut in half.

Take heart, everyone. If you are diabetic, or have high blood pressure, or any other chronic disorder and you are taking prescribed medication, you probably would benefit from eating healthy foods and increasing your activity. Losing weight is probably a good idea for most people, and weight loss can certainly aid you in managing any disease. However, do not expect results overnight. We all have certainly learned that weight loss itself does not happen overnight. And it can be a real kick in the ego to find that after working so hard and breaking old habits to finally drop excess poundage, you end up still taking veritable handfuls of drugs. Be patient. The human body does NOT like change, and I have found with MY body, anyway, that change tends to make it POUT.

When it comes to blood pressure control, that doggone pout lasted three years!

If you KNOW you are doing everything right, just keep on doing it. Don't lose heart, and don't try to juggle your prescriptions on your own. Keep in contact with your doctor, make sure you go to all your lab appointments, and try to be patient. It may take a lot longer than you had hoped, but eventually you should see positive results!

Now, let's celebrate with something FUN!

There is a legume that everyone probably loved as a kid. It's a childhood food we all grew up with, and we probably don't give much thought to it as an adult.

Which is a shame, since it's truly a healthy, nutritious food!

It's the PEANUT.

Surprised? Most of us think of nuts as something that grows on trees: almonds, walnuts, even coconuts. However, peanuts are not true nuts; they do NOT grow on trees. They grow on a plant or a bush, and they start out as blossoms on the plant. After the flower is fertilized, though, the plant develops something called a "peg" which then pushes UNDERGROUND. The entire plant is then dug up to harvest the peanut.

Strange little devil, wouldn't you say?

Like all legumes, peanuts are packed with protein. They also contain more fat than other legumes, but the fat is almost completely unsaturated. Our little groundnut boasts fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids, too. For more nutrition than you probably ever wanted to know, check this website: http://www.peanutsusa.com/USA/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.page&pid=17

Say "peanuts" to most people, and they'll think about PBJ sandwiches, Reese's Pieces, or peanut butter cookies with the criss-cross fork imprint on their tops. Push those thoughts aside, because today we're fixing PEANUT SOUP!



    2 medium carrots, finely chopped (about 1 cup or 240 ml)
    1 stalk of celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup or 120 ml)
    3 cups (720 ml) veggie broth
    1 nutmeg, grated
    1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
    3/4 cup (180 ml) smooth peanut butter
    3 cups (720 ml) unsweetened soymilk

  1. In a dutch oven, over medium flame, cook chopped veggies in broth until tender. Using an immersion blender in the pot (remove pot from heat first) or by placing small batches of broth and veggies in a standard blender (observe safety practices, the liquid is HOT) blend until liquid is smooth. Return to dutch oven, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Add 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne (or more, to taste) and freshly grated nutmeg. I used almost an entire nutmeg in my batch, but it depends on your taste buds.
  3. Heat until boiling, then stir in 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, and keep stirring until everything is blended completely.
  4. Once the peanut butter is completely blended in, add 3 cups soymilk. The nutritional information is calculated using commercial soymilk, unflavored and unsweetened. If you have a soymilk machine and can make your own, that would be absolutely wonderful.
  5. Heat soup until piping hot, but do not BOIL soymilk. Serve immediately!
  6. A crunchy salad and whole grain crackers would round this out to the perfect meal!

Note: I strongly recommend either making your own peanut butter using no additives, or hunting down a market which sells pure peanut butter, with no salt, sugar, hydrogenated oils, or anything other than peanuts. Your tastebuds and the rest of your body will be grateful!

Serves six. For each serving:
250 calories
10 g protein
17 g fat
17 g carbohydrate
4 g fiber

What an outstanding way to use your (peanut) bean!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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