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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 #29
Here's Looking at Your Eyeballs

By VOW, of course

So, I'm sitting in my daughter's house, dreaming of all the things I'll do when I'm in Arizona, waiting for the working family members to come home and bring the Center of the Universe for us to play with, and I think, "My glasses are dirty." I seem to have an annoying smudge right in the middle of the left lens.

I clean them off, put them back on, and I have a big UH-OH moment. That smudge is NOT a smear on my glasses. I glance up, down, far left, far right, and sure enough, the smudge travels with my field of vision.

There is no pain, no flashes of light, no sparkles, and no actual pieces of my vision missing. This "whatever it is" resembles a smudge, in that it is translucent. But it is good-sized, and definitely wasn't there yesterday. VOW

I just had a complete diabetic eye exam by an ophthalmologist just a few months ago, and I was given a clean bill of health for my eyeballs. My family doctor is very good about referring me for annual eye exams, because diabetics must be very vigilant about making sure their eyes stay in good shape.

Eyes have been poetically called "the window of the world," but to a doctor, the eye is an incredible window to a person's overall health. Its remarkable construction allows a physician to actually SEE a person's blood vessels. When your doctor turns out the overhead light in the exam room and brings that brightly lit scope to your face and stares into each eye, he or she is peeking inside of you, without cutting anything open! So many early complications of diabetes, which may not seem outwardly evident, can actually scream out, "Hey, something is WRONG here!" Diabetic eye complications are nasty and irreversible, too.

But my eyes were fine just a couple of months ago, and all my lab work has been lovely. My routine home monitoring of my blood pressure and blood sugar haven't indicated any problems. I had a regular visit scheduled with my family doctor the following week, and I knew one of the first things we would discuss.

I did my research. This "smudge" is called a floater. The inside of the eyeball is filled with a clear liquid, and occasionally strands of protein coagulate into teeny tiny strings. I've had floaters in the past, little bitty ones that I thought were specks on my computer screen at first, or squished bugs on my car windshield. They are another thing we have to look forward to as we get older. It's a benign condition, and eventually the strings of protein will dissolve, and you won't notice them any more. This time the teeny tiny strings had been working on a crochet project, and managed to work themselves into an afghan square in my eyeball.

My doctor said, "Hmmmm" and turned off the room light and came at me with that brightly lit scope and took a good long look at the inside of my eyeballs. Her conclusion was that I had another floater. But the diabetes warranted a more thorough peek, so I got a referral to an ophthalmologist.

Within days, I'm sitting in another doctor's office, and I've been administered those special drops that dilate the pupils of the eye. Then a doctor comes in, introduces himself, and guess what? He turns off the room light, and comes at me with a lighted scope and starts peering intensely into my eyes. He even gets a bigger, brighter scope, and peers MORE intensely into my eyes. It feels like he's crawled inside, and is walking around, checking out my entire eyeball insides!

When he turns the room light back on, I do a lot of blinking, and boy-oh-boy-oh-boy, I've got some massive dark shadows dancing around, as an after effect of those bright lights. His conclusion: I've got some floaters. Good news, they are benign. Annoying as Hell, but my eyes are okay, and I'm not showing any signs of diabetic retinopathy. I also get a brief refresher of symptoms I need to be especially watchful for:

  • Flashing lights
  • Sparkling or shimmering lights
  • Pain
  • Totally opaque (black) spots
  • Complete or partial loss of vision

Should any of those symptoms appear, I need to be seen by a doctor immediately. These can indicate actual damage to the eye, and if not treated right away, could cause permanent loss of vision. Hey, I still have a lot of seeing to do in my life. Right now, I'm focused on the Center of the Universe, who happens to be my gorgeous granddaughter, Rosemary. She turns one-year-old next week, and I don't want to miss a single second of watching her grow and discover the world around her.

Vision is certainly one of the most precious of all our senses. And as a diabetic, my vision is vulnerable, so I must be extra vigilant in making sure I'm doing everything I can to preserve it.

A Different Take on Hummus

Way back in February, 2008, (!!) we made the fortuitous discovery that "hummus" was really a cool, Middle-Eastern word for "bean dip." The recipe I gave you then was for a hummus made with Christmas Lima beans Traditionally, hummus is made with garbanzo beans, or chickpeas.

Whatever the bean, the resulting mixture is a creamy, garlicky, absolutely yummy, extremely versatile treat packed with protein. It can be eaten with pita bread, chips, raw veggies, crackers, rice cakes, or if nobody is watching, even fingers!

I've run across a recipe for hummus that is fast, easy, and gives the smoothest consistency I've ever seen! I found it in the Food Network Magazine, and stole it just for you! It uses garbanzo flour, which can be hard to locate. Look for it in an Indian/Pakistani market, or check out the variety flours at a health food store. I found flour from Bob's Red Mill that is made from garbanzos and fava beans. Make the effort to locate this flour, because you'll LOVE this recipe so much, you'll be bringing hummus to every party you go to!


    2-3/4 cups water
    3/4 cup garbanzo flour
    4 tablespoons tahini or peanut butter
    Salt and pepper to taste
Place water in small saucepan and bring to boil. Stirring constantly with a wire whisk, add garbanzo flour. Lower heat under saucepan so that the mixture merely simmers gently, and stir constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat, add tahini and mix completely.

There is your basic blank canvas, and you are free to indulge in culinary artistry! My first addition would be granulated garlic, at least a half-teaspoon. Granulated garlic doesn't clump, and mixes into anything so easily. By all means, if you love garlic flavor, add more to taste!

A teaspoon or two of lemon juice, or vinegar, adds a nice sparkle. From there, the sky is the limit! Diced roasted red pepper, a dash of ground cayenne or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, maybe a touch of cumin. Go crazy!

Place in a pretty bowl, and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if you want a presentation with authenticity.

I'm going to check around online to see if I can buy garbanzo flour in 25-pound bags!

Nutrition Facts for the entire recipe (without olive oil):

    690 calories
    34.5 g fat
    64 g carbohydrates
    14 g fiber (that means 50 net grams carbs!)
    32 g protein

If you divide the recipe into fourths, you can fix a really nice lunch for yourself with hummus and raw veggies, and have a very manageable 172 calories with about 12 grams of net carbs, plus whatever veggies you add! Sounds pretty good to me!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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