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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 #3
The Blushing Lentil

by VOW

Includes Recipe Below

I always thought a lentil was a lentil. I remember the Bible story where Esau sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob, for a bowl of lentil soup. I thought that had to be pretty good stuff, until I asked my mother. Since she didn't care for lentils at all, we never saw them on the family table. "Lentils, yuck!" is what I believe she said.

On one of my first trips to the bulk foods section at the Loma Linda Market to buy vegetarian goodies for my daughter, I noticed one of the bins was labeled, "Lentils." I thought, "Ehhh, why not?" and filled up a plastic bag with about a pound. When I cooked them up with the requisite onion and garlic, the end product tasted pretty good to me! I Googled my little heart out, searching for recipes online.

VOW What? There is more than one KIND of lentil? Well, at the next shopping foray, I noticed THREE bins of Lentils: Persian, French, and Red. I was intrigued by the Red Lentils. They were actually sort of orange, and VERY pretty. A pound of Red Lentils jumped into the shopping cart and followed me home. I rinsed them, dumped them into my trusty crockpot with seasoned broth and onion and garlic, and walked away to do other chores. Imagine my SHOCK when I ventured into the kitchen again and peeked into the crockpot! The Red Lentils, which are really a shade of orange, turn BRIGHT PSYCHEDELIC YELLOW when cooked!

I did some more looking on the net searching for this bean and found:

1 cup dry lentils will yield 3-4 cups cooked

Lentils, (boiled) 1 cup (198g)
Calories: 229
Protein: 17.8 g
Carbohydrate: 39.8 g
Total Fat: 0.75 g
Fiber: 15.6 g
Excellent source of iron (6.6 mg), potassium (730 mg), and folate (357 mcg)
Good source of niacin (2.1 mg)

Once again, we see that lentils look like a carbohydrate nightmare, until the fiber grams are subtracted. Diabetics are taught to subtract fiber grams from carbohydrate grams because the fiber slows the digestion of the carbohydrates that in turn keeps the blood sugar level more stable. A cup of cooked lentils will have a net of about 24 grams carbohydrate with lots of protein, almost no fat, and, goodness, all that potassium and folate! Lentils are a wholesome food for the vegetarian diabetic!

VOW Diabetes Update 12/1/03

Now, for the latest installment of my diabetes battle:

As a chubby kid, a plump teen, a round-shaped young adult, and now as a downright FAT middle-ager, I've probably done all the diets known to humankind more than once. I've gained weight, lost it, gained more, in a never-ending cycle. I was at my all-time highest weight when finally diagnosed with diabetes. I felt crappy as well, so I was more than ready to make some changes.

One change that all the diet programs want you to undertake is that dreaded word, "exercise." As far as I'm concerned, that word is the most foul profanity you can utter. I hated it as a kid, loathed it in school, and did my best to completely ignore it thereafter. However, when you get bonked over the head with diabetes, you MUST place that word in your daily vocabulary.

That's revolting
HOWEVER, the complications to diabetes, such as kidney destruction, blindness, and foot amputation are powerful motivators. Complications occur when the blood sugar levels keep rising. Here's the kicker: medication and diet alone won't lower dem numbers, folks. You MUST get those big muscles in your body moving, so they become blood glucose furnaces. Without the consumption of glucose by the muscle tissue, you won't get the necessary control over your numbers.

So, get up off your butt and MOVE. One of the best ways to do that is to WALK. You remember that! Treat yourself to a GOOD pair of walking shoes. Go to a shoe store which specializes in "hard to fit" feet and tell the people there you have diabetes, and you need a sturdy, comfortable walking shoe. This is no time to pinch pennies and get the cheapies. You can't afford the potential irritations to your feet! Blisters are a no-no to diabetics! After you buy your shoes, then get to walking! Start with around the block. Park a little further from the store than you normally do. Make some laps around the mall at lunchtime. Then give yourself some positive reinforcement and test your blood glucose level when you are done!

After you work up an appetite, fix this fantastic soup for dinner! It's both visually and gastronomically satisfying, and it's good news for diabetics!

Apricot Lentil Soup


    1 onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/3 cup (80 ml) dried apricots, chopped
    2 stalks of celery, chopped
    1-1/2 cups (360 ml) red lentils
    5 cups (1 liter + 240 ml) stock
    14 ounce (395 g) can of diced tomatoes, juice included
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    salt to taste
    ground black pepper to taste
    1 cup (240 ml) diced carrots

  1. Saute onion, garlic, celery, and apricots in olive oil. Add lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and juice, and season with thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  3. Puree lentil mixture in blender, and return to pot. Add diced carrots, and simmer gently until carrots are cooked, yet still slightly firm. The contrast in textures is what you are looking to achieve. Makes 8 servings.

92 calories per serving
23 g carbohydrate
8 g fiber
1 g protein
Vitamin A 48%
Vitamin C 16%
Calcium 1%
Iron 15%

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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