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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 #4
Homemade Soymilk
by VOW

Includes Recipe Below

Any vegetarian diet has a place for soymilk in it, and the diabetic vegetarian is no different. As long as you count the carbohydrates and keep track of the calories, soymilk can be a nutritious and good-tasting part of your daily "fuel." When I decided to become vegan, I tried soymilk for the first time and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was, and how good for me it was! An added surprise benefit was that most soymilks also contain some fiber! Hey, cows, try THAT!

In my surfing adventures around the web, I've seen references to soymilk machines. These handy appliances can take a quantity of dried soybeans and convert them into fresh milk. And the descriptions of that fresh milk sure didn't sound like the stuff I was pouring out of aseptic cartons!

My interest in home made soymilk increased exponentially when I bought a brand of soymilk I had never tried before. Blechhhhh! I paid MONEY for that?

At my next shopping trip, I looked for bulk dried soybeans, and those little guys were going for ninety-nine cents a pound. Organic, even! The little calculator tucked away in my brain started clicking away. Store-bought soymilk runs $1.00 a quart or more. And I'd already made the BLECHHHH discovery that cheaper is NOT better. Soy BEANS are 99-cents a pound, and a batch of soymilk from the home machine uses about a half-cup of dried beans. It doesn't take a calculus major to figure out that we're talking savings and taste here! VOW

For about $230, I bought a soymilk machine. For this particular brand, the beans are soaked overnight. Load the soaked beans in the little filter basket, fill the container with water, and push a button. In about 15 minutes, voila! I now had about a quart and a half of hot, fresh, foamy soymilk that smelled like Heaven! And it sure didn't look like the stuff I had been drinking from the carton, either! This stuff was a rich, creamy, sort of eggshell color and reminded me of eggnog. In fact, I sweetened the very first cup of milk a little bit, poured in a drop of vanilla extract and then sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg on top and called it "soynog."

For daily, typical soymilk consumption, the homemade milk needs a touch of salt and a small amount of sweetening. In a single, one and one-half quart batch, I add about a quarter teaspoon of salt and one packet of stevia. If you do this while the milk is still warm, the additions dissolve readily.

But wait, there's more! (Sheesh, I sound like an infomercial!)

The "leftover" in the little filter basket is the soybean pulp, and it's even got a name: okara. It looks like cooked rice, or maybe grated coconut. Don't get out a spoon and dig in, though. The uncooked soybean contains an enzyme that prevents the human body from utilizing all the nutrition in it. However, you can add this amazing stuff to all kinds of recipes and it's a fantastic source of protein, fiber and vitamins! I used it in my homemade bread and dazzled everyone with new moistness and dense texture. I discovered a whole world of okara recipes and now it looks like I'll be making soymilk just to get the pulp!

Next on my list: homemade TOFU!

I haven't given up on my beans, though. I'm still cranking up the crockpot and adding all kinds of good things to create Adventures of the Bean! This installment has a triple "scoop" feature: lentils, Good Mother Stallard beans, and Cannellini beans. The Stallard bean is a maroon and white mottled color, http://beanbag.net/cgi-bin/image/templates/bg3.jpg and perfect for soups. If you cannot find it, though, pinto beans or cranberry beans can be substituted. I used the pinto bean nutritional information when calculating the recipe.

Cannellini beans are popular with Italian cooking. It's a large white bean http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/rice/glossary.asp often called the Italian kidney bean. Great Northern beans can be used instead. This recipe also calls for Persian lentils. These are sometimes known as green lentils, but any lentil may be used.

Get out your crockpot!

Bean Ragoo
Serves 10

    1 cup (240 ml) dried Good Mother Stallard beans, washed and sorted
    1 cup (240 ml) dried Cannellini beans, washed and sorted
    1 3-inch (7.5 cm) piece Kombu
    1 cup (240 ml) dried Persian lentils, washed and sorted
    1/2 package (4 pieces) Yves breakfast link sausages, diced
    6 cups (1 liter + 480 ml) veggie broth or water
    3 stalks celery, diced
    1 onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 fresh eggplant, diced
    1 14-ounce (395g) can diced tomatoes, with juice
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp ground turmeric
    1/4 cup dark raisins
    salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place washed and sorted beans in crockpot. Cover with water and add Kombu, soak overnight. In the morning, drain soaking water.
  2. Add washed and sorted lentils, veggie broth or water, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook on "high."
  3. When beans are tender, broil eggplant and sausages until golden brown. Add to crockpot with tomatoes and juice, seasonings, and raisins. Continue cooking until eggplant is soft and sausages are tender.
This soup freezes beautifully.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Nutritional information, per serving:
255 calories total
70 calories from fat
7 g fat
620 mg sodium
39 g carbohydrates
19 g fiber
19 g sugars
19 g protein
6% Vitamin A
9% Vitamin C
2% Calcium
12% Iron

Next adventure: Portuguese Bean Soup!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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