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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 #6
Lowering Cholesterol and Triglycerides
on a Vegan Diet
by VOW

Includes Recipe Below

In my second bean article, http://www.vegparadise.com/bean2.html, I shared the heartbreak of my doctor visit where I discovered that three months' worth of vegan eating did NOT produce the results I had hoped for. I practically danced to that appointment, positive that my blood tests would show that my health had improved to an impressive level.

I probably looked like I'd been clubbed with a baseball bat when my doctor informed me that my cholesterol was 196.00 mg/dL (normal range 45.00 to 200.00 mg/dL) which certainly isn't anything to brag about, and my triglycerides had RISEN, and were now 242.00 mg/dL (normal 35.00 to 160 mg/dL).

Where was all the improvement that a plant-based, low-fat, cholesterol-free diet was supposed to produce? Why did I even bother to re-arrange my entire kitchen, and subject myself to the teasing of friends and relatives? Maybe I should march out of the doctor's office, and drive myself to a steak house!

VOW My doctor refused to let me wallow in self-pity. She pointed out the thirty pounds I had lost, and explained that losing weight was a positive step in my journey to better health. She also explained that the cholesterol would HAVE to drop, but it often lagged behind diet changes, and it would take longer than three months for the bloodwork to improve. "Those are just numbers," she said.

She shared that she is a Seventh Day Adventist, and is familiar with vegetarian and vegan diets. And because of her first-hand knowledge, she explained that there is often a RISE in triglycerides when a person begins a low-fat diet, because there is often an increase in carbohydrates to balance the intake.

Some of what she said must have sunk in, because I didn't leave her office and run home to eat an entire cheesecake.

Fast-forward six months. I managed to stay at least vegetarian. The holidays of course are very subversive to a vegan diet! I didn't lose any more weight, but neither did I gain any, either. And in January I reported to the lab and rolled up my sleeve.

Pardon me while I preen a little bit!

  • Cholesterol was now 151.00 mg/dL (normal is 45.00 to 200.00 mg/dL) -- a 45-point drop!
  • Triglycerides now 139.00 mg/dL (normal is 35.00 to 160.00 mg/dL) -- a 103-point drop!!!

HEY! I'm going to stay Vegan for a while longer!

Are you jazzed now? I am! And I have a fantastic soup to share, and an incredibly impressive bean to use in the soup!

In the Four Corners area of the Southwestern United States, there lived a Native American people called the Anasazi. (Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning, "the Ancient Ones," and right now, it's not actually politically correct to refer to these people by that name.) They lived and worked and farmed and traded, from about AD 1 to AD 1300. Then, for unknown reasons, the settlers in this area abandoned their homes and their farms.

Not much is known about them after they migrated; some experts think they were absorbed in other Native American populations outside of their territory. However, they did leave behind some wonderful archaeological ruins, so we now know how they lived, what they wore, the foods they ate, and the goods they made and traded. http://www.co.blm.gov/ahc/anasazi.htm#Who

One of their agricultural products was a type of bean. http://beanbag.net/cgi-bin/image/templates/ba2.jpg This beautiful legume was "rediscovered" in the ancient ruins around 1900, and is named for the Anasazi people. The bean is a mottled maroon and white, and cooks up similar to a pinto bean, having a very tender skin. It is reported to be more digestible than the typical bean, causing less gas in susceptible people.

The following recipe has its origins in Colombia, South America. One of the ancestral peoples in that area is known as Antioquian. In combining Native North American beans with Native South American cooking, I think you will join me in appreciating bean soup celebrating the heritage of the Western Hemisphere!

Antioquian Bean Soup
Serves 8

    2 cups (480 ml) dry Anasazi beans, rinsed and picked over (about 1 pound or 450 g.)
    1 3-inch (7.5 cm) piece of kombu
    Vegetable broth to cover
    4 slices of vegetarian bacon, chopped
    1 green plantain, finely chopped
    2 onions, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 14-ounce (395 g) can diced tomatoes (and juice)
    Salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Place rinsed beans in crockpot, cover with water and add kombu. Soak overnight.
  2. In the morning, drain the soaking water, keeping kombu.
  3. Add broth, bacon, plantain, onion, and garlic. Cook on high for several hours.
  4. If beans are tender, add tomatoes and juice, and finish cooking on low until serving time. If beans are still firm, continue cooking on high until they soften, then continue to cook as directed.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: the kombu adds little to no flavor to the recipe and should completely disintegrate into the soup through cooking. If pieces are still visible and not aesthetically pleasing to you, the kombu can be removed before serving. Kombu cooked with beans renders them more digestible, and reduces the fragrant side effects (although the Anasazi beans are supposed to be easier on the gut than other legumes!).

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
Calories 185
Calories from fat 2
Total carbohydrates 35g
Fiber 7g
Protein 11g

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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