Monthly Archives: February 2014

6 Things You Should Know About Beans

nutrition, beans, vegan protein

Who spilled the beans?

Since protein is a hot topic for vegans, I wanted to share a little bit about beans. These amazing little nuggets of nutrition should be a staple in your plant-based life. If you aren’t plant-based, beans should still be a staple in your nutritional life. They do so many wonderful things for your body and they are so diverse that you can make a million tasty things out of them. Check out some of my favorite reasons to eat beans.

  1. Protein Powerhouses- No really, they are so full of protein that you should be consuming these a lot. Probably a couple of times a day, if you can stand it. Combine with grains like, tortillas, pasta or rice to make a complete protein.
  2. Nutrient Powerhouses– Dry beans are chock full of vitamins and minerals, such as: copper, manganese, and magnesium. They are also a good source of iron depending on the bean (white beans tend to have more iron than black beans.)
  3. They Make You Poop Good– Having your daily BM is really important. Since these suckers are full of water and fiber, they help move things along and they help cut calories without leaving you feeling deprived.
  4. They are Cancer Fighters – They contain phytochemical compounds which means they are high in antioxidants. The beans with the most antioxidants are: black, kidney, pinto, navy, and black-eyed peas.
  5. They Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy– They provide soluble fiber which is awesome for lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar.
  6. They are cheap! Meaning they make awesome meals when you are on a budget (burritos, chili, red beans and rice), and really, who isn’t on a tight budget nowadays?

Are you convinced yet?

I can already hear it, “I don’t want to be tooty!!” (followed by a pouty face…)

Well guess what, farting is a natural part of being human and everyone who is healthy does it. So get over it. Part of the reason beans have their musical quality is because the outer coating contains oligosaccharides which are hard to digest. It’s been suggested that the indigestible sugars in beans may act as a prebiotic and are actually good food for your gut flora. I know, I know, ripping a ripe juicy one can be embarrassing, especially if you are around someone new. If you cut the cheese, just smile and point out that you have happy gut flora (I just can’t resist that term!)

You’re still fighting me on the gas thing. Ok, well, you can have your beans and eat them too and minimize the gas. Here’s a few simple tips on what to do:

  • If you are new to eating beans, slowly introduce them to your diet and so that you can nurture your gut flora to grow. Try just eating 1/2 cup at a time and see what happens.
  • As my dad says, “You gotta soak the fart out of them.” If you are preparing dried beans, make sure to soak them for at least 12 hours before you cook. Soaking helps break down some of those starches that are so hard to digest. Discard the soaking water and rinse throughly to minimize the gassy effects.
  • Still having issues? There is nothing wrong with taking a digestive enzyme to give your gut a helping hand.

As with anything else, making them from scratch is better than canned. Making them does take some planning since you need to soak them and they do take about an hour to cook (unless you are fancy and cool and have a pressure cooker then you can have beany deliciousness in a matter of minutes.) Canned are ok , as long as you get low-sodium and organic.

Have any amazing bean recipes? I’d love to hear them!


Vegan Menu Planning: Ideas, Tips and Tricks.

Hello Snuggle Friends! How was your week this week? Mine was just fine. Just continuing my journey of getting in touch with my hippie self. Ok, that’s enough of that. So I was out grocery shopping with my husband and he is always asking me to help him plan a healthier menu for the week. Then the light bulb went off in my little head and it occurred to me that I would like share with you all some tips on menu planning.

Now since I am vegan, this is an essential part of my week. Personally, I have a very hard time winging my grocery list and then whipping up delectable delights to fit in with all of the food stuffs that I bought. It just doesn’t work. I either end up throwing out a bunch of produce or eating out because I’m missing one crucial ingredient to make anything. Total waste of money. To help me cut down quite a bit on the spontaneity of my shopping trips I subscribe to my weekly  CSA box and this really helps with saving on the grocery bill and prevents me from buying a lot of junk food.

So with that being said, Here’s what I do to plan my food week.

  • Consult my weekly email to see what I’m getting for the week. My CSA usually send me a list of about 7-9 items I will be getting in my weekly share. Sometimes they make a last-minute switch but most of the time the list is finalized before they charge your card.
  • Consult my foray of cookbooks to see what fits with my box. If I have all the ingredients for something, then all the better. Otherwise I look for things where I can use staples and I only need to buy a couple of complimentary items.
  • From the recipes that I choose, I plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole week. This usually means that I eat the same thing for a few days in a row, but that has never bothered me, growing up in a family that pretty much always had leftovers.
  • Afterwards, I run to my local Whole Foods or farmers market, depending on the day, and grab what I need. I try to stay on target but sometimes I can get delayed and distracted. (Ahem, the Whole Body section is ah-mazing!)
  • Then I usually reserve Sunday evenings to get most of my menu cooked because ain’t nobody got time to cook during the week. (Or at least this girl doesn’t).

So a typical breakfast for me is pretty light since I have a hard time eating in the morning. I focus mostly on fruit and if I have the time I add oatmeal with nuts and seeds on top. Right now I’m really digging my Peanut Butter Banana Boats.

  • What I do is slice a banana down the middle. I then spread any type of nut butter that tickles my fancy (right now it’s Trader Joe’s Sunflower Butter-OMG delish!) Then I sprinkle granola on top and add a few dates or whatever fruit I have on hand to the side. It doesn’t sound like much but I find it quite filling.

Peanut butter banana, vegan, breakfast

Lunch is usually some type of greens and a soup or sandwich of some kind.

  • Since I am getting a butt load of kale and other dark leafy greens right now, my salads are typically very green with some other veggies thrown on top. I like to add some pumpkin or sunflower seeds for added nutrition and texture as well as dried cranberries.
vegan pumpkin soup

Pair pumpkin soup with a leafy green salad and you have an antioxidant party on a plate.

Dinner is usually my more elaborate dish.

  • I like to do some kind of rice or pasta dish. For example, a really simple red beans and rice or pad thai. This is were I feel I can get really creative. Some of my other dinner favorites are spaghetti squash with marinara, vegan nachos, or chickpea patties with mashed sweet potatoes.

And then sometimes I like to throw in dessert.

If you have trouble menu planning, there are some great apps out there that you can download for your iPad or iPhone or whatever gadget you have that are awesome at helping you plan shit out. My app of choice is the Whole Foods app. It’s free and you can do all kinds of neat stuff with it and it has options for showing only specific menu ideas to cater to all diets. I love doing this on my iPad because then my grocery list and menu plan are all on one device and that saves paper (you know once you save paper you should probably go hug a tree or something) Another great tool is just using a dry erase board. Yeah you can get a pretty big piece of dry erase board at Home Depot for about $2 and you can mount it on your wall with something sticky (I use velcro) or whatever you have. It’s pretty awesome, I’m not gonna lie.

So have fun with this. Food is supposed to be fun not boring. Think of creative ways to use your leftovers in another dish to make them exciting. For example, make extra rice one night for stir fry and then create some delicious soup the next night and just add your left over rice. With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.

whole foods, vegan, menu planning

Even Calypso can get excited about grocery shopping!

Main Street Vegan Book Review

Hey there Snuggle Friends,

As a part of my continuing vegucation, I have just finished reading Victoria Moran’s DSC_1103Main Street Vegan. As a holistic health practitioner, Moran shows that making the change to a vegan diet is easy and she demonstrates the baby steps to do so. Moran’s writing style is easy to digest and is a lot like having a conversation with your best friend’s, hippy mom who’s a veteran vegan. Even though she does include a few chapters on animal cruelty, they are well written and informative, and I actually learned a few things (especially what they do for foie gras, yuck.) This book does a great job of presenting basic nutrition without being overwhelming and even includes simple and delicious recipes at the end of each chapter to help illustrate points. (The “Cheapish Chili” is a recipe worth saving!) She even includes chapters on vegan traveling, as well as, meeting and networking with new vegan friends. One of the best parts of this book are the pages of reference at the end that help you find veg friendly products, as well as, names of organizations to support. Main Street Vegan is a quick and entertaining read packed full of veg-awesome information. Go get it, get snuggly and check it out. And don’t forget to let me know what you think!