Thursday, January 24, 2013

Transitioning to a Healthy Vegan Lifestyle - Step Three

(crudite and white bean cheeze dip)

I am really curious how those of you who have made the first two changes are feeling now.  If you are inclined to share I would love to know about your experience so far.  *hint, hint*  ;-)  You can either post your thoughts on the blog or send me an email.

Thus far we have been drinking enough water to be properly hydrated and then we added a minimum of 10 servings of produce to our diet. In comparison the next step is going to be fairly easy.  Now I want you to add a minimum of one cup of beans to your diet.  I am still not asking you to eliminate meat, eggs and dairy, though that will come eventually.  For now simply drink enough water, eat at least 10 servings of produce, and have at least one cup of beans every day.

Those of you who have conquered the 10 servings of produce challenge are probably already experiencing significant results. I expect that your transit time has reduced significantly.  For those who aren’t familiar with the term, transit time is the time it takes between when food goes in your mouth and waste comes out the other end.

(chocolate and peanut butter bean spread with cucumbers)

Additionally you should be feeling lighter both in terms of total weight and how you feel after eating. This is because produce is much lower in calories than meat, dairy and processed food. Also produce is easier for the body to digest which means that your body doesn’t need to devote as many time or resources for digestion and the food moves more quickly through your body.

Now we are going to move on to step three which is to add one cup of cooked beans to your diet. Those of you who aren’t bean eats may be curious why beans are important and where to add them to your diet so I will cover both of those topics.

(white bean and kale soup with whole wheat pasta)

Why is it important to eat beans?

Beans are a fantastic source of protein and fiber and are also very satisfying.  The fiber helps to reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.  Remember swings in blood sugar can cause you to overeat so you don’t want that to happen.  The fiber also has the impact of promoting the growth of good bacteria in your gut which improves your immune system and your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  Additionally consuming beans improves your fecal eliminations. The fiber in beans also binds to the cholesterol in your GI tract so that more of it is flushed out in your waste rather than being absorbed back into your body. 

What type of beans should we be eating?

Eat whichever type of beans you enjoy. I love garbanzos and lentils but if you like black beans and pinto beans eat those instead. The important thing is to find beans that you like and eat those.  Once you cultivate a bean habit you can explore other varieties and shake things up.  For now just eat at least one cup of beans per day.

(black bean hummus and veggie panini)

What is the best place to buy beans?

This is a difficult question because it depends on where you live.  However in general the best place to buy your beans is the one that has the highest turnover (sells the most). Really old dried beans take a very long time to cook. That is the reason that you want your beans to be as fresh as possible.  I get mine from Wegman’s generally but I also buy them other places.  Other ideas include Latino markets which are a great source for unusual beans.  I have also found beans in health food stores, Asian markets, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and at our local grocery stores (check the Latin section of your market if you have trouble locating them).  You can also buy them from Amazon which is probably a great source since they are such a big retailer.

(avocado and black bean salsa)

What are the easiest places to add beans into my diet?

Once you get started using beans you will find that they actually work in almost every dish that you have previously used meat.  My favorite uses for beans include:
  • Adding them to sauces (think red sauce for example) with veggies
  • Including them in soups (minestrone – a veggie soup with beans is a terrific example) or as soup (split pea or lentil)
  • Tossing them in grain dishes (pilaf would be a good example)
  • Adding cold beans (particularly garbanzo/chickpea/ceci) to a green salads
  • Anywhere you can add hummus, as a dip in a sandwich, as the base on pizza
(quinoa and garbanzo bean salad)

Won’t beans make me flatulent (gassy)?

If your body isn’t accustomed to eating a lot of fiber it will take a little while for it to adjust.  The easiest way to understand this is that the population of good bacteria (the ones that digest fiber) in your gastro intestinal tract need to adjust as your diet changes. Once this happens your flatulence will be reduced. There are two things that you can do to help reduce this problem.  First, you can take a probiotic supplement (Culturelle or Align) to increase the population of healthy bacteria more quickly. Second, you can take Beano which contains enzymes to help you body break down the beans.  Even if you don’t use either supplement within a short period of time (approximately a month) your body will adjust on its own and the flatulence will be reduced.

Happy thoughts:
  1. I had a number of great calls today which always makes me happy.  There is just something about helping people improve their health that fires me up.  J  I guess we all have our passions and that is definitely one of mine, among many.  ;-)
  2. While it was absolutely frigid here today I was able to stay warm at home for which I am very grateful.  I had no desire to go out the house this morning when I saw it was 18 degrees with a wind chill of minus 7 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Dan is continuing to feel good and the mystery fevers have disappeared.  Love that! 
  4. Don’t you just love that it’s Wednesday?  I am so happy to have the week more than half over. Come on Friday. I can’t wait for my weekend to begin.  J
Signing out:

Even though today was a good day it was another long one.  I spent more time on the phone today than usual and that meant I was still writing this post late into the evening.  I need to come up with a system soon.  J

I hope you are having a fabulous week.  I will chat with you again very soon. Arrivederci.


  1. Yum! Where do you get all of your recipes? Do you have a favorite cookbook? I constantly find my mouth watering when reading your posts.

    I have been vegan (99% of the time) for more than a decade. I think I told you before that I am currently battling cancer. I find the days that I eat cleaner are the days that I feel better / have a better attitude.

    I love beans and try to soak them at least three times a week so that I have some on hand. I am so thankful that all of my children love them too.

    1. Hi Betsy

      I actually write the recipes that you see on the blog. Since I have been cooking so long I take old omni recipes that I used to make and change them so that they are vegan and healthy. I have many cookbooks but most are omni. If take the names of the dishes I shot pictures of and put those into the search window on the blog you should go right to the recipe. If I posted a picture of it, there is a high (99%) likelihood there is a recipe here. If there are any you want the link to and can't find let me know.

      I am very sorry about your cancer battle. I hope you are doing well and that treatment is working. If you need to talk shoot me an email.

      There is something oddly calming about eating this way that I can't explain either. It may be the placebo effect (we think it's helping so it does) but I don't care as long as it works.

      You are lucky that your kids like beans. I think they are generally a tough sell. We never ate many of them until the cancer and now I can't get enough of them. I have fagioli all'uccelletto (beans in the style of birds) cooking now. You can definitely find that recipe on the blog.

      ((big hugs))

    2. I need to make sure that I start subscribing to comments via email. :)

      I will start looking for your recipes. I am always looking for something new instead of rotating the same 10 dinners. My children will be very thankful!

  2. I make that white bean dip you have pictured all the time. One of your best recipes.

    1. Good morning Elizabeth,

      *Yay* Thank you so much for letting me know that you like the cheezy white bean dip. :-) That was a very nice comment to read this morning. Definitely a good way to start me day.

      hope you have a fabulous Friday and a great weekend,


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