Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit!

The more ya eat, the more ya toot!

I used to have a real distaste towards beans without ever trying them. Just like most teenagers, I just made an assumption that I didn’t like them. Now that I’m a mature (ha!) twenty-something, I’ve found ways to enjoy these fiber and protein, packed little nuggets. One way is in this fre$h salad!

My three-bean salad consists of kidney beans, navy beans and garbanzo beans, all have a around 15 grams of protein and 45 grams of carbohydrates (with 12 grams of fiber, making the net carbs around 33 grams) per cup! Not to mention the high amounts of manganese, folate, and iron.

Why are those three essential to our diet?

Manganese-
Manganese is an essential mineral that our body doesn’t need a whole lot of (as opposed to the way we fawn over Vitamin C and B-12) but that doesn’t make it any less important. This mineral aids in bone health. It’s stored in the bones and helps increase bone density. If you’re at risk for osteoporosis, try getting more of this mineral to help keep those bones kickin’.

Folate-

Folate is a vitamin that is mostly heard in relation to the prego ladies. That’s because it aids in rapid growth and development, which is exactly what’s happening inside those bellies! But folate, or folic acid, also helps those not expecting as it’s needed to produce red and white blood cells in the bone marrow. The production of red blood cells are important to keep oxygen flowing through your veins and white blood cells kick butt against infections.

Iron-

We all know this big guy, because I’m sure some of you have heard of or know someone who is anemic, meaning they have an iron deficiency. When someone has anemia, it means they are “lacking blood,” and will most likely be treated with iron supplements, as iron is an important ingredient in hemoglobin (blood).

In addition to the major health benefits of filling that tummy of yours with beans, the reflection of them on my Blood Glucose (BG) levels was beautiful. Because beans aren’t just carbohydrates but rather, accompanied by protein and some fat- they don’t spike my BG. Yes, there are carbohydrates in them but I like to bolus post-eating because the carbohydrates raise my BG so slowly over a few hours after eating.

So now that you know how much awesomeness are in beans, here’s a SUPER easy salad that you can make for a week of lunches! I made this bean salad and it lasted me a whole WEEK! The best part was that you don’t have to eat it the same way every day. What I mean by that is that you can use it as part of a larger salad or add some goodies to it and spice it up (but please always eat it with your mouth haha)!

Ingredients:

1 can garbanzo beans

1 can navy beans

1 can kidney beans

1/2 red onion, chopped finely

Mint (however much you see fit!)

1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped

Olive Oil

Lemon

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Now pay attention closely, you’re going to take all these ingredients and toss them in a mixing bowl. Voila! Magic.

Hint: Drizzy drizzzzle some Balsamic vinaigrette (I love the Balsamic dressing from from Primal Kitchen) on it before serving!

But really, this isn’t anything crazy or revolutionizing the nutrition world but is really great for keeping you full on the go and full of fiber, carbs, protein and vitamins! Top with some avocado, add some tomato, scatter some beans on your favorite salad or maybe even mix with some tuna filets. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before taking supplements and ask your Registered Dietitian about carb input. This is the method that works best for me and my diabetes, but we are all different.

Thankful…For Food

November is a month of gratitude. Being thankful that you have a little brother to annoy you and remind you of what innocence looks like. Thankful for parents who push you to be the strong independent woman you are but are always there for you when things get difficult. I feel like I have a special kind of gratitude for the presence of my family because of the difficult times type 1 diabetes has put me through. Every day has been a struggle since my diagnosis with T1D. Some days are better than others, and as I’ve grown I’ve learned how to deal with those struggles in a more independent manner. But one thing T1D has taught me is just how much my family cares about me. They must love me a whole lot to have learned about one of the most complex auto-immune diseases in the world for my own benefit and to support the outrageous medical bills that come with it. So, thanks mom and dad. You too, lil bro.

This is also the season for thanking loved ones for traveling across the country to over-eat with you and thanking the cute barista for the coffee to make tolerating extended family members easier. I can’t relate to these reasons of gratitude this Thanksgiving season because most of my family lies outside the United States. I guess that’s something I’m thankful for. Not that they’re far away but that I have a reason to visit Europe more often than other people and I don’t have to deal with answering questions like, “What’d you study in college again?” or the follow up question to that, “Oh, so what will you do with that?”around the holidays. I’ve contemplated writing down staple answers so that way I don’t trip on my words when trying to prove that I am indeed doing something with my life despite not majoring in a science nor business field. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have studied a variety of disciplines from anthropology to politics with a spotlight on Europe. I’m thankful because I am a firm believer that if I didn’t take on the complex major that is Global and Regional Studies: Europe, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post today because I wouldn’t have started this blog because I wouldn’t have decided to study nutrition. Does that make sense? Probably not.

Okay, now lets talk about what I am REALLY grateful for this November. FOOD. This thanksgiving was my first vegetarian Thanksgiving. I don’t really have an exact date that I stopped eating meat; it was a gradual process as I started cutting out red meat while studying industrial agricultural for my senior thesis in college. Then when I was living on my own, I found that beans were cheaper and more delicious (to me) than chicken or turkey so I just cut out meat entirely.

I didn’t miss the turkey for a second this Thanksgiving because of the delicious vegetables my mom and I roasted up! My main course was a big hearty salad. This isn’t much of a recipe since I just tossed a bunch of seasonal and festive goodies in a bowl with some balsamic but below is a complete list of what came to be a beautiful salad:

Acorn Squash Salad

  • Spring mix (for those leafy greens)

  • Acorn squash (cut into 1″ pieces and roasted with walnut oil at 350 F for 20 minutes until soft)

  • Red potatoes (boiled for 5 minutes, then roasted for about 20 minutes with some salt and peppa)

  • Pomegranate seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Pecans

After combining in a bowl, I drizzled balsamic vinegar on top and served! Looking back, I’m realized that red onion would’ve made a great (and stinky) contribution but maybe next time a.k.a Christmas.

It wasn’t until a couple days before the feasting that I remembered that gravy isn’t vegetarian but is my favorite part of the meal. So I hopped on Pinterest like the basic gal I am and found a bunch of mushroom gravy recipes. I didn’t follow one in particular but here’s what ended up happening:

Shroom Gravy

  • 1 Portobello mushroom (washed and sliced length wise and one time

    across)

  • 2 King Oyster mushrooms (washed and sliced length wise)

  • 1/2 yellow onion (diced and cooked down with sage and thyme)

  • 1 tablespoon of oil (olive, avocado, walnut etc. whatever floats your boat and cooks down your mushrooms)

  • 1 cup red wine (1/4 cup for the recipe and 3/4 to get you through mingling with family members)

  • 1/4 cup of vegetable broth

  • Just enough Wondra flour to get the desired consistency

  • Spices: I added a dash of cayenne and some garlic salt

First, I added the diced onion with sage and thyme and a bit of oil to a heated pan and cooked down the onion until it started to turn brown. Then I added the onion to a pot with more oil and the mushrooms to cook until the ‘shrooms were a darker color and pretty soft. After the mushrooms were ready to go, I added the wine, Wondra, and vegetable broth. Finally, I added the spices until it tasted A M A Z I N G. Even my carnivorous father and grandpa liked it.

Well, that concludes my Thanksgiving. Though these ideas might’ve been more useful pre-festivities rather than the week after, the holidays are just around the corner and you can bet I’ll be doing this again. PLUS they made for great leftovers. I used extra ingredients from the salad and gravy to make an epic salad for lunch and dinner the next day. Buon Appetito!

Persippin' on Persimmons

There used to be a persimmon tree in my backyard growing up. It’s long gone now because of the mess and rotting smell that the persimmons produced every Fall. I never did get around to figuring out if I liked them or not, maybe I was turned off by the sight of them decomposing all over the backyard or having to scrape them off the bottom of my shoes. But Fall is among us and persimmons of all shapes and sizes are making their way to the farmers markets and the produce department at Whole Foods Market.

I met a lady a couple weeks ago who was buying 5lbs. of persimmons and I made a comment about never having tried the golden squash-looking fruit and she could not believe it. She then encouraged me to try them, she used words like rich, sweet, and with “a deep honey flavor” to describe their taste. So I bought four (persimmons, not pounds). Apparently the taller and more round ones have a stronger taste but I bought the Fuyu variety which are flatter and more squashed looking. This variety has a very light flavor, but still has that honey taste and crisp texture. I thought they would make a great main ingredient for an Autumn themed smoothie. Or as I called it after practically inhaling the thing, an Autummmmmm smoothie, because this smoothie was so yummmmmy.

Trying new foods is a tricky game. How will my blood glucose levels react? Can the speed of the insulin compete with the sugar in it? How much sugar is even in this dang thing?! The internet is a great resource of course. But with produce, the nutrition labels are always estimates. I grew up learning the amount of sugar in a small apple, medium apple, etc. but what size qualifies as a small apple?! There’s no way I’m going to start carrying a piece of string and a ruler to measure the diameter of every fruit I eat in addition to my insulin pump and blood glucose monitor.

After some googling, the average amount of carbs in a Fuyu persimmon is about 30 grams with 6 grams of fiber, making the total net carbs 24 grams. This is kind of a lot when two are added to the smoothie. It also lacks any fat and protein, making it so your body will use it faster. This was exactly what I needed after a four hour class and before a workout. Persimmons are also high in potassium (270 mg) and vitamin A and vitamin C. When making the smoothie and trying the persimmon, it really wasn’t as rich in sweetness as something like a mango so I underestimated my carbohydrate intake. But hey! That’s part of the living and learning, for T1D’s of course.

I get funny looks from people when I tell them I add frozen cauliflower to my smoothies, each and every one of them. Frozen vegetables and fruits are excellent for smoothies because when the produce is picked, it’s at the peak of it’s ripeness and immediately frozen. In this way, the vitamins and minerals are in perfect condition. Cauliflower has been a staple in my smoothies for awhile now because of the creamy texture it adds as well as accounting for a quarter of my daily vegetable recommendation.

Aut-yummmmmm Smoothie:

  1. 2 Fuyu persimmons

  2. ¼ cup cashews

  3. ¼ cup almond milk

  4. 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  5. ½ banana

  6. ¼ cup frozen cauliflower

  7. Dash of cinnamon

  8. Optional: Pumpkin seeds (high in iron)

  9. Optional: Almond butter (good source of fiber and fats)

I'll have the 45 with a side of 20, and make it quick!

I can easily remember the foods that would ignite nostalgia within me with just one whiff or the foods that remind me of family vacations and birthday dinners. I have a memory of being nine years old and craving a thick cut of steak and a cloud of mashed potatoes during the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. But there was a turning point in my adolescence when these food memories were being made, that has become its own memory and influenced others. This memory has caused me not to think of food as being full of flavors and tastes, but as numbers.

With sleepy eyes in the morning before going to school, I would look into my bowl of Lucky Charms and be mesmerized by the marshmallows that I couldn’t wait to pick apart from the rest of the cereal. But at the age of seven, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes and the marshmallow rainbows and leprechaun hats turned into carbohydrates and insulin shots. My memory of food is of being a sort of chore, an action that required thoughts and calculations before it could be the spicy, salty, or sweet that we all crave.

Don’t get me wrong; food makes my mouth water and pupils expand but there is a stigma surrounding my relationship with food as a type 1 diabetic that acts as a grey cloud over my dietary choices. Because I had to grow up with this disease attached to my hip through an insulin pump, estimating my carbs became my lifestyle and something I was good at. My memory of food was not always on dinner plates but on flashcards that my nutritionist would practice with me. An apple the size of my fist? 20 carbs. An apple the size of my dads fists? 30 carbs.

Though counting carbs is a tedious task, it cannot be ignored. A type 1 diabetic’s health depends on estimating the carbohydrates of their meals and puts pressure on us to get that number as close to the real thing as possible. If we are five grams of carbs over, that extra unit or so can slip us into a hypoglycemic episode. A problem will also occur if we are five grams under the actual amount because this lack of insulin will cause blood glucose levels to increase. Both of these incidents can effect not only our physical health by causing dizziness, confusion, thirst etc. but also our mental health. Blood glucose levels resembling a roller coaster, going up and down and all around, can lead to severe mood swings because of the imbalance of insulin in our body. This is where the pressure comes from to correctly add up the carbs of our meals. It seems like in an instant I went from a sugar cereal eating, corner piece of the caking loving child to a cautious carb counting twenty-something machine.

My diagnosis is a memory I retain of when the meaning of food changed for me. I was trained to count my carbs, translate those carbs into units of insulin and then proceed to inject myself with that dosage. Of course at this young age, my parents were heavily involved but when it came to those grueling seven hours of elementary school, I had to grow up. Adding up my units of insulin requires being able to add 0.7 and 0.4 and come up with 1.1, this was fifth grade math but I was an expert by second grade. In order to ensure I could calculate these insulin dosages correctly to prevent illness through hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, I had to be prepared for whatever food would come my way. I had to know the carbohydrates of a slice of white bread, one cup of cereal and a quarter cup of milk, or the exact weight of a bowl of grapes that would equal 10 carbs. My life had come to revolve around food in a way different than a chef or a nutritionist, it was now my lifestyle.

Also see this article featured at Beyond Type One

Welcome, friends!

You made it! Even though I’ve been developing this idea for awhile, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but that’s the main reason I’m so excited to get started so that way I can either figure it out or have fun not knowing. Like most people, I’ve gone through a lot of transitions and phases that have shaped me into the goal driven woman writing this post. I think change is a heavy influencer over deciding what I want to do in my life. Each bit of change I’ve encountered has presented obstacles that once overcome, provide some sort of guidance on this path of adulthood.

In Spring 2017, I graduated with a B.A in Global and Regional Studies where I studied politics, anthropology, history, and a language focusing on Europe. This major sent me abroad to Rome, Italy for an academic year and taught me so much about the world. I concluded my studies with a thesis about the Slow Food Movement. One third of the Slow Food philosophy is to ensure that food is clean. If food is clean then it’s not harming the environment nor our personal health. In this way, my degree lead me down this path towards a curiosity about food and nutrition. Through learning about food, I not only learned about Europe (because let’s be real, the best way to study Europe is through the stomach), but also more about my type 1 diabetes.

Food has always been center stage for me since being diagnosed in 2002. Type 1 diabetic’s have to know how to read nutrition facts on labels, estimate the carbs of unpackaged foods, blah blah blah (you can read more about this here). As I continued to expand my knowledge of nutrition, I learned how to manage my diabetes in a more holistic way where I don’t depend so heavily on insulin to take care of all the added sugars I was consuming. Instead, I began eating way more fruits and vegetables as well as paying attention to the ingredient lists on packaged foods. This change has been reflecting positively on my diabetes management and has even lowered my hemoglobin A1c significantly. This wasn’t easy and was not overnight. I love anything chocolate and there will always be a spot in my heart for sugar cereals and fake cheese, but there’s definitely balance to be found.

I’m currently taking classes so that one day I can be a Registered Dietitian (RD). This is the dream and I am determined. This way I can combine what I know as type 1 diabetic with what I’ll learn as an RD and basically, save the world. In the meantime, this blog will hopefully be a hub of information leading to that point. I’m grateful for the opportunities that diabetes has presented and I hope this will flow smoothly through this site and mix well with my love of food.

If this all sounded even moderately interesting to you, please subscribe to stay up to date with my posts. To learn more about type 1 diabetes, check out the FAQ page!

Be well,

Ciara