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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vegucated & Black Garbanzo Banzai Bean Bonanza

I recently viewed the documentary film "Vegucated" (more about the project here: which features three average meat and cheese-loving Americans as they embark on a 6-week committment to a vegan diet.  I enjoyed the film and feel that it did a good job of covering the basic reasons a person would choose a vegan life-style, including a decent expose of factory farm cruelties.  I like the fact that the film (written and directed by Marisa Miller Wolfson) did not sugar coat the horrific acts of animal cruelty that factory farming has brought about and did have enough graphic photography to illustrate the point, but not so much that I would suffer a two-week depression following the viewing (I still haven't made it all the way through "Earthlings" yet---that stuff just really upsets me).  Exposure of animal farm practices were taken a step further by de-bunking some myths (and advertising implications) of 'free range' animals as well, and that was good to see.

The film features Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who conducts before and after tests on the three participants and also educates them on the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet.

As the weeks go by, we are shown the day-to-day struggles with trying to maintain a vegan diet, and I think most people who have switched to this life-style or are trying to will recognize the hurdles and relate to the struggles.

I wish there had been a bit more about the actual food preparation and the variety of foods available and more time spent with the experts they interviewed (T. Colin Campbell for one), but it's a nicely done and inspirational film that ends with a great message:  that we all can make a difference, with each and every meal and food choice we make.

As a special feature, there is a 10 minute video of Dr. Fuhrman conducting a Q & A with two of the participants.  (I would have loved to see some other special features as well....maybe one with Dr. Campbell and also Howard Lyman who is featured on the film too---I always want more :-). 

Dr. Fuhrman lays the premises for this type of diet out plainly for Brian and Tesla and expertly fields the questions they have had leveled at them from non-vegans in their lives that don't understand the science behind such a seemingly radical shift.  (This Q & A session contains the one thing about the film that really bothered me....I found the one male participant, Brian, to be a bit of a smart-a#*, and I know he's trying to be funny, but found his attitude toward Dr. Fuhrman disrespectful.....still I applaud his efforts and think it is very brave to offer oneself up as an experiment for public viewing).

Some of Dr. Fuhrman's remarks:

The bottom line right now is that 51% of all Americans die of heart attacks or strokes.
Most Americans eat a diet that is 40% animal products and 50% processed foods.  That diet is particularly dangerous because they are missing not one or two nutrients, but LOTS of phytochemicals and anti-oxidants that are only found in fruits and veggies, nuts and beans.  Natural plants foods provide the full spectrum of nutrients that we need for maximizing our health.

All-in-all, it's a film worth viewing and one that may help you field questions and deflect attacks from others.  If you are already firmly on the plant-based food path, you probably will not learn alot of new information, but still, it is empowering to see others adopt this lifestyle and is always good to re-affirm one's committment.
I had two interesting things cross my path recently.  I took some of my little grandaughter's outgrown clothing to an area resale shop and happened to be wearing one of my 'vegan' t-shirts.  The sales clerk that was helping me commented that she liked my shirt.  It took me a minute, but then I asked, are you vegetarian?  or vegan?  Turns out she is vegan!  (Insert happy dance here!).  I tried not to leap over the counter and attack her with hugs, but couldn't help but be sooo excited and we chatted briefly about how good we feel about our choices and vegan food in general.  I ended up giving her my blog address so if you are on here reading this, hello vegan-sister!  It just made my day meeting her.

The other thing that happened is the yin to all that yang.....a neighbor down the street had a heart attack and is having quadruple bypass surgery in a few days.  Now, I don't know how to put this delicately, but he has been living a lifestyle that has steered him directly into the path of this particular freight train.  He's very over-weight, doesn't walk from place to place out here (in the country, just walking to get the mail can be a bit of exercise since most of us live set back from the road), preferring to drive his ATV everywhere.  There are other factors in his life as well that predispose him for illness, but I thought it was very interesting that within just a few days, I would meet a trim, fit vegan and find out about this health scare with my neighbor.  He's the person that Dr. Fuhrman talks about in that 51% death statistic.  Of course I am wishing him well and perhaps this will be an opportunity for me to share some food options with him.  There, but for the grace of kale, go the rest of us!

Grand-daughter on 2-yr birthday, modeling some resale clothes (and snatching her uncle's cap)

Black Garbanzo Bean Banzai Bonanza

(Note:  "Banzai" means 10,000 years---maybe if we eat enough beans & veggies we will have long life.  Plus, I thought it just sounded cool in the recipe title.)

Okay, so remember those black garbanzos I got at Whole Foods?  Well, I decided to cook some up and toss them in with various left-overs I had in the frig.  They are really pretty as they are cooking up....they have kind of a reddish cast to them in addition to the black.  I paired them with some rice, using short-grain brown rice (would be great with a blend of wild and mahogany rice too), and added in some corn, baby peas, left-over broccoli chopped up, cubed roasted butternut squash, (some slivered almonds would be nice on top too) and then I threw together a sauce to layer on top of it all.  The sauce is a variation on Dr. Esselstyn's mushroom gravy.  I chopped up about 5 onions and carmelized them in a frying pan with just enough water to keep from sticking.  Letting them brown pretty well adds more color and flavor to the sauce.  I added veg. stock, I don't measure but probably used at least two cups.  I mixed up a thickener (I used whole wheat flour, maybe 1/4 cup) whisking with some of the stock and about 1 T of soy sauce (would prefer tamari here) and added it gradually to the onion mix.  I tossed in some sliced mushrooms to cook while heating the sauce.  I added more liquid to get desired consistency and lightly seasoned.  (Sauce will thicken so it is better to add a bit more liquid than less).
Black Garbanzo Banzai Bean Bonanza

A layer of spinach could be added as well; another opportunity to add in some greens---the possibilities are endless.  Note:  I really wanted to have the rice as a bottom layer, then veggies and the sauce/gravy on top, but I used a casserole dish that was too shallow so it ended up being in two separate dishes and I heated in a 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Paired with some raw carrots fresh from my garden it was a very nice meal.

As Dr. Fuhrman points out in the Vegucated documentary, virtually all protein and other nutrients consumed on the planet originates through plants.  An animal may eat another animal who ate the plants; but the source is the plant.  I love that, as vegans, we cut out the middle-guy, and get the direct source.

Sue, celebrating good health & eating my beans, in Ohio


  1. Hi Sue-!
    Wow--what a wonderful blog you have got-! I just found you and I am reading your prior posts. Thanks for all your honesty and for sharing your journey!
    -Shell in San Diego

    1. Hi Shell,
      Thank you for the kind words! I am so glad you are enjoying the blog.....more to come.