Food as Medicine class - beans, legumes and lentils


We had a great class this morning, focusing on beans, legumes and lentils.  All wonderful sources of fiber - not to mention also great source of protein, molybdenum, B vitamins, calcium, anti-oxidants, folic acid...the list goes on.


Beans have many health benefits eg in heart disease for reducing homocysteine levels, stabilizing blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory effects, and from the high fiber content, assisting elimination of excess hormones, cholesterol, toxins and carcinogens.

Coriander and coconut dahl with chickpea pancakes


We also discussed ways of cooking, soaking and how to reduce the gas-producing effect of beans by combining with certain spices and herbs or through the cooking and soaking techniques.

We cooked some yummy food too, including:

  • cannellini bean and basil dip
  • lentil and caper pate
  • coconut and coriander dahl served with chickpea pancakes
  • Moroccan bean stew
What a filling lunch that was! I don't think any went home hungry and we got our 35+g of fiber today, just in one meal!

Moroccan Bean Stew with black beans, garbanzo beans and lentils

And we restrained from the black bean brownies and not-so-dumb blondies this time!


Next time we will be focussing on fats, oils, essential fatty acids and the effects they have on our health.

Let me know if you are interested in attending a class.
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Zippy Beans and Rice

After my spice classes a couple of weeks ago, I've had lots of pots of spice mixtures to use in my foods. Each night I open their lids, take a smell and decide which I think will go best with what I am cooking.


I found a great combination - using Panch Phoron with a beans and rice dish.  Panch Phoron is an indian spice mix, made from 5 different seeds (Phanch meaning 5, and phora meaning seeds).  Here is the recipe:

Panch Phoron
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds.

The key ingredient is black cumin seeds which I absolutely love. I use them everyday.



The blend is used with the seeds whole and you traditionally heat the seeds first so they release their fragrance either in a dry pan or with a little oil, as the start of a dish.  The mix is typically used with lentil dishes and to flavor vegetables and potatoes but I find it very versatile.

In my dish I had black beans, green garbanzo, brown rice, fire roasted corn, edamame, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes...and I can't remember what else.


The spice mix gave a real zip of flavor, turning a bland dish into exciting flavors dancing on the tongue.

But the spices do more than just add flavor, they also have phytonutrients and volatile oils that have healing effects on the body.

Black cumin - Nigella Sativa - which isn't cumin - is known as a "cure-all".  One of its key benefits is in strengthening the immune system.  In one study, people having black cumin oil showed a 30% increase in natural killer cells. Studies also show potential for helping prevent and/or treat the following:

  • age related immune issues
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • colitis
  • dermatitis
  • eczema
  • high blood pressure
  • MS
Mustard seed is consider advantageous against cancer, as the mustard plant is a cruciferous vegetable, and also helps with heart disease and cholesterol problems.
Cumin seeds may be important for fighting diabetes, in fighting the formation of advance glycation end products, which play a role in diabetes complications.
Fennugreek again is associated with defeating diabetes. More than 100 studies show that fenugreek can balance daily blood sugar levels, lower A1c levels, increase the enzymes that help regulate blood sugar and activate insulin signaling in cells.
Fennel seed is helpful in calming cramps so useful with menstrual pain,  and colic.  It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.


All the more reason to make up some spice blends and use them every day. Try and think about adding at least one spice to every meal.  Your taste buds will appreciate it, as will your health.
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Truly Scrumptious - Sun-dried tomatoes

This week I've found a wonderful new product that I seem to now add to most of my meals!  It is a brand of sun dried tomatoes - but unlike many sun-dried tomato products, these are moist.  AND they are julienne cut - so in little strips ( or you can get them in halves, if you prefer). The julienne sliced ones are a perfect size to use and eat.


There are 2 varieties - regular and smoked.  The brand is called California Sun-Dry.


They make other tomato products too, like a salsa, a pesto, a spread and a paste, but the packets of sun-dried tomatoes are the only things I've tried....so far!

I sprinkle them on my salads, in my beans, in my soups, on sandwiches, with pasta.....I can hardly think of when I wouldn't use them.  The smoked version I love with beans - in fact, that is just what I've had for my lunch!!!No need to soak, they are moist enough to eat.  But obviously you can soak them if you want to.  

The tomatoes are dried over 7 - 10 days in the California sun shine. They are a great source of lycopene and the packet says that ounce for ounce, sun dried tomatoes have 12 times the amount of lycopene that is found in a raw tomato.  Lycopene is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps protect against heart disease and certain cancer.

Have you tried them?  I rarely used sun-dried tomatoes in anything, until I found these!
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Food as Medicine group

We had two great mornings in our food as medicine groups this week - focusing on the health benefits of legumes, beans and lentils.


Here is the Tuesday group, as we sat down for a 4 course lunch together, eating what they had cooked together.


The menu was:

  • Lentil and caper pate with lentil chips
  • White bean pesto with poppadoms
  • Sugar snap pea and blood orange salad
  • Moroccan Bean stew (using black beans, garbanzo beans and red lentils)
  • Not-so-dumb blondies (using cannellini beans)
  • Mandarinquat brownies (using black beans)
Most of us don't get enough fiber in our diets and beans are a wonderful was to increase our fiber intake.  I love using the "Eden Foods" brands of cooked beans in my cooking, as they are cooked with kombu - a sea vegetable that helps to break down the oligosaccharides in beans, which is the part that causes gas.  Soaking your beans helps too - along with good rinsing - as the oligosaccharide is water soluble. Gas shouldn't be your reason for not eating beans! There are many ways to avoid it.


Beans help with :
  • stabilizing gut transit time - not too fast so that nutrients can't be absorbed and not too slow so toxins can't be reabsorbed
  • heart health, 
  • are an EXCELLENT source of anti-oxidants (more than blueberries), 
  • help maintain a healthy gut flora
  • high in folic acid and B6
  • are a good protein source
  • high in iron, magnesium and calcium
  • a good source of molybdenum
  • stabilizing blood sugar levels
  • eliminating toxins, carcinogens and excess hormones
  • producing butyrate from your gut bacteria which heals and protects the lining of the large investine.
So go eat some beans today!  
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Food as Medicine Group - Beans

My two "Food as Medicine" classes this week are focusing on the health benefits of beans/legumes/lentils.

Here are a couple of photos of two of the dessert items we will be making together.


I'll share some of the recipes later.  Both of these are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

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Moroccan bean stew

Chilly nights mean a desire to cozy up with some yummy comfort food.



As I mentioned yesterday, I cooked some garbanzo beans and so used them in a Moroccan bean stew.  As well as the garbanzo beans there are black beans, red lentils and sweet potatoes plus a host of veggies and spices.


It is the combination of spices that brings this dish alive. Ten different herbs and spices to be precise!  They have a lovely sweetness to them. Its a great synergistic effect.

This makes for a really healthy dish including:

  • excellent fiber levels from the beans and lentils
  • very high antioxidant levels from the spices and beans and lentils too
  • plenty of protein from the beans and potatoes
  • good beta carotene from the sweet potatoes
  • anti-inflammatory activity from the Quercetin in the garlic and onion, and the turmeric and fresh ginger
  • anti-cancer activity from the garlic and onion and spices
  • blood sugar control from the cinnamon
  • selenium from the garlic
  • free from added fat, and gluten too - low allergy and vegan.
I made a big pot of it, so it'll keep me going through the week.  Let me know if I can bring you a bowl!  

The recipe comes from Dreena Burton's book "Let them eat vegan".   Moroccan Bean stew recipe.  It has to be the book I use most often of all my recipe books - and you wouldn't believe how many I have! 

I'll be making it again next week in my Food as Medicine class where we are focusing on the health benefits of legumes.

Hope you are cozy tonight.  Take care. 
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