YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Another Kind of Magic Bean Soup — Vegetarian Chili

I love my slow cooker. I even have a bumper sticker that says so.

This is something really terrific — it takes 5 minutes to get ready, all day to cook and fill the house with heavenly smells, and no time at all to bring to the table for a satisfying and wonderful meal.  Thank you to Clean Eating Chelsey for her version of Magic Bean Soup. As opposed to this one, from me and Michael Ruhlman.

  • 2 cans Mexican-style diced tomatoes
  • 1 can regular diced tomatoes + 1 full can water
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans kidney (red) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Great Northern (white) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 5-6 red potatoes, diced 3/4-inch
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 t. garlic powder,
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper

Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker, set to low, and go to work. If your mornings are exceedingly busy, the best strategy may be to put it all together the night before, leave it in the refrigerator all night, and then pop it into the base and turn it on before you leave in the morning. Do not forget to do this last step! Plan on taking leftovers to work the next day.

Research Doesn’t Happen One Cup of Broccoli at a Time

This past week I went to hear Dr. Mark Hyman speak to our medical students about functional medicine. My brain was spinning a mile a minute. That happens whenever I spend time thinking about actually preventing illness instead of chasing it. I channeled my energies by spending a good part of the time busily writing tweets to send out on my Twitter feed:

Roxanne Sukol @roxannesukolmd
Biological networks are the future of medicine. I believe it.

Roxanne Sukol @roxannesukolmd
@markhymanmd says he uses the #krebscycle every day. #ohyeh? #letssee

Roxanne Sukol @roxannesukolmd
Is it evidence-based medicine or reimbursement-based medicine? You rock @markhymanmd

And, my favorite:

Roxanne Sukol @roxannesukolmd
Think about what it would be like to make functional medicine the new primary care.

That last one thrills me to the bone. But none of these are what I’m planning to tell you today. Instead, what I want to talk about is something that Mark Hyman said in the most offhanded of manners. It was just a toss away, a side bar. A comment about research.

Our research systems have been designed to test a single variable at a time, he pointed out. Like the effect of, say, a single cholesterol-lowering medication of interest on heart attack rates vs. no cholesterol-lowering medication in an otherwise identical group. Or 5 mg/kg of a particular antihypertensive (blood pressure) agent in one particular group of individuals who may be having a heart attack vs. 2 mg/kg in a different group, and 10 mg/kg in a third, all to try and discover the optimum dose.

But that’s not how the real world works. Which is why this system doesn’t work at all in lifestyle medicine. Can you imagine separating a large group of children into equal halves, and begging just half of them to eat a cup of broccoli every day? Or, in a different study, instructing half the participants to eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every day? How about a study on the benefits of exercise that provides all the participants with a short video on the benefits of exercise, but e-mails just half the participants several times a week to check on progress? This, in case you’re wondering, would be a study on the effectiveness of e-mailing, not exercise.

But back to the subject at hand. Real life cannot be fit into research designed to test one ingredient at a time. So the naysayers who continue to ask for hard data will still be asking, even as the rates of obesity and diabetes begin to fall. Which they both will, I am certain.

The bottom line? Life doesn’t happen 1 cup of broccoli at a time. Lifestyle changes are highly synergistic. Get a lousy night’s sleep, and the next day you find yourself buying stupid things from the vending machine. Go for a long, happy hike, and that night you sleep like a baby. Everything is connected. Which is why a small improvement on all fronts simultaneously sometimes makes an enormous difference.

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup is the perfect vehicle for adding all kinds of heat (pepper, chili), nourishing fat (olives, coconuts, sesame, sunflower seeds), bite (onion, garlic), green (cilantro), red (tomato, chili pepper). Am I missing anything?!

Oh yes, it’s guaranteed to warm you from the inside out!! That’s important to remember when this Tuesday’s temperature is forecast to be minus 8 degrees. The good news? There’s a chance you may not notice if you eat this soup! Continue reading

A Poem for the New Year

In honor of the New Year, I share here a poem by the artist, author and educator Judy Chicago. I am inspired in particular by the last part of this poem, and by the idea that as health and wellness improve and flourish in our homes and communities, the medical-care delivery economy must, inevitably, shrink. More beans and greens means fewer dialysis centers. Fewer food deserts, fewer heart attacks. More physical activity, less depression. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Hoppin’ John Right into the New Year

I don’t know why this dish is called Hoppin’ John, but I do know that it’s made from all my favorite things to eat. And there is absolutely NOTHING like a slow cooker to bring it all together. I seriously love this dish. Hoppin’ John is traditional Southern food, and it’s rumored to bring extra special good luck when eaten at the New Year. So what else would I post tonight? Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Roasted Brussels Sprouts Celebration

If you love sweet, and who doesn’t?!, then you are going to love this recipe! Roasted Brussels sprouts and fennel actually become sweet by a process called caramelization, which happens during the roasting process. That sweet flavor continues to linger in your mouth in a delicious and satisfying way, and it makes this a fantastic dish for a special occasion like New Years Eve. All the work of this recipe is in the vegetable prep, by the way, and after that it’s relatively hands-off. So if you can find a partner to help get the veggies ready, it goes even faster. Continue reading

#Mindful Being

A few words today encouraging you to be mindful, to be kind to yourself, to help yourself to remain centered, especially in the spinning vortex of ceaseless activity that will characterize the coming weeks of nonstop celebration. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Pasta, Pignola, and Butternut Squash

One of my favorite things is a one-pot meal, placed right in the middle of the table. This gorgeous dish, with its range of deep colors, is good enough for company, but don’t feel the need to wait for such an occasion. It also makes a wonderful dinner for two, or three, or four. If you need to get organized, you can roast the squash and toast the pine nuts one day prior, like I did. Continue reading