About the Author:
Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., is the founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He has authored more than 70 scientific publications as well as 19 books, including the bestsellers Power Foods for the Brain, 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart, and Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes. Dr. Barnard is a frequent lecturer appearing throughout the world and an adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
At Yale University, researchers turned our understanding of type 2 diabetes on its head. At the time, a common belief was that diabetes was caused by eating too much sugar or too many carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread or potatoes. That was an understandable notion, because people with diabetes have too much sugar in their bloodstreams. It made sense to think that maybe the whole problem was that they had too much candy, soda, bread, etc., in their diets. Hundreds of guides were written advising people to limit sugar, potatoes, fruit, pasta, beans, and other sweet or starchy foods. Unfortunately, these dietary changes didn’t help very much.
But using a high-tech scanning technology called magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the Yale researchers looked inside the cells of people with diabetes, and what they found revolutionized our understanding of this disease.
Hidden inside muscle and liver cells, the Yale team found microscopic particles of fat. This was not belly fat or thigh fat; it was fat inside the muscle and liver cells. It had come from the foods the research participants had been eating, and it had lodged in their cells. Once inside, those fat particles kept sugar from entering the cells. More specifically, the fat particles interfered with insulin—the hormone that normally escorts sugar into cells. If insulin can no longer move sugar into cells, sugar builds up outside your cells, in your bloodstream.
In other words, diabetes isn’t caused by eating too much sugar or carbohydrate. Rather, it apparently starts with fat building up inside the cells. And that causes insulin resistance—insulin no longer works normally. And it also became clear that the answer to type 2 diabetes is not to avoid potatoes, bread, fruit, or other sweet or starchy foods, but rather to counteract the fat buildup inside the cells.
At the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, our research team has been working on ways to do just that. We tested a diet that had no animal fat at all and very little vegetable oil. In theory, this ought to cause that intracellular fat buildup to start to disappear. In a head-to-head test, we compared this low-fat vegan diet with a conventional “diabetes diet” in people with type 2 diabetes.
The results were spectacular. After 22 weeks, the vegan diet led to a threefold greater improvement in blood sugar control, compared with the conventional diabetes diet. This was all the more remarkable because the people on the conventional diet were carefully limiting their portions and trying not to overdo it on carbs, while the vegan group participants were free to eat as much food as they wished, with no limits on calories, carbohydrates, or portion sizes, and they made no changes to their exercise patterns or medications. The dietary change alone slashed their blood sugar levels. They also improved their cholesterol levels and lost weight. It turned out to be an extraordinarily powerful dietary approach to diabetes and all the health problems that go with it.
If this wonderful news is something you have not heard before—or if your doctor never mentioned any of this—the reason is that our National Institutes of Health study findings were first published by the American Diabetes Association in Diabetes Care in 2006, and some doctors are still treating diabetes based on the knowledge they picked up before that date. Moreover, in medical training, pharmaceuticals have eclipsed nutrition—even for conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol levels, where food choices are the central consideration. Doctors have focused their attention on drugs, even though food changes are often safer, more powerful, and much more patient-friendly.
HOW DOES IT TASTE?
How did the participants feel about this way of eating? After all, they were not eating meat, cheese, or any other animal products, and greasy french fries and oily foods were out, too. Did they like the food, or did they feel deprived?
To answer that question, we asked our participants about their dietary changes in great detail. And they told us that this new approach was life-changing. Not only was it powerful; many were also surprised to find that it was easier than other diets—much easier than limiting calories or counting carbohydrate grams, and a great relief from the low-carb diets that made them feel guilty for wanting a slice of bread or a baked potato.
Because they were free to eat as much as they wanted, they were never hungry. And the wide range of dishes and delicious flavors included in the plan meant that they were really enjoying eating, as opposed to resigning themselves to the bland diets many had been on before. They tried new flavors, new recipes, new food products, and new restaurant choices. For many, the experience was less like a diet and more like an adventure. Take a look at the recipes in this book, and you’ll see what I mean. There are wonderful tastes waiting for you.
Most importantly, our participants were rewarded. Unwanted weight disappeared without exercise. Their need for medications fell day by day. Many reported having more energy than they had had in years. Their laboratory tests looked better and better. And they felt power and a sense of control over their diabetes that they had never felt before.
So if you would like to lose weight, tackle diabetes, or improve other health conditions, you have come to the right place. Culinary traditions from all around the world have explored plant-based foods for millennia, and now it’s your turn. The recipes in this book are as delightful to your taste buds as they are powerful for your health. Some recipes put a healthy twist on old favorites, and others let you explore some new flavors.
As you begin, I’d like to invite you to take advantage of other helpful resources. If you have not yet read Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, I encourage you to take advantage of the detailed information it holds. My other books tackle additional important health topics, from preventing Alzheimer’s disease to stopping chronic pain. And my organization, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, has a number of innovative programs and opportunities that you can learn about on its Web site, PCRM.org. These include:
· The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, a free online program providing daily recipes, menus, and cooking videos, starting fresh every month.
· The Food for Life program, which is taught by trained instructors and provides nutrition and cooking classes in dozens of communities.
· Our continuing education program for physicians, nurses, dietitians, and other health-care professionals, as well as our annual International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine.
· The Barnard Medical Center, which provides complete nutrition evaluations and guidance as an integral part of medical care.
Dreena Burton, who provided the wonderful recipes in this book, has a number of excellent books, too, and runs Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Kitchen (dreenaburton.com).
I hope you enjoy this exploration and learn many new things that you can share with others. I wish you the very best of health!
SWEET POTATO BREAKFAST BITES
Sweet potatoes bring natural sweetness to these miniature muffin-like snacks.
1 1/2 cups precooked and cooled sweet potato (see Note)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional; can substitute another 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2–3 tablespoons raisins or sugar-free nondairy chocolate chips (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mash the sweet potato. Add the syrup and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the oats, oat flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice (if using), baking powder, and salt, and mix until well combined. Add the raisins or chips (if using), and stir to combine. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes. Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon rounds of the mixture onto the parchment, spacing them 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake for 17 to 18 minutes, or until set to the touch. Remove from the oven, and let cool.
NOTE: It’s always helpful to have precooked sweet potato in the fridge. It will keep for 5 to 6 days to use in recipes. Baking brings out the best flavor and is very easy to do. Just place whole sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 450°f for 40 to 60 minutes, or until very soft. (Cooking time will depend on the size of the sweet potato.) To measure, you just need to remove the peel and break up the sweet potato into a measuring cup.
Per 2–Breakfast Bite serving: 251 calories, 6 g protein, 52 g carbohydrates, 19 g sugar, 2 g total fat, 8% calories from fat, 5 g fiber, 281 mg sodium
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
This sauce can be prepared in minutes and is lusciously satisfying! This is a very kid-friendly pasta, as well.
1/2 cup edamame, blanched (see Edamame Note)
1 cup cubed or sliced avocado (1 1/2–2 small or medium avocados)
1/4 cup parsley leaves (see Parsley Note)
1 small–medium clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon chickpea miso
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
2–2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4–1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4–1 1/2 cups water
1 pound dry pasta
3 tablespoons sliced kalamata olives for serving (optional)
1. In a blender, combine the edamame, avocado, parsley, garlic, miso, syrup, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 1/4 cups of the water. Puree until very smooth. If it’s very thick and not pureeing, add the remaining 1/4 cup water. Taste, and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, if desired. (Note that if you are adding olives to your final pasta dish, they will also add saltiness.)
2. When ready to serve, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot (not over heat). Add the pasta sauce and toss thoroughly, adding the olives (if using). Serve immediately!
EDAMAME NOTE: Add the edamame to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then rinse in a colander under very cold water. If you cannot consume soy, try substituting green chickpeas.
PARSLEY NOTE: Parsley really brightens the color of this puree. If you aren’t fond of the flavor, you can substitute fresh basil leaves or omit it altogether.
SERVING NOTE: This sauce will oxidize slightly, so is best served the same day you’ve prepared it, optimally within a few hours.
Per serving: 599 calories, 22 g protein, 104 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 10 g total fat, 14% calories from fat, 9 g fiber, 535 mg sodium
MANGO NICE CREAM
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
This dessert has the creamy, light texture of gelato, with the sweetness reined in. It is just delicious.
2 cups frozen mango chunks
1 cup frozen, sliced, overripe banana (can use room temperature, but must be overripe)
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1–2 tablespoons low-fat nondairy milk
2–3 tablespoons coconut nectar or pure maple syrup (optional)
In a food processor or high-speed blender (see Note), combine the mango, banana, salt, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of the milk. Pulse to get things moving, and then puree, adding the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons milk if needed. Taste, and add the nectar or syrup, if desired. Serve, or transfer to an airtight container and freeze for an hour or more to set more firmly before serving.
NOTE: If you don’t have a high-speed blender, use a food processor instead. While you can use a standard blender here, it has a harder time working through the frozen fruit with this amount of liquid, so you may need more liquid than is optimal for the recipe.
Per serving: 116 calories, 1 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 22 g sugar, 0.5 g total fat, 4% calories from fat, 2 g fiber, 81 mg sodium
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