Vegan Chili Bean Soup


Vegan Chili Bean Soup
Print Recipe
This very simple yet substantial warm soup combines whole grain bulgur with assorted beans for a hearty main dish. Vegan sour cream and cornbread recipe links included.
Servings
6 servings
Servings
6 servings
Vegan Chili Bean Soup
Print Recipe
This very simple yet substantial warm soup combines whole grain bulgur with assorted beans for a hearty main dish. Vegan sour cream and cornbread recipe links included.
Servings
6 servings
Servings
6 servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. If using canned beans, drain and rinse them in a colander. Set to the side. I used pinto, black, northern, and kidney beans. You can use any variety preferred.
  2. In large stock pot, saute the onions and garlic in about 3 Tbsp of the veggie broth. Add more broth or water if needed until lightly browned.
  3. Add all other ingredients to pot and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 45 minutes.
  4. Serve up the deliciousness right away. I added tofu sour cream and chopped chives to knock it over the top. We served with cornbread. Sour cream and corn bread recipe links included below.
Recipe Notes

Vegan Sour Cream Recipe

Cornbread Recipe

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, I receive a commission that helps support this site which is greatly appreciated.

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Finally Medication-Free, More Than a Decade after Thyroid Surgery

In 2003, at the age of 36, I had a serious scare as I was putting on makeup one morning. I noticed a knot in the right side of my neck and immediately called my family doctor to set up an appointment for the next day.

After numerous doctor visits, blood tests, biopsy, and ultrasound, it was determined that the  knot–a thyroid nodule–should be surgically removed.  I had no previous thyroid issues, and problems don’t run in my family. At that time, I had no other medical conditions that I was aware of, but later developed quite a few

A general surgeon performed the operation which ended up taking over three hours. He removed the nodule, as well as half of my thyroid, and I was told medication would be required for the rest of my life. I would also need regular blood tests to determine my thyroid function. Over the years, the expenses would add up quickly.

After the surgery, it was necessary for me to go to my family doctor for blood work every 6-12 months to make sure my TSH levels were normal and adjust medication as necessary. When I changed to a plant-based diet in 2013, my levothyroxine was reduced from 100 mcg to 88 mcg daily.

A few months ago, I came across an article that said it was possible for people who have had a thyroid lobectomy to come off medications. I had never heard that before and was very surprised that my family doctor had not mentioned it to me.  I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist in my area of Western North Carolina, Dr. Kathya Rivera.

Come to find out, research has shown that only 1 in 7 patients (or 14.3%) experience hypothyroidism, requiring thyroid medication following a thyroid lobectomy, if their TSH levels were normal prior to surgery.  I had no idea and became interested in finding out if this was a possibility for me. Had I been going through the motions and expense unnecessarily for over a decade? 

When I went for my appointment and told the endocrinologist about the article I had read, she said that it was indeed possible for me to get off medication, if I wanted to give it a try.

“Hypothyroidism is a common complication of thyroid surgery. However, after partial thyroid resection it is possible that the remaining thyroid tissue will be able to function and produce the amount of thyroid hormone that the patient requires. As long as the patient is aware of all the potential symptoms of low thyroid hormone, it is reasonable to monitor thyroid hormone levels closely after surgery to determine whether the patient will truly need to start thyroid hormone replacement therapy.”--Dr Kathya Rivera

I was told that some people who have only a small portion of their thyroid left after surgery are able to come off medication completely, and I still had half of mine. According to Dr. Rivera, from my history, it looked like my thyroid had never been asked to work and do its job since the surgery. All those years, it had been sensing the medicine in my system and, knowing it didn’t need to do anything, had just been kind of dormant.

Dr. Rivera said she was optimistic and cut my medication in half immediately. She said that she preferred to reduce medications aggressively, when possible.

Within days, I noticed that I wasn’t having the heart flutters I had grown used to over the years. In the past, when I went in for a regular recheck, TSH  levels in my blood would always come back normal, even though I experienced palpitations occasionally.

Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism the doctor told me to watch for were fatigue, weakness, constipation, mood swings, and weight gain. I told her that many of those symptoms were similar to perimenopause, so it might be difficult to distinguish but, since my diet is strictly plant-based with over 40 grams of fiber daily, suddenly developing constipation would be a big red flag.

Menopause for women in my family tends to come at an early age–my grandmother was 45, and my sister was only around 43. I had been going through a lot of the very painful and unpleasant perimenopause symptoms before switching my diet, nearly 4 years earlier, but those symptoms had subsided since then. With the medication change, I wasn’t sure if the symptoms would return, at least temporarily. 

Thankfully, I did not experience the hypothyroid symptoms the doctor cautioned me to watch for, so shortly my medication was reduced to one-forth of a pill (22 mcg).  If symptoms became a problem, my doctor said we would simply reduce my medication in smaller amounts.

For a short period of time, I did have a number of hot flashes (or power surges, as I called them), but they quickly subsided. I haven’t had any further problems with those and seem to be sliding smoothly into menopause with very minor symptoms.

After 6 weeks, I went to a lab for blood tests to check my TSH and T4 Free levels, and both were straight down the middle within normal range (TSH 2.233 and T4 Free 1.17). My thyroid was waking up and doing the job it was designed to do after all these years. I was beyond excited!

I was able to completely come off of my levothyroxine and am now medication-free! We will recheck with blood work periodically to make sure my TSH and T4 levels stay in healthy ranges, and I will continue to watch for any symptoms of hypothyroidism. However, I am feeling great and don’t anticipate problems. 

Because I don’t have insurance, but am part of a healthcare sharing ministry called Samaritans Ministries where members share needs (a Biblical, non-insurance approach to health care needs), I was considered cash-pay. This allowed me to receive  40%-85% discounts for doctor visits and blood tests.

My endocrinologist was wonderful and did not require me to keep coming in for visits with each medication adjustment, as long as I was not experiencing any negative symptoms. She simply reviewed my blood test results and advised me by phone. This also saved money. 

NOTE: I am including information about the company and lab I used for blood work. I was able to obtain an 85% discount–$40 at the lab instead of $268 at my family doctor’s office for the two tests (TSH & T4 Free). Yes, I am quite happily serious! I receive no compensation from these companies but want to share that there are affordable options available in many areas. Check their website for service in your area.

Below, I have included links to research papers and articles that I hope will be helpful. 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Inexpensive Lab Testing:

Research on Thyroid Replacement after Surgery:

Thyroid and Diet:

  • How Your Thyroid Works –Endocrine Web
  • Vegan Diets and Hypothyroidism –National Institutes of Health
  • “With the exception of the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet findings in the prevalence study, vegetarian diets were not associated with increased risk of hypothyroidism. Vegan diets which may be expected to lack iodine due to complete exclusion of animal products tended to be protective..”
  • Dr. Joel Fuhrman  “The fear of eating cruciferous vegetables or that people with hypothyroidism should reduce or avoid the consumption of kale or other cruciferous vegetables (circulating the internet) is unfounded and does a disservice to the community. Whether you have normal thyroid function or hypothyroidism, there is no benefit for you to avoid or restrict your intake of cruciferous vegetables.  
  • “Eating cruciferous vegetables is not optional; it is a necessity for optimal health. They have numerous anti-cancer benefits, a high micronutrient to calorie ratio and an association with reduced risk of premature death.1 An effectively functioning immune system is dependent on their consumption2 and these benefits clearly outweigh the risk of a modest decrease in thyroid function, which could only occur if the amount of raw cruciferous intake was at an insanely high level or a person was significantly iodine deficient.”
  • How to Take Care of Your Thyroid on a Plant Based Diet –One Green Planet
  • Dr. Kathya Rivera (my endocrinologist) in Hendersonville, NC 

Non-Insurance Share Program:

  • Samaritan Ministries is the program I have been a part of for a number of years. What I love about their approach to healthcare is that, 9 months out of the year, I send my monthly shares directly to the person/family in need, along with a card of encouragement. This coincides with my personal Christian beliefs and principles. “Today more than 64,000 households (more than 210,000 people) from all 50 states and several foreign countries, are actively sharing health care needs of more than $23 million each month. In a time of rapidly increasing health care costs, we continue to be amazed at how low the monthly share has been, and realize that it is not because of our wisdom, but God’s blessing.” 

Legal Disclaimer:

 I am not a doctor or nutritionist. This website provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and nutrition. The words and other content on this website, and in any linked material, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader, or any other person, has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or other healthcare worker.

Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this website or in any linked material. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately.

The views expressed on this website and blog have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice, or other institutions with which the author is affiliated.  

Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Print Recipe
These vegan cabbage rolls are stuffed with a flavorful mixture of sauerkraut, wild rice, veggies, and smothered with a layer of marinara sauce. Hands-down, best I've ever eaten!
Servings
8 servings
Servings
8 servings
Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Print Recipe
These vegan cabbage rolls are stuffed with a flavorful mixture of sauerkraut, wild rice, veggies, and smothered with a layer of marinara sauce. Hands-down, best I've ever eaten!
Servings
8 servings
Servings
8 servings
Ingredients
Sesame Seasoning
Servings: servings
Instructions
Cabbage Rolls
  1. Remove any wilted or dark cabbage leaves and cut out core with a sharp knife.
  2. Steam cabbage in a large covered pot for about 20 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork. (I use a simple steam basket in the bottom of pot, recommendation below). Remove cabbage from pot when it is cool enough to handle. Remove 8 or more large leaves and set aside.
  3. To make the filling, begin by dicing garlic, onion, celery, and carrot.
  4. Saute veggies (garlic, onion, celery, and carrot) in veggie broth for approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Add sauerkraut, dill weed, and salt (if using). Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. I use Aldi sauerkraut in a jar.
  6. Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish with a thin layer of marinara sauce. Reserve the rest for topping. I used Aldi's Simply Nature tomato basil brand. It is completely oil-free. I have also included a recipe link below, if you would like to make your own.
  7. On a flat surface, place cabbage leaf and fill with 1 Tbsp of the cooked wild rice (or other rice blend).
  8. Next, add 1 Tbsp of the sauerkraut veggie mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seasoning (if using). Recipe below.
  9. Time to roll them up! Fold the bottom (stem end) up and over the filling.
  10. Fold side edges of leaf over the middle filled portion.
  11. Begin to roll up firmly to the end, then place roll side down into baking dish with marinara sauce.
  12. Continue until all rolls are finished and in baking dish, then pour a layer of marinara sauce over the top. I sprinkled a little more of the sesame seasoning over the top as well.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until sauce is good and bubbly. Serve warm.
Sesame Seasoning
  1. Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until seeds begin to pop and brown slightly. Do not leave unattended, they will burn quickly.
  2. Transfer to blender with salt and nutritional yeast. Grind into a fine powder. Place in an airtight container. Can be stored in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

To make your own marinara, Chuck with Brand New Vegan has a great recipe.

Stainless Steel Steamer Basket for steaming cabbage and other veggies. Click to view on amazon.

I love my little OXO Good Grips Chopper. Click to view on amazon.

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, I receive a commission that helps support this site which is greatly appreciated.

 

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Bean & Barley Chowder

bean-barley-chowder-5

Bean & Barley Chowder
Print Recipe
Barley is not only delicious but adds an excellent source of soluble fiber which reduces blood cholesterol levels. This chowder is great with cornbread (recipe link included). Chowder recipe adapted from Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Servings
2 quarts
Servings
2 quarts
Bean & Barley Chowder
Print Recipe
Barley is not only delicious but adds an excellent source of soluble fiber which reduces blood cholesterol levels. This chowder is great with cornbread (recipe link included). Chowder recipe adapted from Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Servings
2 quarts
Servings
2 quarts
Ingredients
Servings: quarts
Instructions
  1. Dice the veggies--onion, celery, carrots, garlic.
  2. Place all ingredients EXCEPT PASTA in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until barley is tender and broth is creamy, about 1-1/4 hours.
  3. Add the whole grain pasta of your choice and allow to cook an additional 15 minutes.
  4. The longer you cook this thick and hearty soup, the creamier and richer tasting it becomes.
  5. Serve hot. We like ours with cornbread. Recipe link below.
Recipe Notes

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Excelsteel 16 Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot. Click to view on amazon.

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, I receive a commission that helps support this site which is greatly appreciated.

Per 1-cup serving

  • Calories: 133
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Calories from Fat: 3.2%
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 6.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 7.1 g
  • Sodium: 169 mg
  • Calcium: 34 mg
  • Iron: 2 mg
  • Vitamin C: 2.1 mg
  • Beta Carotene: 1244 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 0.3 mg

Recipe adapted from Breaking the Food Seduction by Dr. Neal Barnard.

https://blog.eatplant-based.com/
Our favorite cornbread recipe! Click to view.

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Fruited Breakfast Quinoa

fruited-quinoa-6

Fruited Breakfast Quinoa
Print Recipe
Wholesome recipe for hot quinoa breakfast cereal. Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain that was a staple in the diet of the ancient Incas. It has a delicious flavor and a light, fluffy texture. To adjust the serving size on any of my recipes, simply enter the desired number of servings in the 'servings' box under the ingredients, and the program will automatically adjust the ingredient amounts.
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time
15 minutes
Fruited Breakfast Quinoa
Print Recipe
Wholesome recipe for hot quinoa breakfast cereal. Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain that was a staple in the diet of the ancient Incas. It has a delicious flavor and a light, fluffy texture. To adjust the serving size on any of my recipes, simply enter the desired number of servings in the 'servings' box under the ingredients, and the program will automatically adjust the ingredient amounts.
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Slice apricots into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Rinse uncooked quinoa well.
  3. In medium saucepan, combine quinoa, plant milk, vanilla. Bring to a slow simmer.
  4. Add raisins and apricots, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes.
  5. This step is OPTIONAL. If you prefer a creamy warm breakfast, Use an immersion blender to puree for just a few seconds. A regular blender can also be used by simply transferring half the fruited quinoa to the blender, then returning to pan when done. Personally, I prefer to skip this step and just eat completely whole.
  6. Spoon into bowl and serve warm.
Recipe Notes

This recipe from Physicians Committee, Food for Life classes.

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, I receive a commission that helps support this site which is greatly appreciated.

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Stainless Steel Immersion Hand Blender with attachments. Click to view on amazon.

Nutritional information, per 1/2-cup serving:

  • Calories: 106
  • Fat: 1.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Calories from Fat: 12.3%
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 2.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.4 g
  • Sugar: 8.3 g
  • Fiber: 1.5 g
  • Sodium: 26 mg
  • Calcium: 90 mg
  • Iron: 1.5 mg
  • Vitamin C: 3.1 mg
  • Beta Carotene: 302 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 0.9 mg
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