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Finger Lickin' Good

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"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." -- Hans Hofmann

Through my work and travels I have been lucky enough to have been exposed to various eclectic cuisine running the gamut from small local cafes to iconic five-star restaurants. I have experienced some amazing food! Yet when I think about the most luxurious and exquisite meals I have had, visions of simple food made from a few natural ingredients are what most excite me.

Don't get me wrong, I admire elegance and have an appreciation of the finer things in life. But to me, beauty lies in simplicity. I don't need the fillers, additives, excessive amounts of sugars, fats, salts and other measures taken to taint the natural goodness of real food. And thanks to you, my community, I now have a plethora of additions to add to my mix of basics.

For those of you following my Basic Plan, or for all of you looking forward to eating in a way that sustains UltraWellness, I am thrilled to announce that I have chosen a winning recipe for you to enjoy. In a moment we'll highlight this week's winner, but let's first explore what makes a Basic Plan recipe noteworthy.

Creating Your Personal UltraMeal

I'd like you to refer back to last week's blog for the essentials on how to create your personal UltraMeal. The two plans are ultimately the same except there is a bit more flexibility regarding carbohydrate intake with the Basic Plan. Remember, this plan is for you if your blood sugar is under control and you are making progress in the Seven Keys of UltraWellness.

Carbs and Your Diet

Let's explore some tips on how to effectively integrate carbohydrates into your diet. I know this is a confusing topic, but after reading this you should be an enlightened carb consumer!

  1. This is a slow carb plan, NOT necessarily a low carb plan. Carbohydrates are essential for our body to function, and I want you to include the right choices in the appropriate portions. Choose primarily from starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruit. Of course, get rid of all refined carbohydrates and sugars.
  2. If you are transitioning from an Advanced Plan, start small and progress slowly. Keep insulin from spiking by taking one serving of complex carbohydrates with each meal. Hint: One serving of carbohydrate is equal to 15 grams. As insulin sensitivity improves, you can increase your consumption of slow carbohydrates to 30 grams per meal and 15 grams per snack.
  3. Eat three meals per day with two snacks.
  4. Regardless of the plan you are on always eat a carbohydrate with some protein, fiber or anti-inflammatory fat. Never carb it alone!

This is merely a template for ensuring optimal insulin sensitivity. It is most important that you listen to your body and adjust the amount of carbohydrate based on your individual needs.

Here are examples of SLOW-burning carbohydrates that you can play with:

Starchy Vegetables:
  • Sweet potato (1/2 cup)
  • Cooked Carrot (1 cup)
Whole Grains:
  • Black or brown rice (1/3 cup)
  • Quinoa (1/3 cup)
Legumes:
  • Lentils, Chick Peas and Black Beans (1/3 cup)
  • Black eyed-beans (1/2 cup)
Fruits:
  • Apple (1 small)
  • Peach (1 medium)

For a complete list of carbohydrate guidelines, please join my community and check out the downloads section for my report on "Low Glycemic Vegetables."

There are various ways to incorporate these nutritionally-dense carbohydrates into a meal. Like I said, I like to keep it simple yet interesting. Many of your recipes achieved that, and I can't tell you how difficult it was to select just one!

There was one that embodied all of the principals of whole foods eating and accomplished creativity, elegance, flavor, fun and of course... simplicity. I am proud to announce this week's Basic Plan winning recipe. The winner is...

Roasted Red Pepper & Cannellini Bean Soup

By Michele Rusinko

Serves: 8-10

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

A creamy and comforting soup for lunch or dinner.

  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 8 cups cannellini beans (preferably soaked overnight)
  • 1 cup basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash sea salt to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast peppers until lightly blackened, about 20 minutes (or blacken over a gas burner). Blend peppers, broth, beans, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.

You can also reserve 2-3 cups of the beans and add after blending -- I find the recipe as written not only to be easier on your digestive system but a great way to "hide" beans from those who refuse to eat them, especially kids.

Also, I make my own vegetable broth (boiling a sweet onion, garlic, fresh parsley, salt & pepper for about an hour while the beans are cooking (I also buy my beans dry, soak and then boil).

The easiest way for a beginner is to buy the broth and beans but it is much healthier (and tastier) to prepare your own!

Nutritional Analysis:

Serving Size (about 1 cup): Calories 305, Fat 12 grams, Sat 1.5 grams, Cholesterol 0 milligrams, Fiber 10 grams, Protein 15 grams, Carbohydrates 36 grams, Sodium 60 milligrams

Why I chose "Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Bean Soup"

  • Gluten- and dairy-free
  • Low glycemic load, high fiber
  • Lean plant protein
  • Easy to prepare and allows for flexibility -- not a rigid recipe so you can use any herbs available
  • Kid-friendly bean recipe
  • Able to have leftovers and use as a quick lunch the next day
  • Appropriate for Basic Plan. Serve with a green salad for a complete meal

Congratulations to Michele for providing us with a clear example of how simple ingredients can make a winning meal!

I like to think that what Hans Hofmann was referring to in the quote above is the sort of whole foods lifestyle that celebrates nothing more or less than that which nature has provided us with. Let's remove the myth that good food means exorbitant amounts of harmful ingredients so that we can unveil simple pleasures with significant health rewards. Cheers to getting back to basics and celebrating all the tasty creations you and your loved ones can cook up!

Now I'd like to hear from you...

Will you try this recipe with me?

What confuses you about slow and low carbohydrates diets?

Have you tried to a "low" carb diet and how did it work for you?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, M.D.

Mark Hyman, M.D. is a practicing physician, founder of The UltraWellness Center, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in the field of Functional Medicine. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to his newsletter.

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