Cleveland Clinic Preventative Medicine Physician Roxanne Sukol (photos by Donna).

I injured my knee this spring during my travels and, home for just two days in April, was able to make an appointment; my usual doctor was out, but another internist had an opening. She entered and I introduced myself. She said, “I know who you are.” Why? She is medical director of the Wellness Enterprise at The Cleveland Clinic and has her own well-trafficked food blog, Your Health Is on Your Plate, which addresses how to eat well. I, a Fat-Is-Good-For-You-Eat-More-Pork-Well-Salted proselytizer, well aware that the august Cleveland Clinic hews to the old-school fat-and-salt-are-evil party line, went on guard.

Yet within moments Dr. Sukol was rattling away excitedly about stripped and intact carbs and fiber matrixes, riveting me. With what seemed near despair, she said, “We are drowning in stripped carbohydrates.”

I asked, provided she cure my swollen leg, could we then discuss these pertinent matters more completely outside the office?

She was game, and passionate (as her site shows, as the chickens she raises surely would profess if they could profess anything).

Again: We are a nation drowning in stripped carbs and it is a dangerous situation we can make right, in large measure with words and education. “I’m all about the words,” she said, seated on our porch Monday with a glass of iced tea. “Words are the key to giving people the tools they need to figure out what to eat. Everyone’s just so confused.”

“‘Healthy’ is a bankrupt word,” she continued. “We talk about healthy bread and healthy this and healthy that. It’s wrong. We are healthy. Our food is nutritious.”

We need to begin talking about nutritious food or we will cease to be nutritious when the bonobos come to feast on our fat, diseased selves strewn across the scorched earth we leave behind. Dr. Sukol recommends that if you see anything actually labeled “healthy,” throw it into the next aisle of the grocery store, which I hope is near the cleaning fluids. Actually she just said to put it back, but I would urge you, as an act of protest, to throw it into the cleaning fluids lane.

So, what exactly are “stripped” carbs?

The  major stripped carbs are these, she said: in the twentieth century, we created corn starch and corn syrup from the more complex carbs of corn you could actually eat; in the 1800s we stripped rice of its nutritious covering; in the 1700s we stripped flour of its nutritious bran and the germ (with its nutritious oils). These are all stripped carbs, and during the past two hundred years that we’ve increasingly relied on them they didn’t do us any good; during the last fifty years, once they began to compose the majority of our diet, they began to make our country sick on a gigantic scale. The kind of scale that, were a foreign country to wreak such havoc on our children, we would bomb them. Instead, we subsidize them. (As was noted in the very good documentary Fed Up.)

This is unacceptable. You personally should not accept this.

“People need to understand there are nutritious carbohydrates,” she says, noting that there are three categories of food molecules: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Fruit is good, vegetables are good, even sweet corn and peas and grapes, high-sugar fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates all, because they have, she explained, a fiber matrix that make their conversion to blood sugar slow, and this has all kinds of metabolic benefits I’m not going to go into here. Stripped carbs, though, are no different really than a spoonful of sugar, triggering a flood of insulin to carry this sugar to our cells.

How did this explosion of bad carbs happen? Sukol says it began when “some very savvy marketers in Battle Creek, Michigan, began to teach us to behave in some certain ways.” Battle Creek is, of course, the birthplace of Kellogg’s and Post cereals. The first thing Sukol advises her patients is to stay away from the bad carbs before noon. It’s just a hunch, but she thinks from experience there’s something particularly harmful about eating things like Special K or Corn Flakes before noon. Not to mention our other breakfast staples that are mainly carbs: toast, bagels, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and on and on. But really it’s that Transformer-sized aisle smack in the middle of your grocery store filled with boxes and boxes and boxes of cereals, that hulking behemoth so vast and diverse it astonishes people from other countries. That is a ground zero of a kind of unrecognized terrorism wrought on parents by our own farmers in every, city, town, and suburb of America.

Sukol, for a public address, did a study of numerous popular diets (South Beach, Atkins, the Cabbage Diet (huh?), Weight Watchers, Paleo). She found they had one attribute in common: all cut out stripped carbs.

Special K? Good for you? Ingredients, 98% of them, are these: Rice, wheat gluten, sugar, and defatted wheat germ (i.e., the nutritious oils are removed to avoid rancidity). Stupid is bad.

“If you read a food label and you can’t buy one of the ingredients in that same store, put it back,” Dr. Sukol says. “It’s not real food.”

What is good? Beans, legumes. There’s a reason, she says, that most cultures have a bean story or myth (Jack and the Beanstalk here). They’re the only food that is abundant in both fiber and protein and so are especially nutritious. “Cultures intuited how good they were before science could prove it,” she says.

Herewith one of the reasons I cherish my new friend and comrade. She offers the simplest of recipes, absolutely delicious and nourishing: a beautiful ratio: 1 cup dried white beans; 1 quart water, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 onion, 1 slow cooker: combine, cook for 6 to 8 hours. You don’t need to worry about eating healthy if you’re eating nutritious food.


Roxanne’s Magic Bean Stew

(adapted for my kitchen)

  • 1 cup white beans (Get them from Rancho Gordo if it’s in the budget— he sources the most nutritious beans, and they’ll cook in less time.)
  • 1 quart/liter water
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  1. Combine all but the salt and pepper in a pot and put in a 200˚F oven for 6 to 8 hours, or cook on low in a slow cooker for the same time. (Add a bay leaf if you have one, and you might want to hand-crush the tomatoes when you add them.) Taste and season with an appropriate amount of salt and pepper.
  2. Serve to those you care about.

Feeds 4 to 6 lucky people.


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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


70 Wonderful responses to ““Don’t Eat Healthy”
Our Carb Confusion”

    • TrudyHillCary

      Homemade whole grain bread and butter…can’t get better than that!

  • TrudyHillCary

    Love Cleveland Clinic! Nice article. Did she fix your swollen leg?

  • Chip Bodie

    Nice posting. Thus the beauty and simplicity of eggs, bacon, potatoes, and/or fruit in the a.m.

  • Byron

    Do you cook Rancho Gordo beans for 6+ hours, even on low? I’ve found they cook faster than other dried beans since they’re “fresher”, typically less than a year old.

    • Michael Ruhlman

      You know, you’re right; rancho beans cook in less than four hours this way.

  • Sasha | Global Table Adventure

    Spot on! Love this distinction… healthy versus nutritious. My 5-year old daughter has been eating more and more vegetarian (we already don’t eat much meat), and so our bean intake has increased. Glad it’s the “nutritious” choice. 🙂

  • Char M

    Thanks for affirming that, finally, I have been doing something right. I routinely eat a small portion of pinto beans or black beans with a little salsa for breakfast. I cook a cup or so every few days. Soak in the am, cook in the evening and they’re ready for breakfast.

    Great post!

  • Crickett

    100 % good advice. I cut out all gluten as well and was finally able to take off weight!

    • Michael Ruhlman

      Dr. Sukol says if you have blood sugar issues, be careful, but if you are normal and active, no worries! She recommends very strongly organic. She herself recommends sweet potato with peanut butter!

      • Natalie Luffer

        While I look to doctors for their advice on many things, I disagree with her statement about normal blood sugars. Depending on how you eat and what you eat – depending on how much exercise and how often you exercise…the average person eating vegetables high in carbohydrate calories (sugar calories) will gain weight faster than the person eating a breakfast of eggs and bacon and no carbs.

        It doesn’t matter what your blood sugars are – obesity is caused by too much of the wrong carbohydrates and if potatoes were the only problem then I would agree with her. Its obesity being discussed here and not just the potato. However the potato has indeed one of the most highest glycemic values…

        • Janet Warner

          Here we go again with the glycemic index and sugars. Whole civilizations have lived very well on potatoes as a staple. This article was trying to explain why the simplistic glycemic index is not an accurate way to judge food and you just didn’t get it. Too bad.

  • John

    I don’t get it. If we’ve been stripping away the fiber since the 1700s, why are we just now, in the past 20 or 30 years, finding ourselves obese? Why didn’t we have an obesity and diabetes epidemic in the 60s and 70s when everything we ate came out of a can or was processed deli meat on Wonder Bread? Haven’t a billion or so Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian and South Indians been subsisting on “stripped” white rice for many generations? (My googling suggests Asians have been eating polished white rice since well-before the Europeans arrived.)

    • Nathan

      The obesity epidemic isn’t occurring within a bubble and a stripped carb diet, which deprives us nutritionally, is just a piece of the puzzle. In combination with a steady and increasing influx of sugars in our processed foods, which our bodies are designed to consume very little of, and a more sedentary lifestyle, obesity isn’t such a surprising outcome.

      Here’s another interesting set of ideas to consider in the form of a lay-article on the importance of digestive enzymes for regulating body weight, and how gastrointestinal flora can help prevent or perpetuate obesity.


      • John

        Nathan — I agree with you that there any certainly many causes of our country’s (and increasinbly the world’s) nutrition-related health issues. I just don’t understand why people seem to single-out certain possible causes (almost all of which are connected to big business) as the main culprit. Has Dr. Sukol done any experiments to test her hypothesis?

    • Anne Mendelson

      For centuries, “stripping” the bran or husks away from wheat or rice grains was pretty inefficient, and only the rich ate anything close to today’s refined white flour or white rice. Machinery to remove the bran very rapidly and thoroughly was developed only in the mid- to late 19th century. Obesity and diabetes didn’t immediately follow, but rickets and beri-beri certainly did, until manufacturers learned to “enrich” the stripped grains. The factor that really set apart the 1960s and 70s was the explosive growth of lowfat, nonfat, and reduced-calorie products along with many muddled nutritional justifications for same.

    • Againstthegrain

      Certainly the increasingly industrialized (“stripped” & reformulated) food supply of many populations around the world is one contributing factor in the rise of chronic, degenerative health conditions, but can’t be the only factor or maybe even the main causative factor. Another significant piece of the puzzle that is barely even being addressed is our toxic environment. It’s a conundrum, because to truly address the issue probably means giving up the modern lifestyles and conveniences industrialized societies very much enjoy.

      Sure, the obviously sooty air and polluted rivers from earlier industrial eras have been mostly cleaned up, but now the toxins we eat, drink, breath, and apply to our skin are largely invisible and unknown to us, but they are anything but benign. Endocrine disrupting compounds have increasingly impacted health of humans and animals in a negative manner, including rising rates of premature puberty, feminized anatomy, reduced fertility, higher cancer rates, & diabesity, etc. As BPA and other compounds are removed from the plastics we all are exposed to (even if we try to avoid avoid plastic), what about the replacement compounds? Will today’s “safe” plastic become tomorrow’s horror?

      Each new generation since WWII has developed higher rates of chronic degenerative health problems, and earlier in life than their predecessors, probably due to earlier and cumulative exposure during critical growth and development phases. Safety testing is minimal and not rigorous enough to determine if new chemicals that combine and accumulate in the environment are truly safe. Besides, how does one even find a control population to study? Environmental toxins are all over the globe now. All over the globe, even in the most remote and primitive of locations, babies today are exposed to industrial toxins from the moment of conception, developing within a mother who herself is polluted with environmental toxins, probably since her own conception. The grandmother and great grandmother may have also been exposed to and accumulated internal pollutants throughout their fertile adult lives.


  • Nathan

    Hi Michael,

    Good article, but I’d really love to read a transcription of your conversation with Dr. Sukol, or hear a podcast of the interview. Any chance?

    Thanks for so much wonderful content!

  • Dean

    Another affirmation of Michael Pollan’s advice to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” By “food” he means real, unprocessed food.

  • Natalie Luffer

    You still can’t convince me that any diet outside of a Low Glycemic Diet will work. That means eating the right kind of vegetables and include beans as a carbohydrate, indeed. It also preaches a diet higher in protein. Most diets, if one were to analyze, are in actual fact low glycemic diets. Choosing the right carbohydrates is key to this.

  • StarChild science

    When twenty percent of our senators are asking the USDA to put the “fresh white potato” back onto the school lunch plates, it is obvious we need to take a new look at the promotion of “hope” during the current childhood obesity epidemic. The damage from eating foods that are loaded with stripped carbs, like the fresh white potato, has successfully been under published on the senate floor. Our Potatoes in School Lunches video shows what happens in our bodies when we eat foods full of stripped carbs. The events that you see unfolding are real. It looks like you were eating straight, fresh white sugar. The events trigger a flood of insulin to carry this sugar to our cells. These events are what quickly strip “hope” from the nutrition profile of the fresh white potato. There’s ‘hope’ in mythology, symbolism, religion, leadership and psychology. But it is not appropriate for the kitchen or the school lunch room. There is no way anyone can have an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to eating fresh white potatoes after watching our Potatoes in School Lunches video. As in centuries past, we can see there is no ‘hope’ of good nutrition in eating fresh white rice, baking with fresh white flour. Eating fresh white potatoes in school lunches cannot give us parents an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of a positive outcome for our children’s health.

  • chris

    my only quibble. No one “convinced” people to like stripped grains. As humans we inherently LOVE simple, stripped carbs. For thousands of years, high density carbs were very rare. We are hard-wired for this stuff.

  • Tags

    On one episode of “Good Eats,” Alton Brown says that pasteurization strips away most of the antioxidants in fruit juices. That doesn’t stop their labels from passing off their product as one having the benefits of unpasteurized juice.

    Low-fat milk? According to Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” dairy companies just add milk-fat powder to nonfat milk to make low-fat milk. What they don’t tell you is that the fat in this powder is oxidized. Yes, the kind of oxidized that you take antioxidants to counteract.

  • Lori Hogenkamp

    Ok, not to be all nanny-poo-poo about it, BUT, while it sounds relatively reasonable to say that “stripped carbs” are the problematic culprits. I’d disagree. She actually contradicts herself when she brings up an excellent point that it’s not the food that is healthy, but that WE are healthy… but then later defines foods as “good or bad”… she (you) are still blaming the food. It’s not that the stripped food ITSELF is lacking nutrition (it is but there is more to it) but it is in the context of the meal and hitting the body where there real magic happens that creates healthy or unhealthy. It’s about what the nutrition (this is why neuroscience is so important to inform nutrition) because it is about its synergy. It’s about what that food communicates to our body that is what the healthy is all about. It’s the combination of (gene and environment) our own system and the context of the food
    This is why it is about us and our systems and how our systems are reacting to the food we eat. Carbs stripped of the “nutritious” whole grain being more problematic, is maybe sometimes true, but what’s REALLY true is because we eat these stripped carbs, with stripped fats and stripped flavors (aka “junk food”). It’s not the “lack of” nutrition per se, but what that lack of nutrition creates— it creates stress on the system. LOTS of things and combination of things can create this (which is why so many diets work for so many different people, but whole traditional foods are at the core). So foods stripped down are stripped down to just “energy”. Which isn’t bad in itself, however, it is when that sugar, energy, is all alone. Why? Because it causes stress. Stripped versions of carbs (sugars are our main energy sources) have extreme responses on insulin etc., because they cause stress. Fuel, in a stripped down version, creates stress on the system. Like rocket fuels makes byproducts and work for an engine to breakdown the fuel. So if we are eating “fuel” without resources or nutrition to counter it, we get excessive stress. There are LOTS of ways to counter this and the best way, of course, is to follow traditional wisdom… make your carbs with lots of vegetables (antioxidants), quality oils (EFAs and phenols), a probiotic fermented food (bring on the parm cheese!), or any number of fantastic condiments that add benefits to those fuels (wine, espresso, herbs a-plenty, sauces, meats)….. the answer eat-real-food. BUT to blame “stripped carbs” is to miss the MUCH bigger picture of what it means to be and EAT healthy. Cheers. ~Lori

    • Victoria

      I’m curious about this. You can get tomatoes in cans that are not lined in BPA now. Why no, no, no?

      • Againstthegrain

        Is today’s BPA replacement going to be tomorrow’s toxic horror? Focussing on BPA free can liners misses the point. BPA-free containers are still highly processed industrialized machine cuisine products. Our convenient but out-of-sync-with-nature feeding are killing us (ok, we all die eventually, but more of us are sicker earlier in life, so mostly the net effect is more human suffering and bankrupting our societies). We live like zoo-humans with keepers feeding us Purina chow, completely out of touch with the natural world in which we evolved. Yet even in zoos, the movement is toward recreating species-approprate whole food diets for captive animals, using hiding techniques that tap into an animal’s natural food seeking behaviors, instead of merely filling troughs with Purina zoo-chow (much like the average chain-restaurant buffet table).

        What about eating local tomatoes only in season, or at least out of season only when preserved with traditional methods, such as dried?

  • Cathy

    Okay, so cereal is bad. Well now I’m screwed. I’d like to eat healthier, but I just can’t imagine eating beans for breakfast for the rest of my life. Other suggestions please!

    • james

      Cathy, I set up oatmeal in the rice cooker the night before. 12 hour soaking Quick Quaker, or steel cut oats, seems to help. I serve it with milk and butter, never any sugar, and it is delicious. My morning coffee is blended with
      1 t butter, and it is also delicious, without sugar.

    • Conner Middelmann-Whitney

      Eggs, dinner leftovers, home-made pancakes & waffles (if you don;t have much time, bake these in batches on the weekend, freeze and toast individually to defrost), Bircher muesli, oatmeal with nuts and butter, home-made granola with lots of nuts in it, Greek yogurt with fruits.
      And, yes, beans — I just made Dr Sokol’s bean stew and plan to eat it tomorrow morning, drizzled with olive oil, topped with a poached egg and scattered with Parmesan. None of this takes much time, and it’s such a delicious way to start the day — not to mention, keeps you going much longer than cereal.

    • Againstthegrain

      You know the “breakfast for dinner” concept that kids love? Just turn it around. Lunch or dinner for breakfast.

      I can’t imagine eating dessert for breakfast for the rest of my life anymore, but for the first 3/4 of my life, that’s what breakfast often was for me. Breakfast cereal, toast & jam, bagels, and pastries really are essentially desserts. Adopting that mindset might make it easier to help you break the starch & sugar for breakfast habit.

      Treat the dessert-for-breakfast habit like any other habit you want to kick. It’s much easier than quitting smoking or even dieting (as in cutting back on the amount of food or restricting calories), actually, because there’s a ton of other foods to eat – you just haven’t thought of them as breakfast foods before, or you’ve only thought of them prepared in a certain way for breakfast. Think outside the breakfast cereal or donut box.

      Many people, probably most people around the world don’t eat sweets for breakfast. Not that European dining habits are always the best to adopt, but it’s usually easier to get a breakfast without a lot of sugar or grains in Europe (France being the exception, but at least French croissants are still made with real butter instead of vegetable shortening).

      Smoked fish, rich sausages (black pudding!), vegetable salads (not necessarily leafy greens, either), plain whole milk yogurt, cheeses – these foods often feature more prominently in Europeans breakfasts than the sweet grain based breakfasts Americans typically pile on their plates. Even a “full English” isn’t very sweet & grainy on balance (and the toast is really there just to to sop up every bit of the runny egg yolk). In most overseas homes in which I’ve had the privilege of being a guest, breakfast toast has been a transportation vehicle for more substantial foods, not sugar toppings.

      Try some leftovers from dinner the night before for breakfast. If that’s too hard-core at first, try some plain whole milk yogurt with berries or another cut fresh fruit for a while. Even a small drizzle of some raw local honey in plain yogurt contains far less sugar than commercially presweetened yogurt.

      If you eat eggs, eggs en cocotte (savory baked eggs in a cup) make a great breakfast when combined with a TBL or two of diced leftover meat or crumbled bacon/sausage, sliced, crumbled or grated cheese, some snipped fresh herbs & maybe a dash of heavy cream (that’s what my family had for brunch yesterday, with small sides of leftover lemony lentil salad and caprese tomato salad from the previous night’s dinner). Eggs en cocotte are so easy to make differently every day using bits of this and that from the fridge, so they won’t get boring day after day like fried or scrambled eggs might. In a water bath in the oven, eggs en cocotte take about the same amount of time as showering and dressing for the day so they don’t have to be just a weekend thing, either. Or cook them in mere minutes in a pressure cooker, perhaps while the coffee brews.

      Another great egg breakfast option that isn’t just a plain fried egg is a fritatta – infinitely variable, can be made vegetarian if that’s your choice, is delicious at any temperature, super-economical, and easy to make in advance for busy mornings.

  • John

    The problem is that cheap carbohydrates and fats are really inexpensive and readily available. And many foods that we think don’t have sugar in them do. And we don’t move around nearly as much as we used to.

  • Paul Froehlich

    Read TIME magazine June 23,14 cover story “Eat Butter”Scientist labeled fat the enemy.Why they were wrong

  • Kathy

    I do love eggs for breakfast, but my second favorite breakfast is lentil soup. I have many versions. The advantage: it freezes well, and I can even keep it in our freezer at work, a quart at a time, to eat all week long. There is little in this world that is cheaper than lentils, easier to digest (for most), and gentle to your sugar levels (well, mine at least.) I often will have a boiled egg with my soup just for the added protein. Most filling!

  • Vivien

    Start reading labels and nutritional content of the prepared foods you buy and then count up the amount of carbohydrate in the form of sugar you eat daily. Fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose…etc. etc. Now think that each 10 gms of each of these sugars = 1 tsp of sugar and then sit down and add up how much sugar you have actually eaten today. For example 1 can of coke (375 ml) had 39 gms of sugar which equals 4 tsp of sugar. I bet you don’t put 4 tsp of sugar in your tea or coffee (or perhaps you do) but you will be amazed at the daily total and how many of the prepared products you consume daily have sugar in them. No wonder people are getting fat. Start cooking instead of heating and your daily sugar intake will drop as will your weight.

    • Vivien

      Correction: 5 gm sugar = 1 tsp so 39 gm of sugar in the can of coke = 8 tsp of sugar. So be brave and figure out your daily sugar intake and don’t have a heart attack when you realize how much sugar daily you actually consume.

  • Michael

    Wouldn’t the acidity of the tomatoes keep the beans from cooking through?

    • james

      Beans can be prepared in a pressure cooker in 20 – 30 minutes, with other vegetables or meat included.

    • Conner Middelmann-Whitney

      I thought so too, but was amazed to get buttery-soft beans, without prior soaking! I live at altitude so it took a little longer — 9 hours on low in the slow-cooker — but the beans are melting and creamy (I used generic baby lima beans that were probably quite old). Can’t wait for breakfast!

  • Paul

    Lori above makes a much better point. “Stripped carbs” can’t do anything to you. In fact, we’ve known since the 1930s that you absorb more nutrients from white flour than from whole wheat flour. Sacrilege? Look up phytic acid in Harold McGee’s book.

    People DO eat lousy diets, and carb intake that’s out of proportion with other nutrients (and with their activity levels) are often a big part of the problem. But demonizing ingredients is usually simple-minded. And I will smack the next person who says to reject food because they don’t recognize the name of the ingredient. Look it up!!

    Don’t think that a Doctor has privileged information. They don’t teach nutrition in medical school. Doctors who care about nutrition have to get their information from the only reliable source, which is peer-reviewed journals. Thanks to pub-med, we all have access to all the published studies, at least the abstracts.

    I implore people not to listen to ANYONE based solely on their authority. Ask them for citations, and check. We need a public that understands at least the basics of checking health research, or we will become even more an more mired in nonsense.

    • Emilia

      YES! “I implore people not to listen to ANYONE based solely on their authority. Ask them for citations, and check. We need a public that understands at least the basics of checking health research, or we will become even more an more mired in nonsense.”

      There is so much noise with research. The internet helps but also causes problems. Individuals needs to be able to read, be critical and look into supporting texts/research. Thank you for sharing your view.

  • Steve

    Michael – I think you couldn’t be more spot on with this piece and the discussion of “stripped” vs “unstripped” carbs (and low glycemic diets in general) is one that many Americans are finally having.

    You really rubbed me the wrong way though with your comment: “That is a ground zero of a kind of unrecognized terrorism wrought on parents by our own farmers in every, city, town, and suburb of America.”

    How is it the farmers that are responsible for this development of “unstripped” carbs? You even mention yourself that it is the food processors (ie Kelloggs, etc) that are responsible for this. I think it would be appropriate if you corrected this sentence to reflect this.

  • Conner Middelmann-Whitney

    Cooked the beans yesterday and enjoyed them for breakfast this morning, topped with a poached egg, olive oil and Parmesan; see pic here: http://instagram.com/p/ptfOQpr0Hd/?modal=true.
    I changed the proportions of the recipe, using 2.5 cups of beans (rather than the 1c stated in the recipe) to the recommended 28oz tomatoes and 1 quart water. This yielded a creamy, thick stew; I suspect using 1c of beans would have resulted in a more soupy version of the dish. I also added 6 cloves chopped garlic to the stew, and stirred in some olive oil after it had finished cooking, which pulled it all together and gave it a fresh, Mediterranean flavor.

  • Angel Reyes

    So right, in so many ways. We really should think about adding richness to our diets, instead of restricting it with the newest bad-food fad.

  • Kevin

    Don’t want to plug another “diet”, but the 4 hour body diet as described by Tim Ferris seems to dovetail pretty nicely with this line of thinking. The experiment is Tim and anyone can experiment on their own body. Bottom line you cut out sugar and white carbs and eat protein, veggies, and beans three to four times a day for six days a week. Day seven you eat whatever you want! You’ll find that you’ll start not wanting sugar and “white” carbs because they make you feel like crap. I never bought into the low carb, low fat diets. I’m 53. I eat bacon, I salt my food, and I have a glass of wine or beer daily. I weigh what I weighed in high school. I exercise and work in my yard year around. What changed in the last 100 years – automobiles and television! My two cents, but Michael – thanks!

  • Tom Hirschfeld

    While I like, and agree, with what you and Dr. Sukol are saying I also know it is possible to eat the foods you talk of and still be unhealthy, have high cholesterol and blood sugar issues. Its as though you are saying, ” if I can understand whats on the label it will make me healthy.” It is misleading. You need add to the talk about how we are a nation who would rather drive then walk, sit rather then exercise. Through first hand experience I have come to believe 75% of good health comes through vigorous exercise and 25% come from eating well. Food is only a part of the cure.

  • Dee

    Have you seen Mark Bittman’s book The VB6 Cookbook?

    VB6 stands for vegetarian before 6pm, and speaks to of the same ideas as Dr. Sukol.

    • Judy

      VB6 stands for vegan before 6pm. There is a difference between vegan and vegetarian.

  • Heather C.

    I really wish I liked beans. I know they are so good for you and there are a host of recipes featuring beans that are filling and healthy and tasty. But I hate beans. I find them mealy and musty, and since I am the cook of the house, they are never prepared.

    However, I am taking the kids to my parents for the holiday weekend, leaving the husband at home. I’m making him pasta fagioli, which is more beans than pasta, and which I know he will happily eat all weekend.

    • Sally

      Liking beans would add some variety and nutrients to your diet, but I don’t think it’s necessary to eat them. I’m sure that in cultures where beans make up a large part of the diet there are people who don’t like beans.

      I don’t like whole grains. To me they taste bitter. In addition I don’t digest them well. So I eat very few whole grains and I almost never cook them. I do eat lots of vegetables, beans and fruit. What fiber I’m missing from one group I’m getting from others

  • Sally

    I don’t think the problem is that people eat stripped carbs. The problem is that many people base their diets on stripped carbs and exclude intact carbs, vegetables, beans and fruit. Stripped carbs combined with the bad fats, lots of red meat and other processed foods is a recipe for disaster.

  • Mark Lipshutz

    Grains like barley and farro are commonly referred to as “whole grain”, but they are pearled, meaning at least the outer bran has been stripped away. Would Dr. Sukol say that these are too far stripped to be part of a healthy diet? If so, what to substitute, given that it seems pretty difficult to find (a) truly whole grains and (b) the time and methods to cook them.


  • Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

    Nice post! And thanks for the introduction to Dr. Sokul and her blog. And I was very glad to read the paragraph about high sugar carbs .. since I’m a big fan of corn and peas, I can feel much better about indulging.

  • Mandy @ Mandy's Healthy Life

    I really enjoyed this post! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m glad to hear your swollen leg was healed! I had a couple thoughts I wanted to share.

    Dr. Sukol mentioned that Healthy is a bankrupt word, and I totally agree, but instead of puting back the food labeled ‘healthy’, we should ALL start by getting into the routine of checking ingredients and knowing what is bad and what is good. For instance, in our family we stay away from the 6 “white” poisons – white rice, white flour, pasteurized dairy, table salt, refined sugar, & soy. (Yes I know soy isn’t white but it goes in there too because soy as we know it, isn’t soy anymore. Just like corn. GMO has a huge roll to play there.) If the label has one of those ingredients we put it back! Preventive medicine.

    I also think beans and legumes are very beneficial and I have no idea why ppl on the Paleo diet don’t eat them! That’s crazy talk.

    Eating only fruit before noon is very beneficial and will help anyone who is on a diet to loose weight. Fruit will give you the healthy carbs you need to start your day, they will help your body cleanse through the morning, and they should be eaten alone for proper digestion.

    Anyone wanting to read an awesome book on how real, living food can cure any disease, read The Disease-Free Revolution by Ron Garner. I actually helped Ron edit this book. (Which was life changing!!)


    For awesome recipes click on my name, which will send you to my blog. 🙂


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