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Guilt with serving "Cowboy Food" as Ree calls it


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We've done the Eat to Live and all practically starved but looked good.

 

We've tried the organic and basically went grocery broke.

 

Now I'm on a kick where we're eating what we need to feel good and be practical. BUT, I'm guilty.

 

I dislike all the guilt that goes with feeding my family.

 

If it's homemade, it takes forever. If it's processed, it's not good for us.

 

My mother in law is 80. My father in law is 84.

 

They ate Ree's so called "Cowboy Food" everyday of their lovin' lives. Biscuits, gravy, meatloaf, occasional chocolate cakes. They're very healthy (well, he did have six bypasses about four years back, but is doing great and not overweight!).

 

See wim? Bypass surgery.

Where are the old folks who eat organic and nutin' but leaves and seeds? All the ancient ones I know ate as mentioned above.

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I think the key is moderation. One thing they didn't have--ok, several, are pop, chips, and candy.

 

They also tended to work harder and get more physical activity than many of us today.

 

My great grandfather lived to be quite old and lived on bread soaked in bacon grease as a staple part of his meals.

 

Homemade doesn't have to take forever---try to get down a few basics and come to love your crock pot. I can throw in a roast or chicken, etc. in a few minutes and supper is almost done for me.

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It's called "traditional food"; cowboy food doesn't have a lot of processed crap involved, really. There's something to be said for eating the same food your ancestors have been eating for hundreds of years.

 

That said, however, there is also the activity level. "Cowboy food" is healthy when paired with a cowboy lifestyle--a hard physical working, active lifestyle. Ditto southern style cooking--makes sense when you're a farmer working hard for many, many hours a day, not so much when you're sitting behind a desk.

 

The other thing to keep in mind is portion sizes. Fifty to a hundred years ago, a standard portion of a meal was less than what many/most people in the U.S. eat now. Food was more expensive as a ratio of income, and that cowboy/farmer wasn't going to let it go to waste. Fairly big meals are either once-a-day, and you're only eating 2 meals a day probably, and really big meals are special occasions.

 

Ultimately our real problem is our activity level, not our diets.

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well n=1 is always a tenuous thing to make any decision on

 

You might know someone who engages in all sorts of dangerous behaviours but still lives to an old age. That doesn't mean that statistically we all can engage in those same behaviours and share the same fate. Odds are we will die prematurely if we engage in enough risky things. It's always a game of odds.

 

And yeah, people in the past could eat more because they worked A LOT more. And certainly your example of the person who ended up needing six bypasses - well, I'm sorry, that's not a healthy person. That's a person who would have died except that he happened to have the luck to be in a position to get excellent modern medical care.

 

Homemade, local as much as possible, simple, in moderation. I think those concepts are what is guiding me more & more when it comes to food.

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I believe the evil in our diets lies in processed foods, really. The stuff added to the diets of the animals we eat stink, too. The more manufacturing of food gets into the process of our food consumption, the more we are at risk. My husband's grandmother is over 100 and from Okinawa. She lives a traditional life and eats traditional Okinawan cuisine. Until the last 50 years or so, Okinawans had the longest life expectancy. In the last 50 years they have taken on the western habits of eating processed food and "convenient" food because they no longer have the simple agrarian life and diet they had in the past.

 

The other problem is that our grandparents' generation ate like that, and, like Ree's Marlboro Man they'd go out and wrangle some cattle, ride some horses, and do some heavy lifting of hay bales. They actually worked their bodies.

 

I believe we have to eat according to the lifestyle we are leading. IF you are very active, then that kind of food may not kill you instantly. If you are less active and need to wear a pedometer and schedule exercise to be sure you're moving your body enough...better stick with lighter food.

 

We love hearty soups and whole grain breads in the winter--full of vegetables and nutrition, and even a little bit of animal fat, and we are satisfied, content and not overweight. We don't have an extremely active lifestyle, so portion size is important to pay attention to.

 

Also, for us, I do think organic is better, though expensive. I don't want my daughter developing breasts early or having trouble with childbearing because of hormones and crap in the food she eats.

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1) the amount of food that we eat

2) what our food is actually comprised of e.g. processed foods which include our meat

 

A comment on 2, I read an article on this native people that lived like out in Siberia. These people contrary to popular opinion on diet ate mostly meat, but they ate reindeer meat. These reindeer although raised by the people are basically like wild game. They exercise and free range, not cooped up in a pen or a feed lot. If you are what you eat then think about an animal that lives naturally and is healthy versus an animal that, for lack of a better description, is a couch potato raised to be fat and gain weight. I have to admit that I do not buy free range myself due to finances but I have tried to cut back on the amount of meat we eat. I do also try to cook a lot from scratch but I don't do it all. I think in everything you need to find a balance and not beat yourself up about what you can't do.

 

Josephine

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I agree with others that activity level is important, and that processed food in general isn't healthy. But too much fat in the diet is really unhealthy, regardless of how active you are, particularly if you have risk factors like family history of heart disease, hypertension, smoking, and high cholesterol. Lots of exercise and activity is definitely protective, but in many people it isn't enough to prevent disease.

 

There are certainly healthy old cowboys who ate bacon grease and a pound of butter every day, but there are many more who died prematurely of heart disease.

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I believe the evil in our diets lies in processed foods, really.

 

I agree with this whole heartedly. There is so much junk in the processed foods. Not to mention, they are loading the food with sugars (cane sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup) whether or not it's a food that needs sweetening. These sweeteners serve a very important purpose marketing-wise. Sweets are addictive. The more you eat, the more you want.

 

I recently went to purchase a can of dark red kidney beans and found it had added sugar. Beans? Why? I now buy dry beans. I was buying canned beans to save time, but I would rather expend the time and energy soaking the beans than feeding my family more sugar that they don't need.

 

We drastically cut back on our processed foods about 2 or more years ago. We still buy mayonnaise, ketchup, and taco sauce. But my husband and I both lost weight after doing so. And we eat things like biscuits and sausage gravy at least once a week.

 

We've also begun buying local, hormone free, mostly free range beef. We recently found a place where we can get the same kind of pork and chicken and will be making that switch. The best part is, I'm not paying a small fortune for it. The beef price is insanely reasonable, cheaper than grocery store prices.

 

My husband has a very physical job, so I'm sure he gets enough exercise. He can eat some sausage gravy and other heavy foods. But the average American does not. This lack of exercise plays an important part in our health especially when combined with the modern American diet.

Edited by Dawn in OH
baby brain
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I didn't read all the replies but I think the massive obesity in America is caused by the crap they do to our food, not necessarily eating "cowboy food" but by eating corn in EVERYTHING, massive amounts of sugar, overproccessing of everything. I think if you avoided the middle aisles at the grocer and ate as much homemade as you could you would be healthier than if you ate all that prepackaged diet food.

 

You should read a book called Nourishing Traditions... it's a fascinating read.

Also if you have a strong stomach watch Food, Inc. It's on Netflix instant stream right now ;)

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You know, I think there is a happy medium. I'm not sure what you are feeding your family that induces such guilt unless it is loaded with fat and sugar. There are plenty of beans, rice, whole grains, veges, etc. that are not expensive, but still healthy. Cut yourself some slack. Simply avoiding the worst of the snack food will save you money. Drink 1% milk. Eat lots of seasonal fruit. And veges. Come on. Something like Spaghetti doesn't take forever to make, and it is perfectly healthy. Just my 2c.

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Another big difference between the current American diet and traditional diets (of all cultures) is snacking. We snack a lot. Traditional cultures (including our own, about 50 years ago) did not. People actually got a little hungry between meals. Snacking usually leads to more total calories.

 

I think fat content of meals and the need to snack are related. If you have some fat in your meals, your food will stick with you until your next meal. With modern low fat diets, you "have" to have healthy snacks between meals.

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I agree with what everyone else is saying. Moderation. What we do to our food is awful. Additions (HFCS, etc) and the way we treat our animals is horrific.

 

I've been loosely following ETL and I'm NEVER hungry! In fact, I find I can't eat all that he recommends. But, again, I follow it in moderation. I eat eggs every morning. I like some cheeses. I have salmon about once/week and other meats about once every other week. But, the majority of my calories comes from veggies and beans. I find it a very satisfying way to eat! (But, when I'm on vacation or at someone else's house, I will eat what is there!)

 

Organic doesn't have to be expensive. I do mostly organic and it costs me about $150/week for our family of 6. But, we don't do much meat.

 

Good luck! I hope you find your happy medium!

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I was going to post a link to an article I read a few years ago about how they have studied Amish communities in which they eat a "Cowboy Food" diet full of fat and yet don't have the issues with Heart Disease most Americans do. At that time, they thought the reason was the amount of physical labor the Amish are engaged in every day. Instead, I found this article that says the reason is they have a gene that breaks down fatty acids more readily:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7778364.stm

 

 

So, I thought you might want to know that activity plays a role but I guess genetics trumps that. ;)

 

Margaret

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Moderation! My in-laws. MIL is 87, FIL is 91. They live by themselves, take care of their place and are doing great considering their age. They ate red meat, gravy, real butter, whole milk, cream (raised their own beef, milked their own cows). But it was in moderation. They did not have huge servings - three reasonable sized meals. Plus, they were physically active.

 

Fast forward to today, they no longer eat meat or gravy or that type of stuff. Their diet is mainly vegetarian, no gravy, low salt - nothing like they used to eat. My fil had bypass surgery about 20 years ago and is doing okay. But they watch it now. And, of course, they're not nearly as physically active as they were.

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Another big difference between the current American diet and traditional diets (of all cultures) is snacking. We snack a lot. Traditional cultures (including our own, about 50 years ago) did not. People actually got a little hungry between meals. Snacking usually leads to more total calories.

 

I think fat content of meals and the need to snack are related. If you have some fat in your meals, your food will stick with you until your next meal. With modern low fat diets, you "have" to have healthy snacks between meals.

 

Bingo! Just because you have it and could eat it whenever you like, doesn't mean you should.

 

Now, if I could just convince myself of this. ;)

 

I wouldn't follow a "modern" low fat diet (foods where the fat has been artificially reduced), but do try to keep my fats low as reasonably possible. Eating whole foods with the fiber intact really goes a LONG way toward keeping you satiated between meals.

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Wow. Quick replies on this thread and judging by some of the strong responses quite a touchy subject. Better tread lightly I think...

FIL did have the bypass surgery at 80. Yes it's a big deal, that's why I said towards the end, it is bypass surgery though. Relatively healthy for 79 years then bam! out of the blue just about having a major heart attack due to 6 clogged arteries is scary. As is beginning menses at 11 years old and all the other stuff we're facing physically in the US today.

 

I'm still thinking through the responses but this one grabs me

"You know, I think there is a happy medium. I'm not sure what you are feeding your family that induces such guilt unless it is loaded with fat and sugar. There are plenty of beans, rice, whole grains, veges, etc. that are not expensive, but still healthy. Cut yourself some slack. Simply avoiding the worst of the snack food will save you money. Drink 1% milk. Eat lots of seasonal fruit. And veges. Come on. Something like Spaghetti doesn't take forever to make, and it is perfectly healthy. Just my 2c."

 

What I'm feeding my family is a majority of fresh food, bean burgers and things like stir fry, meatloaf occasionally, hamburgers occasionally, white flour spaghetti, lunch meat, white rice, chicken breasts and the occasional pizza from the delivery. We occasionally go on a family night binge with brownies or ice cream but normally this isn't the go to snack.

 

I do think I need to cut myself slack, it's a pretty healthy diet and from the picture I've posted on my profile, you can see my family's not overweight. My daughter though is developing at 11 much more so than a more moderate friend's 11 year old who feeds her family more healthy stuff than I do.

 

The guilt is a result of not feeding them leaves, shoots and greens each day because everything else can potentially harm them. I haven't seen the Food Inc thing yet, not sure I want to.

 

I don't understand the "come on" comment though? Did I offend in some way mentioning homemade food takes planning and preparation? Even a can of spaghetti sauce can be considered by some not healthy due to non-organic not-naturally grown tomatos or sugar in the sauce. As can my SuperWalMart spaghetti noodles being made with high fructose corn syrup (I don't know that they are, just an example).

 

In my OP I was stating homemade stuff like whole wheat bread, homemade muffins, etc. takes time and planning as does soaking beans and making homemade bean burgers.

Does this help give more insight into my dilemma?

 

Seems everyone has a version of what's healthy and what isn't to them, as you can even see from the few replies to this thread.

Still thinkin' on it all...

Edited by momee
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Just one more comment before I go back to thinking mode

" think fat content of meals and the need to snack are related. If you have some fat in your meals, your food will stick with you until your next meal. With modern low fat diets, you "have" to have healthy snacks between meals."

 

This was the reason the ETL thing didn't last long in this house. Two black bean burgers, brown rice and broccoli and a salad for those who want it left my kids (not so much my husband nor myself) hungry before the next meal.

 

Same amount of food in a chicken pot pie though - which was WAY cheaper to make and that's a big concern for our family right now with dh transtioning from job loss to entrepreneur - didn't leave them hungry as soon.

Just sayin'...

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See wim? Bypass surgery.

Where are the old folks who eat organic and nutin' but leaves and seeds? All the ancient ones I know ate as mentioned above.

 

I would hardly call being in your 80s ancient. :D

 

I think the difference is that people's food back then was actually food, not the processed-and-chemicaled-beyond-recognition stuff that passes for food these days.

 

Six bypasses is a pretty big deal, imo.

 

Tara

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I would hardly call being in your 80s ancient. :D

 

I think the difference is that people's food back then was actually food, not the processed-and-chemicaled-beyond-recognition stuff that passes for food these days.

 

Six bypasses is a pretty big deal, imo.

 

Tara

Yes, and those 6 clogged arteries didn't happen overnight. They develop over many, many years.

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There's a normal age for bypass surgery? :001_huh:

 

I'd kinda like to avoid it any age myself (if I were given a choice that is--and I believe I am..).

 

Without modern medicine, passing away at age 80 would not be premature. While I too would like to avoid death, I don't think it's possible. :001_smile:

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Really? What counts as old age then?

 

I think people in their 80s are old, but not ancient.

 

Even a can of spaghetti sauce can be considered by some not healthy due to non-organic not-naturally grown tomatos or sugar in the sauce. As can my SuperWalMart spaghetti noodles being made with high fructose corn syrup (I don't know that they are, just an example).

 

I know you gave these just as examples, but I make my own spaghetti sauce from house-brand organic tomato sauce (99 cents a can), a little extra-virgin olive oil ($6.99 for a bottle that lasts several months), and some oregano and basil (we grew the basil in a flower garden). I buy house-brand whole-wheat spaghetti for $1.14 a box.

 

I buy brown rice in 50-pound bags. I buy whole-wheat flour in 50-pound bags. I buy garbanzo beans, lentils, and black beans in 25-pound bags. I make two loaves of whole-wheat bread a week. The actual time it takes me (not counting rising and baking, where I am not actually doing anything with it) is about 10 minutes. Even with buying gluten and yeast, it's way cheaper than buying a decent loaf of store bread, and it has no preservatives or HFCS.

 

I agree that making bean burgers is time-consuming. I rarely do it. I use beans in soups and casseroles or over rice or couscous (whole wheat bought for $1.29 at the store). I do have a good lentil burger recipe that's not especially time-consuming, and you can freeze extras for later.

 

I read a Joel Furhman book on kids' health. (I had to google to see what Eat to Live was.) I found the suggested recipes and meal plans to be completely impractical, but you can use the same ingredients to make much easier meals. It's just a matter of playing around with it.

 

Your description of what you feed your family sounds reasonable. Even though I am vegan, I don't think animal protein=instant death. I think too much of it is consumed in the US, and what is consumed is such terrible quality due to the way it's produced. I'm not going to tell you you have to be vegan (or even vegetarian) to be healthy, but I would recommend that you look into some vegan recipes if you want to save money and eat healthfully. I don't cook with fancy, speciality ingredients. We eat simply and with readily available foods. If I want to make something, I google "vegan something recipe" and usually find a recipe I can use or several recipes I can combine.

 

Best wishes!

 

Tara

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I agree with this whole heartedly. There is so much junk in the processed foods. Not to mention, they are loading the food with sugars (cane sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup) whether or not it's a food that needs sweetening. These sweeteners serve a very importance purpose marketing-wise. Sweets are addictive. The more you eat, the more you want.

 

 

 

:iagree:

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Also, for us, I do think organic is better, though expensive. I don't want my daughter developing breasts early or having trouble with childbearing because of hormones and crap in the food she eats.

 

Unfortunately, expensive organic food, hormone free dairy, beef etc has not helped my daughter in this regard. She is 8 and developing breasts already.

 

I read someone's comment once, maybe on here, that recommended that you don't eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. I liked that suggestion. I have family members that have eaten "Cowboy food" like this all their lives as well. The activity level was higher at that time but I believe heredity plays a bigger factor. My grandpa (Mom's side), on a diet similar, died of a heart attack at 62 but my uncle (Dad's side) lived to 80 something. He was also a raging alcoholic. My Dad's diet was terrible, exercise level was terrible and when he died in August, there was not a thing wrong with his heart.

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What I'm feeding my family is a majority of fresh food, bean burgers and things like stir fry, meatloaf occasionally, hamburgers occasionally, white flour spaghetti, lunch meat, white rice, chicken breasts and the occasional pizza from the delivery. We occasionally go on a family night binge with brownies or ice cream but normally this isn't the go to snack.

 

I do think I need to cut myself slack, it's a pretty healthy diet and from the picture I've posted on my profile, you can see my family's not overweight. My daughter though is developing at 11 much more so than a more moderate friend's 11 year old who feeds her family more healthy stuff than I do.

 

The guilt is a result of not feeding them leaves, shoots and greens each day because everything else can potentially harm them. I haven't seen the Food Inc thing yet, not sure I want to.

 

Seems everyone has a version of what's healthy and what isn't to them, as you can even see from the few replies to this thread.

Still thinkin' on it all...

 

You could try replacing the spaghetti with whole wheat spaghetti and the white rice with brown, at least some of the time. Substitute sliced chicken or roast beef for the lunch meat, etc. Or, you could follow the 80-20 rule. Serve nutritionally sound meals and snacks 80% of the time and don't worry about the other 20%.

 

As far as your daughter's development. At what age did you start developing? Your mother? Her father's mother. Genetics plays a role.

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I buy brown rice in 50-pound bags. I buy whole-wheat flour in 50-pound bags. I buy garbanzo beans, lentils, and black beans in 25-pound bags. I make two loaves of whole-wheat bread a week. The actual time it takes me (not counting rising and baking, where I am not actually doing anything with it) is about 10 minutes. Even with buying gluten and yeast, it's way cheaper than buying a decent loaf of store bread, and it has no preservatives or HFCS.

 

 

Tara

 

I have been considering buying in bulk like this, but am not sure I have the room to store those quantities. Do you put them in those white buckets with a lid or what? I have the dog food in these stackable bins from The Container Store, but they wouldn't be big enough for a 50 lb bag of rice or beans.

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Do you put them in those white buckets with a lid or what?

 

My late FIL gave me a bunch of old wine buckets. Fifty pounds of anything doesn't fit, so my husband just wraps the bag around the leftovers very tightly and wraps it in packing tape. When what's in the buckets gets low, I cut open the taped bag and pour it in the bucket. We have never had a problem with bugs. He wraps and wraps and wraps the bags, though.

 

Tara

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I have been considering buying in bulk like this, but am not sure I have the room to store those quantities. Do you put them in those white buckets with a lid or what? I have the dog food in these stackable bins from The Container Store, but they wouldn't be big enough for a 50 lb bag of rice or beans.

 

We also buy rice, oatmeal, and wheat berries in 50 pound bags. Beans and nuts in 24# bags. I store most of mine in our second freezer. This helps kill anything that might already be in there. Then, I have smaller bins that I keep in my pantry for everyday use. The kids get sent down to the freezer to refill them when needed.

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We also buy rice, oatmeal, and wheat berries in 50 pound bags. Beans and nuts in 24# bags. I store most of mine in our second freezer. This helps kill anything that might already be in there. Then, I have smaller bins that I keep in my pantry for everyday use. The kids get sent down to the freezer to refill them when needed.

 

 

So when they come out of the freezer to go in bins they don't go bad or anything? I am a novice in the kitchen so forgive my stupid question. I guess we will have to break down and buy a freezer because we really don't have a decent place to store stuff. I might have to reorganize my pantry to make some stuff fit. The thought of going through the pantry and trying to "organize" it, horrifies me. If DH would "organize" the garage I could have some pantries out there! Maybe I will mention that tonight.:D

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I once saw a bumper sticker that said "Life is too short to soak beans."

 

That's funny, but honestly ... throw your beans in a bowl of water before you go to bed. You sleep while the beans soak. It's not like you're standing by the bowl for hours, unable to do anything else. ;)

 

Tara

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So when they come out of the freezer to go in bins they don't go bad or anything? I am a novice in the kitchen so forgive my stupid question. I guess we will have to break down and buy a freezer because we really don't have a decent place to store stuff. I might have to reorganize my pantry to make some stuff fit. The thought of going through the pantry and trying to "organize" it, horrifies me. If DH would "organize" the garage I could have some pantries out there! Maybe I will mention that tonight.:D

 

I've never had anything go bad. But, my smaller bins only hold about 5 pounds of each item. We go through those things pretty fast. Things we go through faster, I use smaller storage bins (raisins, for example). So, no time to go bad!

 

Good luck with your organizing!!

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Just thought I'd point out that Wal-Mart pasta, like any other regular pasta, has nothing in it that isn't normally in pasta. For that matter, there's no HFCS in the jarred GV (Wal-Mart brand) pasta sauce. As it's the next-to-the-least expensive pasta sauce in the store (Hunts in the can, with HFCS is the cheapest), it's what I usually buy.

 

Oh, and I wanted to add to the conversation that sugar is a big differential factor. A "cowboy"/agrarian diet doesn't have a whole lot of sugar in it. I always think about the Little House books, where maple season was the only time of year they really indulged on sugar, because they were making it, and throughout white sugar was a luxury item used judiciously and rarely. If you're really eating sweets with that kind of infrequency--holiday baking, a cake at someone's birthday, and not much else, for example--it's going to make a HUGE difference. All the fat associated with such diets is getting burned for energy. Sugar gets converted to fat and stored in the body when eaten in excess, for many people far more readily than dietary fat does. Cholesterol levels depend on a host of factors, dietary fat being only one--exercise/activity level and genetics are important, too.

 

And I agree that it's a big difference between needing bypass surgery in your 70's or 80's, and needing it in your forties or fifties!

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That's funny, but honestly ... throw your beans in a bowl of water before you go to bed. You sleep while the beans soak. It's not like you're standing by the bowl for hours, unable to do anything else. ;)

 

Tara

 

They don't have to be soaked. I've read cookbooks that say they turn out fine without, and it's true!

 

They might need to cook a little longer, but soaking not necessary.

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They don't have to be soaked. I've read cookbooks that say they turn out fine without, and it's true!

 

They might need to cook a little longer, but soaking not necessary.

 

You're right, they don't have to be soaked. But some beans can take hours and hours to cook if not soaked, while others will cook fairly quickly either way. A pressure cooker eliminates the need for soaking.

 

However, another reason to soak is to break down the coatings on some beans that contribute to flatulence. ;)

 

Tara

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However, another reason to soak is to break down the coatings on some beans that contribute to flatulence. ;)

 

Tara

 

True, it''s a good idea to soak if your body does not already eat beans regularly. Once you get used to them, though, eliminaring soking helps. There may be some that take much longer, but I cook mostly white, black, kidney, and garbanzo. They might need an extra 15-30 minutes of cooking IME.

i

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They don't have to be soaked. I've read cookbooks that say they turn out fine without, and it's true!

 

They might need to cook a little longer, but soaking not necessary.

 

Beans only need an extra 1/2 hr of cooking if not soaked. I don't soak any more either.

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Beans only need an extra 1/2 hr of cooking if not soaked. I don't soak any more either.

 

I cook a lot of my beans in the crock pot, and I have noticed that soaked beans cook significantly quicker there than non-soaked. It's far longer than a half-hour more in the crock pot. On the stove, there isn't a whole lot of difference.

 

Tara

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