Catching the pulse of beans and lentils

LOGO_IYP-en-high-horizontal int year pulses 2016 horizontal

An opening haiku to celebrate this International event:

Pulsing energy,
rich nutrients of the earth,
Lentils and beans dance.


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is celebrating  pulses this year. Pulses are dried beans and peas, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, split peas, fava beans, and black-eyed peas.

So what?  What’s the big deal about beans? 

Ο they are nutritious, high in protein, fiber, and minerals; low in fat and gluten free.

Ο they are friends of sustainable farming, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides–for example, with the aid of certain bacteria they restore soil by taking nitrogen from the air and adding it to the soil (called ‘nitrogen fixing’). 

Ο as cover crops they prevent water and wind erosion, and restore soil nutrients.

Ο climate resilient strains are potential food sources as global warming brings hotter growing conditions.

Ο bean crops offer solutions for hunger and poverty–they store well, can be processed locally, and yield more income than cereals alone (and rotating cereal and bean crops keeps the soil healthy).

The following bean quotes are excerpted from some of my favourite cookbooks:

There are basically five different kinds of meat and poultry, but 40-50 different kinds of commonly eaten vegetables, 24 different kinds of peas, beans, and lentils, 20 different fruits, 12 different nuts, and nine grains. The variety of flavor, of texture and of color lies obviously in the plant world…

Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet, 1975, Ballantine Books, New York, p.63


Cooking vegetarian book

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.   Albert Einstein

As quoted by Carollyne Conlinn, Past President (1995) Canadian Dietetic Association in Foreword to Cooking Vegetarian, by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest, 1996, Macmillan Canada, p. vii


Does cooking beans from scratch sound time-consuming? Well, they pretty much cook themselves!  You just soak them overnight, change the water, and boil them until very soft, generally 1 to 3 hours, depending on the variety. You may also wish to keep some canned beans on hand, as they are convenient and ready anytime the mood strikes you.  Just be sure to rinse them—rinsing canned beans reduces sodium by one-third…

Neal Barnard, MD and Robyn Webb, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, 2010, Da Capo Press, PA, p. 44

Some more cooking tips:

  • You can cook beans overnight in a slow cooker—some chefs use a pressure cooker for faster results.
  •  Lentils cook fairly quickly.
  • Rinsing canned beans removes not only salt but also a foamy liquid that promotes flatulence.
  • When cooking beans, skim off any foam.
  •  For ultimate gas reduction, soak overnight, bring to a boil in cold water, rinse, then re-cover with fresh water and cook until tender.


Beans can be appropriate to every course in the meal, as evidenced by their international popularity in soups, dips, stews, casseroles, fritters, salads, and even sweet bean pies for dessert.

Nikki and David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine, Over 1300 Meatless Wholesome Recipes From Short Order to Gourmet, 1983, New American Library, p.12.

My current bean and lentil recipe favourites include:

  • Hummus (chickpea dip: available at the grocery store with other dips, or make at home using a food processor);
  • Fiesta Bean Dip (baked bean and  melted cheese dip, a hit at family gatherings–as home cooks usually do, I  modify the recipe, using meat-free maple beans, marble cheddar for the grated cheeses, and home-blended taco seasoning);
  • Summer bean salads such as Black-eyed pea salad;
  • Baked beans or lentils for winter and summer (slow cooker or oven baked);
  • Rice or quinoa and beans such as Red Beans and Quinoa ; and
  • Veggie burgers such as Mushroom and Lentil Sliders.


Nourished blood pulses,
 with rich earth nutrient beat,
Lentil and bean dance.


Thank you to What the Ducks! and Palm Rae Urban Potager for hosting Blogger Action Day in celebration of  ‘Year of the Bean’, February 17, 2016.

As this is Wednesday, I am also linking this post to Writer’s Quote Wednesday at Silver Threading. If you enjoy reading quotes, I suggest a visit to  SilverThreading for Colleen Chesebro’s weekly quote post and links to posts by other participants.


©2016, All rights reserved by

A fundamental right

The-environmental values suzuki

The environment is so fundamental to our continued existence that it must transcend politics and become a central value of all members of society.

∼ David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

Did you know that roughly 100 nations have environmental rights enshrined in their constitutions along with human rights?  This means that their highest law guarantees environmental rights such as clean water, clean air, safe food, and uncontaminated soil. Ironically, the nations that do not yet have such protection embedded in their laws include industrialized countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand.

The Blue Dot movement, backed by the David Suzuki Foundation, is endeavouring to win support across Canada for enshrining environmental rights in our constitution.  Their strategy is to work from lower levels of government up.  In December, Toronto was the 100th city to sign a Blue Dot declaration enshrining citizen rights to clean air, safe water and food, a stable climate and a say in decisions that affect their well-being.  The end goal is a federal environmental bill of rights or a constitutional amendment.

Why is it so important to embed environmental rights in the constitution?  A constitution reflects the fundamental values of a society and is not easily changed. Constitutional rights to a healthy environment and stable climate will promote strong environmental protection laws that cannot be easily overturned. Such rights will empower the courts to make decisions that reinforce those laws.

Interested in reading more?  My best source was The Constitutional Right to a Healthy Environment, by David R. Boyd, Environment Magazine, July-August 2012.


Visit our quote hosts’ websites to read their writer musings for today, and links to other submissions

 SilverThreading  and RonovanWrites


We Don’t Know Beans— February Blogging Event!

Have you heard? 2016 is International Year of Pulses, launched by the United Nations “to raise awareness about the protein power and health benefits of all kinds of dried beans and peas, boost their production and trade, and encourage new and smarter uses throughout the food chain.” The UN press release explains:

“..all kinds of dried beans and peas, are not merely cheap and delicious; they are also [a] highly nutritious source of protein and vital micronutrients that can greatly benefit people’s health and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries.

There are hundreds of varieties of pulses grown throughout the world. Popular ones include all varieties of dried beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and broad beans. But also chickpeas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas and pigeon peas.”

Beans and peas in their many colours and shapes are beautiful to photograph, eat, grow, and write about. Check out this Bean Blogging Event coming up in February. It’s for writers, photographers, poets, humorists…everyone!

What the Ducks!


Let’s learn more!  In celebration of International Year of Pulses*,  Palm Rae Urban Potager and What the Ducks! announce this year’s Blogger Action Day.  Mark your calendars for February 17, 2016and sign up if you want to participate.  You can let us know in the comments section below, email us or tweet me.

To join in, all you have to do is post something about beans, legumes or pulses on your own blog that day .  We’ll link to participating sites in a bonus post.

Share a recipe, upload a photo, write an ode to a chickpea!  Beans are good & blogging is good fun.  Hope to hear from as many bloggers as possible.  Even if some folks don’t know beans about beans, maybe you do!

Happy Year of the Bean, peeps!


*I know, it’s a mouthful.  I’m going with “Year of the Bean”!

Copyright 2016, Lori…

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Canaries in the coal mine

Fumes seep and spiral,
Canaries in the coal mine
Chirp their last faint song.

RonovanWrites’ prompts of the week (trill and final) made me think of canaries in a coal mine.  Initially, I had an image of canaries singing to warn of danger.  However the canary warning is not their chirping–it’s their death.  Miners used to bring caged canaries into mines to warn them of dangerous gas leaks. When their feathered friends passed out, they knew it was time to get out of the mine.

As Wednesday is the day I do a quotations post, I searched for  a ‘canary in the coal mine’ quote.  I was not disappointed.  I found three interesting candidates–the first two have an environmental theme and the third one offers artistic inspiration.


“Whales are humanity’s canary in the coal mine,…As ocean pollution levels increase, marine mammals like whales will be among the first to go.”

Roger Searle Payne (born January 29, 1935) is an American biologist and environmentalist famous for the 1967 discovery (with Scott McVay) of whale song among humpback whales. Payne later became an important figure in the worldwide campaign to end commercial whaling.



“I believe that these sea lions that are washing up along the coast are actually acting as important canaries in the coal mine, warning us of some ocean changes that contribute in fact to human health.”

Dr. Frances Gulland is the Director of Veterinary Science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. Dr. Gulland has been actively involved in the veterinary care of stranded marine mammals and research into marine mammal diseases since 1994.

State of California Ocean Protection Council

I-sometimes-wondered kurt vonnegut

I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts.  This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive.  They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.”

What do you think about Kurt Vonnegut’s theory?  I believe he was pondering human survival and asking ‘how do the arts promote the survival of humankind?’  His answer, quoted above, is that artists (writers, painters, photographers, dancers, actors, musicians, etc) are more sensitive; in touch with feelings, senses, imagination, intuition, and such.  Artists notice more of what is going on in the world.

A bit elitist or grandiose?  Perhaps, but Vonnegut may have been onto something.  Another approach would be to attribute sensitivity to artistic endeavour rather than to those who pursue it full-time.  In other words, people are more fulfilled and aware when they can incorporate the arts into their lives. We all have the potential to be canaries in the coal mine.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction.



In the mood for more quotes? Visit RonovanWrites and SilverThreading.


When we become predators of predators

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

On Saturday we will have the first full moon of the year–called  Wolf Moon by many Native American tribes. In the cold of January packs of  hungry wolves could be heard howling at night–and so the first month of the year and its moon were dedicated to the Wolf.

Thinking about Wolf Moon, I was saddened to learn of a recent proposal by the Ontario government to encourage hunting down  wolves and coyotes in the name of saving a dwindling moose population.  Although the motive is laudable, the proposed method is unscientific.

I learned some interesting facts about wolves and coyotes from Wolves Ontario, an organization  dedicated to protecting wolves:

  • Wolves do hunt moose, but they are not easy prey.   A healthy moose can end a wolf’s life with a swift kick.  For this reason, packs tend to focus on weakened prey: those who are old, ill, or injured. Moose populations may be threatened, but predators are not necessarily the primary problem.
  • When adults of a wolf pack are killed, the pack loses their teachers. The role of adult wolves is to teach younger ones how to track and kill larger creatures. Without guidance, packs are more prone to go after easy prey such as livestock.
  • In Ontario we have Grey Wolves (canis lupus), threatened Eastern Wolves (canis lycaon), and Eastern coyotes (also known as coywolves, brush wolves, or tweed wolves).   Eastern coyotes are the result of Western coyotes travelling east and interbreeding with  eastern wolves–larger than pure coyotes, they are often mistaken for wolves. Small game hunters permitted to kill an unlimted number of coyote could kill wolf/coyote crossbreads and wolves without knowing the difference.

Proposed unrestricted shooting of coyote and increased wolf kill permits should be dicarded and replaced with a more thoughtful approach to protecting Ontario’s wildlife.

Rachel Plotkin sums it up in a David Suzuki Foundation blog post:

Predators and prey, like coyotes, wolves, moose and deer, have been part of an intricate food web for thousands of years.  If something is out of whack with a prey population, it can likely be traced to humans and not to a sudden decision by coyotes and wolves to supersize their meals.

When humans enter the web of life as predators of predators, we unfailingly disturb the balance.




Hyperloop–RonovanWrites challenge #80


Hyperloop Elon Musk/Public Domain

solarpowered train


faster than the wind


 Hyperloop Elon Musk/Public Domain

Elon Musk, business executive,engineer, and investor, known in connection with Tesla Motors, Solar City, and SpaceX, came up with a new form of transportation that could replace trains, cars, and airplanes for commutes between cities less than 1000 miles apart.  Called ‘Hyperloop’, it would reach speeds over 750 mph and would run on solar energy.  A trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco would be about 35 minutes. What a concept!  He released detailed plans to the public in 2013, to facilitate project design and development.
My haiku was written in response to RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge #80. The prompt words were ‘style’ and ‘fresh’, and  I used synonyms: ‘mode’ and ‘new’.  For other takes on the prompts, please visit RonovanWrites at the link above.

©2016, All rights reserved by

Words of a leader

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, made his State of the Union address last Tuesday (January 12, 2016).  He addressed many important issues, but my focus is on how the current leader of the United States proposes to address climate change. The good news is that President Obama talks about taking steps to transition away from the burning of fossil fuels.  Whether or not those steps will be sufficient, is, at this stage, less important than whether those who support action will prevail  after the elections later this year. Here is an excerpt from his speech where he addresses climate change:


Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You will be pretty lonely because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.


But even if — even if the planet wasn’t at stake, even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record until 2015 turned out even hotter — why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?


Listen, seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average.

We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy — something, by the way, that environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. And meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly 60 percent and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.


Gas under $2 a gallon ain’t bad either.


Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future, especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. We do them no favor when we don’t show them where the trends are going. And that’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. And that way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system. (APPLAUSE)

Now, none of this is going to happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, the planet we’ll preserve, that is the kind of future our kids and our grandkids deserve. And it’s within our grasp.

Now, climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world, and that’s why the third big question that we have to answer together is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation- build everywhere there’s a problem.


Naomi Klein: courage to speak out

And that is what is behind the abrupt rise in climate change denial among hardcore conservatives: they have come to understand that as soon as they admit that climate change is real, they will lose the central ideological battle of our time—whether we need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values, or whether that task can be left to the magic of the market.”
Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

I was recently asked to think of famous women who inspire me for the #Girllove challenge (my post for this is coming up soon).  Naomi Klein came to mind.  She is a Canadian, author, social activist, and Canadian filmmaker who dares to challenge the status quo.  A main thesis in one of her books, This Changes Everything, is that popular approaches to government and economics have interfered with our ability to confront climate change.  The truth of her theory, that vested interests resisted governmental regulation,  is emerging.  It is coming to light that major corporations concealed and denied the science that connected burning of fossil fuels to global warming.

In the wake of  the UN Climate Summit in Paris, governments will be grappling with the very issues that Ms Klein alludes to in  this quote.  To follow through on carbon reduction pledges, regulations limiting carbon emissions will have to be enforced, and further measures, such as carbon taxes, will have to be imposed.  Rather than stand back and let the free market steer humanity, governments– with the support of  voting citizens– will have to take the wheel and proceed with bold initiatives.  There is talk of changes in Canada from our federal government and from the provinces–my eye will be on my home province, Ontario.

When I looked up Naomi Klein for this post, I discovered that her mother is Bonnie Sherr Klein, documentary filmmaker, best known for a documentary I saw a long time ago.   Not a Love Story:  A film about pornography was released in 1982 by Studio D, the Women’s Studio of the National Film Board of Canada.  Against pornography, but also showing it, the film was initially restricted in Ontario.  It seems that the courage to speak out is a strength in the Klein family.

For more Writer’s Quote Wednesday posts, please visit SilverThreading.

Thomas Berry’s Sacred Universe

I am happy to have been tagged by Sana of  My Journey with Hijab  for a  3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge’.  This is Day #3.  Many thanks to Sana for inviting me to participate. If you haven’t already visited her blog you might want to take a look–you’ll find humour, thoughtful reflections, spiritual quotes, words of compassion, and more.

The rules for the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge:

1. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.

2.  Choose three consecutive days to share a new quote on your blog. They can be from anywhere, anyone, or anything that inspires you… Which means, it can be from yourself, too!

3. On each of the three days, nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this mission impossible endeavor (if they dare!).

Today’s challenge nominees are:  Elusive Trope, Magnanimous Word, Dr.Gulara Vincent.

♦ ♦ ♦

Yesterday I posted a simple, but meaningful, statement by Thomas Berry:

“The destiny of humans cannot be separated from the destiny of the earth.”

My quote for today is:

What we are experiencing in the degradation of the Earth, is a soul loss, a loss of meaning in life itself that calls for a recovery of a sense of the sacred. The Earth must be seen, not as a collection of objects for our use, but as a communion of subjects of which we are all a part.We are all part of a single community that will live or die together. 

∼ Thomas Berry

I discovered this quote at the end of a reproduction of Thomas Berry’s  twelve principles for understanding the universe and the role of the human in the universe process.  The 12 principles are each quite dense with meaning, while the above statement is easier to digest.

Actions to reduce society’s carbon emissions are receiving wider public support–the recent signing of an International Accord was a major landmark–yet a long road still lies ahead.  There are major hurdles to be overcome.   Many people don’t care or don’t understand…and then there are those of us who see the logic behind the need for change, but are still very embedded in the world the way it is currently working (or not working).

Part of the answer may be in a consciousness shift, such as the one proposed by Thomas Berry. In this shift, a worldview that puts humans at the center of the universe, second only to God, will evolve to a view of the universe as a sacred, interdependent community in which humans are only a part.  I am not a theologian, but I believe the idea is that the divine (however envisioned) is within  rocks, trees, a tiny flower, a river, the stars.  All life and matter, at a level of essence, is One and Sacred.  There are probably different ways of putting this in the languages of different religions, and perhaps with subtle differences–but the end result would be the same: a deeper regard for all living things, sentient and non-sentient; and a deeper awareness of how all forms of life are interconnected.

Thomas Berry was a Catholic priest, eco-theologian, author, and cultural historian from North Carolina, U.S.A. (1914-2009). He is widely recognized as a leader in ecology and religion.

Thomas Berry’s Eco-Theology

I am happy to have been tagged by Sana of  My Journey with Hijab  for a  3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge’.  This is Day #2.  Many thanks to Sana for inviting me to participate. If you haven’t already visited her blog you might want to take a look–you’ll find humour, thoughtful reflections, spiritual quotes, words of compassion, and more.

The rules for the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge:

1. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.

2.  Choose three consecutive days to share a new quote on your blog. They can be from anywhere, anyone, or anything that inspires you… Which means, it can be from yourself, too!

3. On each of the three days, nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this mission impossible endeavor (if they dare!).

Today’s challenge nominees are: The Writer Next Door, Uncle Spike’s Adventures, Your Nibbled News.




At first glance, this statement may seem obvious: “The destiny of humans cannot be separated from the destiny of earth.”  However, the comment is a fine distillation of much thought by a respected Catholic theologian.  Further, it is a thought that is easy to accept, but not so easy to honour, as it doesn’t reflect our current legal, political, and economic systems.  One example:  in North America we have charters and bills of human rights, but the interests of land, air, animals, trees, and lakes, etc. are not enshrined in our constitutions.  In fact, some people debate environmental protection laws as if they are optional–why should they be optional if our destiny is in fact inseparable from the destiny of the earth?

Thomas Berry was a Catholic Priest, cultural historian, eco-theologian, and author from North Carolina, U.S.A.–he lived primarily in the 20th century, but lived almost a decade in the 21st  (1914-2009).  I came across his thinking accidentally.  I was looking into Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French writer, mystic, and theologian (1881-1955); and learned about Thomas Berry while listening to his talks about Teilhard de Chardin (posted on YouTube).

Teilhard de Chardin brought evolution into Christian theological thinking–he experienced the Divine within a dynamic unfolding universe, in a continual process of  creation and emergence.  Creation of the Universe lead to formation of the Earth, Life on earth, and  eventually, Humans.  Thomas Berry took this vision one step further and proposed that humans, as an integral part of the Universe, must live in community with it–in a spirit of cooperation rather than domination–shifting from an anthropocentric orientation to a bio- or eco-centric  one.

Here is a list of a few Thomas Berry books:

The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, 1999

The Dream of the Earth, 1988

Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred
 Community, 2006

The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and
 Religion in the Twenty-First Century, 2009