Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ivory White and a Protein Practicum

Lately, the question of how I get adequate protein in my diet seems to be a topic of interest. I have to explain that tofu is not the only thing that supplies this important nutrient...or rather, combination of essential amino acids. While soy and quinoa have the complete complement of the eight essential amino acids our bodies cannot synthsize, there are many other plant-based sources that can contribute to an overall balanced diet. For example, grains are low in lysine, while legumes often lack methionine. One can understand this and see the wisdom behind cropping systems, such as the "three sisters" - maize, beans, and squash - that is practiced in Mexico. Not only does this type of intercropping support better agroecosystem health, but it also provides the necessary building blocks for a human existence, particularly where animal products were reserved for certain times of the year or for special occasions.

In fact, I prefer lentils and beans as a protein source over tofu (which is highly processed). While you don't need to pair foods in one meal to ensure that all amino acids are present, it comes naturally when planning meals around both a grain and a legume. I decided to try these lovely ivory white lentils I picked up in the bulk bins. White lentils, the skinned black lentils or Urad Dal, are one of the most highly prize pulses is India. Their use dates back thousands of years, so ancient people must have been onto something! Lentils and maize aren't it...check out more vegan protein sources.

Spring-style Lentils
1/2 cup ivory lentils
1 cup water
Basil and salt to taste
2 small green garlics
5-6 asparagus stems

1. Bring water to a boil. Add lentils and cook until beginning to soften. Throw in the chopped green garlic and allow to continue cooking until liquid gone/desired texture reached.
2. Meanwhile, roast asparagus spears on a 375F oven until soft (and all yummy and caramelly...). Chop up, and mix in with lentils along with salt and basil (dried or fresh) to taste.
3. Serve along with polenta (either premade, sliced, and heated in a skillet, or prepared at home) and some nice rich tomato sauce ... perhaps the remnants of last year's canning adventure...

More healthy dishes on Wellness Weekends!

1 comment:

cathy f. said...

Where did you find the ivory lentils?