Grains & Legumes: A Perfect Protein Pair

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Grains & Legumes: A Perfect Protein Pair

Legumes are an excellent source of protein, but only soybeans are considered a “complete” protein – meaning they have all 9 amino acids needed to build protein in your body.

Other beans, along with nuts and seeds, are “incomplete” proteins, meaning they lack one or more of those amino acids.

But the good news is whole grains make up for what legumes lack, and together they make a complete protein factory.

Maybe that’s why so many cultures around the world pair legumes and grains – think of classic dishes like rice and beans, rice and lentils, or corn and bean salsa.

Each of these dishes has a near-perfect combination of nutrients.

In addition to being essential parts of a healthy diet, whole grains and legumes are also easy to prepare and absolutely delicious.

Recipe of the Day:  Lemony Orzo with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

This pasta dish is easy to make and lends itself well to variation.

Try it with different herbs, add fresh spinach, or replace the tomatoes with cooked mushrooms.

Any way you choose to make it, you’ll find it turns your everyday dinner into something special.

Makes 6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1/3 cup finely diced onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup (6 ounces) whole wheat orzo

1-1/2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon finely chopped pine nuts

1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese

2 teaspoons finely chopped capers

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, for garnish

*Use as many organic ingredients as possible.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender.

Set tomato sauce aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the orzo and broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook according to package directions or until the orzo is al dente.

Remove from the heat and let stand about 3 minutes, or until almost all the liquid is absorbed.

Stir in the basil, pine nuts, Romano, capers, lemon zest, chile flakes (if desired), salt, and black pepper until just combined.

Stir in the tomato sauce.

Garnish with the parsley and serve hot.

Per serving:  150 calories, 3 g total fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 216 mg sodium, 24 g total carbohydrates (3 g sugars), 5 g fiber, 5 g protein.

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Dick and Lenay

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from Flavor First by Cheryl Forberg, RD

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