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Vegetarians and their protein

July 16, 2009

I’ve got a degree in biology.  Did ya know that?  And so I know something about amino acids.  Actually, a know a lot about amino acids.  Amino acids are the building blocks of life.  Haven’t we all heard that statement enough?  But I bet you really don’t know what that means.  I’ll clue you in.

DNA codes for amino acids that specify genes. Many genes encode proteins.  Protein is fundamental to the body.

That was simple enough.  So, what gives?  How is this related to what you eat?

Weeelll, where do you think the amino acids come from in the first place?

  • Some amino acids are produced by the body (from scratch or via conversion from another amino acid)
  • Essential amino acids cannot be produced by our bodies & must be consumed via food

Meat eaters take the easy way out and consume all amino acids in one fell swoop by eating flesh.

Vegetarians are not so lazy lucky.  But many foodstuffs, when consumed together, complement each other to provide all essential amino acids in one meal.  Beans and rice is usually cited as the classic combination.

So, naturally, I should be showing you a beans and rice recipe.  But we’ve been there; done thatMany, many times.  So here’s another meal of complementary protein sources:  Succotash.


Succotash with two types of bean (serves 3)
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 can petite diced tomatoes
or 2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 cup white corn, frozen
1 cup red beans, cooked
1 cup lima beans, cooked
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp crushed fennel seed
sprinkle cayenne pepper

Saute onion and garlic in a spritz of olive oil.  Add celery salt and fennel seed.  Stir 2-3 minutes.  Add 1/2 c water.  Add tomatoes, corn, and beans.  Stir in vinegar.  Simmer 10-15 minutes.  Top with fresh oregano and basil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper if you’re feeling hot.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 16, 2009 7:32 am

    Great post! Though I have to admit I started to twitch reading about amino acids, DNA and protein (just finished a quarter of Anatomy and Physiology 2).

    The succotash sounds great. I am going to try this!

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