This month's protein saga continues with a quick look at food pairing & a few comprehensive examples. As mentioned in an earlier post about protein, putting vegan food options together, for a complete amino acid profile, is very simple & you're likely doing it intuitively.
Plant-based protein tends to come in either grain or legume form. (Many vegetables also contain protein but for simplicity today we are focusing on the former.) These work very well together, their amino acid profiles being in complete complement to one another.
For example, their amino acid patterns complement each other in such a way that the shortcomings of one are compensated for by the other. Specifically, the low lysine content of grains is compensated for by the high lysine content of legumes, while the low methionine and cysteine content of many legumes is compensated for by the higher methionine and cysteine content of grains. Furthermore, certain legumes, such as peanuts and soybeans, convert nitrogen gas from the air to soil nitrogen, making the soil suitable for planting grains. After the grains have depleted the nitrogen, the legumes can once again be planted to nourish the soil with nitrogen. (The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Murray, Michael N.D.)
In other words, they belong together. Combining grains with legumes = whole protein.
As the two profiles differ, grain-legume proportions are important. Depending on what you're working with, these can vary but a good rule of thumb is more grains than legumes at approximately 2 to 1. (Diet & Nutrition: A Holistic Approach. Belentine, Rudolph.)
- Beans & Rice
- Naan & Dhaal
- Tofu & Rice
- Peas & Oats
- Lentils & Wheat
The other thing to remember is you don't need a complete protein at every meal. You really don't. If you consume bits & pieces here & there, you'll get everything you need. Despite popular belief & widespread myth, there ARE in fact complete proteins that come in plant form: