Top | Dinner Guest Blog
(post, Cynthia Lair)
We enjoy classic culinary combinations such as Champagne and caviar, meat and potatoes, salsa and chips. There are thousands of these pairings that make for joyful eating. Most are based on complimentary flavors, but there are also nutritional reasons behind some of these long-standing marriages. I want to talk about three whole-foods couples that have been paired together in dishes for ages, for reasons that go beyond taste. h4.Whole grains + legumes Most grains are lacking the amino acid lysine, while most beans lack methonine. What one lacks, the other one has. Together, they provide all eight amino acids. [%image reference-image float=right width=300 caption="A sandwich of white-bean-spread with vegetables on whole-wheat bread provides all eight amino acids."] Vegetarians need to pay attention to this combination in order to meet protein needs. Black beans and brown rice, black-eyed peas and cornbread, tofu and soba noodles, lentils and whole-wheat bread, chickpeas and quinoa are all yummy examples of this important dietary combination. h4.Nightshades + dairy The nightshade plants (tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers, and tobacco) are high in alkaloids, which, according to some, may subtly remove calcium from bone. Dairy products have enough calcium to make a baby calf double its bone structure in six months — maybe more calcium than we smaller, slower-growing humans need. I believe the two have been kept together in dishes to balance their effects. Eggplant Parmesan, Caprese salad (mozzarella and tomato), baked potatoes and sour cream, chili with grated cheese, and spaghetti with marinara and Parmesan are delicious representations of this important pairing. Those who eat no dairy products need to be wary of eating too many nightshade vegetables to guard against calcium loss. h4.Soy foods + sea vegetables The cultures that have used carefully crafted soy products in their diets have also included plants from the sea. Soy foods are thought possibly to be de-mineralizing and possibly to lower thyroid function. Sea vegetables are amazingly rich in minerals, including iodine, which stimulates the thyroid. Maybe that’s why they’re usually found together in traditional cuisines. Miso soup with wakame, tofu served with nori flakes, and hijiki seasoned with tamari are three examples. I'll bet you can think of more. Keep these couples together. Don’t let them file for divorce on your plate.