We all know that protein is important, especially for active folks trying to put on a little muscle. For vegetarians like me, this is a little tricky – many of the foods we eat don’t contain complete proteins. That is, beans and whole grains may contain lots of amino acids, but on their own, they don’t contain enough of the right amino acids to form a complete protein (you can read more about this in Nutrition by The American Dietetic Association). As a result, I usually try to balance my meals with grains and beans so I’m sure to maximize the protein punch!
Most recently, I’ve been doing this with pasta. There’s no meal like a pasta meal that cries CARB FEST. But you can easily turn pasta into a more well-rounded meal by simply adding a few beans. Pasta is actually high in the amino acids methionine and cysteine, but low in lysine. Legumes such as kidney beans, however, are low in methionine and cysteine, but high in lysine. Put the two together and you get a complete protein. Science!
Adding beans to pasta is as easy as, well, simply adding beans to pasta. Beans compliment most sauces just as well as pasta, but some combinations work better than others. Here are my preferences:
- Chickpeas or kidney beans with tomato sauce
- White beans or chickpeas with pesto sauce
- White beans or broad beans with garlic and olive oil
I’m not even going to touch alfredo (some foods you just shouldn’t mess with).
Here’s the recipe for the meal I had this evening (pictured above – it inspired me to write this post). Pesto linguine with chickpeas and arugula. YUM! I served this with a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Bliss, I tell you. Pure comfort.
Pesto Linguine With Chickpeas and Arugula
Serves one 5ft tall shortcake
50 grams dry linguine
100 grams cooked chickpeas
2 Tbsp pesto
1 Tbsp parmesan
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 large handful arugula (aka rocket)
Cook the pasta and heat up the beans. Toss together with the pesto. Pile on a plate and top with arugula, pine nuts and parmesan. Serve with a nice glass of red wine.
Per serving: 455 Calories; 19g Protein; 12g fat; 67g Carbohydrate