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The Vegetarian

Grains and Legumes Goods Sources of Zinc

March 17, 1988|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

Every so often a dining companion will dangle a morsel of meat before me and insist, "You don't know what you're missing." Now, a report from a recent symposium on vegetarian nutrition held at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston tells me exactly what I'm missing--zinc.

The best sources of zinc are meats, poultry and fish, so strict vegetarians may suffer deficiencies of this mineral, vital for effective cell repair, timely wound recovery and a sharp sense of taste and smell. Even vegetables that contain relatively large amounts of zinc, such as spinach, corn and cabbage, carry chemical agents that block its absorption. Vitamin C, in turn, can break down those barriers, letting vegetable-borne zinc into your system.

Good non-meat sources of zinc are whole grains and legumes, with black-eyed peas outranking all others as the richest. Black-eyed peas have a distinct, sweet flavor, like a cross between fresh green peas and black beans. You can boil them and serve plain as a side dish, toss them into chili in place of pinto or kidney beans, or try them in tabbouleh.


1 orange

1 cup water

1 cup coarse bulgur wheat

2 teaspoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup cooked black-eyed peas

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup plain yogurt

Juice of 1 small orange

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 cup minced green onions

Lightly toasted sesame seeds

Peel and section orange and put aside. Grate peel. Place into small saucepan with water and bring to boil. Meanwhile, pour bulgur into small mixing bowl. Pour boiling water through strainer over bulgur. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Melt butter in small skillet. Saute onion until tender and translucent. Add black-eyed peas and stir until coated with onion.

Combine tahini, yogurt, orange juice, cumin and coriander. Blend until smooth.

Combine bulgur, black-eyed peas and tahini dressing in medium mixing bowl. Stir well. Sprinkle with green onions and toss again. Top with orange sections and toasted sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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