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.
ORANGE TABBOULEH WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS
1 cup water
1 cup coarse bulgur wheat
2 teaspoons butter