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Beans contain plenty of protein, iron and potassium, and they are the best sourcc of vegetable fibre. There arc more than 20 different types of peas and beans, all of which can be sprouted. The mung bean is the most common sprouted bean, producing the familiar bean sprouts.

All beans should be soaked, then drained and rapidly boiled in fresh liquid for 10 minutes at the start of cooking.


Buckwheat, also known as 'saraccn corn', is the seed of a herbaceous plant. It is rich in protein and iron. It is available from healthfood stores, in the form of flour, groats or roasted buckwheat called 'kasha'.


Most hard cheeses arc made with animal rennet, but a number of vegetarian cheeses arc now available and many of the softer chccscs, such as cottage cheese, Ricotta and Fcta, arc made without rennet.

Dried Fruits

Dried fruits provide protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A and several B vitamins. Many dried fruits, such as apricots, pears, peaches and apples, arc treated with sulphur dioxide to help keep

their colour. To remove this, boil the fruit in water for 1 minute before use and discard the water. Most dried fruit is sprayed or dipped in preservative to give a moist appearance; remove this coating by washing the fruit in hot water. Dried fruits that are free from these treatments are available, though of course they are more expensive.


Grains or cereals arc probably the most important staple food in the world. Wheat, ricc, barley, oats, millet, rye, and maize are the major food grains. If eaten whole and unrefined they provide valuable fibre in the diet, as well as protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium.


Lentils are one of the oldest crops, cultivated since prehistoric times. They arc grown all over the Middle East and India. Of the many varieties, the most common arc the green or continental lentils, and brown or split red lentils. They do not need to be soaked before use, though it will shorten the cooking time if they arc. Split red lentils are shelled and have therefore lost some of their fibre.

arovl: Red kidney beans, black eye beans, mung beans, chick peas, black beans, butter beans, buckwheat, buckwheat flour, Ricotta cheese, chevre. below: Prunes, dried apples, dried apricots, figs, pot barley, porridge oats, bulgtir wheat, wholewheat, red lentils, green lentils.

arovl: Red kidney beans, black eye beans, mung beans, chick peas, black beans, butter beans, buckwheat, buckwheat flour, Ricotta cheese, chevre. below: Prunes, dried apples, dried apricots, figs, pot barley, porridge oats, bulgtir wheat, wholewheat, red lentils, green lentils.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a high protein food, rich in B vitamins and minerals. Their high fat content is rich in linolcic acid.

Oils and Fats

Oils are one of the essentials of our diet, containing lecithin, vitamins A, E and K, and minerals. Fats and oils can be divided into three kinds: saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated. Animal fats, which arc solid at room temperature, arc high in saturated fats. Excessive consumption of these fats is associated with heart disease. Most vegetable oils arc high in polyunsaturated oils. These are preferable because they tend to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood. Polyunsaturated oils include safflower, sunflower, sesame and corn oil. Olive oil is mono-unsaturated and can be regarded as neutral. Margarine, despite its labelling 'high in polyunsaturates', contains at least 50 per cent saturated fat. It is, however, preferable to butter which contains only 3 per cent polyunsaturates.

Sesame Salt

Sesame salt or 'Gomasio' is a good alternative to salt. It is available in healthfood shops but can be made by grinding 5 parts roasted sesame seeds with 1 part salt.

Sea Vegetables

Seaweed is one of the oldest crops. There are many varieties, the most common being Aramc, Kombu, Wakame, Dulse and Nori. They are very high in vitamins, essential amino acids and trace elements, especially iodine.

Agar Agar is obtained from several different seaweeds and is used as a substitute for animal gelatine.

Soy Sauce/Shoyu

Naturally fermented soy sauce made from soya beans with wheat or barley is known as 'shoyu'. The manufactured soy sauce usually contains sugar and other additives. Shoyu makes an excellent flavouring for soups, stews, sauces and dressings and as it is quite salty allows you to cut down on added salt. Soy sauce can be used but the flavour will not be as strong.


Tahini is a sesame seed paste widely used in the Middle East. It is useful as a flavouring in dips and sauces and can be used as a binding agent in rissoles and nut roasts.

Tofu is soya bean curd. Its high protein content makes it a nutritional substitute for meat, fish and dairy products. It is also rich in iron, calcium and B vitamins. Tofu is a versatile ingredient: it can be stir-fried, deep-fried, marinated and added to dressings and sauces. It is available from healthfood stores as lightly pressed 'silken tofu', and 'firm tofu' which is more heavily pressed. Regular tofu has a texture in between the two.


Yogurt is a popular fermented milk product. It is very easily digested, especially goats' milk yogurt, and people who arc allergic or sensitive to milk are often able to tolerate yogurt.

above: Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, roasted sesame seeds, whole mixed nuts, safflower oil, corn oil, olive oil, sesame salt, sesame seeds. below: Wakarne, Nori, Arame, soy sauce, tahini, tofu, yogurt.


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