Plan for the week some Middle Eastern vegetarian lunches with legumes.

Vegetarian eating is a healthy habit that may help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and certain forms of cancer.

These salads provide a good amount of protein from chickpeas, lentils and whole grains.

• One cup of chickpeas provides 12 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber.

• One cup of lentils provides 18 grams of protein and 15.6 grams of fiber.

• A one cup of pearl barley provides 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Chickpea salad

It is amazing what you can do with a can of garbanzo beans.

Rinse garbanzo beans and cover with fresh water in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

I prefer to cook the beans this way to soften them more for the salad and even the hummus.

Drain and stir in chopped cilantro, red onion, Persian cucumber, Roma tomato and season with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

This by itself with toasted pita bread will hold you until dinner.

Tabbouleh and Hummus

Blend one can of garbanzo beans with tahini paste, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice to make hummus.

Add your favorite seasoning to your hummus such as paprika, sumac or chili powder.

Tabbouleh is a herb salad mix with a small amount of bulgur (cracked wheat). chopped flat leaf parsley, fresh mint, tomato, red onion or spring onion.

Season with the same lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Lentils and Barley Salad

Cook these together in a saucepan or combine after cooking or you can even combine leftovers.

Add chopped almonds, parsley, minced garlic and a fruit such as pomegranates or grapes.

Combine with red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Let the flavors marinade and serve with your favorite lettuce.

If you can’t have gluten prepare it with buckwheat, a gluten free grain.

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