Project 2019 – “Metabolism March”: Vegan Tofu and Pinto Bean Bowl

This vegan tofu and pinto bean bowl (excluding the multigrain chips) contains: 48 g of carbohydrates, 31 g of protein, 20 g of fat, 23 g of fiber, and is a high source potassium, vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. It is a great combination of carbohydrates, protein, fats, fiber, and micronutrients in one bowl! (The recipe makes 2 servings.)

What is “Metabolism March”?

This is an introduction to metabolism in terms of dietary intake. People tend to count calories, but isn’t it better to count your macros if you’re undergoing a closely-followed diet change?

Metabolism comprises of all the chemical reactions that occurs in our body in order to sustain life. The two forms of metabolism are catabolism, the breakdown of macromolecules, and anabolism, the build-up of these complex molecules. Macromolecules include carbohydrates, lipids (fats), protein, and nucleic acid. In order to get the energy we need to live, these macromolecule are broken down into their monomeric form, resulting in the production of ATP (energy). However, we also need to build them up for future use of energy or for structural synthesis. For example, excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen, while excess fatty acids are combined with glycerol to form triglycerides. Although it depends on which part of the body requires energy, glycogen is typically used first as a quick source of energy, while triglycerides are more for long-term storage of energy. On the other hand, amino acids derived from metabolized proteins are first used for structural purposes. Leftover amino acids can undergo either gluconeogenesis or ketogenesis, the formation of carbohydrates or fats, respectively, and are excreted in the form of urea through micturition (peeing!).

Therefore, it is important for people with different health statuses and different physical goals to focus on macromolecule intake rather than caloric intake. Each macromolecule are different in terms of their caloric value, and so counting calories in order to make a lifestyle change is not necessarily the best form towards a healthier lifestyle. The appropriate amount of carbohydrates: fats: protein ratio must be attained for proper bodily function and to help achieve the lifestyle change that you want to make. However, do not forget that micronutrient and fiber intake is also very important in order to attain a healthy lifestyle.

(Sources: What I learned through UCLA’s Chem 153A course and MCAT studying!! Lol but here’s a good overview on metabolism – Nature)

Disclaimer: It is important to note that each human’s lifestyle varies, and many variables (e.g. genetics, health status, etc.) must be accounted for. It is typically best to consume in moderation, and consulting a nutritionist or registered dietician is recommended when trying to find a diet catered to one’s personal lifestyle.

(Camera: iPhone 8+)

Ingredients

  • 14 oz of firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut
  • 1/2 purple onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Black pepper, to taste

(Camera: iPhone 8+)

Directions

Rub the drained, cubed tofu with the coriander. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

After the time has passed, place a pan on medium heat. Once it is hot enough, add the oil, and sauté the garlic and onions until the onions have become slightly translucent. Add the marinated tofu, pinto beans, and bay leaves. Let the pan simmer with a lid on for 10 minutes. Then add the zucchini and spinach, mix, and let it cook for 5 minutes on low heat with the lid on to tenderize the vegetables.

Serve the dish with avocado seasoned with pepper and lemon juice. Consume with multigrain chips or celery if desired!

(Camera: iPhone 8+)

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