I went to a couple of talks this week that emphasized the importance of protein. While osteoporosis is a well-known public health problem, sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle mass, is less well-understood by both doctors and the general public. Prevention of sarcopenia is perhaps one reason why people who stand or move around at work may be healthier as they age than people who sit all day (like med students). In terms of the obesity epidemic, concentrated protein (as in meat) is lower calorie and more filling than protein stretched across legumes and whole grains (which I generally prefer). Keeping it simple, most adults should aim to eat one gram of protein per day for every kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of body weight.
In January, I made that resolution to eat more protein, and yet I still find myself gravitating towards vegetarian dishes and grains. To compromise, I decided to substitute quinoa for brown rice in a flavorful beans-and-rice salad. Mexican flavors of vinegar, cumin and cilantro add spice to these dreary, late winter days.
Quinoa “rice and beans”
- 1/2 cup dried black beans, reconstituted (or about 1 can of black beans, rinsed)
- 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked with 1 cup water in a rice cooker
- chopped tomatoes to taste (I used half a can instead of fresh tomatoes)
- 1/4 red onion, minced
- handful of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or 1 freshly chopped chili)
- 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1-3 teaspoons white vinegar
- salt to taste
In a large bowl, toss together your black beans and quinoa, then add tomatoes, onion and spices to taste. Enjoy as-is, or with salad greens, eggs or grated cheese.I added some cheese to mine and honestly I’m not sure that it adds much, but it’s up to you. I doubled the recipe and will have more than enough salad for lunches this week.
The Med School Cookbook offers a weekly account of the challenges and wonders of med school as seen through the eyes of a student. Each post includes a healthy and easy recipe designed for busy people on a budget. Read the daily blog here.