You train hard. You log every set and every rep. You analyze and agonize over every exercise choice and set/rep scheme.
You also research your supplement usage. You read the labels, look up the studies, and ask questions about maximizing the benefits of your tablets, capsules, and powders.
In short, you really think about this stuff...
...then you go home and shovel just about any halfway edible crap into your mouth.
Maybe it comes out of your freezer and goes straight into the microwave. Maybe it comes from a drive-thru or is delivered to your table from a restaurant kitchen you've never seen. Or maybe someone else makes it for you using ingredients you're clueless about.
In short, you're a wuss. A kinesiologist in the gym, a research scientist when it comes to your supplementation, and a big ol' limp-wristed wiener when it comes to solid foods. What's up with that?
It's time we got hardcore about food preparation. After all, we have to eat. And we have to eat several times per day. Shouldn't we learn how to make healthy, muscle-building, abs-uncovering food – the very fuel for our anabolic machines?
And if diet is 50% (or 70% or 90%) of our battle to build muscle or get lean, then wouldn't it be easier if all that food tasted really, really good?
I propose to you that we sack up. We sack up in the kitchen and start cookin'. We take responsibility for what we put into our bodies and we learn just as much about food prep as we know about muscle fiber types. That's what I've been doing the last couple of years, and it's time you start.
So Testosterone Nation, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto you in the words of my uncle: Allez Cuisine!
Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs, omelets... you've tried them all, right? Of course you have, because eggs are a great bodybuilder food (yes, even the yolks!). So let's figure out a new way to make this staple protein source exciting again.
How about we make something the French call oeufs en cocotte, only we won't call it that because we're Americ-uns, dammit, and the French can kiss our red, white and blue butts. We'll call them baked eggs... because, well, that's what they are.
4 eggs (omega-3 enriched*)
Handful of sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon half & half or heavy whipping cream (a favorite of old-school bodybuilders)
Less than a teaspoon of butter or Fleischman's made with olive oil
Optional: Handful of shredded fat-free cheese
* Take a hen, feed it flax seeds and fish oil. You get eggs with more omega-3. How cool is that?
2 ramekins or custard cups
Pan for water bath
How to Make Anabolic Eggs
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) Get a couple of ramekins, those little heatproof dishes. (Ask your granny.)
With your hopefully-clean finger, thinly coat the bottom and sides with a smidge of butter.
3) Now toss some sun-dried tomatoes in there along with some diced avocado. (Mushrooms and roasted red peppers work well too.)
4) Crack a couple of eggs into each one. (Always crack eggs on a flat surface, never on the side of a pan or counter edge which causes shards and therefore crunchy eggs. Not good.) Give the ramekins a little shake to cover the avocado and tomato.
5) Add more avocado and tomato, then a tablespoon of whipping cream or half 'n half.
6) Now place the ramekins in a water bath: a pan filled with an inch or two of water. I use my lasagna dish. This ensures even cooking, no scorching, and moisture.
7) Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on if you like your yolks soft or hard.
8) Top with a little shredded fat-free cheese and serve. Just eat them right out of the baking dish with a spoon. Top with turkey sausage if that fits your diet plan!
The only drawback to this dish is the long cooking time, so make it a nice Sunday morning breakfast. Or do what I do since I prefer low carbs at night: make it for dinner!
Or do what TC does: make me cook him eggs in the office kitchen while he cracks his commemorative edition Indiana Jones bullwhip at me and screams, "Oeufs en cocotte, peon! Now!"
It's kinda scary.
Full Frontal Frittata
Imagine, if you will, a pie.
Not a sweet pie, but a savory pie, a pie you could have for breakfast or dinner, a pie that's low in carbs, high in protein, and full of healthy vegetables.
Oh, you say, surely no such wondrous pie exists!
And I'd say, yes, yes it does exist, and it hails from Italy and is the granddaddy of the hearty omelet, only... tastier. It's called a frittata, and it's like slow wet sex on a thunderous Texas night.
Well, okay, maybe not that good. But it's mighty tasty. Let's make us one!
4 omega-3 enriched whole eggs or 8 egg whites (3/4 cup of whites)
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup low-fat Feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup skim milk or Calorie Countdown milk
Reduced-fat Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon basil
1 garlic clove (minced) or dash of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pam cooking spray
1. Find your oven. It's probably near the microwave. Preheat that sucker to 375 degrees.
2. Toss your sliced squash and zucchini into the microwave for 6 or 7 minutes until tender. Spray a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish with Pam and line it with the nuked veggies.
3. On top of the veggies, toss in the mozzarella, tomato, and feta.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Pour this into your pie pan over the cheese and tomato layer. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan.
5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes uncovered. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before wolfing down.
Lots. This works great with whole eggs or egg whites. And pretty much any vegetable goes. I've used mushrooms, peppers of every kind, avocado, eggplant, spinach, and sun dried tomato to name a few. Basically, just toss whatever veggies you have in the fridge. "Frittata" is in fact Italian for "leftover user-upper." (That's a true fact I just made up.)
I've also made it with lean turkey sausage for a true "breakfast pie" experience. Just brown the sausage a little in a pan first and toss it on top of your veggie layer.
Get creative with this one!
Everybody loves pie. But until now, you've only had three choices when it came to pie:
1) Eat pie often and be embarrassed to take your shirt off at the pool this summer.
2) Eat pie rarely and justify it as a cheat meal.
3) Don't eat pie.
Now you're going to have a new choice: Eat a more physique-friendly pie.
Even with a "treat" recipe like this, I try to cut the calories in half (at the very least) and add protein. No, this isn't something a person would eat when they're two weeks out from a bodybuilding or Figure show, but it is something you can eat that allows you to enjoy dessert without becoming a doughboy or muffin-topper.
So, let's make some pie!
Chris's 5-Minute Metabolic Pie
2 boxes of sugar-free fat-free instant Jell-O pudding mix
2 cups Calorie Countdown milk or skim milk
1 tub fat-free, sugar-free, or lite Cool Whip
2 scoops chocolate Low-Carb Metabolic Drive
1 reduced-fat graham cracker pie crust
Chop up the Metabolic Drive bar. In a big bowl, whisk the milk with half of the Cool Whip. Now whisk in the pudding mix and Metabolic Drive protein powder. Pour into the crust, spoon other half of Cool Whip over the top, and add the chopped protein bar.
Refrigerate for five minutes or so and enjoy. You'll get around 20 grams of protein per slice if you eat a big honkin' slice like me.
Ideas and Options
Truly endless options here once you get the base recipe down. Here's a few:
• You have two ways to make this into a totally different pie: Change the Metabolic Drive flavor and change the pudding mix flavor.
Try white chocolate pudding mix and vanilla Metabolic Drive.
The vanilla protein works with any pudding powder really: pistachio, butterscotch, lemon, etc. You can also use banana cream or strawberry Metabolic Drive with vanilla pudding. Top it with walnuts and fresh sliced banana or strawberry. Top a vanilla pie with a cookie dough Metabolic Drive bar for even more variety.
• Use two scoops of Metabolic Drive for a thicker, cheesecake-like texture. Use one scoop for a lighter, fluffier texture.
• Want to add some fiber? Toss in a serving of Benefiber or Fibersure, both gritless fiber supplements.
• Want to maximize the chocolaty goodness? Pour some Smuckers sugar-free hot fudge topping into a squeeze bottle and drizzle over the top.
• Want to lower the calories even more? Skip the Cool Whip on top. Use only the half-tub in the filling.
• Really like those Metabolic Drive bar chunks? Then along with the one you add on the top, go ahead and mix another in when you're whisking the filling.
• Okay, the reduced-fat graham cracker crust ain't exactly a health food; it's just cutting the calories a little compared to a regular crust. It's a "better bad" food. Not great, but better. If you're on a stricter diet plan, just ditch the crust. Pour the filling into a bowl or glass and top with a shot of fat-free whipped cream (only 5 calories) and a sprinkle of walnuts.
There, a sweet dessert that won't turn you into a wheezing land whale. How 'bout that?
Refined Beer-Can Chicken
We've shared this little trick with you before – simply shove a half a can of beer up a chicken's body cavity and pop him in the oven or on the grill. The beer steams the chicken from the inside and the oven browns and crisps the skin beautifully (if your diet allows for a little skin eating).
Here's a refined version and some cool new options:
Red Wine Chicken
Whole chicken, neck or giblets removed
Low-calorie herb/spice rub of choice, or just kosher salt and pepper
1 small avocado
About 8 oz of red wine
A beer or soda can with the top cut off. (A manual can opener works well for this.)
A Chick-Can rack
Pan or pie tin to catch drippings
1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
2. Rinse chicken inside and out. Pat dry with paper towel.
3. Cover the chicken inside and out with a low-calorie or no-calorie rub. Pull back the skin a little and add rub (or just salt and pepper) in there as well.
4. Fill the can halfway up with red wine and place inside Chick-Can rack. You can of course do this without the rack, which runs about 6 or 7 bucks, and just balance it, but once you've had a chicken fall over in your oven and make a mess, you'll probably want to invest in the rack.
5. Plug the neck of the chicken with the avocado to trap the steam. (My dinner guests tend to fight over the wine-steamed avocado when the chicken is done. It's tasty!) An onion will work here too if you're a filthy onion-eater, as will a small sweet potato.
6. You'll want to place the chicken and rack on some kind of pan to catch the drippings. A pie tin works in a pinch, too. Then slap that bird in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours.
7. After cooking, let it cool for a good 10 to 15 minutes and enjoy the juiciest chicken you've ever slapped your tongue against.
Options: Any dry spice rub will do. I also like a lemon pepper seasoning blend steamed with a diet lemon-lime cola like Sprite.
Note: If you find that the top cooks too fast, just cover it for half the cooking time with a bit of foil.
Seared Ahi Tuna
I was faced with an interesting dilemma recently: making dinner for a figure competitor several weeks into her contest diet. For her that meant super low carbs, some healthy fats, and high protein. The answer was seared ahi tuna.
This is so simple it's not even a "recipe" really, just a couple of steps:
1) Get some sushi-grade ahi tuna. Salt and pepper it.
2) Add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to a pan or spray it with Pam organic olive oil. Once the pan is smokin' hot, drop the tuna onto it. Press it down with a spatula and sear it for just 30 seconds or so on each side.
3) Slice and serve with a spot of wasabi sandwich sauce (found in deli section).
4) Watch figure competitor swoon and make little sex noises as she eats it. Priceless.
Your assignment is to simply try one of these recipes per week. Much like building your foundation in the gym with good compound exercises, these recipes will build your foundation of culinary skills. No more dry chicken breasts. Ever.
Now go cook something, tough guy.