There's a myth floating around out there that guys with six-pack abs don't like to eat. Nope, they just ain't hungry. They don't even like pizza, burgers, or beer.
Are you flippin' kiddin' me? As a former fatty I could eat the bumper off a cattle truck if you put enough hot sauce on it. Problem is, I really enjoy these visible abs, and I really want to hang on to them.
A second myth goes like this: To remain lean and mean you have to eat small amounts of dry chicken breasts, lettuce, and egg whites all day, though sometimes you can go crazy and have a cheat meal of carrots and tofu.
Hogwash! You can eat filling amounts of tasty food: barbeque, pizza, lasagna, desserts, etc. You can eat a moderate amount of them and keep your abs, or you can eat huge amounts of them and put on some quality mass without turning yourself into a wheezing land whale.
The secret is in how the food is prepared. Cook it up right and just about anything can become healthy and supportive of your physique goals.
Over the last couple of years I've abandoned the microwave and most restaurants and learned how to cook. I ain't exactly Emeril, but I've learned to cook well enough that my dinner guests often don't even realize they're eating healthy grub (and not just because I slip them roofies).
And speaking of lovely dinner guests, did you know that most young women these days can't cook for squat? Did you know their panties drop like internet stocks in 2000 when you cook them a nice meal?
Oh, now I have your attention, huh? Geez, the things you go through to get a guy to read a cooking article...
Below I'll show you how to whip up some healthy, date-pleasing, damn tasty meals. And if you're a hungry man who likes to eat, take note that you can eat a whole lot of this stuff without turning your six-pack into a keg. Bonus!
The Rules of Lean and Mean Cookin'... and Wooing Women
- Find a real live woman. (Note: This may require you to stop playing World of Warcraft.) Convince her to come over and have dinner. Offer door prizes and lovely parting gifts if needed.
- Think of something you like to eat.
- Go find an online recipe for it. (Try allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com.)
- Now, you're going to use all the nutrition info you've absorbed here at Testosterone Nation and make those recipes bodybuilder friendly. Find every way possible to make it more supportive of your physique goals by using healthy substitutions. (More on that below.)
- Make it a few times for yourself. Tweak it. Experiment. Get the recipe right.
- Make a date with aforementioned real live woman. Either cook it for your nubile dinner companion or cook it with her, which can be fun and might even lead to kitchen sex if you know how to handle a peppermill.
- Light a candle. Consume home cooked meal with now thoroughly impressed and increasingly moist hottie.
- Plan breakfast, you scoundrel.
What Is "Healthy" Anyway?
Here's what I try to do with every meal I cook:
- Remove 40 to 60% of the calories or at least replace bad calories with good calories (because a calorie ain't a calorie, after all). Do this without taking away from the volume of food. In other words, make a big dish of lasagna, but prepare it in such a way that you cut out around half the calories. (Recipe below!)
- Increase the protein.
- Lower the carbs or replace them with higher fiber, lower GI carbs.
- Replace most bad fats with good fats.
How do we do this? Simple substitutions and better ingredient choices. So let's get to cookin'!
Most of these recipes are fast and easy, plus they follow all the rules above.
- Pre-made whole wheat or whole grain pizza crust (thin)
- The lowest sugar pizza sauce you can find (about 12 to 14 oz.)
- Fat-free mozzarella cheese, one bag, shredded
- Diced stewed tomatoes
- Pam spray (organic olive oil variety)
- Low-fat parmesan cheese or red pepper flakes (optional)
Those are your base ingredients. Here's some topping choices:
- Low-fat Canadian bacon and unsweetened pineapple tidbits
- Turkey pepperoni
- Mushrooms, peppers, onions, or any vegetable you like
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place whole wheat crust on a perforated pizza pan (makes it crispier) and spray crust with Pam organic olive oil. Add sauce and tomatoes, then the cheese, then the topping. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the top.
Lower oven temp to 425 and bake 8 to 12 minutes or until top begins to brown. Sprinkle with low-fat parmesan cheese or red pepper flakes if desired.
Note what we did here. Every ingredient has been chosen carefully. They all have less overall calories, less sugar, less fat, etc. The result is a pizza with around half the usual calories, but your taste buds probably won't even realize it.
Sweet BBQ Pork
Pork gets a bad rap, but it's okay occasionally if you buy a super lean cut then trim off any excess fat. In fact, lean pork cuts are similar in fat content to skinless chicken.
Here's a super simple recipe. You'll need a slow cooker or crock pot for this one. Just borrow one from your granny.
- Thin, lean pork cuts
- Carb Well barbeque sauce
- Unsweetened pineapple (canned)
- Seasoning of choice (a Southwest blend works well)
- Black beans (canned)
- Diced tomatoes and green chilies (canned)
You can adjust the amounts you want here. Doesn't matter much.
Toss it all into the slow cooker (pineapple juice too) and cook on slow for 6 or 7 hours or on high for around 4 hours. When the pork is so tender it's falling apart at the touch, it's ready to go. When your date crawls across the table to help you with that BBQ sauce stain on your shirt, she's ready to go.
"Super Fancy French Dessert"
This is basically pudding mix, milk, and protein powder, but call it a "super fancy French dessert" and women will show you their thong preferences. Cross your fingers for Vicky's double-string. Tasty.
- Fat-free sugar-free Jell-O pudding mix (any flavor, but cheesecake is darn good)
- 2 cups Calorie Countdown milk or skim milk
- Frozen berry mix and/or crushed walnuts or pecans
- Light or fat-free whipped cream
- Metabolic Drive protein (vanilla is the most versatile)
Blend the milk, pudding mix, and protein powder together. Pop it into a bowl or glass and chill. It's ready to eat in ten minutes or less.
If you're using a clear glass and serving to a luscious female, layer in the other ingredients: a layer of pudding blend, a layer of berries, another layer of pudding, etc. Top with nuts and whipped cream if you want. Just remember to save some whipped cream for later.
Mixed Berry Shortcake
Another great panty-dropper, this is strawberry shortcake done healthy.
- 1 pint mixed berries
- 1/3 cup Calorie Countdown milk or skim milk
- 1 cup Bisquick Heart Smart mix
- 1 scoop vanilla Metabolic Drive
- Dash or two of milled flax seeds
- Fat-free whipped cream
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together Bisquick Heart Smart mix, Metabolic Drive, milk, and milled flax seeds. Add some Splenda if you'd like. Whisk until soft dough forms.
Drop 4 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Split the shortcakes then fill and top with berries and fat-free whipped cream.
Lean Body Lasagna
Prepared correctly, you can cut out a ton of the calories and increase the fiber and protein count.
- Lean ground turkey
- Pam spray
- 15 oz of low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- 26 ounces of the lowest sugar, lowest calorie spaghetti sauce you can find
- 8 uncooked, whole grain lasagna noodles
- 8 oz fat-free mozzarella
Brown ground turkey in a pan using Pam, then mix with all but one cup of your spaghetti sauce.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the ricotta, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning in a bowl and stir. Spoon your one cup of plain spaghetti sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. (I use those foil throwaway baking dishes because while real men do cook, real men seldom do dishes.) Top with 4 lasagna noodles, then top noodles with 1 cup of the ricotta mixture. On top of this, sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella.
Now layer on a cup of your spaghetti sauce/browned turkey mixture. Add 4 more lasagna noodles, the rest of the ricotta mixture, and the last of the spaghetti sauce/browned turkey. Finish up with a final layer of mozzarella. Make sure all the noodles are covered with sauce or cheese.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes, let cool for 10 minutes, and eat up. (This same rule applies to horny, angry women.)
A Word on Presentation
I used to not care a bit about how food looked. And if I'm cooking for just myself I still don't. But if you're cooking for someone else, you have to remember that presentation – how the food looks and how it's served – makes a huge difference in how the taste will be perceived.
Note how the dessert above is served in a wine glass. It'll "taste" better that way than if you serve it in a faded old Cool Whip container. Really. Get some good tableware too and ditch the Tron collector plates, geekboy.
- Some of these recipes are super healthy while others are what I'd call a "better bad" choice. That means they may not be perfect for the bodybuilder or figure competitor two weeks out from his or her show, but they ain't too bad either. An example would be using a whole grain lasagna pasta rather than a regular one. It's not perfect; it's still pasta, which should be limited for a dieter, but it does increase the fiber, lower the calories a bit, and improve the glycemic index.
- As I ranted about in my Quality Mass Diet, I don't believe there's any need to eat health-damaging foods just because you're bulking. With simple substitutions, you can still take in the extra calories required for mass phases without creating bad habits, adding too much body fat, and damaging your body.
- One of the best kept secrets of healthy cooking is seasoning. Most seasonings have no calories at all. And these days there's none of that "tablespoon of this, two tablespoons of that" junk when it comes to cooking. You just walk down the spice aisle of your favorite grocery store and pick up a pre-mixed blend. I really like Mrs. Dash's line, but there's hundreds to choose from.
I gave you five sample recipes to try, but you can lean-up just about anything using substitutions. Invite a cute gal over or surprise your wife. If you're feeling froggy, do both. They'll appreciate these healthy meals and the man who cooked them!
Note: Special thanks to Sandy Joyce who helped out with some of these recipes.