Many physique- and fitness-minded people have a major stumbling block: crappy tasting food. Nothing sabotages your goals faster than a diet you can't stick to, and nothing is harder to stick to than a diet where practically every meal tastes like cardboard.
So with this in mind, I have compiled eight unique, easy, and low-tech ways to make your healthy meals a hell of a lot more delicious, with little to no impact on its nutritional content.
Let me be the first to say that none of these ideas are terribly groundbreaking or revolutionary. They're just meant to be physique-friendly ways to make your food taste much better, and to be simple and quick enough so that normal, busy people can actually use them.
1 – Rub Your Meat!
Chris Shugart suggested that you beat your meat, and now I'm telling you to rub it. This Martha Stewart inspired spice rub will yield some very tasty, very moist beef, chicken, and (especially) salmon. Don't worry, just because this recipe was inspired by Martha, it doesn't mean you're going to get fat, or indicted on insider trading charges.
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 1 Tbsp. Splenda/sugar mix
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Mix everything together.
- Sprinkle generously on meat, fish, or chicken and rub it in with your hands.
- Spray lightly with olive oil spray, and cook however you want: grill it, broil it, George Forman it, whatever.
- Serve with appropriate carbs, and let your taste buds rejoice.
You should rub your meat until it looks like this.
2 – Pump Up The Stir-Fry
Stir-frying is a great way to get a lot of veggies, lean protein, and healthy fat on your plate in a flash. However, the flavor gets really old, really fast. Fish sauce to the rescue!
Known as nuok mam in Vietnamese, and nam plaa in Thai, fish sauce is made from collecting the juice from old, rotten, fermented fish. It smells exactly like you would expect it to: gross, and if you get it on your hands, it may bring back memories of junior high school. Don't let this put you off, though. For some mysterious reason, it's absolutely delicious. It will put a "wow" in your stir-fry (and most other Asian dishes) in about 30 seconds.
So, take any stir-fry recipe that you have now, and add a dash or two of fish sauce. That's it. It will taste so much better. Your girlfriend will think you finally learned how to cook! Just don't let her smell your hands. ("It's the fish sauce, baby, I swear!")
You usually have to go to one of those funky little Asian grocery stores to pick up a bottle. It's dirt-cheap, and lasts for years. It's essentially calorie-free, but does contain salt.
3 – Deglaze The Pan
This is one of the simplest ways to make almost every meal that you prepare taste better without adding hardly any calories or salt. After you finish sautéing your garlic and/or onions or browning your meat, there will be some crud left stuck in your pan. That crud tastes awesome. To deglaze the pan, just splash with liquor, wine, beer, or vinegar and use your spatula to scrape the sides. The flavor is enhanced and any alcohol evaporates, leaving you with a pan full of goodness.
A splash of liquor, wine, beer, or vinegar turns crusty crud into a pan full of zesty goodness.
Add this step to every recipe you can to easily increase the taste without really adding any extra calories or sugar.
For example, check out my bourbon eggs:
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1/3 cup chopped red pepper
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup good bourbon whiskey
- 3 whole eggs (omega-3 or farm eggs)
- 2 egg whites
- 1 oz. cheese, any kind (try goat cheese)
- Olive oil
- Sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Beat whole eggs and whites together with pepper while veggies cook.
- Deglaze the pan with alcohol, and stir to get all the stuff off the pan.
- Add eggs and scramble. When 1/2 to 3/4 cooked, add cheese.
- Serve with turkey bacon and strawberries, and prepare to be impressed with yourself.
4 – An Even Better Snack
Almonds are a great snack food. They're low in carbs, contain a significant amount of fiber, are convenient, and keep you feeling full for a good long time. However, regular old almonds really aren't that exciting when it comes to flavor. In fact, I find it really hard to get a whole serving down in one sitting.
If we're talking chocolate-covered almonds, no problem. I could scarf down a whole bag of those suckers, no problem. Except of course that my physique goals might suffer as a result. So, I found a great compromise: tamari almonds. They're almonds covered in tamari (a kind of soy sauce), and they rock! They taste 1,000% better than regular almonds, and the tamari doesn't really add any calories to speak of.
Most health food stores have a bulk food bin full of tamari almonds. Pick up some and raise your snacking to a higher level.
5 – Better Protein Shakes
In the interest of looking good naked, I try to make my bedtime snack a low-carb protein shake. However, I noticed that I was skipping them almost every single day because I was so bored with drinking the same thing over and over again. I switched over to the much better tasting low-carb Metabolic Drive®, but my taste buds were still getting bored and my shakes were still getting skipped, and my recovery was suffering.
Then I discovered that I could make a mint-chocolate protein shake in a shaker cup! Mint-chocolate is my absolute favorite ice cream flavor. It turns out that you can make all sorts of different flavors, like fuzzy orange, mocha, Nutella flavor, all in about 30 seconds flat, and without the use of a blender. Honestly, when bedtime rolls around I'm too tired and lazy to make anything with more than 3 ingredients, or to even think about cleaning a blender.
Go to Whole Foods and stock up on alcohol-free flavor extracts of whatever flavors you're into: mint, coffee (decaffeinated!), almond, etc.
Here are a few of my favorite hits:
- Mint-chocolate: chocolate Metabolic Drive® Protein + 1/4 tsp mint extract per scoop + water
- Nutella flavor: chocolate Metabolic Drive® Protein + 1/4 tsp hazelnut extract per scoop + water
- Cinnamon-almond: vanilla Metabolic Drive® Protein + 1/4 tsp almond extract per scoop + dash cinnamon + water
- Mocha: chocolate Metabolic Drive® Protein + 1/4 tsp coffee extract per scoop + water
You're limited only by your imagination. TC even came up with a cinnamon roll flavored one containing vanilla + butter buds + cinnamon.
Put the water and the liquid flavor into the shaker first, then the Metabolic Drive. Shake it all up, drink it, and go to bed happy.
6 – Galangal
Galangal is to ginger what truffles are to mushrooms: richer, more exotic, and just plain yummier. The good news is that unlike truffles, galangal is actually pretty cheap. While you're at that funky Asian grocery store buying your fish sauce, you can probably pick up a 6-month supply of galangal for under $10. It usually comes frozen, and you should keep what you aren't going to use immediately in the freezer. Use in place of ginger to make your Asian dishes even better.
Galangal: the Mercedes-Benz of ginger
7 – Goat Cheese
Goat cheese is delicious, especially the garlic-herb kind. It's high in protein, relatively low in calories, has a great texture, and goes with just about anything. Also, it's a good way to incorporate more variety in your diet, and possibly even help ward off food allergies.
It's fantastic in your eggs, and great on top of a grilled chicken breast with a tomato and olive relish. It can bring any boring dish back to life in the time it takes to cut a few rounds off the log.
8 – Sautéed Onions
I don't really have to say too much about this one – it's simple: sautéed onions make just about everything taste better. Cook until translucent, especially with whatever spices the recipe calls for. Then deglaze the pan. This will really bring out and enrich the flavor of the spices, and make almost any meal you can think of better with almost no effort and almost no effect on nutrition.