Archive for category Food!

Roasted Whole Chicken on the BBQ

Most people will agree that preparing food for the week (or at least a few days) makes it much easier to stick to your healthier eating goals. What ends up burning people out is “eating the same thing all the time.”
So then why make your food so boring? If we just took a different approach to food preparation and cooked something beautiful and full of flavor, your left-overs will become much more appetizing. One of the foods I prepared “in bulk” this week was chicken (whole). Let me show you what the end result was first, so maybe you will actually continue to read and maybe even try this out:

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I know… Looks good, right? It was. I cook chicken like this often, andI always season it a little different. Nothing is measured. No specific recipe. Just a technique that cooks chicken perfectly, and throw in a few flavors you like. First you must prepare the chicken…

There are three places to season the chicken: on top of the skin, underneath the skin, and inside the chicken cavity. This time I finely minced about 1/2 yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, added a sprinkle of black and white pepper, sea salt, dehydrated ginger, oregano. Mixed it all up and stuffed it underneath the skin on the breast, as well as the skin surrounding the thigh and legs.
I the coarsely chopped up one onion and one apple, drizzled a small amount of oil on them, then generously sprinkled an Indian Curry powder on them. I quickly tossed that and stuff the curried apples and onions inside the chicken. To keep everything from falling out the bottom, use a 1/2 kabob spear or toothpicks to pin the flap of skin across the bottom of the chicken. I then stuffed a half lemon between the breast bone and the vertebrae to close up the top. The chicken is now ready for the grill. Lets get that set up.

While I was preparing the chicken I had some Hickory Wood chips soaking in water. While the charcoals are heating up I drain the wood chips and wrap them in foil. Poke some holes in (the top of) the foil packet. This will allow the smoke to escape when the wood chips get hot.
When the charcoals are ready, separate them into two piles on opposite ends of the grill. Place the foil packets on top of the coals photo 1now, and spread a piece of foil across the center of the bottom grate to catch all the drippings. This will make cleaning up a lot easier. All there is to do now is place the chickens breast-side up on the top grate, in-between the to coal piles for indirect heat. Close the lid and let it smoke! (Make sure the bottom vents and the lid vents are open. You want the temperature to sit between 350-375, but not over 400. If the temperature goes up too high, adjust the vents to cut off a little oxygen. This takes some practice. If you have a gas grill, turn on one burner and place the chicken on another burner for indirect heat. Foil packets work great on gas grills too.

So lets not forget about the skin… After about 20 minutes I mix a few tbsp raw honey with the Curry powder, and adjust amounts to taste. Quickly open the lid, baste the chickens generously, then close it back up until they are done cooking. You can use a meat thermometer to check for done-ness, or…

photo 3Just try ripping a leg off. If it pulls off relatively easy, that chicken is done! As a general rule I always “tent” anything I grill with foil for 10-15 minutes after cooking. Time to dig in! If this is purely for food prep, as was the case for me, I just let it cool for an hour, then cut or rip all of the meat off the bone and store it all in the fridge for later. This goes great with salads, tacos, or anything else you can use shredded or cubed chicken for! Enjoy!

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Meal Timing Questions

Is it better for me to eat before or after I workout?

In my opinion, it really depends on what time you’re working out. For early workouts right after you wake up in the morning and your blood sugar is at its lowest, I feel that you are better off at least having something small to fuel yourself for the workout. That way you can workout harder and get more out of it. A small glass of juice, coconut water, or a piece of fruit should work for people that have a hard time eating early in the morning. In this case you should make sure to eat both protein and carbs within the 45 minutes immediately following your workout to help aid in recovery.

Assuming that you have eaten some carbs during the day, an evening workout doesn’t necessarily require a pre-workout meal. This is because your body will store sugar in the form of glycogen in your liver. That glycogen can be converted back into glucose for quick energy usage. Again, I do suggest trying to get your next meal in within 45 minutes of that workout.

If you do choose to eat before your workout, make sure to give yourself about 1 1/2 hours before you start to exercise so that you don’t get nauseous.

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Peach-Banana-Flax Muffins

The better your food tastes, the higher likelihood you have at succeeding at your fitness goals. Sometimes it is not just taste, but time that is a factor. I have been eating steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast every day for quite some time. I enjoy the taste, especially with some blueberries and the occasional scoop of vanilla protein mixed in. The problem for me is time. I wake up as early as 4:00am to get to my first client at 5, so between packing up my meals, showering, the other 2 S’s, and sometimes even hitting snooze, I just don’t always have time to prepare oats… And then my wife got on a baking kick that changed everything!

Lilia started baking muffins on the weekends for fun and when I asked her to create a healthy version for my subscribers, the challenge was on! I am sharing my favorite muffin recipe so far (there have been several versions) and will also share a couple of side notes:

Peach-Banana-Flax Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Oat Bran
  • 1 cup Steel Cut Oats (blended in food processor until it looks more like oat bran)
  • 3/4 cup Flax Seed Meal (helps keep moist and adds healthy Omega-3’s)
  • 3 medium Bananas (7″)
  • 2 medium Yellow Peaches (also helps keep muffins moist. You can sub for 1 more banana)
  • 5 tbsp Honey (or Agave Syrup for Bee lovers)
  • 1 lg Egg
  • 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt (protein!)
  • 1/4 cup water (or less… just until you have a good consistency)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • “a pinch” of Apple Pie Spice, or to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together flax meal, fruit, yogurt, water, honey. Combine oats, oat bran, spice, baking soda, salt, then stir into the wet mixture. Spoon into muffin pan (use Pam or lightly grease first!) DO NOT USE MUFFIN PAPERS, AS THEY WILL STICK!!! Bake for 20-25 minutes. This makes about 14 muffins.

Note: You can use 2 cups oat bran instead of 1 cup oat bran & 1 cup oat meal. This will drop the muffin to 145 calories and add 1 gram of fiber! You can also use 2 cups oats if you prefer a heartier consistency.

1 Muffin:

150 Calories

3.5 g Fat (Omega-3’s)

26 g Carbohydrates (Same as 1 serving oatmeal!)

10 g Sugar (You can substitute some of the honey for Stevia or Splenda to cut down on the sugar a bit… currently you get 6g sugar from the honey)

4 g Fiber

6 g Protein

I still get all the benefit of my oatmeal in the mornings, except now it is not only more convenient, but better tasting too! If you have any variations of this recipe that you want to share, please do!

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To Be or Not to Be Gluten Free?

Ok, so there is no way you can go to the store nowadays and NOT see “Gluten Free” labels all over the place. So many people have jumped on the bandwagon to gluten free baking, gluten free this, gluten free that… What’s funny to me is how many of those people don’t even know what gluten is or why they “shouldn’t eat the stuff.”

So just what is gluten?

Gluten, or wheat gluten, is a protein  that is found in wheat. Doesn’t sound so evil, right? So why all the fuss? MARKETING.

There are people who unfortunately have Coeliac Disease and should not consume wheat, rye, or barley. These foods will cause inflammation in the small intestine which causes discomfort, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, and malabsorption of various nutrients. This is only experienced by about 1/2 of 1% of the population. That being said, I am glad that there are companies out there who make gluten free foods for those folks who would normally be limited on what they could eat. Here is where I have to laugh a little:

Gluten Free juice. Gluten Free ice cream. Gluten Free yogurt. OF COURSE THEY ARE GLUTEN FREE- THEY ARE NOT WHEAT PRODUCTS!!! Manufacturers have started labeling everything Gluten Free, because since most people don’t know what it means, they are now afraid to eat gluten. Some people have even been brainwashed to believing that wheat gluten causes weight gain, when in fact people with Coeliac disease will often lose weight when they eat wheat because of the malabsorption issues related to the disease. Most people that lose weight by going “gluten free” stop eating things like bread, pasta, pizza, and beer. Is it the gluten that was making them fat, or was it the excess carbohydrates multiple times per day? I’m gonna go with the carbs on this one…

Bottom line is:

If you are sensitive to wheat gluten, don’t eat it. If you are lactose intolerant, don’t eat  dairy. If you don’t have either of these issues, don’t waste your time searching for gluten free foods and fake cheeses. Don’t get scared and buy into marketing ploys so easily. Like I have said before, Google is an amazing tool; educate yourself.

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Bananas are Overrated

Everybody knows that bananas are the best source of potassium, right? Not so fast… Although they ARE a great source of potassium, that doesn’t mean that they are the BEST source… Please keep in mind that the point of this entry is not to get you to stop eating bananas. I just want to get you thinking about some of the information that is fed to us on a daily basis. For example, when people think Vitamin C they think oranges, but did you know that 1 yellow Bell Pepper has almost 4 times the amount of vitamin c as an orange? Yeah, I know. That’s the same reaction I had! 🙂 Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, bananas…

Bananas come in different sizes, so it is hard to say how much potassium, or any other macro or micro nutrient is in “one banana.” The easiest way for us to compare multiple items fairly is to measure out the same amount of each. So, for this conversation we will use 1 cup.

1 cup of mashed banana yields 200 calories, 51gcarbs, 28g sugar, 6g fiber, 2g protein. This amount would contain 806mg potassium. That is a lot of potassium, but that is also a lot of sugar! Quick tip: if you are trying to lose weight, don’t suck down 28g sugar in one sitting! Next item…

1 cup of white beans yields 254 calories, 46g carbs, 19g fiber, 0g sugar, 16g protein, 829mg potassium. This is a much more balanced food and is a lot more nutrient-rich than banana. Next item…

1 cup sweet potato w/ skin yields 180 calories, 41g carbs, 7g fiber, 13g sugar, 4g protein, and 950mg Potassium. Less calories AND carbs than the first two, and contains… get this… 38,433IU Vitamin A! That’s almost 800% daily value! This is also a very strong anti-inflammatory food and is one of my favorites.

So what would I recommend when you are looking to add some potassium in your diet? Hint- not bananas, since you get the same amount of potassium in 1 serving of potato chips as you do in one banana! Drum roll please!…………………………..

Bok Choy! (Chinese Cabbage)

1 cup of boiled (shredded) Bok Choi has only 20 calories, 3g carbs, 1g sugar, 2g fiber, and 3g protein. Its loaded with 630mg potassium! Who knew! They also contain high amounts of vitamin A, Folate, and vitamin K. Bok Choy is one of my favorite veggies. There are plenty of ways to prepare it, and it is delicious just steamed!

Do you have a favorite way of preparing Bok Choy? Message me so I can share!

Quick note: I am expressing personal opinions here. Please contact your doctor before changing your diet. People taking certain heart medications must be careful about the amount of potassium they consume.

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Garlic Mashed No-Tatoes

I have been looking for a good Cauliflower Puree recipe, but everyone seems to like to take something that should be healthy and add things like butter and cream cheese. Why ruin a healthy dish?!  So I decided to keep it simple, and turn to one of my favorite cooking methods for maximum flavor…

Roasting!

Who doesn’t like roasted garlic? Crazy people, that’s who! So garlic lovers: this one’s for you. And remember, if you are not part of the garlic lover’s club, just adjust the amount of garlic used to suit your taste! Not only is this a great tasting recipe, but it is also a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, and is  LOADED with vitamin C! Oh, and if you have high cholesterol: you’re welcome! This one is great for you!

Garlic Mashed No-Tatoes

Ingredients:

1 large head of Cauliflower

1-3 cloves Garlic (I use 3!)

3-4 tbsp Olive Oil

2 tbsp Fage Greek Yogurt 0% Fat

2 tbsp Reduced Fat Milk (optional)

Salt & Pepper*

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375

Place 3 garlic cloves into a glass of water for 5 min (you’ll thank me later).

Remove base and leaves from cauliflower. Chop or break cauliflower head apart into several pieces (smaller pieces cook faster).

Now that it is SUPER easy to remove the husks from the garlic, go ahead and take care of that!

Place cauliflower and garlic into a mixing bowl, toss in 2-3 tbsp olive oil (until coated). Place on foiled baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (go light this time; you can always add more, but can never take it back out!)

Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes, or until browned and fork tender. (I recommend flipping once during last 15-20 minutes)

Place in food processor and let her rip! Once minced, add yogurt, milk (optional, but recommended), and 1 tbsp olive oil. Pulse until mixed thoroughly and desired consistency is met. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with green onions/chives and enjoy!

Makes (4) 135-160 calorie servings.

 

 

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I’m a Breast Man… Only Because They’re so Easy to Grill!

Chicken breasts are a common food among us gym-goers because they are a great source of (lean) protein, they are cheap, and they are easy to cook. Today I am going to give you a quick how-to when it comes to grilled chicken breasts. Grilled chicken breasts can be hit and miss depending on who is cooking them and how the stars are aligned that particular day…

It doesn’t need to be complicated, but there are a couple of steps that will guarantee perfectly grilled chicken breasts every time!

We are gonna start  with 1 or 2 packages of thawed, boneless, skinless chicken breast. This stuff goes on sale for $1.97/lb, and if you don’t mind pulling the skin off and de-boning it yourself, you can find it for less than  $1/lb! Make sure to get chicken that is as natural as possible and doesn’t contain a lot of “solution”, because it will be harder for you to add your own flavor.

Here is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT STEPS when it comes to guaranteeing that your chicken doesn’t come out dry.

Filet it! One reason that a lot of people have problems getting their chicken breasts to turn out is because of the shape of the chicken breasts themselves. They are very thick on one end and thin on the other. By the time the thicker part is cooked through, most of the chicken is over-cooked and dry… Just keep your palm flat against the chicken and use a SHARP knife to gently “saw” the chicken into two (almost even) pieces.

Now for the marinade… I used this one because not only did it sound good, but there were no “weird” ingredients, the sodium levels were pretty low, and there was no sugar. Your marinade must contain some salt, however, or the chicken will not absorb much of the flavors. I also recommend getting something with a vinegar base or adding a vinegar to it (like white or red wine vinegar) for a little tang. Place chicken in a large mixing bowl, add enough marinade to coat the chicken, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until you are getting ready to grill.

Take the chicken out of the fridge before you start to light the charcoal, or at least 30 minutes prior to grilling if you are using a gas grill. If the chicken is too cold when it goes on the grill the muscle fibers will tighten up and the chicken will get tough. I use 100% natural hard wood charcoal because it doesn’t have all the added chemicals that some charcoal does (especially match light) and it has a better flavor to it. Imagine that- better flavor AND better for you!

Once your charcoals are ready and you have spread them out, make sure to do this one thing before you add your chicken…

WAIT!

Let the charcoal cool down for 5 minutes so that you don’t scorch the chicken. Now because there is oil in the marinade, I am not going to oil the grate on the grill, but you can if it makes you happy 🙂 Just place the chicken directly on the grill and try to spread them out evenly without having them touch. Mmm, now doesn’t that look good?

Pay attention to where the hot spots are on your grill. As you start to flip the breasts over (about 5 min), you will notice that some of them are cooking faster than others (example: the 2nd one from the left). Move them around to share the hotter and cooler spots so that they finish cooking at the same time. You can use a meat thermometer to see if they have reached 160 degrees, or hey, just slice one open and check! When they are about ready to be taken off they will become slightly stiffer and not as “squishy” to the touch and, when cut, the juices will run clear.

So they are now ready to come off the grill. Are you ready to eat? HOLD YOUR HORSES! There is still one more step to make sure that these things turned out perfect.

Tent it!

Place the chicken in a glass dish and cover with foil for about 10-15 min. This is a perfect time to set the table, prepare your salad, and grab a healthy (ish) drink like a Vodka/Soda to enjoy with your meal. It will go perfect with your lemon-herb chicken!

So remember:

  • Start with natural, 1% solution chicken
  • Filet the breasts for quicker, more even cooking times
  • Marinade
  • Let them come to room temperature
  • Let the charcoals “calm down”
  • Tent it!

 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! 🙂

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