Tastier Eating for a Healthier You!

Carb Cycling Breakfast

I started the plan weighing it at about 182. After the first day, I weighed something like 185 lbs. I was flipping out. But by week’s end, I was at 179. So… all these carbs made me bloat. My weight really fluctuated a lot throughout the first few weeks.

My first day was a moderate day- so it was the most carbs of the week. I ate things like OJ and bread to get in my carbs. It was actually hard to get in all the carbs, because it was less fat than normal and I was used to avoiding excess carbs. I did the calorie counts on the base plan and found I was eating about 20% more calories than I had been. Seeing weight come off while eating more is strange. I think it was a combo of tiring, but I also found myself never snacking or splurging or picking. The meals were very satisfying.
During the base phase, I lost 10lbs. I was also doing 10×10 training and really backed cardio off to nothing. My lifting days were 10 sets of 10 on my main lifts, deads, squats, bench and press, coupled with accessory work. These were solid hour workouts. The plan fueled me with pre and post workout carbs and protein. I always had the energy to get the workouts done. I also did not lose any strength and gained some.
The foods in this phase were great. Think french toast casserole, egg tacos, chicken/potato salad for lunch and big green salads for dinner. The macros at this point were enough that I had a lot of leeway to make whatever. Notably, I think a vegetarian could make this work because the protein requirements are spread over 6 meals, 2 of which are protein shakes. I had a couple of vegetarian meals.
So a couple of recipes. The first is for carb heavy days and is meant to replenish carbs after a hard work out. The second is for rest days- much lighter on carbs. Both are really tasty and make me feel like I am not on a diet:
French Toast Casserole (modified from Well Plated)
This recipe was great- I could make it once and eat it all week on lifting days. It was hearty and like having a treat. It is also a flexible recipe- to reduce fat, reduce egg yolks! This is not a paleo recipe…. but I have no gluten issues.
10 ounce multigrain bread torn
3/4 cup blueberries
3 eggs
6 egg whites
14 ounces coconut milk (light)
1/3 cup sugar
1 scoop whey protein, vanilla (you can leave it out, but it gets me to my macros)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
Place the bread and blueberries into a 9×13 casserole. Mix up the rest in a blender and pour over the bread. Let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve with maple syrup.
Breakfast Tacos
I love these, and they are flexible for macros- more cheese=more fat. Less cheese=less fat. They taste great and are easy to make.
2 ounces ground turkey
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 ounce shredded cheese
2 corn tortillas
Salsa
Heat tortilla in a pan. Cook up the ground turkey with a little salt and pepper. Add the egg and eggwhite and scramble. Put the turkey and egg mix in the tortillas. Top with cheese and salsa.

Renaissance Diet Part 1

I have neglected my blog for quite a while now. However, this summer I recommitted to fat loss and started following the Rennaisance Diet. This is a way of eating that is built around the needs of people that work out a lot. It is focused on carb cycling (eating carbs around workouts to get the most out of them). I have been very happy with the results.

This is not a “free plan”. I paid for the templates that layout the macros and schedule. My blog is not going to give away those details; plus they are customized. I think that we should pay for nutritional advice at this level. If people with a great product can’t make a living, then good advice will go away and there will only be people shilling gimmicks. I can tell you that there are no “extras” to buy on the plan, and the only supplements are whey and casein protein. If you are interested it is worth the money, and I know that when I spend money on something I am more likely to stick to it.
Prior to the plan, I was eating 1600 to 1800 calories a day, lifting 3-4 days a week and doing HIIT cardio 2-3 days a week. Problem was, my weight was creeping up from a very brief low of 169 to a high of 182. The method I initially used to hit 169 was not sustainable. I wanted to find a “lifestyle” that worked. The other issue was that my diet was not as clean or balanced as I would have liked it to be.
So… I ordered the templates and they come in EXCEL with tabs. Imagine my shock when I opened to the “Third Cut” and say this very lean diet….. The plan comes with 4 plans and you start with the base plan (which is the most food) and cut back when your weightloss stalls. I finally found the correct tab, and was pleased to see a lot more food on the program….
There are 4 unique plans depending on your workload for the day- ranging from rest to hard. I have never eaten for a “hard day” but I imagine that is for a day where you might do one of those hour long CF chipper WOD’s. I use the “moderate” plan on deadlift/squat days which are taxing, the “light” plan on shoulder and chest days and the rest plan on non-lifting days.
So each day, I have meals with specific macros to hit. They actually have meal suggestions on the tabs if you just like to eat basics like “rice, chicken, brocolli and a tablespoon of olive oil”. You can just take their measurements and roll. But I plug things into myfitnesspal because I enjoy variety at times and require some calculating. There is definitely a need to make your own food, but if you can grill meat and cook a potato, you have all the skills you need to make the plan work.
And I like that you have food choice- focused on real whole foods, but no one is makin you eat salmon and quinoa. If you want chicken and rice, that is fine! It is not advised that you eat junk. There are no cheat days. I find the plan flexible enough to accomodate some dining out- like you can have a sandwich if you need to, or steak and salad.

Exotic Roast Cauliflower

Please pardon the lack of blogging lately. I have been busy and sadly, rather uncreative in the kitchen. My new diet gives me a day to “eat whatever” so much of my cooking energy is spent making cheeseburgers and baking non-paleo sweets. The other day, I kind of did a junk food blow out at a holiday party, and felt like crap this morning, thus renewing my commitment to whole foods, with only occasional veering into chocolate bourbon cake, spinach dip, sausage dip and pizza territories. My stomach was rather sad today.

However, I rallied by dinner. I smoked a rump roast in my new smoker grill. It makes lean cuts of meat very juicy and flavorful. It saves money by allowing me to eat cheaper cuts of meat. Unfortunately, the way the grill works is unconventional, so recipes don’t translate well…. literally, drop the food in the basket. Cook to the right temperature. But it makes amazing chickens and roasts.

My side dish tonight was cauliflower and I wanted a novel preparation. I love exotic spices, especially saffron. So without further adieu, Exotic Roast Cauliflower.

1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

1Tbs Moroccan spice. Ras al Hanout would work, but I used this: http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/blends/marr.html

Pinch of Saffron threads

1 tsp salt

2T melted butter

Heat oven to 400. Put saffron in melted butter to sit for 5 minutes. After butter has sat for 5 minutes, pour it over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Toss salt and spice on cauliflower. Roast in a single layer on a pan in the oven for 30 minutes.

Delicious!

More Pork

BBQ Man

So I love pork. And if you spend enough time in North Carolina you know that if a BBQ establishment looks sketchy, it’s good. We hit up the BBQ man on our recent road trip to the mountains. We wanted lunch, cheap. Fast food is gross, but BBQ from a weird pink shed with a poorly drawn pig is bliss. For…. $6.50 each we got a mound of smokey, luscious pork and a huge amount of perfect hush puppies, plus 2 sides. Gotta have slaw and for some reason I got pickles. Random but dillicious. LOL. Good and a great value- what could you get at McDonald’s for $6.50? I dunno, I just love BBQ, plus they are small and locally owned. So if you are ever in North Carolina, stop at the weird looking place, get a plate of pull pork, slap some sauce on it (hint, it generally doesn’t need it) and get your eat on. If you are paleo or primal, get the BBQ slaw with your pork and ignore the hush puppies. If you eat low fat, hop on the clue bus. Or just to hell with it, eat the pork, hush puppies and live a little.

BBQ is a great use for a pork butt, but I got about 5 lbs of ground pork in my pork pack from Grateful Growers. Ground pork has many opportunities, but one of the simplest is to grill it like a burger. Pork makes great hamburgers. :) I think HAMburgers deserve special toppings. You can grill ’em up and put them on a bun (or in lettuce) and dress like a regular burger but that’s boring. Without further adieu…

Pork Burgers with Carrot Slaw

Burgers:

1 lb ground pork

Salt/Pepper

Carrot Slaw

1 lb grated carrots (use a grater, food processer, or buy shredded)

2 T Dijon mustard

1 T maple syrup

1/4 c cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup raisins

To make the salad, put the mustard, syrup, cider vinegar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the oil to make the dressing. Toss with carrots and raisins. Flavor with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 30 minutes or so at room temperature.

To make the burgers, divide the pork into 3 patties (or 4, or 2 depending on your idea of a meat portion), Salt and pepper each side. Grill to your idea of done. I grill 4 minutes a side. They are more fragile than beef burgers or soy burgers….so flip with care.

To serve- stack the burger and 1/2 cup of carrot salad on a bun, in a lettuce wrap or in a bowl of spinach. A bit of mayo or goat cheese compliment this combo well.

Why it works – the sweetness of the carrots compliments the sweetness of the pork. The acid in the dressing helps cut the sweetness, while the mustard provides a punch of tart. It’s a nice sweet/salty/tangy combo and when you add in some richness with the cheese or aioli it takes it to a new level.

 

Be Strong

I was reading an article in my local paper about a 40 year old man who tried P90X. He saw success with it, but ultimately abandoned it because it made him tired and sore, the diet plan was costly and it took up too much time. In his opinion, getting stronger wasn’t worth it and the pursuit of it made him a lesser boyfriend, citizen and employee. He decided to go back to walking and well, I guess a cheaper diet. It made me sad to see that being fit and strong and healthy and the pursuit of it somehow wasn’t worth the time. He did mention he’d take up walking. I know walking is good exercise, and it’s a great first step, but walking for 20 or 30 minutes a day isn’t something we should strive for. It’s a bare minimum for basic health.

P90X is by no means perfect- I did a round or two of it and frankly it got boring. But for a commitment of 6 1/2 hours a week in your living room, it is effective. The diet focuses on healthy foods- veggies, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains. They of course, push unneeded supplements and shakes, but if you skip those, the eating is hardly outrageous compared to eating out or buying a ton of convenience foods. It’s not a huge deal- you do the workouts in your living room. They scale the intensity and show a lot of alternatives. At 40, someone should be able to complete the DVD.

I’ve moved on to CrossFit and love it. It costs a lot of money, but yields great results. A time commitment of 5 hours a week and a commitment to eat healthy foods is all it takes. I’m sore at times, tired at times, but I’m building a body that will carry me through life well. I realized that I have friends that easily spend $125 a month on a bar tab. 5 hours a week? It’s not a lot of time. I’m enjoying getting stronger. It feels great to achieve new PR’s at the gym and I love the feeling of hoisting a loaded barbell overhead. It’s freeing. My body looks better than ever.

But IMO, the most important factor is that I am setting myself up for long term health and wellness. I’m nearing 40. The age where things start breaking down. We need to be strong- strong to lift the 50lb bag of dog food. Strong to carry in the groceries. Strong to have a body that holds up to weekend warrior activity. When strength and fitness become some option for people concerned about their appearance and “waste” of time, people begin to break down. All the sudden grabbing that box of copy paper at work pulls a back muscle. A ski weekend tears an ACL. We begin to lose mobility. Moving becomes a struggle. That’s not good. Except perhaps for drug companies, Lazy Boy and the cable company. Strength is not optional for a well lived, healthy life.

At some point, we also have to eat right which regardless of low carb/high carb/vegan/paleo manifesto you follow, does consistently include eating quality foods that cost a little more. Except for when they don’t. My dinner last night was a steak ($6) and a side of asparagus ($2). So $8. What at Appleby’s is $8? OK, I could have McDonald’s. On Friday, my dinner was end of the week cheap- grass fed ground beef ($2.50) sauteed with frozen asparagus ($1.50) and spinach ($1). My meal was $5. I’ve had more expensive cups of coffee. Eating healthy is not more expensive than eating crap. It’s a lame excuse. Plus, you know what’s expensive? Statins, diabetes drugs, heart meds, treatments for conditions caused by eating crap- often skin issues, sometimes joint pain, acid reflux.

What bothered me most about his article was that the time and money required to get fit and strong somehow made him not as good of a person. That’s bullshit. Letting yourself get weak and unhealthy and unfit means you get hurt and sick. How can you be a great parent if you can’t keep up with your kid and thus have to limit physical activity? How are you a good boyfriend if you can’t help your girlfriend move because you have a “weak back”? How are you a good employee if you are sick all the time? How are you a good citizen if you are using a ton of medical resources in your 40’s for preventable issues? In order to be the best people we can be, strength, fitness and a healthy diet is the most critical cornerstone. Cutting corners or putting it on a back burner for others ends up hurting you, and in turn hurts those around you.

Hello Pig

Sorry I have been MIA for a while. Been busy Crossfitting and riding and cooking. But I am ready to make it all up to you with a veritable fiesta of pork recipes.

I am blessed to live in the Carolinas for many reasons, but one is pork, glorious pork. Shredded, smoked, chopped, ribs, shanks. We have several sources in the Charlotte area for humanely raised pastured pork. It is delicious, tender, sweet, flavorful and fattier then what you buy at the store. Amazing, and you can tell a difference. The wonderful farmers that are “Grateful Growers” sell “freezer filler” packages that make having a ton of the best pork in your freezer very affordable, plus they let you experience all sorts of new cuts. I ordered a pack that includes: ground pork, pork sausage, BACON, two kinds of pork roasts, pork back bone, pork chops, and pork shanks. I’ve been cooking my way through all this awesome stuff and have yet to have a bad meal.

http://www.ggfarm.com/ is the website. I think they might ship their awesomeness anywhere in case you don’t have a source for local pork.

I’ve started a new diet, won’t go into details, but Sunday night is mine to eat whatever I want. I had the most epic meal of: Greek Salad, Cheese Grits, Boozy Pork Chops and Pumpkin Cheesecake. It was awesome. The salad didn’t quite match, but I love greek salad. A more seasonal side would have been brussel sprouts roasted with bacon. But I wanted some greek salad. Go figure. The pork chops were amazing- juicy and flavorful. I have a gas grill, so my directions reflect that. Please note my chops were marbled with fat, so while I know my technique was good, I also had the privilege of cooking the best pork in town!

So without further adieu:

2 – 1″ thick pork chops

3T salt

1/4 cup Jack Daniels

1 T Coconut Oil melted

Salt to taste

Spice Rub- I use Platte River Rub from http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/  but use what you like.

Process-

Brine: Take 4-5 cups of water and mix with the salt and the Jack Daniels. Submerge the chops in the brine and let them bathe in the booze for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the chops, pat dry. Brush one side with coconut oil and rub on rub and salt. Flip and repeat the oil, rub and salt process.

Grill: Turn your gas grill up as high as possible on both sides. Let it burn for 10-15 minutes. Cut the gas off on one burner, leaving the other on high. Put the pork chops on the side with the burners on- grill 2 minutes per side. Then flip the chops to the non-burner side and grill 4 minutes per side. Pull off the grill, top with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. I spent this time putting a metric ton of cheese into my grits. Then eat.

FYI, There are 3,456 ways to grill pork chops. I think what worked here was the brine and rub. Grill them how you feel comfortable as you have many options.

Also, for a paleo/primal meal, corn grits are not a good side (obviously). The sweetness of this meat calls for a rich side and a side with some acidity. For a rich side, something like a cauliflower mash, sprouts with bacon or a sweet potato prepared with some salted butter or bacon fat would be good. For the acidity, go for a good vinegary cole slaw or a salad with a vinegarette.

 

Salads…..

As a former vegetarian, I really learned to dislike salad. Here is how it goes down…Coworkers want to go to a casual chain for lunch. “Oh, yeah they have vegetarian foods at the restaurant, salads!”. So you are happy as lunch time rolls around- yum, a big bowl of fresh veggies, some good dressing, a delicious roll. Then you get to the restaurant and the salads include a: Chicken Caesar, Chef Salad or Garden Salad. If lucky, the have a Taco Salad in a 1000 calorie fried tortilla. So your vegetarian salad is: romaine, some parm, croutons and bad dressing or iceburg lettuce, processed cheese strips, a rock hard tomato and two cucumber slices or a tiny amount of iceberg, some carrot shreds, one wedge of hard tomato, one cucumber slice or a fried tortilla with shredded iceberg, processed cheese, some salsa and sour cream. Oh, and two packs of saltines. And you are like fuck, why did I go out to lunch as you eat $12 of crappy salad (because they don’t discount leaving off the (*&*)(&^ protein) while your coworkers eat delicious looking food. And then you end up with food poisoning anyway. XO

So salads can suck. And when I first went paleo, I gave salads the middle finger. But recently I have been on a salad kick. A bowl of greens full of good stuff, with an amazing dressing and grass fed meats or warm grilled chicken or salmon is amazing. And miles away from iceberg, a hard tomato, one cucumber slice and some weird tasting croutons.

This is the salad I made last night:

3 big handfuls of rainbow chard, sliced (Trader Joes sells it in bags)

1/2 avocado sliced into chunks

2 green onions chopped

1 mandarin orange seperated into segments

5 pieces of asparagus cooked and cut into 1″ pieces

1 grass fed rib eye, grilled and cut into chunks.

2 T of my dressing (recipe to follow).

Mix all your veggies while the steak grills. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes. Cut into chunks. Put on the salad. Toss with dressing. Eat! Healthy, delicious, amazing, even decadant.

Citrus vinegarette:

1 orange juiced

1/2 shallote

1 T white wine or chmpagne vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 egg yolk (option)

Blend the shallotte, juice, vinegar and egg yolk in a blender. Drizzle in the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

:)

Enjoy!


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