It wasn’t until after college that I ate seafood other than canned tuna as tuna salad. However, it wasn’t until a former student of mine and I met for sushi a few years ago that I started to really get adventurous with my seafood. There are still things I don’t like such as lobster – I know, blasphemous to many who are from New England. I had a bad batch of scallops that made me sick so I stay away from those too.
We will make seafood dishes every now and then, but as many people say financial barriers can make it hard to make healthier choices and that’s a huge reason why we limit the diversity in the seafood we have at home. When shrimp go on sale we will buy them and same with salmon burgers, fresh white fish and squid, but canned tuna is probably always going to be my go-to lean protein because it is more reasonably priced.
To help prevent meal burn out I try to keep diversity in my meal planning, but sometimes you can only have chicken so many ways before you decide it’s not what you want for lunch. Last week, while I was trying to figure out what I wanted for lunch that wasn’t chicken, I decide I could go for tuna, but I didn’t want a tuna sandwich or a tuna melt. I’ve had salmon burgers at a few restaurants in the area, not steaks, but a formed patty with spices and binding ingredients. I figured I could probably make a tuna burger if I looked hard enough.
What You’ll Need
- 1 can of tuna
- 1 egg
- 2T of flour
- 1 tsp of seasoning blend of choice
- Baking sheet
- Cooking spray
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Prep your baking sheet with a little cooking spray. You could also use olive oil.
- Drain a can of tuna and add to a small bowl. Break up tuna into smaller chunks.
- Add an egg and flour to tuna. Mix well. You may want to add the flour a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t poof out of the bowl.
- Add seasoning blend to tuna mixture. If you want want to use a seasoning blend, you can add salt, pepper and individual spices to your taste.
- Once mixed, take a flat spatula and move mixture to the middle of the bowl forming a circle. Slowly dump mixture to baking sheet and shape to a circular patty about half an inch thick. You can make one patty or two 2 ounce patties.
- Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. Patty will be crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside.
I served mine on top of lettuce with onions, tomatoes and sriracha mayo. You can serve it on a bun or in a salad. There’s a place in town that makes an excellent broccoli slaw.
Well, damn, Now I’m hungry.
Macros for a 4 ounce patty: 4.5f | 10c | 28p
We’ve been having a little fun with some food, while being mindful to not be too big of assholes. I still enjoy eating healthy, but we’re being a little more flexible with our breakfasts and making them a little bigger…especially on lab days where I can’t bring food into the room because #dissection.
What You’ll Need
- Bread – your choice, I used Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin
- Egg whites
- Peanut Butter – your choice, I used Jif
- Half a banana
- medium sized skillet
- On both sides of the bread spread your peanut butter. I used a full serving for my sandwich so I divided it evenly on both sides. I know someone is thinking, but the fat! Yes, I know, but trust me it’s worth it.
- Slice your banana into pieces about a centimeter thick. I used about half a banana for my toast – so a whole banana for both our sandwiches.
- Put slices onto one side of the bread and close with the other side. Yep, directions for a 5-year-old. This is where the full serving of peanut butter becomes more than tasty and is useful. It holds the sandwich together because bananas are slippery.
- Preheat skillet so it’s hot for when you place your sandwich on it.
- Place your sandwich in a shallow bowl and pour egg whites over. We eat half a cup of egg whites regularly, so I measured a half cup and poured that over. By pouring the egg whites over the sandwich you ensure that it gets covered and is less likely to fall apart.
- Immediately after covering your sandwich in egg whites, bring it over to your skillet and cook for one to two minutes before flipping. You may need to use your hand to hold the sandwich together during flipping just because it’s heavy.
- If you feel that it needs a little more cooking time that’s completely fine, bread thickness and amount of egg white absorbed will change cooking time slightly.
The macros for my sandwich and toppings – left over egg whites not used on sandwich eaten on the side – were: 11F/48.5C/20P
All the items I used to make my sandwich were found at my local grocery store. They’re not fancy and in many cases people view them as bad foods. I’ll preach moderation because it’s true.
I’m interested to know if you try different nut butters and breads and how your sandwich turns out. If you make this, send me an email and let me know how it was!
I have no issue getting crazy in the kitchen. I also have no issue hunting down products at the store to make my menu interesting. I notice that a lot of my friends are the same – fit and non-fit people, you know regular people exist too.
After someone reached out to me about Trader Joe finds, I decided to reach out to some of my friends and ask what they like to find at TJ’s. I thought I would try some of their finds, but also share them with you.
So first up. My friend Liz or @liz1315. Her TJ finds are super macro friendly and can be helpful for someone seeking lower carbohydrate options.
- Broccoli and Cauliflower vegetable patties. Macros per patty: 2F/6C/2P
I tried one plain with my lunch. I baked them and followed the directions on the box. They were awesome plain, but I tried them next with some roasted red pepper spread and a yolky egg. That was magical.
Next… something versatile. Rice cauliflower. I know my first thought was why would I do that. But after seeing some of Liz’s creations I decided to give it a try. It really is versatile and her and I have decided to do a post about the recipes and crazy stuff we come up with to eat on prep and in daily life to hit our macros. It’s going to be centered around this guy!
2. Riced cauliflower: Macros per 3/4 cup serving 0F/4C/2P
Next up, something sweet. My friend Alicia or @_alicia_h said Joe-Joe’s were the thing to buy. I completely trust Alicia here, she is also an excellent judge of doughnuts so I kind of have to. We still have a box of pumpkin Joe-Joe’s and peppermint Joe-Joe’s in the pantry. Both unopened just waiting until after competition season.
3. Joe-Joe’s. Macros per 2 cookie serving: 5F/20C/1P (slightly better than an Oreo)
Ali or @ali.widdis listed a few things such as flowers, cold pressed juice, but also said that she has to really want something because it’s a distance from her house and there are something that are pricey – it’s just a novelty thing.
4. Goat Cheese. Macros per 28g serving 6F/5C/6P (depending on flavor)
5. Chile Lime seasoning. It’s good on eggs. It’s good on chicken, ground turkey and beef. It’s just good. Flavor is important, I don’t like sauces as much as I used to.
6. Bagel seasoning. It’s like the bagel, but without the carbs. So far I’ve mostly put this on my eggs, which I highly suggest you do. But Liz and Ali have found other carby sources to put it on to turn the average English muffin into a mock bagel of sorts. I imagine savory oats will be happening next week with this as well.
I don’t think the next one needs a reason to be purchase. It’s $1.99 and damn tasty.
7. No stir creamy peanut butter, I also have no stir chunky peanut butter.
Sometimes you just want to change up your protein sources. Chicken and ground turkey can get old. Sometimes you don’t want or like a salmon burger. The flavor on these is awesome and the macros aren’t bad either. I do think they could be a little more spicy, but if you don’t mind mild, you need to give these are a try.
8. Chile Lime Chicken Burgers. Macros per burger patty 6F/3C/19P
Breakfast is comfort food, well for me at least and I don’t think the next one needs an explanation at all.
9. Hashbrowns. Macros for 3 ounces: 0F/14C/1P
Also, a bunch of you came to the rescue and told me where to find unsweetened shredded coconut.
10. Unsweetened coconut. Macros for 1/4 cup: 20F/2C/2P
Here are some other things I’ve purchased at TJ’s that I think you should be mindful of as well:
- nuts – they are a lot cheaper at TJ’s than they are at most stores
- sushi – pretty tasty and macro-friendly enough meal when you’re on your lunch break
- mini peanut butter cups – 27 minis are a serving…that’s a ton of chocolate and peanut butter!
- chocolate covered espresso beans
- chunky reduced guilt guacamole – I don’t feel guilt eating guacamole usually, but this is made with Greek yogurt and you can consume a lot more for the same or similar nutritional value
A few sent me DM’s on Instagram about their favorite finds:
@jaynabean “chocolate croissants – I must have a box in the freezer at all times for when the occasion strikes.”
@woolandiron “rustic cinnamon graham crackers. They are so freaking delicious and have an awesome molasses taste. And the pink $2 Chuck. And the powdered chai. And frozen chicken gyiza/dumplings. I need to go to TJ’s now…”
As a lover of food, I am constantly searching for new recipes and ways to use ingredients I want to get rid of quickly. Most of my ideas come from having a small amunt of something left over that I don’t want to throw out. However, sometimes my ideas come from tweaking recipes that I have come across.
I may be guilty of purchasing the Food Network Magazine every time it comes out. So much so that for my birthday JP bought me a year subscription. Well, before he did that. I found an issue that had a number of sandwiches in it. Here’s the link for the online slideshow that has the 10 spins on grilled cheese. I definitely want to try the apricot and brie grilled cheese!
Here’s how I made my grilled cheese.
What You’ll Need
- 2 slices of whole wheat cinnamon bread with raisins, somehow this has less macros and sugar than their regular cinnamon raisin
- a serving of soft cheese – I’ve used vanilla blueberry goat cheese, cinnamon cranberry goat cheese, cream cheese with pumpkin pie spice and maple pecan goat cheese
- baking sheet
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Measure out a serving of the cheese of your choice and gentley spread it on both sides of bread. The most recent cheese I used was maple pecan goat cheese, which is a soft cheese, but also tough to spread without ripping the bread. So treat your bread nicely, ha!
- Put your bread together, place on the baking sheet and place in the oven.
- Bake on each side for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melty/bread is toasty.
That’s really it. I know many of you know how to make grilled cheese. Some use butter on each side to help with the toasting and creation of the perfect crunch. Some use mayo – don’t make a face, some do! If you wanted to do this stove top you could use butter or cooking spray to cut down on fat. I prefer mine baked so I don’t have to worry about the grease or added fat. I also care more about creamy, melty cheese.
Create your own spread
When I’ve used plain cream cheese I’ve added spices and seasoning to it. A serving of cream cheese is 2 tablespoons and I’ll add 1 teaspoon of whatever spice I want. Here are some of the spices you could add:
- Pumpkin pie seasoning – if you don’t have this on hand, mix: cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg
- Flavor God Chocolate Glazed Donut Seasoning
- Italian Herb spices – if you don’t have this on hand, mix: oregano, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, garlic
Picking a bread
I prefer my breakfast “grilled” cheese to be sweet, but you could play with pairings. if I want savory, I typically make a yolky egg to dip my sandwich in.
Here are breads I’ve used when creating in the kitchen:
- Cinnamon raisin
- Whole wheat
- Olive and herb
Let me know what kinds of pairings you think may be good to try. Are there any cheeses that you think would be perfect this way?
This post is to help those who have questions about flexible dieting and nutrition in general. Recently, more specifically since I started my reverse, which is going swimmingly by the way, I have had a lot of questions regarding the foods I consume.
I’ve talked about how flexible dieting works for me in my life. I’ve mentioned how during my competition season I hadn’t really eliminated many foods for my nutrition plan. The ones that I did were things that I truly had no control over the macros such as some pastries and sandwiches at a local bread company (this one killed me). Aside from these two things, I still ate what I wanted as long as it fit during the day and helped me reach my nutrition goals. I’ve also mentioned that I don’t like labeling foods as clean or dirty because I believe the negative connotation can create a poor relationship with food. Some don’t believe this and that’s 100% fine, but I also have binge eating disorder in my history so this is my philosophy.
So, some of the foods I like to enjoy happen to be “processed”. This word is tricky because many foods are processed, even if it’s only minimal. Let’s look at the FDA’s definition:
Processed Food: “Any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.”
So really, if you buy frozen vegetables or fruit because they’re cheaper than fresh, but you know them to be just as healthy – you’re eating something processed. Also, please keep in mind, just because you buy a bag of frozen broccoli, doesn’t mean that’s the only thing in that bag. I have found that a few brands will add salt to preserve the vegetable;however, if it’s frozen there really shouldn’t be a need for salt in the bag.
Granted, an Oreo is more processed than a bag of frozen veggies, the definition is very broad. I love Greek yogurt, for me it truly helps promote good gut health. However, it’s also a processed food. If this word concerns you, you may want to look at your cart the next time you go to the store and rethink your grocery list.
Under the same chapter are other definitions, such as raw.
Raw: “raw agricultural commodity” means any food in its raw or natural state, including all fruits that are washed, colored, or otherwise treated in their unpeeled natural form prior to marketing.
So foods that have been treated with coloring can be still considered raw… interesting.
When looking at food labeling and how the FDA has enforce regulations on companies to ensure that consumers know what they are eating, it seems as though the FDA doesn’t necessarily have clear definitions or ever thought out their expectations for recent years. Food labels were introduced 20 years ago and in 2014 the FDA was looking to make a few changes, but there were a few issues that came up, such as the definition of natural.
“Although the FDA has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term “natural,” we do have a longstanding policy concerning the use of “natural” in human food labeling. The FDA has considered the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food. However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation. The FDA also did not consider whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.”
So for the most part, your food may be natural, but the term doesn’t take into consideration anything that happens at the factory. What happens at the plant, stays at the plant. I guess I should be slightly concerned about the chicken I buy.
Along with natural, people like to shop “organic.” For me, I think this partly a waste of my money, especially if I’m going to wash and peel the skin of the food. I understand wanting something that you will be eating in whole like grapes to be organic, but if natural isn’t fully or clearly defined, what does organic mean?
The National Organic Program is under the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. That took some effort to say. The role of the NOP is to develop regulations and provide guidance on organic standards such as labeling.
So what can farmer’s use on crops and still be considered organic? Well, in Title 7, Subtitle B, Chapter 1, Subchapter M, Part 205, Subpart G of the Code of Federal Regulations— aren’t you glad I hyperlinked that? Here you can find substances that are allowed and not allowed for organic crop production.
So what’s allowed?
Algicide, disinfectants and sanitizer including ethanol alcohol and isopropanol – I know those are some long words and I’m pretty sure that I can’t even pronounce them even if I tried, but essentially, as long as you’re not contaminating the crops, soil or water, these can be used and the food can still be listed as organic.
Continuing the list: Chlorine materials for pre-harvest like calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide and sodium hypochlorite. As long as the the levels in the water that is sent to the irrigation systems don’t exceed a specific level, disinfectant can be used under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The list goes on and on to add herbicides and hydrogen peroxide. So really, what is organic? What would it mean to not use these products on large numbers of crops? Growing cucumbers in your side garden is one thing, it’s another to have acres of veggies that have a greater potential to be damaged by insects and disease.
Like I said, I really don’t buy organic and from the skimming through some of the regulations, it doesn’t seem like it matters a whole lot that I don’t.
I know there are some other ethical issues that others follow much more closely than I do, but the purpose of highlighting this information is to show that the terms processed, natural, raw and organic are more like marketing terms to push or influence consumer to purchase certain items. My choice to eat a variety of foods including those that man believe to be of poor nutritional value, hasn’t hindered my weightloss or health in anyway. I believe this is because of the balance I try to create by consuming vegetables and meats along with my cupcakes and cookies. There are so many eating styles and everyone’s body is different. Learning about the different styles and the science behind them may create more understanding rather than elaborate skepticism and questioning.
I can’t remember the last time that I actively bought a box of pasta and had an Italian night in. Even when I go out, I stay away from pasta. It’s not that I eat low carb or don’t like pasta, but I don’t feel satisfied when I eat it. I do feel full when I eat it, but within 30 minutes I’m staving again; this could be because a serving size isn’t very big or that there isn’t much nutritional value in pasta. Regardless, I’ve sought out alternatives that are lower carb and higher volume so I can stay fuller longer. Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that I’ve used multiple times with a variety of ingredients to keep it interesting and provide a similar taste to my favorite pasta dishes.
Basic how-do cook spaghetti squash
What You’ll Need:
- large pot
- spaghetti squash
- ice cream scoop
- Fill a large pot about 75% of the way with water and set to get it boiling.
- Wash the outer skin of your spaghetti squash and pat dry with a towel.
- With a large and sharp knife cut the squash down the middle, length wise.
- With an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop out the seeds.
- Place the squash in the pot and cook until tender. Depending on the size of the squash this could take 20-30 minutes.
- Once it’s full cooked, drain the squash and with a fork scrap out the meat of the squash. it’ll cook out in strains, which is where it gets its name from.
Buffalo Chicken Bake
What You’ll Need:
- cooked spaghetti squash
- Frank’s Red Hot
- cream cheese
- shredded Mexican cheese blend
- cooked chicken
- casserole dish
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray casserole dish with a little bit of cooking spray. I used a mini bread loaf pan because I was making this for one serving, but you can use any size that you believe will fit all of your ingredients.
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces. I used left over chicken that I had already baked. *Make sure your chicken is already cooked.
- In a bowl weigh out your spaghetti squash. Since this was one serving, I used 100 grams of squash.
- Mix in each ingredient one at a time so they are all fully mixed.
- Add in Frank’s Red Hot to taste. I used 3 tablespoons because I like the kick.
- Add cream cheese. I used 1 table spoon of fat free cream cheese just a store brand.
- Add shredded cheese. I used Mexican cheese blend, but you could use cheddar or Monterrey Jack.
- Pour mixed into casserole pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350.
Italian Style Spaghetti Squash
What You’ll Need:
- cooked spaghetti squash
- Newman’s Own pasta sauce
- cooked ground turkey
- shredded Mexican cheese blend
- small pot
This recipe is for one serving so adjust the ingredients as you feel is necessary to make a larger quantity.
- In a medium pot heat up 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta sauce. I used Newman’s Own because it has less sugar than a lot of other brands and therefore less carbohydrates.
- Add 150g of cooked spaghetti squash to the sauce and mix. Make sure that the squash is completely covered.
- Add in 4 ounces of cooked ground turkey. I cook my ground turkey like I do for Sloppy Joes, nice and crumbly. Also, make sure to drain the grease.
- Lastly, add in shredded cheese and mix so the it melts and is stringy.
I add spices to this recipes like basil or oregano. I also will add cooked onions, peppers and mushrooms too if I want more volume. Obviously, it doesn’t fully replace spaghetti, but the flavor is pretty darn close.
I’ve also tried Alfredo sauce and spinach with spaghetti squash, but I wasn’t that big of a fan. These are definitely my top two ways to cook it. It’s also good plain with a little bit of salt as a side too.
I love playing with alternatives and veggies. I hope you get inspired by these two combinations and get creative in the kitchen to think of your own!