First, what ever happened to a simple cheat meal? The concept being, that after staying on track, eating wise and healthy for a specific amount of time, we reward ourselves with the meal of our choice. Guilt free. Your inner self thanking you, you revel in high caloric deliciousness, and your metabolism possibly getting a little jump start as well.
The acronym gone Instafamous, If It Fits In Your Macros, i.e. “flexible dieting”, has gone viral and taken the industry by storm, and not without it’s controversies. This one, in my opinion, has asked for it. The concept behind it seems simple enough. Stay within your “count” and you can be “flexible” and eat what you want, on a regular basis.
Pizza once in awhile is probably not going to cause you a lot of problems. Keep trying to justify eating it on a regular basis because 2 slices “fits in your macros” will probably lead to some issues, though. By the way, who says restaurants and companies are telling the truth on all that serving info? There are such things as “empty calories”. Unless you cooked the food yourself, fully aware of exactly what went into it, how does one know the truth?
The man lived to be 96. Personally, I believe he was doing something right. Second, to be clear my favorite cheat meal happens to be onion rings. I love them dipped in everything from honey mustard to ranch. However, knowing that a typical serving has anywhere from 15 – 18 grams of fat, in roughly 6 – 9 pieces, do I just figure this into my daily count and eat them whenever I want?
Fried food clogs arteries and contributes to a whole host of health problems. All of this leads me to my main point. Eating clean means different things to different people. To the majority of us it simply means consuming more fresh, relatively additive and preservetive free foods that are proven to be good for us. And full of flavor!
Diets and fads come and go, but one thing remains the same, we have to watch what we eat and exercise more.
As with starting any new diet or exercise regimen I would suggest first consulting a physician.
Growing up, I ate good food. I was spoiled in that regard. My family has always had a garden and for sure tomatoes have been a staple. My Uncle Pete, sicilian, was an influence as well and to this day I have never been able to replicate his rigatoni. However, his tomato salad has been a constant in my kitchen for years now. We supplied the tomatoes, he made the salad. That’s how it worked. I spoke with him recently and got a refresher. He informed me after all these years, that it was his mothers favorite.
“Only two things money can’t buy, That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes” – Guy Clark
The origins of the tomato can be traced back to Central South America and were cultivated by the Aztecs.
3 – 4 fully ripe Big Beef, or Beef Steak tomatoes, cut in quarters
Half of a medium Red Onion, thinly sliced
Fresh basil, shredded
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
Salt & Pepper for seasoning
And 2 – 3 teaspoons of water.
Clean, fresh, healthy, what more could you want?
The weather is changing, windows are opening, and food for me, takes on an entirely different style. Part of the secret in this simple, yet spectacular salad is that all the ingredients are fresh and of high quality.
I fully document my love affair with food on Twitter: @jwilltrain
Fat is stored as energy. A person looking to burn fat must increase their energy output. i.e. exercise, to burn off more calories than they’ve taken in.
I tend to prefer most things in layman’s terms. Lounging on the futon scrolling through meme’s doesn’t count as burning calories. According to The American Council on Exercise acefitness.org one (1) pound of fat eaquals 3,500 calories.
Our Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR is the amount of energy, (calories) required just to function at rest, day to day.
Healthy, and realistic weightloss is a pound to a pound and a half a week. Depending on a persons daily activity, this can be achieved quite succesfully with the right workout routines.
To get started on counting calories first, become familiar with two (2) things:
To find what your current maintenance level would be, multiply your current weight x 12. For example, a 185lb person x 12 would have a calorie maintenance level of 2,220 per day. This is your base to work from.
You can then subtract your daily count for losing weight, or add calories to gain mass, i.e. size. However, right now we’re not “bulking”. (More on that later)
Getting in the habit of reading labels helped me get a solid understanding of counting my daily intake.
Granted these labels are typically based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet, again it is a base in which to work from.
Now, time to start counting.
Back in my days of working in restaurants I remember numerous tableside interactions that went something like this:
Me: Did you need more time, or have you decided?
Guest: Yes, I’m having the house salad. And can you please have them leave off the croutons. I’m really watching what I’m eating.
Me: Of course, and what dressing would you like?
Guest: Buttermilk Ranch!
So you’ve made up your mind to start eating better. More salads you’ve decided. So you arrange the perfectly washed bed of crisp greens. The plump, juicy tomatoes. You’ve put your chef hat on and found the right flavor profile with pears, red onions, and dried cherries.
Why smother all that deliciousness?
The origins of what we know as a salad can be traced back centuries. The word Sal, latin for salt, which led to salata, or “salted things”. The Greeks used vinegar on vegetables as well. Americans came to know salads around the turn of the century and over time ways to flavor them have swelled to that of entire aisles of shelves. I believe all the years of serving soaked, overly dressed salads encouraged me to change the way I eat, and even view the salad course itself.
Every once in awhile I do like a bottled dressing. Just to put it out there, my favorite is Catalina. Really. On the day-to-day though, I’ve come to only prefer to dress the ingredients in oil, a little salt & pepper and some vinegar.
That’s a base to add upon. Some days it’s a little mustard. Crushed garlic on others. Olive oil is considered the good fats, the monounsaturated fats, or MUFA’s.
Below are some of my recommendations to keep on hand for some serious salad envy.
Lemon, lime, cilantro, you name it. Dress it up well and let the ingredients shine through.
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Investing in good storage is a necessity for any successful meal prepper. Today it’s a much easier and more affordable habit to practice. A typical prep is for 3 – 5 days, so understandibly that’s a fair amount of storage. Hashtag meal prep on Insta and you’ll find thousands of shots of those disposable, black, multi-compartment containers. While they are conveinent and make cleanup a cinch, I prefer to have a permanent stash on hand at all times as well.
Being a true DIY’er I’ve used any number of things. A few years back a roommate of mine saved cottage cheese containers. A serious weightlifter, he had dozens of them. Now, years later so do I. Glass is nice. High quality and microwave safe all the worry is gone from melting or not being environmentally concious. Above are my tried-and-true GLAD tupperware. Dishwasher safe, these puppies go everywhere with me. I empty their contents and microwave. Done.
Ziplock bags work well, too. I once knew a physique competitor in California who I would work part-time catering jobs with. Wineries, weddings, that stuff. She always had a plastic bag with chicken breasts in them. She got her protein. (And won 1st place her first time out.)
For what takes a mere couple of hours one evening, or afternoon each week, meal prepping can make a huge difference in either achieving goals or peering at them through a telescope.
Find out which work for you and get to preppin’.
In the 19th century, German chemist Erich Von Wolf was researching iron content in vegetables. He inadvertantly misplaced the decimal point thereby increasing the benefits in spinach. And so, Popeyes legendary canned good popping strength was born.
While not a USDA coined term per se, superfoods are widely recognized for their antioxident rich, vitamin packed benefits and healthy deliciousness. Antioxidents being those powerful substances that reduce damage from free radicals and help prevent diseases. Asparagus, my personal favorite, is loaded with them as well as anti-inflammatory properties. A physique competitors staple, asparagus acts as a mild diuretic. Blueberries have been found to be high in phytovinoids and fiber both of which help lower cholesteral and the heart. Native of North America, Hammonton New Jersey claims to be the “Blueberry Capital of the World.” History of Bluberries
Spinach is good for you, no doubt about that. Regardless of Mr. Von Wolfs error it is a bonafide member of the super-club. Besides vitamins A, C, & K it is also high in protein and fiber. As in life the more colorful the better. Fill your basket with superpower.
Listed in alphabetical order, here are my top 10 all-time favorites, research continues to show, deserve to be on a top ten list.
Spinaci originated in Persia were it made it’s way to India. The Chinese got a hold of it during the 7th century AD nicknaming it, “The Persian Vegetable”.
“Now if you want an onion, just consider what great expense it takes to make it good; You must have cheese and honey, and sesame…to dress it up with; for by itself the onion is bitter and unpleasant to taste.” –
Much can be told by the type of food one eats. Interestingly enough, onions were fed to Olympian athletes in large quantities. Believing they helped to cleanse their bodies, the ancient greeks in the gymnasiums treated them a sort of detox. Previously worshipped by the Egyptians as a symbol of eternity, the greeks also took to them for strength and soldiers rubbed them on their skin.
The ancient Greeks had a saying that summed up their overall atittudes.
“Nothing too much”. It was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Delphi, a sacred site a little over a hundered miles northwest of the Capital Athens, was considered the center of the world. If anyone practiced what they preached, surely it was here.
2500 years ago before supersize, this society ate straight from the land and sea. With fish, fruit, and copious amounts of olive oil, evidence shows they ate smaller meals throughout the day. Dinner being the most important. If you were of means, animal proteins were typically saved for special occasions. Although diluted wine was served at breakfast, wine was not meant for excess consumption.
“Though in reality old wine is not only more pleasant, but also better for health;…and being thinner it itself more digestable;” – 3rd Century BCE poet Alexis
Studies are still out as to the true benefits of red wine, specifically for the heart, but dare we say it surely better than soft drinks? And in moderation, isn’t a fine, aged Cabernet oh so delicious?
Onions, now widely thought of to be an incredibly healthy food are high in antioxidents, or powerful free radical fighting agents.
More and more we try and “clean up” our diets. Rightfully so, too many foods today contain additives, preservatives, and large amounts of ingredients we cannot pronounce. While it can be very confusing keeping up with the newest “discoveries,” two principles remain clear and easy to understand;
The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Revised & Updated 3rd Edition, states “Cutting back on fat or switching to healthier fats doesn’t need to be a huge change. Even small changes add up.” Suggesting more seafood consumption, fruits, veggies, beans and whole grains as well, one can imagine perhaps a late Athenian afternoon, warm breezes off the Agean Sea blowing over a table of terra cotta pots full of freshly picked olives and hardboiled eggs. With honey to dip your cheese in, and lemon to squeeze over lightly seasoned fish. Finishing with a dessert of perfectly ripened and juicy figs, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to think twice about the content of our meals.
And just enjoy.
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MEAL PREP IDEAS
A cleaner version of a summer classic, this recipe substitutes plain, greek-style yogurt for mayonnaise, not only cutting fat tremendously, but adding more protein per serving. You can do half and half, or cut the mayo out all together. Strained to remove it’s whey, greek-style yogurt has a much higher protein content largely of casein.
👉 What you’ll need
👌 For a “Waldorf” style (my favorite) add honey and apples.
Mix & chill.
Drain yogurt before folding in. The salad will keep longer.
Add different ingredients to each days meal. Variety is a good thing.
Wait until eating to add seasoning.