The Bodybuilder's I Don't Wanna Cook Book (early draft, enjoy)
10-26-2007 07:48 PM
The Bodybuilder's I Don't Wanna Cook Book (early draft, enjoy)
The I Don’t Wanna Cook Book for Bodybuilders
Who has time to cook when you’re busy with school or work and a gym schedule? Eating out too often at restaurants is not a good answer for a bodybuilder who cares about his or her nutrition. Protein powders and bars only go so far, and you can get pretty tired of just opening a can of tuna and shoveling it in.
Nutrition is one of the most important factors in muscle growth. Ideally you want to be eating fresh, wholesome, minimally processed foods to grow on, with the right balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats. In practice that means we end up eating a lot of plain chicken breasts and egg whites and broccoli and oatmeal. This can get pretty boring after awhile.
Here are some simple and easy things you can do with food to minimize the time you spend in the kitchen and maximize the flavors you can actually enjoy. It will require some time spent shopping in advance, but once you have the staples in your pantry, prep time should be minimal.
Quick Fixes For Chicken:
Buy bags of frozen skinless chicken breasts at your local bulk store. Fill a large pot ¼ full of water. Toss in as many bags of naked chicken as will fit without filling the pot more than ¾ full. Turn the heat up to maximum. When the water boils, turn the heat down low and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes. Check doneness by cutting the breasts in half at the thickest part. Remove and refrigerate when they are just barely done through.
You can also cook frozen chicken breasts in the microwave if you have a microwave steamer. If you don’t, improvise with some Tupperware by punching a small hole in the lid. Depending on how evenly your microwave oven cooks, you might need to shake the chicken breasts around a few times. Don’t overfill the container. Do several batches instead. Cook enough chicken breasts for three or four day’s worth of good eating, and refrigerate them in a big Ziploc bag. You can also freeze them individually if you want them to keep longer. Be sure to use freezer quality Ziploc bags.
Voila, you have the basic naked chicken breast. You can do a lot of things with one of these suckers in less than 30 seconds to make a non boring meal that is still healthy.
The herb fix – Toasted cumin seed or fennel seed makes a nice crunchy and flavorful coating for chicken. If you want to add some EFA’s, sesame seed or a few drops of sesame oil are very tasty. Or toss on a pinch of any dried herb mix that doesn’t suck. Raw garlic or garlic powder is always your friend when it comes to flavor, unless you are going on a date that evening.
Kick it up a notch – Hot sauce comes in many different varieties. Try some of the Asian brands with chili pepper, garlic and basil, or a gourmet American brand with datil peppers and ground onion.
Go Italian – A spoonful of nonfat, no sugar added tomato sauce with Italian herbs will make your naked chicken breast look a lot less naked. Some nonfat mozzarella cheese on top of that is even better. And did you happen cook up a big batch of whole wheat pasta earlier in the week that you can pull out and microwave in small serving portions?
Quick Sauces: Start with nonfat plain yogurt or sour cream, and stir in a little bit of whatever. Crushed garlic, hot sauce, herbs, old sweat socks….er, just kidding about the last part. Anything that has some flavor will do.
Veggie toppings – Top the chicken breast with a few slices of tomato before reheating it. Tossing a pinch of herbs and a sprinkle of nonfat cheese on top of the tomatoes is strictly optional, but delicious. Other vegetables can also be neatly layered on top of the precooked breast and you can eat the whole thing like a sandwich. With or without bread, depending on your carb allowance for the day. Spinach works particularly well. Sliced cucumber is nice too, especially on a hot day when you want to eat it cold. Canned roasted red pepper halves in water are also an excellent topping. Of course you can layer some or all of these toppings to help get more veggies in.
Breading – Fried food is a no-no, but coarsely crushed textured vegetable protein (TVP) along with some seasonings like garlic and onion powder and pepper makes a pretty good breading for chicken that is dipped in a light egg and milk mixture and then baked. If you can find a nonfat grated Parmesan cheese, this will also mix in well and offer additional flavor for your healthy breading. If you aren’t watching your carbs, bread crumbs work too. Try Panko, which are Japanese style flaked bread crumbs.
Making Tuna Tolerable
A lot of the same tactics that work with a naked chicken breast work pretty well for a can of water pack tuna. Hot sauce and a fresh raw clove of garlic mashed in is an especial favorite of mine. The extra flavor makes you feel that you’ve eaten more, which can be a psychological life saver on a cutting cycle.
Tuna Salad – You’re probably tired of this already, but really this basic recipe has a lot of potential for variation. Use a generous spoon full of nonfat yogurt or sour cream for a bit of moisture, and other ingredients to taste. Chopped celery or pickles are nice if you aren’t watching your sodium intake. If you are, chopped peppers (either the bell or the hot spicy variety) add crunch and flavor. If you like bell peppers, you can cut one in half and spoon your tuna mix right in. Pick it up and eat it on the go. For a nice change, how about some chopped apples in your tuna salad, and a few walnut or almond pieces for some healthy fat? Avocado is another good candidate for pairing with tuna, with its healthy EFA’s. If you’re bulking or just upping your fat percentages, half an avocado also makes an excellent container for a scoop of tuna salad.
Hate the taste of tuna? Wash it. Put it in a strainer and run hot water over it for about a minute, then squeeze dry. You have a dry mass of protein with very little fish flavor left. This can be mixed fairly painlessly into cottage cheese or even gasp a Tuna Shake. You can get even more of the flavor out by boiling it for a few minutes, if you want to go to that much trouble.
Tuna Melt – Pick your favorite healthy bread source, ranging from a bran or flax cracker to a piece of whole grain bread depending on your carb allowance. Top with well drained tuna mixed with a dab of nonfat yogurt or sour cream, seasonings to taste and a sprinkle of nonfat cheese. Toast until the cheese melts. For the seasonings I suggest garlic and a slice of tomato.
Quick Asian Tuna - Open a can of tuna. Dump in a spoon full of chili garlic paste (buy this in your local Asian market) and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Garnish with sesame seeds if you're feeling frou-frou. Or not. Delicious and quick.
For a variation on the basic tuna recipe, try substituting canned or foil pack salmon. Canned chicken or turkey breast also works nicely. It’s all good lean protein.
A great trick when cooking low fat ground meat whether it’s beef or turkey is to add traditional sausage spices. Fennel really does the trick along with a standard Italian herb mix. If you used to love sausage before you started eating so darn healthy, this should help fool your tastebuds. A chopped-up tomato or a can of diced tomato can be upended into the meat as it cooks, adding delicious flavor and reducing the need for oil. Serve your “sausage” meat with a whole grain pilaf and maybe some peppers, onions and mushrooms dry-fried with just a quick spray of cooking oil.
Chili is another big winner on the protein front. Dump a package of lean ground meat into a big pan. Drain a can of diced tomatoes and a can of beans and dump that in too. Add your favorite spices to taste – garlic powder, chili powder, Tabasco sauce, dried or fresh onions, etc. Cook over low heat for as long as you can stand the delicious smell, then eat up. The extra liquids from the beans and tomatoes in with the meat means you don’t need to use any cooking oil. If you can only afford the cheaper hamburger, cook it alone in the pan and drain it thoroughly of all fat before adding the other ingredients. But it’s best to start with something like extra lean ground beef, chicken or turkey. Experiment with different kinds of beans too. Eating too much of this before going to the gym may have the side effect of clearing plenty of space around you in the squat rack.
I Yam What I Yam
Invest in a bottle of ginger juice if you can find it. This is an awesome condiment on your basic steamed sweet potato that makes it taste like a party in your mouth. If you can’t find ginger juice, a tablespoon of pineapple or grapefruit juice will do the same trick. A sprinkle of cinnamon is also nice.
Roasted sweet potatoes are also a good fat substitute if you are baking high protein muffins or brownies. Toss them in the food processor with some eggs or egg substitute, protein powder, oats, oat bran, wheat bran, textured vegetable protein, Splenda or stevia and whatever flavorings you like – cocoa powder, nuts or peanut butter, cinnamon, etc. If you want a flat chewy brownie your batter should be nice and thick. For a fluffier muffin use lots of bran and some whole wheat flour or wheat protein isolate, and add a few teaspoons of baking powder. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then check for doneness. Baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the pan you are using.
Fast & Easy Vegetables
Doesn’t get much easier than this. Buy the prepared bags of broccoli (or broccoli and cauliflower) florets. Or baby carrots, or green beans, or whatever. The important thing is that they’re pre-washed, pre-peeled, pre-whatever, and in a sealed bag. Poke one hole in the bag with a knife. Stick the bag in the microwave for about 5 minutes, longer if you like your vegetables soggy.
Whole potatoes can go in the microwave too. Wash them and poke them once with a knife, almost all the way through, to keep them from exploding.
If the veggies in a bag are too expensive or hard to find, get some cheap Ziplocs or a microwave vegetable steamer and cook your veggies in that. Not only is this fast and easy, this cooking method keeps all the healthy nutrients inside the veggies.
Quick and Tasty Breakfasts
Protein Pudding - Start with nonfat cottage cheese or nonfat yogurt or a mixture of both. Dump in some unsweetened cocoa powder and your pick of sweetener (dextrose if you need the muscle glycogen carb hit, stevia or Splenda if you don’t). Add a scoop of whey protein if you like. Stir and eat. Yummy.
A simple and uncomplicated breakfast involves mixing a handful of instant oats with a cup of nonfat cottage cheese, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a scoop of protein powder. Spoon and eat. If you want to get more complicated, take this mixture and make pancake batter out of it by adding a couple of egg whites. Throwing it in the blender first will give you a texture more like real pancake batter, but it tastes fine if you don’t bother with the blender.
Steel cut oatmeal makes an awesome power breakfast, but it takes forever to cook. Here’s a hint. Make a large batch on your cooking day, enough for the whole week, and keep it in the fridge. Spice up your precooked steel cut oats with sugar free maple syrup and cinnamon, or some fresh berries, or a scoop of flavored protein powder, or a low fat granola, or whatever else tickles your fancy that morning.
11-02-2007 02:08 AM
Nice post. Can you explain ginger juice? I've never heard of it but the way you described it makes me curious about it. If it can't be found locally, is there a website that maybe carries it?
11-09-2007 09:49 PM
You can purchase crushed ginger and bottled ginger juice in some specialty markets. If you can't get that, try the pickled ginger slices sold as a sushi condiment. Really good combination with sweet potatoes.
11-09-2007 09:55 PM
sub Ill have to read it when I have time
11-09-2007 10:06 PM
Good post, I do a lot of this already but thanks!
11-10-2007 12:07 AM
nice got some pickled ginger and canned sweet potato!! Can't wait to try good post.
11-10-2007 01:39 AM
Look what I found! A how-to guide on making ginger juice. Score!
11-15-2007 09:46 PM
You can do it faster than that.
Buy ginger root. Wash. Don't bother peeling. It does help if you cut it into rough chunks and freeze it first, but that's not essential.
Throw ginger root in food processor. Blend until mushy.
Pour the mush through a fine strainer. Press to get all the liquid out. Voila, ginger juice. Yum. If wanted, mix with orange juice or pineapple juice and Splenda, thicken it up with cornstarch or psyllium husk, and use as a sauce for steamed chicken breasts as well as sweet potato.
11-15-2007 11:29 PM
I just tried this. It is delicious and a whole lot easier than cooking on the george and drying it out! Thanks!
11-15-2007 11:38 PM
Sounds very doable. I have a Magic Bullet. Hopefully that will work as well as a traditional food processor. I'm going to try it out this weekend. Thanks for the tip. This is turning into a great thread.
Originally Posted by Naja
11-28-2007 10:22 AM
This is getting subb'ed and bookmarked!
11-28-2007 05:14 PM
Me too. I actually bought some ginger and it's in the freezer now. Just waiting for an opportunity to try out that ginger juice trick. I'll post what I thought of it once I do.
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