Tag Archives: cooking

My Meal-prep Dirty Little Secret

So I can’t remember the last week that we actually ate all of the food I prepped on Sunday.  Invariably – life happens.

A teen’s event was not planned for.  A worship meeting goes long.  An opportunity to roll presents itself.  Something happens that prevents us from eating what is in the fridge and dictates that we are going to grab something from a restaurant somewhere.

Every.

          Single.

                      Week.

So when for the 3rd week in a row I was about to throw out baked sweet potatoes and chopped peppers, I decided to find a new way to utilize these staples of our week.

Enter:  Sweet Potato Bird’s Nests

These take a bit longer than I would like since the potatoes I use are already baked and take a while to crisp up like I like them but they are awesome.  I will definitely be making these regularly and for sure will do this with a sweet potato hash as well.   Video and the recipe are below.

See the Video Here

Ingredients:

  • Pre-baked sweet potato (each potato yields approximately 4 “nests”)
  • Pre-diced Red Onion
  • Pre-diced Red Pepper
  • Pre-diced Green Pepper
  • Pre-diced Jalepeno Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until onion is translucent but peppers are still crisp.img_3452
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Add salt, pepper and sautéed vegetables and mix well.                                                          img_3450
  5. Transfer a spoonful of sweet potato mixture to each muffin mold. Press the mixture up against the mold until it is approximately ¼ inch thick leaving a cavity for the egg (to be added later).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven.
  7. Adjust the oven to broil (still at 400 degrees)
  8. Crack one egg for every sweet potato being baked. Add egg to the cavity created by the mold.
  9. Place muffin pan back in oven. For soft yolk eggs remove after 6 minutes.  For hard yolk eggs, remove after 12 minutes.

You have probably noticed that I did not give quantities of potatoes and peppers.   Because this recipe was conceived around leftovers, whatever you have left over will determine how much to use.  You can always cut up more peppers to meet your potato supplies (like I did when I created this one).

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When you are in the business of helping people achieve their healthiest life, you spend a lot of time talking about food.  Now, it is one of my favorite subjects so I don’t mind at all but one thing that does drive me a bit nuts is hearing from folks that say;

“It’s just so hard to eat clean on the road!!”

Let me get this out there now – No it isn’t!!

It really all comes down to choices.  What choices?

The choice to eat ‘Clean’

We really do need to define what ‘Clean’ means but that is for another post.  In the meantime, you need to decide this before you ever leave for your departing flight.  If you commit to eating right before you ever leave, you are 100% more likely to actually do so (please note that I just completely made up that statistic).

Seriously though, making the decision in advance does dramatically improve your chances of actually following through.  You are much less likely to end up on the wrong side of the rest of these choices if you have already decided to eat clean.

The choice of where to eat:

This is huge.  A restaurant that specializes in grilled seafood is way more conducive to your commitment to clean eating than Burger King.  Sure it may mean that you need to drive a few miles out of your way rather than stumbling across the parking lot to Ruby Tuesdays but in the end it is worth it.

Pro-Tip: I have found that it is also easier to eat clean in the restaurant rather than your hotel room.  This includes take-out orders, which almost always end up wrong (and cold).

Pro-Tip 2:  The exception to the above Pro Tip is the grocery store.  The grocery store is a great option for picking up a clean meal you can take back to your room.

The choice of when to eat:

So I may be preaching to myself on this one but your food options at 11:00 PM are vastly different than at 7:00 PM.  Take that into account as you are planning your day.  Set yourself up for success rather than trying to figure out “Whatever is easy” as you hit your hotel at midnight.

The choice of how your food is prepared:

Grilled over fried.  Baked over sauteed.  Sauce on the side.  Rainbow of colors vs. monochromatic.  If you are trying to eat clean, you should already know most of this but every time you order anything, you have the choice.

However, with all of these choices, the most important one is the choice to not to accept the lie that eating clean is hard to do.  It really isn’t.  It just takes a bit of planning, being willing to order off the menu and the choice to make it a priority.

How does a pescetarian survive a backyard cookout?

This is the question my wife and I have to answer every time we head to a community event.  The most recent example?  UFC 200 watch party at our gym.

Great event.  Great group of people.  Great socializing.  Nothing for someone who is basically a vegetarian to sustain themselves on.  To complicate matters, all of the sides were potluck which invariably ends up producing a smorgasbord of carb laden options such as chips, potato salad, candies of all types and more deserts than my 14 year old could even consume.

We learned a long time ago that if we are going to be able to stick to our dietary guns, we need to bring a couple dishes on the side to sustain us, especially Joy.  Enter…..

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail!!!

Not sure why this was the dish we both had a craving for but we both did.  We get this dish all the time as an appetizer at one of our favorite local restaurants and I have been trying to emulate it for months now.  I think I have finally gotten it where it needs to be!!

It is great because it easily keeps in a cooler, tastes great cold, you can make it ahead of time and you can make it in relative bulk with easy to find and prep ingredients.  In fact, this version is basically no prep at all!!

So the next time you are invited to an event but are not necessarily excited about hot dogs and brats, consider taking this instead.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (serves 4 as an entree, 8 as an appetizer)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Shelled, de-veined, boiled or steamed shrimp (I use 31/40 and previously fozen works just fine)
  • 1/2 of English cucumber (diced)
  • 1/4 cup of diced jicama (don’t skip this one!!!  The crunch it provides is crucial!!)
  • 1 cup pico de gallo (you can either make your own or use store bought)
  • 2 Tbsps cocktail sauce (I prefer the hot cocktail sauce)
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1/2 medium avocado (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro

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Directions:

  1. Place pico, cocktail sauce and tequila in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. To the mixture add the cucumber, jicama and shrimp.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can go longer and the flavors tend to marry more but expect more fluid if longer).
  4. Immediately prior to serving add diced avocado and mix.
  5. Top with cilantro.
  6. Enjoy over chips, tortillas or just out of the bowl!!

Special note for those who are on eating per the 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix Extreme, you can also make this recipe without the tequila and the avocado and it is great.  This brings your container count to 1 red and 1/2 green depending on your serving size.

Happy Freedom Day!! – Time for carb-less chips!!

The Fourth of July!  Independence Day!  (Treason Day if you are from the UK as one of my good who does hail from Britain proclaimed on Facebook this morning).

It is a day for celebrating, fun in the sun, fireworks and backyard BBQs!  A time for  sweet creamy desserts and salty sides.  But as someone who is currently watching and limiting every carb he takes in, how can I partake in the fun and not be a total Debbie Downer to everyone else?  Enter Carb-less Chips!!

So this morning in prep for our family BBQ, I was making Cloud Bread and decided to experiment on a smaller scale – what about chips?  They turned awesome and you are beneficiary.  Seriously, enjoy

Ingredients:

  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1/2 Tbsp of Water
  • 1/2 tsp of Chipotle Pepper
  1. Pre-heat over to 400 degrees.
  2. imageCombine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
    1. Note:  I use Chipotle Pepper for the spice in this because I like it spicy, feel free to play with the spices that speak to you)
  3. imageSpoon mixture into a cupcake pan (I prefer the mini-cupcake pans but whatever will do) until the bottom of each cupcake is just covered by the mixture.
    1. Note:  You are going to be tempted to overfill, don’t!!  They will come out much crispier the thinner you pour your batter.
  4. Bake for 13-15 minutes checking to make sure they do not burn.
  5. Remove and eat immediately.
    1. Note:  You can also immediately spray with coconut oil and salt if desired.

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Now you have a way to battle the bowl of chips on the picnic table that everyone else is diving into.  Enjoy!!

Carrot Tortillas

In my house, tacos are considered a gift from God.  My wife is pretty much convinced that the manna that God provided the Hebrews had to have been collected and then pan baked into nice round shapes.  Seriously….tacos are a big thing in this house.

However, so is the consumption of refined carbs….or better stated, the lack there of.

So what is a family to do?  We love spicy goodness wrapped in an edible delivery system (ponder on the genius of that for a few moments…..pause….pause….pause…..).

Enter:  The Carrot Tortilla!!!

I know what you are thinking.  I was too but trust me on this one, these are the best we have tried yet.  Don’t believe me?  Watch the taste off here:

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So here is how you make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Grated Carrot
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Flower
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Wash, peel & grate carrots – OR – buy the shredded carrots from the grocery store and give them a rough cut like I do.
  2. Place the carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add water (recipe is 1/2 cup but you are really looking to get them covered in the bowl, the amount really doesn’t matter).  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.DSC_0287
  3. Drain and dry the carrots.  Use a dishtowel or cheese cloth to squeeze extra water out.  The drier you can get these the better they will turn out.
  4. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Tip: just use your hands and get dirty.  It is by far the best way to get the ingredients incorporated.DSC_0293
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a backing sheet with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  6. Spread carrot mixture into approximately 6 inch round ‘tortillas’ that are approximately 1/4 inch think (Note: these don’t rise or spread at all during cooking so however you spread them is pretty much how they will come out).
  7. Bake for 12 minutes, flip them once and bake for another 12 minutes.
  8. At this point you can eat them right away, lay them over a rack to allow them cool into the shape of a hard taco or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  If you store in the fridge, I highly suggest heating them up again in a small frying pan to get them warm and a bit crunchy again.

So there you have it, our solution to not being able to eat tacos without all the refined carbs!!

Do you remember your second step?

Do you ever look back on a journey and ask “what was the second step?”  No.  Most everyone remembers the first step, the proverbial hardest one, but very few remember let alone talk about the second, the third, the fourth, etc.  Well that is what I want to talk about today.

When I first started focusing on my health and fitness level while traveling, I had to start somewhere, right?  Noone just makes a massive change in everything they do, do they?

Certainly not me.

So where does one start on this journey towards a healthier version of yourself?  Here are the 3 changes I made to start.

Change #1:  Nothing Fried

OK people, don’t underestimate how big a change this really was for me.  I would literally eat burgers with fries or fish & chips every day I was on the road.  Literally!!  So this was the first real change I made.  If it came out of a deep fryer, I was not eating it.

The first change here is funny to look back on but I no longer ordered the fish & chips and went with the burger (or chicken sandwich) instead.  I would then substitute a dinner salad for the fries.  I must have had this combination hundreds of times and still do pretty regularly actually.

Change #2:  Do Something – Every Day!!

With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  They gym there was fantastic.  I think I can count on one hand how many times I actually used it back then.

This change is actually where my guardrail for Workout before Wine came from.  I figured if I wanted to have the extra calories contained in the alcohol, I needed to earn it first….and I really like wine.

Change #3:  Rethink “Free”

Extra (fattening) calories are everywhere for the RoadWarrior!!  The cookie at check-in with the hotel.  The waffle maker and bacon at breakfast.  The evening desert bar in the concierge lounge and THE ALCOHOL EVERYWHERE!!!  Hotel and airlines are very good about making sure their best travelers are well taken care of.

These freebies are anything but free.  It is way too easy to find yourself on glass #3 or desert #2 or having desert every night you travel.  My big change was to eat on the road like I would at home.  I do not have desert every night at home.  I am not having 3 glasses of wine a night at home.

Now notice I did not say I gave all that up.  Nope, I just was conscious in my choices of what I would partake in and what I would not.

So those were my steps two, three and four.  Nothing majorly groundbreaking.  No healthy living overhaul.  Just 3 things I could do every day to get closer to RoadWarriorFit.

So how about you?

What is your next step?

Food vs. Fuel

Talk to any serious competitive athlete and you will hear the mantra “Food is Fuel”.  It is a simple, true axiom meant to remind the uber fit that it is ok to eat grilled chicken, brown rice and steamed vegetables for every meal.  After all, athletic performance and staying ripped is all about the quality of the calories and micro nutrients these amazing athletes take in to fuel the work they need to put out.  My guess is that if you are reading this blog for fitness and travel advice, you do not fit into that category.

On the other side of the equation are those who feel that “family is made around food”.   Relationships are made around the table and more people will enjoy the table if the food is rich and inviting.  After all, life is meant to be ‘lived’ not just endured.  But a diet filled with high calorie, high (bad) fat foods is not good for you or your waist line.

So as RoadWarriors, How do we find the balance between fueling our bodies appropriately and feeding our need for relationship?

It is a balance that I battle daily on the road.

I made a major shift in my approach when I realized that I actually am an Uber Athlete – AND SO ARE YOU!!  Can I bench 300 lbs? – No.  Can I run a sub 5 40-yard dash? – No.  Can I go 5 rounds with the UFC’s best? – No.  But I like to think I am really good at what I do and my nutrition plays a big part in my success.  So how do you blend the two successfully?

Plan ahead:

If you have read just about any of my posts you can sense a theme that centers around this.  I firmly believe that Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  You need to know when you are committed to others and where.  Planning around client dinners is crucial to balancing your diet and having long term success living a life on the road.  If I am having dinner with a client that enjoys steak houses, I am going to limit my red meat and carb intake that day prior to the meeting.  If the night calls for a more adventurous palate (Ethiopian anyone?) I may front load the proteins to make room for the veggie based dinner.  Get it?

Think about your daily totals:

I don’t really track calories.  I do track how many servings of each macro I have had throughout the day.  I use the container system created by Autumn Calabrese.  It helps with both portion control and total servings.  Learn more about that here.  Knowing what you need to consume makes sure you are being intentional rather than reactionary.

Carb timing:

In general, I like to time my simple carbs around workouts and early in the day (Fruits I will eat whenever and wherever).  Carbs turn into sugar and energy the easiest of anything we ingest so ingest them before you need them.  The  later in the day, the less I need the easily accessible energy so tapper them off.  Taking a group for Italian?  Skip the oatmeal in the morning, have a salad loaded with veggies and protein for lunch and then enjoy the garlic bread and pasta that night.

Eating greens early:

The one food group that I struggle with getting enough of in my diet is vegies.  It is so easy to skip these, especially if you find yourself in the hotel lobby restaurant or airport limited service restaurant.  Do yourself a favor, start your day off with a serving of veggies.  My go to is the omelet bar.  Give me all the veggies, heavy on the jalapenos, with just a little bit of turkey sausage.  I make my digestive system work from the moment we are breaking fast.  If I can, I am snacking on carrots, celery, red peppers or some other veggie with hummus or peanut butter in mid morning.  That way if it does get late in the day and I am tracking my servings, I am not forced to have all veggies to get caught up.

Limit alcohol intake:

As a frequent traveler with status, you can find free booze everywhere.  In the lounge, at the hotel concierge lounge, even on the plane.  Remember that your body treats alcohol as a poison and stops processing of anything else until the alcohol is processed.  Imbibe intelligently.  My favorite drink is actually a tonic with lime – looks just like a cocktail without the extra calories or headache the following morning.  That being said, I also love a good craft beer, rich red wine and/or single malt scotch.  Just in moderation.

In the end it comes down to treating your food as fuel when you are on your own and making those special client meals just that, special.  Remember, you are an uber performer in what you do.  Eat like an uber performer.