High Protein, Low Calorie Snacks

Today is the first day of what I hope to turn into a short series. Through my exercise journey, I am learning more and more about food and focusing on the right way to eat. I hope to bring you new snacks and help you achieve the results you want by incorporating better lifestyle habits in the kitchen.

My first snack is quick and easy. I have never been a fan of yogurt, but my wife has gotten me into Greek Yogurt, and we have been using it like sour cream for our tacos and burritos. I recently saw a meal plan with Greek Yogurt on its own.

greek-yogurt-400

The meal plan also also called for pineapple chunks. Now I love pineapple, so this was much easier to get behind. I got an 8 pack of tidbit cups and eat one a day.

Dole Pineapple Tidbits

 

Now for my easy snack. Can you guess? I combine the two. I drain the tidbits and place them in a bowl. Next add 1/2 cup of Fage Greek Yogurt and mix. The combination of the two has a great taste and is a perfect post workout snack with your protein shake, or has a side to your lunch. The snack has a total of 125  calories, no fat, and 14 grams of protein. Give it a shot!

 

Today is Day 18 of 30, 75 pushups and situps for the day.

I-Must-Go.-My-Gym-Needs-Me.

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Calorie Intake and Black Bean Pizza

So  I promised everyone an update on how to adjust calories once you reach a goal weight.  The easiest way is to use an online calculator. I have found this one to be a good source.

I however have been monitoring my calories for the entire time I have been working on my program. So I was able to calculate my needs based on the previous week. Last week I lost 2.8 pounds. At 3500 calories per pound, I had a deficit of 9800 calories that week. This over the 7 day week, that means I need 1400 calories a day to sustain and stop losing weight.

If you are thinking wow, that’s a lot, you are right. However with the HIIT, and crossfit style workouts I have been doing, that makes sense. But nonetheless I had the same reaction. So how do you go from 2200 to 3600 calories a day? Take it slow, and monitor your weight.

On Sunday I only adding 300 calories to my day. This allowed me to eat a little more but not gorge myself. This morning I weighed myself. Today I did my first workout of the new program, and at 5 pm I had eaten 2200 calories and was still hungry. with 300 left, compared to yesterday, I knew 2500 was too low. I bumped my number to 2700. I will eat 2700 calories today and weigh myself tomorrow. I will continue to eat 2700 calories a day for the rest of the week, and I will weigh myself every morning. If over the course of this week I maintain my weight, I will stop increasing and eat 2700 a day. However if I lose weight I will add another 200 calories and continue the process.

The reason this is a better method than just looking at a calculator, or just adding the 1400 calories to my day, is because it allows for my new workout to burn a different amount than the last, and it helps me avoid eating way too much before my body is ready for the extra food.

 

So After getting my calories sorted out, I my pizza. Super healthy Black Bean and Salsa pizza! One slice is 183 calories. Have a glass of wine and two slices and you are looking at a 466 calorie meal, with tons of protein and even some veggies. Here is a step by step recipe for you to follow:

Place your pizza stone on the grill and turn on grill as high as possible. Let warm-up for an hour. My grill reached about 600 degrees.

First spread your dough over a pizza peel and pour 1 cup of salsa on the dough. Spread evenly.

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Next take a cup of shredded mozzarella and spread it evenly over  the dough and salsa.

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After adding the cheese, take a fully drained can of black beans and top the cheese with the beans. Thinly slice a single red pepper and spread the pepper over the beans.

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Next chop 3 scallions into 1 inch segments and place on top.

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The final step before baking is to take about 1/4 cup of mozzarella and create a top layer of cheese.

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Place on the pizza stone inside the grill and bake for 6 minutes. Enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day

Last week was Valentines Day and as full time students and parents, my wife and I decided it was a good idea to celebrate on Saturday. So Saturday night I cooked a meal, made homemade ice cream, sat on the floor and had a picnic while watching a movie.

So what did we eat? For dinner I made Tagliata for Two. The recipe is in Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson. Tagliata for Two is a simple NY Steak recipe, and was by far the best I have ever had!

You will need:

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

1 Teaspoon Oregano

A pinch of Kosher Salt

2 Teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar

12oz NY Steak

8oz of Cherry Tomatoes

 

And you will need to do:

Heat your grill as high as it will go. I wait until the grill reaches at least 550 before I start to cook the meat. While the grill is reaching temperature take the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place it in a bowl just big enough to fit the steak. Add the Red Pepper, Oregano, a pinch of kosher salt and then the 2 teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar. Mix the sauce together and allow it to sit in the bowl.

Next place the steak on the grill for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes flip and let grill for another 3 minutes. The steak will be rare, but cooked to a safe temperature. Nigella Lawson states in her book- get a good quality meat and do not over cook, otherwise don’t even bother. My wife is afraid of rare cooked meat, but loved this dish!

So after taking the steak off the grill, place it in the dish with the sauce. After 2 minutes flip the steak and soak for another 2 minutes. After soaking both sides, slice your cherry tomatoes and lay them face down in the sauce. Once every tomato is sliced, smash them into the sauce and stir well.

Now Slice the steak into thin strips and split the strips between two plates. Arrange them in a nice order and then pour the cherry tomatoes and sauce over the layout. I served them with my fries from last week, but you could do salad or green beans. For dessert we had homemade ice cream, also from the book. Later this week I will post that simple recipe.

300 Calories in 6oz and 30 grams of protein. Enjoy!

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Hamburgers and Fries- You can still eat delicious food

So tonight my wife and I are having Hamburgers and Fries. Despite a healthy lifestyle, you  can still eat good food, and there is no reason to avoid many foods you are already enjoy. Today’s recipe is quick and simple, and is a good way to end your week and reward yourself. If you are tracking your calories you can plan for this meal and still not go over for the day. If you do go over, remember you can make up for it throughout the week. Shoot for a weekly total of calories, don’t focus just on each day.

So first lets talk about the fries. Homemade fries are easy to make and only have 118 calories. A serving of fries is equal to one full potato. In order to make the fries you can cut them up by hand or use a mandolin. I use a mandolin, and today I cut them in 3mm strips (julienne fries). Now be sure to cut the fries as early in the day as possible. The reason for this is because you need to soak them in water. Soaking the fries will extract starch and increase the health side of the dish. If you can, change the water hourly. If you can’t that is fine and you can leave them in the water for the day.

Soaking in Water

Soaking in Water

Now about an hour before you plan on cooking the fries, dump the fries on to a cloth and allow them to sit and dry. With 20 minutes before cooking turn on the oven, set to 350, and season the fries. I season the fries with pepper to taste and a light spray of olive oil. Once the oven is to temp, place the fries on a cooking pan and set in the oven. Turn the convection on and let bake. The time depends on the slice sizes and your choice of crispiness. I like my fries crispy and with the smaller slices tonight we baked for OOOOO minutes.

Drying

Drying

Now for the burgers! This again is a very simple recipe. I use 85/15 meat. The reason I do not go with 90/10 is because the extra fat helps with flavor and keeps the patties together. Plus that little 5% is not going to hurt you. Now to flavor and season the meat I use a lot of different techniques. Tonight’s burgers are seasoned with Trader Joe’s South African Rub. I grind the rub and add to the meat until I smell enough of the rub to know I can taste it. Smell is about 75% of taste, so if you like the amount of seasoning you can smell chances are you will enjoy the taste. I seasoning everything based on smell and I never measure. After seasoning the meat, I do the whole package, I split into patties of 1/3 pounds. You can go for 1/4 if you want to save on calories. After making patties, I put two patties together in a ziploc bag and repeat until all pairs of patties are zipped up. This way I can freeze the patties in groups of two- one for me, one for my wife. Whenever you plan to have burgers, remove the bag of two patties from the freezers and place them in the fridge overnight.

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Patties

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Buns

Once you are ready to cook the burger, turn your grill on and set to high. Do this at-least 30 minutes prior to grilling. Let the burgers sit at room temperature until the grill has heated. Once the grill has heated up for 30 minutes placed the burgers on the grill and close the top. After 4 minutes open the grill and flip the burgers. Once flipped close the grill and wait 3 minutes. After 3 minutes open the grill and top the burgers with cheese, if you wish. At this time you can place your buns on the grill. After 60 seconds remove the patties and buns. You are now ready to serve.

I will go into the homemade buns I use at a later date, but for me burgers I use onion buns. The buns have 211 calories in them. That plus 15 calories for ketchup, 5 for mustard, 70 for cheese, and 310 for the 1/3lbs patty, makes for a burger with 611 calories. That is 250 less than at Five Guys and much better quality of meat. Add the fries, and the entire meal is 729 calories. Still less than 1 burger at Five Guys. Bigger than most meals, but it still left me with 1500 calories to have during the day, and can be less calories based on buying healthy buns or using less meat.

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Enjoy!

Pizza Night!

Hey everyone! So I have talked about eating healthier, calories, and supplements, but I haven’t provided you with any recipes to help out. Today is Friday and because of that it is pizza night! Every Friday I make pizza for my wife, son, and myself. It started as a tradition in my wife’s home growing up, and when we got married her father passed it on to me.

Now you may be wondering about pizza, but it is indeed a healthy food for weight loss. The flat abs diet puts pizza in the “foods to eat often” category. This has a catch however- pizza hut, papa john’s, dominoes and all frozen pizzas should be avoided. So what is left? Homemade pizza with unprocessed ingredients. Tonight I am making a very simple cheese and tomato sauce pizza, and I will provide you with every step!

First the key nutritional facts- 160 calories per slice, 7 grams of protein, and only the amount of fat in the cheese you buy (I buy Kroger mozzarella and in one slice of pizza I get 1.25 grams of fat)

I usually only eat 2 slices, again thinking about portion control, and then I have a salad. Together my Friday night meal is roughly between 400 and 450 calories. Perfect way to finish the day. Remember three big meals with three small meals in between. Also Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner- biggest to smallest.

So here is the recipe-

Ingredients:

Sauce

Two Cans of Hunts Diced garlic tomatoes                1 Diced Onion                4 Mushrooms

In order to make the sauce take one can of tomatoes and place in the blender, dice the onion and place the onion in blender, add the mushrooms and the second can of tomatoes. Using the pulse button on the blender, turn the blender on and off until the sauce is as smooth or as chunky as you would like. This sauce is now ready. You can place the sauce in a pot and bring to a boil. The longer you boil the sauce the more water will come out and the sauce will be more thicker. I find this takes 5 hours or so, and I am OK with the extra water. I combat that by using a fork to scoop sauce onto the dough.

Dough

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of water                1 1/2 teaspoon salt                1 teaspoon instant yeast                3 cups all purpose flour                2 table spoons olive oil

The dough recipe I use can be found in the King Arthur cook book. In a mixing bowl place in 1 1/4 cups of water, all the salt, yeast and olive oil. Using a dough hook, mix the ingredients and pour in 1 cup of flour. As the mixture mixes slowly add the other two cups of flour. If the dough is dry and doesn’s pack into a nice ball, you can add some more of the water. If the dough is sticky, leave in the mixer and sprinkle in small amounts of flour until the dough is a good consistency. After mixing, remove the dough and separate into two balls. Place the dough balls in a plastic bag with a small amount of extra olive oil. Place the bag in the fridge and let sit until ready to heat the oven and cook.

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In order to make the pizza place a pizza stone, or an upside down cookie pan, in our oven and set the temperature as high as it will go. Place one hour on a timer and start the count down. Now take the pizza dough out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature.

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After the timer goes off, take one of the balls out of the bag and flatten and stretch the dough until your pizza is the size you want. After the dough is stretched, I place some cornmeal on my pizza peel, and then place the pizza on the peel. This will allow me to slide the pizza onto the stone in the hot oven. Once the pizza dough is on the peel, it is time for toppings. I use a fork to spread the sauce on the dough, and then I slice mozzarella and and cover the sauce in a layer of cheese.

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Once the toppings are on, place the pizza in the oven. The minimum time depends on you and your oven. If you prefer soft crust shoot for around 10 minutes. At this tie the cheese will melt but not brown. For about 15 minutes you will get slight browning of the cheese and the crust will be crispy. Again just watch and check your pizza because your oven could change these times.

Next is to let the pizza cool, slice and enjoy!

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The left over pizza dough ball, and the leftover sauce can be frozen. Next time you make pizza just put them in the fridge the night before.