Monday, August 22, 2011

Contest Prep Veggies that Won't Make You Gag

Veggies: a contest prep staple, whether you like it or not.  If you're like me, you tolerate veggies.  You may like a few, and eat them willingly during the off season, but the rest of the green stuff???????  ICK!  My mother raised me eating copious amounts of greens - I just don't care for them.  I do like asparagus and fresh spinach (the frozen stringy stuff makes me want to vomit, though), and broccolini (not broccoli, but broccolini).  And I now have developed a taste for okra.  But the rest of it - I'm not a fan.

As I get deeper and deeper into prep, veggies can actually become a source of carbs.  My last meal, for example, is 120g ground turkey with 300g green veggies.  300g..........that's way more than a plateful of veggies, folks - it's like a plate and a half, sometimes more, depending on the veggie you choose.  And for a non-veggie-lover, that's a lot of the green stuff.  I tried playing around for MANY weeks, and continued to struggle.  At first I was being lazy and was just steaming stuff with salt and pepper.  I soon realized that I was going to have to suck it up and whip out the culinary skills in order to survive.  Here are 2 dishes I've made lately that I LOVE.  300g of either of these is CAKE...........mmmmmmmmmm, cake.

Steamed Broccolini with an Asian Reduction
3 bunches of broccolini, washed with the stems trimmed (this recipe works with broccoli, too, obviously)
PAM olive oil spray
3 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
1/4 c soy sauce
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t honey (optional)
2 T rice vinegar
1T fresh ginger paste (or 1 T chopped fresh ginger)

Steam broccolini and then blanch them while you create the reduction.

Spray the bottom of a large skillet liberally with PAM (should be a decent amount - enough to saute garlic/ginger without burning).  Heat oil spray over medium-high heat and add chopped garlic and fresh ginger paste.  Saute for about a minute, and be careful not to let it burn.  PAM doesn't last as well as EVOO, so you really have to watch it.  Add in the red pepper flakes and saute them for a few seconds (adding red pepper flakes to oil ALWAYS increases the heat factor more than adding them at the end of a dish).  Add your blanched broccolini to the pan and rotate them several times to coat them in the ginger/garlic/red pepper sauce.  Once coated, add your rice vinegar and soy to the pan and toss to coat.  Remove the broccolini after about a minute and then turn up the heat to high.  Add honey (optional - for those prepping, you can skip it, but it truly only adds trace cals/carbs) and reduce by about 1/3.  Drizzle sauce over top and serve.  Deeeeeeeeelish!

Sauteed Okra (recipe compliments of IFBB Pro, Kayde Puckett!)
3 cups okra, chopped into small slices (about 1/2 an inch)
PAM olive oil spray
cajun seasoning of choice
fresh garlic or garlic powder

Spray bottom of skillet liberally with PAM (again, enough so the garlic doesn't burn).  Saute chopped garlic for about 1 minute, then add your okra (if using garlic powder, skip this step).  Saute okra for a few minutes and then add in the cajun seasoning.  If you're using garlic powder, this is when you'd add it.  Season okra with salt and pepper and continue to saute. 

The seeds release a slimy liquid as they cook.  This bothers some people, but I don't really mind it.  I saute everything for about 5 minutes or more - they should be soft to the touch.  Sometimes I cook them longer if I have more than 3 cups - it just depends on feel!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

You've heard the saying before - and it's 100% accurate.  Whether it be Obama's "Change" and "Hope" or the next diet fad, Americans seem to be turning to the quick, easy fix for all of their problems.  Perhaps it's a generational thing, perhaps it's a changing American attitude - I'm not quite sure what it is, but it drives me insane, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

It seems that every time I turn on the TV, I see ads for the "Hollywood Cookie Diet (Snooki from Jersey Shore was on this - how did that turn out for her?  Still fat?  Yeah, I thought so)," or "Xenadrine," or "Hip Hop Abs."  All of them promise the same thing: do as little work as possible, but achieve great results - guaranteed!!!  Are we really that lazy?  It takes people who are overweight and unhealthy YEARS to get that way - you don't wake up and suddenly weigh 150 lbs more than you did the previous day.  Weight gain is caused by a caloric surplus.  Every day, in order to gain weight, you have to consume more calories than you burn.  You'd actually be surprised at what the human body burns during the day, just by doing nothing.  So, let's say we have a 150lb male, age 25, 6'0''.  This individual burns about 1745 cals a day AT REST(Basal Metabolic Rate, or, BMR).  Now, if he never went to the gym and didn't exercise, his daily caloric need would be approximately 2100 cals a day (this is how many cals a day he could eat and maintain his weight).  2100 cals a day is quite a lot (although, not so much if you're eating junk food).  So, everyday, this man would need to eat well over 2100 cals in order to start packing on fat.  Overeating makes you fat, pure and simple.  Depending on how many cals a day he eats, he'd have to eat in a caloric surplus for YEARS to gain 100 additional pounds.

My point?  It takes you YEARS to get fat, it's going to take you YEARS to get thin. Any product, aerobic craze workout (ahem, Shake Weight), or colon cleanse (probably #1 on my shit list - no pun intended) that promises results in a matter of weeks or months is a complete SHAM.  Sure, if you eat the Atkins Diet for 3 months, or do the HCG diet and eat 500 cals a day for 6 months, or do a colon cleanse where you're on a liquid diet and eating well below maintenance calories, you will lose weight.  The math is simple: calories in will be < calories out, even by not going to the gym.  And that's the selling point: these companies prey on people who have no interest in working hard.  The result?  3 months of basically being anorexic will enable anyone to lose weight; that weight loss, pure and simple, is not sustainable.  As SOON as you stop eating on the weird diet, or drinking your calories, what's going to happen?  Shocker!  You're going to gain weight.  Then you're going to be disappointed and say that nothing works to help you lose weight.  Sigh. 

I recently saw an infomercial for Sensa, a product that promises rapid and dramatic weight loss results by merely sprinkling some bullshit fairy dust on top of your food.  You can go out and have pizza and ice cream - as long as you sprinkle the Sensa crap on top of your crap food, you'll lose weight.  Really?  So you're going to sprinkle Sensa on everything for the rest of your life?  C'mon, America, I'm going to beat you senseless.

I also see commercials for Hip Hop Abs all the time.  I feel kinda the same way about the Zumba craze.  Hip Hop Abs and Zumba burn calories, so, again, if you burn more than you eat, you're going to lose weight.  And for the average fat American, an hour of Zumba is more than anything they've ever done.  Just getting them off of the couch and doing jumping jacks for 20 minutes would make them lose weight.  Now, what I like about HHA and Zumba are that they're fun, and that's going to make people stick to a program.  But I think it should be part of a whole package of eating healthy, working out, and lifting weights.  It should not be the only thing that people do to lose weight.  What happens when you get bored with Zumba and stop going to classes?  Oh, yep - you'll gain all your weight back.

The biggest problem area for Americans is, and always will be, diet.  In my opinion, diet is 80% or MORE of the weight loss/physique game.  This is why products like Sensa or Xenadrine are so successful.  They relay the message that it's ok to eat shit - their products will work despite a doo doo diet.  Again, unsustainable.  I hate to break it to you, America, but if you want to fit into your skinny jeans, you gotta eat skinny food.  This means skipping the grande caramel macchiato with whipped cream in the morning (330 calories, btw) and subbing it for plain coffee with sugar free caramel syrup.  It means skipping the Big Mac and fries for a 93% lean ground turkey burger and a plain baked potato.  And it means ditching the full fat ice cream for a serving of Greek Yogurt.  Is that as fun?  Not really.  Is it worth it?  Is it sustainable?  Yes.  And, the healthy options taste good, too. 

This problem will not go away anytime soon, I realize this.  But that's because we're some of the laziest freakin' people I've ever seen.  America is going to continue to get fatter and fatter, and bullshit companies are going to continue to profit off of them.  The moral of this story:  eat right, workout like an ATHLETE, and you'll have the body you want.   No BS, no fairy dust, no magic shoes.  Just sweat and grit.