Add Tons of Flavor, and NO Calories With These Seasoning Combos

Plain chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and brown rice…aka “The Bodybuilder Diet”

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be this boring and bland. Food is supposed to be enjoyable, pleasurable, and believe it or not, it’s easier to eat when it tastes good.

The following blends of herbs, spices, and other flavor boosters will give your chicken, beef, fish, or veggies a kick that will make them much more palatable.

There are two ways I recommend using these blends; as a large marinade/dry rub or on a “per meal basis”. You can either cook up a ton of chicken using these flavorings, or do what I prefer – make a ton of plain chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper, then add the flavors when you reheat the chicken for the given meal.

If you decide to add the flavors to the individual meats/veggies at the meal, you will obviously cut down on the portions to your liking. To do this, I like making different dry blends and storing them in labeled Tupperware containers, so all it takes is one little spoonful every time you want that flavor. You will then add a squirt or two of any of the liquid flavorings to the pan you are using to reheat your meat in.

Lets get to the flavors.

The Basics

Minced Garlic

Garlic adds a ton of awesome flavor to anything. I personally use it in a ton of dishes, and it works with any cuisine. You can buy jars of minced garlic at the grocery store. Simply add a teaspoon to your roasted veggies with some olive oil, salt and pepper and they become 100x better.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper can also be added to anything to give it a little kick. If you are looking for something quick, just do some cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt and you instantly get a little more spice in your life. Awesome on eggs.

Lemon Juice and Lemon Zesthttps://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjq1MXXo4zPAhVL02MKHfUpCskQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thefreshloaf.com%2Fnode%2F45079%2Fbest-lemon-zest&bvm=bv.132479545,d.dmo&psig=AFQjCNF6GAsGr97ocvAQ2IoZGWyZ3vYowg&ust=1473853874812125

Lemon juice and zest adds a little bit of sour to your meats. Combine with black pepper and you have a nice lemon pepper blend that goes well with chicken or white fish. For zest, you can just use a small cheese grater to get some of the lemon rind to add more intense lemon flavor.

Killer Combos (4 servings per)

 Southwest Blend

 Combine 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring well.

 Chinese Marinade*

Combine 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, ½ teaspoon onion powder, pinch red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, pinch sugar.

*If making for just one dish, add this at the end of cooking/reheating, so the garlic doesn’t burn in the pan.

Thai Flavor*

 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of diced cilantro, 1 tsp. Thai chili oil (this can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores)

This chili oil is my #1 favorite thing to add to cottage cheese as well, just a 1/4 tsp changes the entire game!

*If making for just one dish, add this at the end of cooking/reheating, so the garlic doesn’t burn in the pan.

 

Italian Blend

 Dry blend: 1 tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon basil, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 tablespoon thyme,

For cooking, add: 2 Tablespoons red cooking wine, 1 tablespoon olive oil, diced cherry tomatoes. Cook down into a very light red sauce. 

I use this combo often when making vegetables to add to a pasta dish, or if trying to limit carbs, go with a spaghetti squash.

Indian Blend

 1 Tablespoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ginger powder, 1 Tablespoon garlic, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder

Mexican Blend

1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 2 teaspoons paprika, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Use this blend with ground turkey or 93/7 beef for some amazing, lower fat tacos.

Give these a try, and stop eating boring, bland food!

How to Salvage Even the Worst of Diet Days

Starting off, I know this post might ruffle some feathers because I still will be talking about eating processed and fast food. By no way do I think any of these foods are the best choice to be eating; however, we have ALL had that day where all our plans go to $#!t and we end up eating at places we might not normally eat. This post is about how to minimize the damage while still eating at different “junk food” locations.

Think of it as a Eat This, Not That kind of post. No one is forcing you against your will to go to McDonald’s, but if you happen to end up there, how can you make the smartest choice?

What if your kids REALLY REALLY want to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream, and you just HAVE to get something? Yes, the best option would be to politely say, no thank you, but I personally haven’t figured out how to do that yet when it comes to ice cream.

For the purpose of this post, we will be following Person A, and Person B, and we will see where they end up at the end of the day. Calories are listed, along with amounts of carbs, protein and fat (in grams).

So you decide to start your day at Starbucks. Ready to buy a triple vente mochalattefrappa vanilla coffee? Think again.

 

A) Vente Salted Carmel Mocha = 473 calories – 74 carbs, 18 fat, 14 protein

B) Grande Skinny Salted Carmel Latte = 130 calories – 19 carbs, 0 fat, 12 protein

***Don’t drink your calories. You came to the coffee shop for a quick kick of energy in the form of caffeine, not for your early morning dessert. Make the smart choice, leave out the added sugar and heavy cream, and get your caffeine fix without the added calories***

Next on our day of fun comes breakfast! Let’s stop at Denny’s, ‘Mericas Diner! Ok lots of choices here, but they have this “Fit Fare” menu… must be healthy. I’ll take the Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast, right off the Fit Fare Menu!

Wedding at Denny’s? #Merica!

A) Fit Fare Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast = 750 calories, 131 carbs, 14 fat, 29 protein

B) Fit Fare Loaded Veggie Omelet w/ Fruit Cup Side option = 420 calories, 51 carbs, 13 fat, 29 protein

***Just because something is labelled healthy or fit, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice still. When it comes to breakfast, try to be as anti-American as possible (this might get me on a watch list or something?). The traditional American breakfast is SO carb heavy that one can easily meet their carb goals for the entire day if they aren’t careful. Cereal, toast, pancakes, muffins, bagels, waffles = ALL CARBS! Your first choice should be a protein source (eggs in this case). Starting the day with protein will set you up for success. If there is an option to add on a side, always pick the fruit or vegetable option. This should be an automatic response.***

It’s the lunch hour and you are crammed into your co-workers van. “Hey guys, mind if we stop at McDonalds?” He says as he takes a gulp from his 36 oz. Super America Mt. Dew from yesterday’s lunch break…

A) Double Cheeseburger, Large Fry, and a Medium Coke = 1140 calories, 153 carbs, 47 fat, 31 protein

B) Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Kids Fry, and a Water = 460 calories, 56 carbs, 11 fat, 34 protein

***Yes, I realize you could be even healthier and get a salad instead of fries. Or if you are a male trying to get more protein in the day, another grilled chicken sandwich might be a better option. The point I am trying to make here is damage control. If you just NEED to eat some McDonalds fries, the kids portion is more than enough. A large fry is over 500 calories alone, while the kids option is only 110 calories. BY making this simple swap alone you are saving 400 calories from your daily intake, and still getting a little bit of those salty fries.

Also, same thing as at Starbucks, don’t drink your calories! A medium fountain soda is right around 200 calories. Combine this with a dessert before breakfast from the coffee shop and you have drunk over 600 liquid calories for the day! These calories are of ZERO benefit to you and your body. I can’t stress this enough.***

It is now 3pm at work, you are crashing, you think you are hungry (but its really just boredom or stress?) Time for a healthy snack! Kashi granola bars sound healthy.

A) Kashi Granola Bar – 130 calories, 21 carbs, 4 fat, 6 protein

B) Nothing OR Chocolate Milk Whey Protein Shake made in water = 130 calories, 5 carbs, 2 fat, 25 protein

Maybe a little overkill…

***Equal calories here, different macronutrients. By having some protein for a snack, you will be more satiated (full) versus eating a quick carb source. This should tie you over until dinner. Also, maybe you aren’t hungry. Take a second to reflect on what is going on in your day. Are you stressed out? Are you just bored at your desk? Food won’t fix that. Go for a little walk to the drinking fountain, fill up your water bottle, and take some deep breaths. ***

You are driving home from work and your spouse calls. “Hey honey, we have so much going on tonight, I am going to pick up Pizza Hut for dinner. What do you want?” Sigh…

A) Two pieces of hand tossed, large, pepperoni and sausage pizza = 660 calories, 98 carbs, 26 fat, 30 protein

B) Two pieces of thin crust, large, pepperoni = 560 calories, 56 carbs, 28 fat, 24 protein

***This is a tough one here. Even by switching to thin crust and only one fatty meat, you only save 100 calories. You could get a veggie pizza option here, but would the kids eat that? If so, then do that. However, if you have to get one pizza for you and one for the kids, there will likely be leftovers – and we don’t want leftovers sitting around for later. Another option here could be to politely recommend to your spouse/person offering to pick up pizza, to grab a pre-made rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, along with some type of veggie. Saves time, and a ton of calories!***

Just when you thought your diet day from hell was over, juniors tee-ball team is hitting up DQ for Blizzards! You know that ice cream is not on the plan, but you just can’t say no…

A) Small DQ Reese’s Blizzard – 580 calories, 74 carbs, 21 fat, 13 protein

B) Kids Vanilla Cone – 170 calories, 27 carbs, 0 fat, 4 protein

***Another option here is get nothing, enjoy company and your kids, and maybe steal a bite from someones treat. Especially if you are person A in this case, you have had more than your fair share of food for the day. Also notice that Blizzard is a SMALL! 580 calories in a SMALL! Holy crap!***

The day is over. That was crazy. Now I will be the first one to say that neither one of these people had the best day when it comes to food choices. But lets take a look at the daily totals:

A) 3733 calories, 551 carbs, 130 fat, 123 protein (269 grams of sugar)

B) 1873 calories, 214 carbs, 54 fat, 128 protein (76 grams of sugar)

Person B ate at all the same places as Person A, but had almost 2000 fewer calories, 340 less grams of carbs, less than half the fat, and a little more protein!

The power of choice can be huge, especially when it comes to making decisions about what you will eat at some of the less healthy locations out there. It can be done.

Remember, we all fall off the wagon sometimes, it’s not your whole life, it’s only one day. You haven’t thrown everything away ($100 to anyone besides my best friend who gets that reference).

Like what you read? Want to get up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up below!

[blog_subscription_form]

Stay healthy my friends,

How to Survive a Long Weekend Food Fest, and Still Enjoy Yourself

Overview:

  • Portions still matter, calories still matter
  • Maintain healthy eating patterns
  • Be active, however you can
  • Return to your routine as soon as the trip is over
  • Enjoy your vacation guilt free

Reuben Sandwich with fries, authentic Mexican fajitas + 20 oz. margarita, Denny’s Grand Slam* and Gino’s East – Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. (*The Grand Slam was custom, more about this later*)

Rueben...

Rueben…

What do all these foods have in common?

 

I consumed them all this past weekend on my road trip to Cedar Point (the rollercoaster capital of the world) with my lovely fiancée, Amanda. You know what also rocks? After just one day of being back, my weight was right back to where it was before I left. (I’m not a huge fan of the scale, but I weighed myself purposely before the trip because I wanted to prove this point)

Fajitas...

Fajitas…

Now before you think I am trying to rub it in your face and brag about how much crap I ate, let me make it perfectly clear that I sorta am. That may sound harsh, but at the same time I want it to. I want to get rid of this notion that you have to starve yourself, forgo enjoying foods that you want to enjoy, and make all these terrible sacrifices while going on what is supposed to be a fun, and enjoyable vacation.

This being said I also want to make two very clear points:

  1. I am not overweight, obese, or really trying to lose weight right now. However, I do not want to gain weight either with my wedding coming up in 5 months (HOLY S#!T)
  2. I realize how hard it is to lose weight, I know that it is not easy, and I know this post may come off as offensive to people who really struggle with their weight. I work with people every day who struggle with their weight and body image. I was once there. I was once 260 lbs. (45 more than I am now) and I lost it and kept it off now for over 6 years.

20 oz...

20 oz…

In no way do I mean to offend, rather, I want to help people regain control of their lives without obsessing over food while trying to enjoy their lives.

Now, how the hell did I consume this food, along with riding in a car for 14 hours over the weekend, and not gain a single fraction of a pound? This is where the magic happens…

First off, go back to the word: vacation. This should be a time of enjoyment, relaxation and plenty of fun. It doesn’t mean pure gluttony. The foods I listed at the start may sound like pure gluttony, however I will argue they were purely part of the vacation. The follow-up to that reasoning would be; how are those foods not gluttony?

Gino's East...pure enjoyment, only 350 cals per slice!

Gino’s East…pure enjoyment, only 350 cals per slice!

This brings me to point numero uno:

1) Maintain Portion Control and At Least Match Calorie Goals

Yes I ate some less than “healthy” foods, but no I did not eat ONLY those foods nor did I eat ridiculous quantities of those foods. Here are the quantities of the foods I ate:

  • The whole reuben sandwich, half the fries, water for beverage
  • The entire plate of fajitas, and the 20 oz. margarita, water for beverage (this was the day we spent at the park, in which I tracked over 16000 steps, and had a tiny sandwich for lunch to avoid puking all over my fellow riders)
  • A build your own Grand Slam (2 eggs, 2 egg whites, 2 chicken sausages, and whole wheat pancakes) coffee as beverage
  • 2 slices of Ginos East deep dish

All of these meals (except the fajitas) were right around 700 calories, which for me, is my goal per meal to maintain my current weight. Yes, they weren’t very nutritious, but calorically they were “controlled” and consistent with my caloric intakes prior to the trip. I could have easily ordered a full Grand Slam or had a third slice of pie – making these meals closer to 1200 calories each.

"Healthified" Grand Slam

“Healthified” Grand Slam

This is where mindful eating can be huge. Slow down, and listen to your body. Eat until you are satisfied, but not bursting at the seams.

If you have NO CLUE how to guesstimate your calories, use an app like MyFitnessPal to check out your meal options BEFORE ordering them.

You can even use the strategy with fast food joint. Yes they aren’t optimal, but it also doesn’t mean you need to pound 1500 calories in one meal. Do your research BEFORE you eat it, or plan out a cute car full of healthy meals and snacks, like my good friend and fellow RD, Jen, suggests here on her awesome blog.

*All other meals on the trip were very light, because I knew we would be going on rides, or eating hardy later in the day.

2) Maintain normal eating patterns

I am not a big snacker throughout the day. If I do snack, it is usually a protein shake or another source of protein and maybe a little healthy fat. Therefore, the only snack we brought in the car for the drive was beef jerky. The big goal again is to maintain some consistency.

People tend to go crazy with snacks in the car, why, I have no clue. You are literally setting yourself up for boredom eating. Car rides suck, especially when you have nothing but flat ass northern Indiana and Ohio to drive through.

jack.links_.beef_.jerky_

If I would have brought M&M’s, sodas, chips, trail mix, etc. I can guarantee I would have pounded those foods like nothing. Only bring snacks if you are a snacker, and you know you snack responsibly. If so, only pack portions that you normally would eat so you can’t devour an entire bag of almonds in one sitting (almonds are healthy, but are still easy to over consume)

3) Physical Activity is a MUST

Notice I didn’t say exercise here. It doesn’t have to be an actual workout, but move around when you have the chance. Go explore the local areas. Find some state parks that are close by and walk, climb and hike them. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, then you may have to get a little more creative, but just don’t sit around all day. Find something of interest and go walk around. A museum, art gallery, shopping mall, anything to get you moving after sitting in a car or on a plane all day.

Lake Erie shore, precious.

Lake Erie shore, precious.

Every bit matters.

As I stated earlier, we got about 16000 steps in while at Cedar Point. The night before, we went up to Johnson’s Island and walked around the Lake Erie shore line, and checked out the area. As soon as we got back from our trip, I got in a quick bodyweight and band workout while Amanda went for a run.

It was just returning to the norm. Which brings me to my final point:

4) The SECOND Vacation is Over, Get Back to Your Routine

This is assuming you already have a good routine in place. You don’t need to go on some detox, or starve yourself, or workout for 3 hours the day after. Just get back to your routine. As soon as I was unpacked I was itching to workout (or maybe it was that I hadn’t showered yet…) It felt great to get a workout in as soon as I could.

Normal Breakfast

Normal Breakfast

Standard Lunch

Standard Lunch


Typical Dinner

Typical Dinner

Then the next morning I started my day off with my usual workout day breakfast, followed up with a standard lunch and dinner. No big deal.

If there were one word to sum up the process here it would be: consistency.

Anyone who takes their health seriously needs consistency throughout it. From your meals, to your workouts, to your sleeping patterns. Consistency is huge.

On the flip side, anyone who takes their LIFE seriously, also needs to know how to enjoy it, guilt free, knowing that they will return to their consistent patterns as soon as the vacation is over.

Whats for Dinner? Flat Out Tuscan Chicken Pizza

Made two of these bad boys for dinner tonight. One would be enough if your goal is weight loss, but two was the right amount for me. I should have taken a pic, but I ate the pizzas before I got the chance… so here is a good representation)

http://www.bodyofamother.com/2011_03_01_archive.html

http://www.bodyofamother.com/2011_03_01_archive.html

Flat Out Tuscan Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:

1 whole wheat Flat Out Wrap

½ chicken breast (2 oz.)

½ cup shredded asiago cheese (any cheese works well)

½ cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh) ( I used organic canned with basil and garlic)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. Tuscan seasoning

Any other vegetables (I added mushrooms and green olives)

Prep:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken breast with ½ tsp. of Tuscan seasoning.

Place chicken breast in baking dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. (or grill chicken on George Foreman until done, about 8 min)

While chicken is baking, spread 2 tsp. of olive oil on flat out wrap. Spread ½ tsp. of Tuscan seasoning over wrap. Spread tomatoes, asiago cheese and any other vegetables on flat out wrap. After chicken is done baking or grilling, chop up one half of the breast and distribute on flat out wrap. Place the pizza directly on the oven rack and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Nutrition Info: (one pizza)

Calories: 356

Fat: 11 grams (8g monounsaturated from olive oil)

Carbs: 27 grams

Protein: 28 grams

Fiber: 8 grams!!

SNAP Challenge – Day 1: Dinner

Dinner:

Todays dinner consisted of 1, 4 oz tilapia filet, 3/4 cup steamed brocoli and 1/2 cup of kidney beans (prepared earlier in the day)and of course 3 cups of water.

For the tilapia, I went with a recipe from the bag for poached tilapia in the microwave. It was very simple and tasted okay. I took the filet out at lunch and put it in the fridge to thaw. To prepare, all I did was put the filet in a dish with 1/2 cup of water and some onion, pepper and salt (with a little added lemon juice) and microwaved it for 5 minutes.

Tilapia topped with some frozen onion

Tilapia topped with some frozen onion

While the tilapia was getting nuked, I put 3/4 cup frozen brocoli into my steamer for the same amount of time (5 minutes).

3/4 cup brocoli

3/4 cup brocoli

DSC00048I then covered, and steamed the brocoli for 5 minutes. Lastly, I measured out 1/2 cup of kidney beans from before. I ate them cold, but you could always heat them up.

Dinner

Dinner

The fish broke up quite a bit in the microwave, and didn’t look so good, but honestly it tasted pretty good for how basic it was.

Dinner Stats:

Prep time: 7 minutes (pretty darn quick)

Calories: 240 (this was pretty low, and I will need to get more later tonight)

Carbs: 24 grams

Fat: 3 grams

Protein: 35 grams

This meal was on the light side, but filled me up decently. I would have liked it to be closer to 350 calories, but I will add a snack later.

Looking back, I probably would’ve added some sort of grain to the meal, but you live and learn.