Flexible dieting is a pretty big movement right now, and if you consider the way the fitness industry tends to operate it actually shouldn’t be that surprising.
The fitness industry works like a pendulum, with MASSIVE swings going from one extreme to the other.
Eat 8 meals per day -> Intermittent Fasting
Run a lot -> NEVER RUN
Use only free weights -> Use only machines -> NEVER USE MACHINES
High Carb, low fat – Low carb high fat
Low fat yoghurts -> Bulletproof Coffee
You get the picture…
Well in my eyes this is no different. 10 years ago we ate like 10 foods.
- Chicken Breast
- Steak (maybe, only when bulking)
- Egg Whites
- Brown Rice/Pasta and sweet potato
- A limited number of vegetables
- Cottage Cheese
- Some fish
- Olive Oil
- Protein Powder
And that was about it. Low sodium, no condiments, no artificial sweeteners, everything cooked on Sunday for the week and boxed up ready to go 6 times per day. NOTHING resembling anything that could be accidentally mistaken for an enjoyable meal.
#Dedicated #Harcore #Cleaneating
Yeah, it was awful.
So then some geniuses (genii?) started looking at some actual research data and came to the conclusion that no, actually, it doesn’t have to be this way. We realised the flaws in the GI scale and we learned the benefits of fatsc. Tentatively brown rice was swapped for white rice, egg yolks were added in and the glory of Peanut Butter was preached to the masses.
Things carried on and we were told that after we trained it was OK to have sugar, then it was OK in the mornings, then Martin Berkhan and the I.F crowd decided you could have sugar before bed, too!
IIFYM crawled out of the shadows and now it’s not uncommon to watch some seriously in shape people drinking a beer with friends or eating ice cream (sometimes daily) and still reaching their goals and performing well. It’s a great time to be alive!
But there’s an issue which gets raised a lot from the supporters of flexible dieting just as often as the naysayers – one must still eat ‘clean’ a lot of the time in order to properly fuel a body. You still need to eat a lot of vegetables and you’re going to need more than whey to hit your protein targets, too. In fact, you are going to have to eat ‘clean’ for just about every meal if you have any hope in hell of being full, getting a full spectrum of micronutrients and eating enough fibre to be able to use the toiled once in a while.
That means you need to eat whole foods almost all of the time, and that means you need to learn to cook what the IIFYM crowd affectionately know as ‘bro’ meals.
In this article I’m going to give you 5 of my go-to recipes for making whole foods taste damn good. They don’t require a great deal of cooking skill and you should be able to get hold of the ingredients in just about every supermarket, so don’t worry – I’m not about to go all Jamie Oliver on you and expect you to take a casual jaunt to 5 different local hidden markets or blow your retirement fund on iHerb.com.
Because I’m that kind of guy, I’ve even given approximate macros for each one, too.
BBQ Pulled Chicken Breast
Perfect for parties and get-togethers but also awesome eaten cold at a picnic. I’ll give you the simple version and another one for those who want to get a bit clever with it all, but the process for each is the same.
It’s a slow-cooker job this. Minimum effort, everyone loves that.
- 1kg Chicken Breasts
- 1 Large Apple, diced
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 400g your favourite BBQ sauce
- 1kg Chicken Breasts
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 tbsp Vinegar
- 2tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1tsp Mustard Powder
- 1tsp garlic powder
- 3tbsp Brown Sugar
- 3 star anise
- 140g tomato ketchup
- 1 can of regular coke
- Salt to taste
- Place everything into the slow cooker and cook on low for around 4 hours.
- Take the chicken breasts out and pull apart with forks then place back in.
- Turn up to high and remove the lid to allow the sauce to thicken over 1-3 hours (longer for smartypants version as there is more liquid)
- Serve on bread buns with a homemade coleslaw (finely cut cabbage, onion, carrot and beetroot then mix with a little turmeric, salt and mayonnaise – full fat or lightest, depending on your macros. Could even use greek yoghurt if you like).
Approximate macros per serving (minus ‘slaw and bun and assuming 5 servings):
- 46 Protein
- 33 Carbs
- 2 Fat
- 310 Kcals
- 46 Protein
- 30 Carbs
- 2 Fat
Basic Asian Stir Fry
The ultimate quick and healthy meal (done properly), which the vast majority of people butcher. Asian cooking is all about the order of adding ingredients as some things take longer than others, it’s also about FINELY slicing your meat and vegetables so they cook quickly – you don’t want it all softening in the bottom of your wok; keep it crunchy!
- 75ml Soya Sauce
- 25ml Rice Vinegar
- 2 tsp Honey
- 1/2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 400g Chicken breast, beef fillet, pork loin or prawns
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp soya sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2 inches garlic, finely diced
- 1-4 garlic cloves (depending on how much you hate your work colleagues), finely diced
- 4 spring onions, tops and stems separated and then chopped
- Stir Fry vegetables. I suggest carrots, peppers, sugar-snap peas and baby corn – all finely chopped
- Fresh Coriander
- Slice meat into thin strips around 1 inch in length.
- Combine soya sauce, egg white and cornflour then use to marinade chicken while you prep everything else.
- Combine all sauce ingredients except cornflour. Mix cornflour in around 50ml cold water and set both aside.
- Finely slice all veggies into thin strips, separate and chop onions, dice garlic and ginger.
- Heat oil in a wok until screaming hot then add in ginger, garlic and onion stems for around 20-30 seconds. Add in meat (remove excess marinade) and stir fry for a minute or so until nearly cooked.
- Remove meat from the pan and throw in the vegetables. Add a little more oil if you need it. Cook until starting to brown.
Pro Tip - If you are using things like carrots and peppers, these go in first. More leafy vegetables like bok choi or delicate things like beansprouts go in shortly before the next step so as to leave them crunchy
- Add the meat back in and cook through for 1-2 minutes until everything is done.
- Add the cornflour to the sauce (you might need to mix it again), then push the stir fry away from the middle of the pan and pour it in before mixing well
- Turn off the heat, add in the coriander and the onion tips and serve with noodles, rice or whatever you like!
approximate macros per serving (assuming chicken was used and served to 2)
- 48 Protein
- 20 Carbs
- 13 Fat
The Ultimate lower calorie curry! This takes just about no doing and is a nice warming one-pot wonder and child friendly comfort meal. Serve with rice and/or Indian style breads along with raitha. I also like a large lettuce based salad, but that’s just me.
- Medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Inches Ginger
- 1 green chilli (or more, you know your tolerance better than I do!)
- 400g fresh tomatoes, diced
- 200ml chicken stock
- 1tbsp coriander powder
- 1tbsp ground cumin
- 1tsp turmeric
- tsp oil to cook
The lumpy bits
- 600g Diced Beef (or chicken)
- 1 red chilli (again, I’ll leave this to you)
- 1 Large onion, chopped into large pieces
- 1 red and 1 yellow pepper
- 1tsp ground cumin
- 1tsp turmeric
- 1tsp coriander powder
- 1 heaped tbsp garam masala
- Fresh coriander
- Salt to taste
- Tsp oil to cook
- Coat the meat in the cumin, coriander powder, turmeric and optional salt then leave for a few hours to become delicious.
- Now make the sauce. Fry the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli until brown, cover with the stock and leave to infuse for 20mins or so.
- Whilst it’s simmering, chop the tomatoes into 1-2cm bits then cook the spices other than garam masala in some oil for a minute before adding in the tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- When both have simmered, blitz the onion mixture in a food processor and combine with the tomatoes. Leave on a low simmer while you cook the rest.
- Fry the chicken until nearly cooked and then add in the peppers, remaining onion and the red chilli(s). Stir this until the vegetables begin to soften then add in the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the garam masala and coriander then serve!
Approximate macros per serving (assuming you used beef)
- 380 kcals
- 45 Protein
- 20 Carbs
- 14 Fat
Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki Dip
Something a little different. These are delicious either hot or cold but are a great way to impress people as they look like they took a lot more effort than they actually do. Serve with potatoes and Mediterranean style roasted vegetables.
- 400g lean lamb mince (or full fat if you have the macros for it – it’s nicer tasting)
- Diced Mint
- Diced Oregano
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1 Egg
- 1-3 cloves garlic
- 1 onion, very finely diced
- 80g Reduced fat feta cheese (use full fat if you have the macros for it – it’s nicer tasting), crumbled
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 30g breadcrumbs
- 340g Fat Free (or not) Greek Yoghurt
- 1 clove garlic
- 100g cucumber, seeded and very finely diced
- Tsp Lemon Juice
- More diced mint
- Mix the dip ingredients and set aside.
Pro Tip - After seeding and finely dicing the cucumber, leave it in a sieve overnight or as a cheat simply press it HARD between two pieces of kitchen roll. This removes a lot of the moisture and stops your dip thinning out too much.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together all meatball ingredients until fully combined.
- Portion out into meatballs, around 9 depending on preference
- Place on an over tray and oven bake at 180C until browned.
- Serve with the dip.
Approximate macros per serving (assuming you used the ingredients listed)
- 415 Kcals
- 46 Protein
- 15 Carbs
- 18 Fat
Alternatively - If you have a lot of macros to fill, this recipe can also be used to make stuffed meatballs for two. Simple save the cheese to one side and make 6 larger meatballs. Stuff the feta (cubed) into the middle of each and repeat the same cooking instructions but turn the oven to 160C. That’ll impress ‘em!
5 of my go-to recipes for making whole foods taste damn good
Bacon wrapped garlic cheese chicken
Chicken Kievs were a staple when I was a kid, but we always had the kinda junky ones from a supermarket with questionable ingredients galore – but it’s not too hard to give them a different slant. They’re awesome served with homemade oven chips or sweet fries and a nice big leafy salad.
- 2 medium (around 200g) chicken breasts
- 6 rashers smoked bacon
- 150g Philadelphia lightest (or not, but there’s plenty fat in the rest of the dish)
- Squirt lemon juice
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Black Pepper to taste
- Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the side, taking care not to cut all the way through. Open the breast up and use a rolling pin to beat flat.
- Combine the cheese, garlic, parsley and lemon juice along with the pepper and spread evenly across the whole breast before rolling it up.
- Lay three strips of bacon on your board, place the breast roll in the middle and wrap.
Pro Tip - At this point I usually use some culinary string to keep the shape properly.
- Oven bake for 15-20 minutes or so at 180C
Approximate macros per serving (assuming Philadelphia lightest was used)
- 456 Kcals
- 65 Protein
- 4 Carbs
- 20 fat
Beer Butt Chicken
BONUS RECIPE! (OK, so contrary to the introduction, I DID steal this one from Jamie)
- 1 whole oven ready chicken, seasoned however you like. I usually use a Jamaican Jerk rub.
- 1 can of beer.
- Clean the chicken well.
- Drink half of the beer.
- Stuff the chicken with the beer can and stand up.
- Place standing in the oven and follow usual cooking instructions/times.
These recipes are pretty straightforward and use mostly whole single ingredients, or things that aren’t too far removed from that. I feel that one of the main issues we have is that the general public see there being two extremes, chicken salads or meat feast pizzas. One is delicious and a veritable calorie bomb whilst the other will ‘make you thin’ but it tastes bland.
Learning and mastering 10-15 basic recipes can make this whole fitness journey a ton easier.
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