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Nutritional Skills to Achieve Consistency in the Kitchen

The longer I am in this game the more I realize and appreciate the power of consistency. I have the lifting part down fairly well, my biggest opportunity to improve lies firmly with what I put into my body.

The logistics of eating healthy, fresh and unprocessed foods is certainly my biggest ongoing struggle related to nutrition. It takes a lot of effort to shop, cook and clean, and time is always in short supply. I am getting it done, but I am always looking for ways to get better.

I would like to start this thread to hear from other people what they do to achieve the consistency necessary for good results. I am especially interested in hearing from people who are not content to eat bland food all the time.

For example, I consider my cast-iron pan to be vital for meat preparation. I can cook a perfect steak on it and it works great for just about anything you can think of.

My two go-to recipes at the moment are chicken jambalaya and beef stew. The former is from a box and the latter is made from scratch. I make huge batches of both and I have yet to get sick of eating either.

Go-to recipes, simple foods that you enjoy, tricks you use to get it all done, let’s hear it.

What do you consider your most valuable tools to consistently achieve excellence in consumption, regardless of goal?

Thanks in advance.

~twojarslave

Having meals prepared. It can be a hassle but, that is by far number one for me.

I’m fortunate that I really like salads. I can eat one or two a day and never get tired of them. I clean and chop some veggies in advance so prep is faster and keep bagged and chopped items like broccoli slaw from Trader Joe’s. I always have a couple of meat choices like chicken breast or ground turkey cooked up and in the fridge.

Related. You were talking about consistency. Staying on track with food is by far the hardest part of this deal. A lot of us LOVE the gym, but who LOVES to diet? I really, really enjoy working out. Lifting, cardio, the whole thing. It’s not hard to make myself go. BUT food!!! I would love to eat like a 200 pound power lifter all the time!

Also related. I saw this woman on TV recently. I can’t recall her name but she had lost a lot of weight and kept it off. She talked about cheat meals. She said she’s prone to binging and had some unhealthy attitudes toward food. So, she can’t do big cheat meals at all. She has to be a teetotaler when it comes to junk. She used the alcoholic analogy. Cheat meals for her are like telling an alcoholic to stay sober all week and then go on a big bender every weekend. You’d never do that. And she found that she just can’t eat some foods in moderation, and cheating is more likely to start her down a path of more cheating. So for her, she is far more successful and attributed her success with weight loss to staying on track with her eating all the time. She treats binging and certain foods like an addiction.

EDIT: This may not resonate with you at all, but it makes sense to me.

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
For example, I consider my cast-iron pan to be vital for meat preparation. I can cook a perfect steak on it and it works great for just about anything you can think of.
[/quote]

Totally with you on this. Cast-iron all the way for cooking steak.

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
My two go-to recipes at the moment are chicken jambalaya and beef stew. The former is from a box and the latter is made from scratch. I make huge batches of both and I have yet to get sick of eating either.
[/quote]

If this type of food is up your alley, and time-in-the-kitchen is an issue, I highly recommend a slow cooker (crockpot). They’re fairly inexpensive and can be used to prepare a hundred different kinds of stew, soup, chili, jambalaya, etc. One of my go-to, I-can-eat-it-every-day slow-cooker dinners is a version of chili.

In the morning before I leave for work, I put a can of crushed tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, a pound of ground beef, a cup of water (just to have a little extra liquid), and an assortment of spices: chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, sometimes cocoa powder, whatever hits the spot for you. Put it in the crockpot, set the thing on low, and when you come home and work out, dinner is already waiting for you. That’s an easy, nutrient-dense, and repeatable dinner.

You can also cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker quite easily, and by the day’s end it will be very tender and juicy throughout. Add whatever seasonings and veggies you like (carrots, celery, garlic, etc).

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
Go-to recipes, simple foods that you enjoy, tricks you use to get it all done, let’s hear it.
[/quote]

I’m not exactly breaking new culinary ground with these, but here are a couple of simple/quick recipes that I make often:

Cauliflower Puree (if you need a low-carb side to accompany your meat)

  1. Put bag of frozen cauliflower in 1 cup of water.
  2. Add a pat of butter and some salt. Bring to boil.
  3. Pour entire contents into food processor and puree.
  4. Season to taste and serve.

This can easily be “made” with one eye on the pot while you’re cooking a steak or some other meat. For example, I can cook up a mess of ground beef, then pile it on top of the cauliflower puree for a quick shepherd’s pie.

Easy Baked Sweet Potatoes (if you need the carbs)

  1. Put a baking sheet in the oven with a large dollop of coconut oil (to melt the oil)
  2. Cut a large sweet potato in half. Place FACE DOWN on the sheet.
  3. Bake at 300 degrees for an hour (if time-crunch is an issue, you can get this into the oven and just let it go while you do whatever else; I often will start these after I come home but BEFORE I work out, so they’re done by the time I have finished working out and showering)

Cutting in half and placing facedown does two things: one, it cuts the cooking time, and two, it gives a wonderful caramelized sheen on the outside.

Delicious Greasy Greens

  1. Fry 3-4 slices of bacon in cast-iron skillet. Remove.
  2. Throw as much of your favorite green (spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens all work) into the skillet with the bacon grease. Toss in the grease for just a moment or two, then turn the heat off and let sit for another moment or two. Remove and serve with the bacon.

Spaghetti (Squash) and Meat Sauce

  1. Cut a large spaghetti squash in half.
  2. Remove the seeds with a spoon.
  3. Place facedown in a greased baking sheet (see sweet potato recipe above) and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a jar of pasta sauce and dump in a pound of ground beef
  5. Remove squash from oven, let cool briefly, take your fork to it (google how to make a spaghetti squash) to give yourself a plate full of strips of squash, and top with as much meat sauce as you desire

I really enjoy cooking more sophisticated stuff, but that usually has to wait for the weekend when I have time to do so. The aforementioned staples of chili, cauliflower puree, sweet potatoes, greens, and spaghetti squash with meat sauce account for most of my weekly dinners.

I eat almost the same food, at the same time during the weekdays at work. I find this helps.
I also find IF has helped me with my “food control”, as I can eat larger portions at the end of the day.

Weekends are always hard due to social events etc, but I find I give myself a little leeway on the weekends and try stick to the 80/20 rule. I think its important not to be too anal about nutrition, unless you are about to step up on stage in a few weeks time.

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[quote]twojarslave wrote:
I would like to start this thread to hear from other people what they do to achieve the consistency necessary for good results.
[/quote]

What’s your definition of “good results”?

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
I would like to start this thread to hear from other people what they do to achieve the consistency necessary for good results.
[/quote]

What’s your definition of “good results”? [/quote]

Generally speaking, good results would be meeting your goal.

Speaking somewhat less generally, most of us are here to either gain muscle, lose fat, or some combination thereof.

Speaking more specifically, my present goal is fat loss and muscle preservation.

Speaking even more specifically, I fully intended on asking you, Serge and any other badass shredded animals who follow my log some specific advice once I demonstrated a few more weeks of improved consistency.

But hey, if you have any tips I am ALL EARS. You have already climbed the mountain. I am just venturing out past base camp.

I am a huge fan of pre-cut veggies from Trader Joe’s. They also have a great selection of interesting spices and frozen “flavor enhances” (e.g., garlic cubes) and good meats. You can make easy and simply meals in a batch on Sunday and eat them throughout the week.

I also find not letting myself get hungry is key. I eat a small-ish snack between meals or drink a protein shake and eat some fruit.

I ask about results because you mentioned in the OP that “eating healthy, fresh and unprocessed foods is certainly my biggest ongoing struggle related to nutrition.” No doubt, eating that way is a worthy goal in and of itself. That said, doing so is not a requisite for weight loss, and can even undermine the process. Dieting is intrinsically, inescapably stressful. And if a diet is constrained even further–ie, in addition to eating at a deficit, the foods must also be ‘fresh and unprocessed’–the stress is ratcheted higher still, but in a way that doesn’t advance the cause of weight loss. Food for thought (ahem).

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A decent level of cooking skills and a food cupboard full of spices. If you are a proficient enough cook with a decently stocked food cupboard you can whip up something nutritious in no time.

Also having a few bags of frozen veggies in the freezer for emergencies makes life easier too.

and TUPPERWARE. You’re not a bodybuilder unless you own a load of tupperware.

I’m fortunate in that I work from home so can cook every day without needing to prepare in advance, but I have still organised my diet to make it easy to stick to.

In Precision Nutrition, Berardi talks about having a weekly “ritual” of food shopping and prep. Mine takes place on a Saturday morning when I go to the market to buy my veg and other staples. If I don’t do this on a Saturday, I have noticed that my diet for the week suffers. PN is worth the investment for the recipe book alone!

I eat three cooked meals a day (including breakfast), a shake, and a handful of nuts or something every day. I wouldn’t describe any of them as bland.

I cycle through maybe 7-10 recipes that change on a broadly seasonal basis. I make a big pot of chilli every week throughout the year that I eat on an evening (I get in late from the gym so there is minimum prep time), then have a chicken lunch two days a week, a red meat lunch two days a week, and tuna burgers two days a week. On the other day I’ll maybe pick up a sandwich and brownie and it is one of my cheat meals. Breakfast is always eggs.

I buy all of my meat in bulk online. It gets delivered chilled or frozen to your door, and it is a better quality than supermarket meat with no added water and what not. I don’t know if you have a similar thing in the States but it’s worth looking in to. It feels like a carnivore’s Christmas when you get a box containing 5kg of chicken breasts, 15 or so packets of horse and beef, diced buffalo, venison sausages, and fish delivered to your door. They also do some exotic meats and the past two months I’ve bought crocodile burgers and garlic grasshoppers! Pop it in the freezer and you’re good for the month, and you only need to buy carbs and veg from the shops.

[quote]Diddy Ryder wrote:
I buy all of my meat in bulk online. It gets delivered chilled or frozen to your door, and it is a better quality than supermarket meat with no added water and what not. I don’t know if you have a similar thing in the States but it’s worth looking in to. It feels like a carnivore’s Christmas when you get a box containing 5kg of chicken breasts, 15 or so packets of horse and beef, diced buffalo, venison sausages, and fish delivered to your door.
[/quote]

Ah, shoot, I wanted to mention this in my original post. You can indeed do this in the States. I order most of my meat from U.S. Wellness Meats or Tendergrass Farms. It’s a bit more expensive, but if you have the disposable income, it’s absolutely worth it, and on large orders (40 pounds or more) you can usually get a bulk discount and free shipping, so I’ll order 50 pounds of ground beef one month, then 40 pounds of chicken drumsticks the next, cycling the orders so I always get the bulk discount but also have a variety of stuff in the freezer at any given time.

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
I ask about results because you mentioned in the OP that “eating healthy, fresh and unprocessed foods is certainly my biggest ongoing struggle related to nutrition.” No doubt, eating that way is a worthy goal in and of itself. That said, doing so is not a requisite for weight loss, and can even undermine the process. Dieting is intrinsically, inescapably stressful. And if a diet is constrained even further–ie, in addition to eating at a deficit, the foods must also be ‘fresh and unprocessed’–the stress is ratcheted higher still, but in a way that doesn’t advance the cause of weight loss. Food for thought (ahem).[/quote]

Ah, yes. Good point. I definitely could have worded that better. I’m not particularly rigid in my aspirations to eat fresh, unprocessed food, but that is my preference. I still have things like greek yogurt, cottage cheese, boxed jambalaya, and frozen meat and vegetables are always on hand. Protein powder remains a staple as well.

What I am trying to do is find ways of eating that fit into my busy life, complement my lifting and fat loss goals and are sustainable long-term practices for me. Building healthier habits, if you will.

So let’s rid ourselves of that constraint. If you’ve found success with sucking down EZ Cheeze and munching on Spam, I suppose that’s worth hearing about as well.

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:

[quote]Diddy Ryder wrote:
I buy all of my meat in bulk online. It gets delivered chilled or frozen to your door, and it is a better quality than supermarket meat with no added water and what not. I don’t know if you have a similar thing in the States but it’s worth looking in to. It feels like a carnivore’s Christmas when you get a box containing 5kg of chicken breasts, 15 or so packets of horse and beef, diced buffalo, venison sausages, and fish delivered to your door.
[/quote]

Ah, shoot, I wanted to mention this in my original post. You can indeed do this in the States. I order most of my meat from U.S. Wellness Meats or Tendergrass Farms. It’s a bit more expensive, but if you have the disposable income, it’s absolutely worth it, and on large orders (40 pounds or more) you can usually get a bulk discount and free shipping, so I’ll order 50 pounds of ground beef one month, then 40 pounds of chicken drumsticks the next, cycling the orders so I always get the bulk discount but also have a variety of stuff in the freezer at any given time.
[/quote]

I really like this idea. I get most of my meat at BJ’s wholesale, but I like the idea of going even bigger.

I cut 50 lbs and helped my girl cut about 15. A main thing for us was just figuring out what we like/how we responded. Of course, to make things more difficult, she went high carb/low fat, and the opposite for me. Even on the high carb diet, she still wanted more carbs. I cheated/carb loaded once a week or so, which was too much in retrospect, but I think is doable when going low carb, and I like to binge.

We can cook, so I can’t give too much advice regarding food selection. I also have a high tolerance for bland, but…
-learn how to make curry. The base of it only changes slightly from dish to dish, it’s never bland, keeps well, and is filling. I can make a big pot of fish curry in about 20-30 min.
-find sauces you like that don’t have a bunch of crap in them. BBQ has to much sugar, etc. But fish sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, and vinegar have not carbs or fat, just flavor. There’s also multiple types of vinegar at asian supermarkets.
-get a roasted chicken whenever you’re at the store. 2-3 meals right there.
-get your biggest pot/pan/wok and cook whatever in it. After, dump some onion/garlic in it for a fry, and dump one of those big bags of kale/collard greens in it, stir occasionally and add some liquid after about 10 min.: veggies for days. You can season it w/ peppers, vinegar, whatever. You can also throw some more chicken breasts on top to steam them.
-after workout, I have whey w/ cereal. This seems to take care of my sweet tooth as well as giving me my post insulin spike.
-lastly, the eat more, exercise more/eat less, exercise less cycling totally works once you figure out how to implement it.

For me, the toughest part isn’t in the kitchen or the gym. I’m a pedestrian, so it’s keeping the fridge stocked.

[quote]Diddy Ryder wrote:
I’m fortunate in that I work from home so can cook every day without needing to prepare in advance, but I have still organised my diet to make it easy to stick to.

In Precision Nutrition, Berardi talks about having a weekly “ritual” of food shopping and prep. Mine takes place on a Saturday morning when I go to the market to buy my veg and other staples. If I don’t do this on a Saturday, I have noticed that my diet for the week suffers. PN is worth the investment for the recipe book alone!

I eat three cooked meals a day (including breakfast), a shake, and a handful of nuts or something every day. I wouldn’t describe any of them as bland.

I cycle through maybe 7-10 recipes that change on a broadly seasonal basis. I make a big pot of chilli every week throughout the year that I eat on an evening (I get in late from the gym so there is minimum prep time), then have a chicken lunch two days a week, a red meat lunch two days a week, and tuna burgers two days a week. On the other day I’ll maybe pick up a sandwich and brownie and it is one of my cheat meals. Breakfast is always eggs.

I buy all of my meat in bulk online. It gets delivered chilled or frozen to your door, and it is a better quality than supermarket meat with no added water and what not. I don’t know if you have a similar thing in the States but it’s worth looking in to. It feels like a carnivore’s Christmas when you get a box containing 5kg of chicken breasts, 15 or so packets of horse and beef, diced buffalo, venison sausages, and fish delivered to your door. They also do some exotic meats and the past two months I’ve bought crocodile burgers and garlic grasshoppers! Pop it in the freezer and you’re good for the month, and you only need to buy carbs and veg from the shops.
[/quote]

Diddy mate, who are you ordering you meat from?

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:
Ah, shoot, I wanted to mention this in my original post. You can indeed do this in the States. I order most of my meat from U.S. Wellness Meats or Tendergrass Farms. It’s a bit more expensive, but if you have the disposable income, it’s absolutely worth it, and on large orders (40 pounds or more) you can usually get a bulk discount and free shipping, so I’ll order 50 pounds of ground beef one month, then 40 pounds of chicken drumsticks the next, cycling the orders so I always get the bulk discount but also have a variety of stuff in the freezer at any given time.
[/quote]

I really like this idea. I get most of my meat at BJ’s wholesale, but I like the idea of going even bigger.
[/quote]

It actually works out cheaper than the supermarket over here :slight_smile:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
Diddy mate, who are you ordering you meat from?[/quote]

Not sure I can post a link, but if you google the words “muscle” and “food” together you might find it :wink:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
Diddy mate, who are you ordering you meat from?[/quote]

Not sure I can post a link, but if you google the words “muscle” and “food” together you might find it :wink:
[/quote]

nice! I’ll shout you a pint someday

[quote] Yogi wrote:
nice! I’ll shout you a pint someday[/quote]

Next time you’re in Edinburgh :wink:

In the meantime: PH33399. I get a fiver and you get free meat!

I double this recipe for Emeril’s Essence Creole Spice Mix and always keep it around. A little bit goes a long way.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/emerils-essence-creole-seasoning-recipe2.html

We like it on grilled or broiled shrimp skewers. Just a bit of oil and a sprinkle and BAM! It’s also good on salmon and ground turkey crumbles. We like spicy food. Banana peppers in salads. Hatch green chili, caramelized onions, garlic, almost anything with a bit of heat.

We grill a lot here in SoCal. And we eat shrimp and salmon each about once a week. A London broil in the slow cooker is a standby, although I’m eating beef less often these days.

I always have some boiled eggs in the fridge, and keep canned tuna and Columbus brand nitrate-free herb turkey breast lunch meat around some for when I’m in a pinch. Fage Greek yogurt with a few berries and vanilla is my usual afternoon snack. I do a SUPER protein shake once a day with kale, chia seeds, psylium husk, almond milk, lots of ice and frozen berries. Also, I sometimes buy rotisserie chicken already cooked at Costco. It’s prepared with the skin on so not great if you’re really watching fat, but I don’t eat the skin and I’m fine with it and it’s one of those things that you can do a lot of different things with.