Snacks snacks snacks. Err’body wants them, but how to find some good ones that fill you up inside- and take you from 3PM to dinner? Put down your cheese and crackers- these 3 ideas will have you in happy macro heaven!!!
Snack 1: Shrimp-Avocado-Toast
Macros: 215 Calories 19 C | 9 F | 23 P | 7 Fiber
You can use already cooked shrimp or throw some raw shrimp into boiling water for 2 minutes and rinse them off in cold water. Poached shrimp can be stored in the fridge for about 2 days.
Toast a slice of bread (I used Ezekiel sesame bread here). Chop up 2.5 ounces (68 grams) of poached shrimp and combine with 40 grams of mashed avocado (about 1/2 a medium avocado). Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime and spread upon your toast.
Wrap in plastic for transport. Note: this does not transport entirely too well. I’m sorry. But maybe an at home snack….
Snack 2: Sweet Potato-Cottage Cheese-Salsa
Macros: 200 Calories 29 C | 2 F | 14 P | 4 Fiber
Steam a medium sweet potato in your microwave. Cut it in half. Top half with 1/2 cup (113 grams cottage cheese-we used 1% fat) and 2 tbsp of your favorite salsa. Season with salt and pepper.
Tuck into a tupperware for portability.
Snack 3: Chicken-Feta-Cucumbers
Macros: 203 Calories 4 C | 7 F | 28 P | 2 Fiber
Cube up 75 grams of chicken breast and combine with a chopped and peeled Persian (mini) cucumber (100 grams), and 1 ounce (28 grams) of good sheep’s milk feta. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Mason jars work great here to bring to and fro, or if you hate hipsters, just a damned ziplock bag! Pull out your jar or sack and stare down all the donut eaters in your office!
Sometimes finding side dishes beyond straight old roasted vegetables can be a challenge in the macro world, but this tasty soufflé that reminds of lasagna is pretty low in “fatcros” (credit to Eric C. for that one), gets you some colorful vegetables, and a bump of protein from the cheese and glorious fiber!
Macros Per Serving: 211 Calories | 14 P | 7 F | 25 C . Fiber= 7 grams
This is a very nice way to enjoy the squash filled benefits of autumn in a side dish that tastes like pizza, lasagne and a savory custard all at one. Pair with a lean meat and its macros are on point!
Squash Soufflé with Tomato Sauce and Cheese
1 Medium sized acorn squash, cooked. You can do this by cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and microwaving it for 10 minutes. Conversely, you can also roast it in the oven in a casserole with 1/2 cup of water at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour.
60 grams reduced fat Italian blend cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp dried Italian spice blend (yup, I used pizza flavored)
1/2 can of strained tomato sauce
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper for seasoning.
1.Scoop the cooked flesh from the squash into a mixing bowl. I weighed mine and it come out to 258 grams. My friend Marie said she bought a medium sized acorn squash but her flesh came out to almost 500 grams. I don’t know about her concept of medium but if this happens to you, double the recipe or reserve half the flesh for another purpose.
2.Add the egg, minced garlic, 20 grams of the cheese and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper. using a fork, mash it up a bit until it is well combined.
3.Pour the tomato sauce into a small, oven safe casserole dish (mine was 8″x 6″x 2″). Spread the squash mixture on top. Layer with the rest of the cheese and bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree pre-heated oven, for 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
medium squash = 258 grams. Marie squash = 500 grams.
Before we get to the main event here- a few announcements! I have completed the Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 Certification Course- only took me 4 months lol! But seriously, the course was a tremendously helpful tool in understanding how the body processes food, how we expend energy, the nutritional needs of humans (athletes especially), and how to achieve a more full picture of health. There are billions of factors and you cannot control it all, but you can do your best. I still think, however much a pain in the rear that it is, daily macronutrient tracking can ensure that the maintain the body composition that you want to have (and this is not always 6-pack abs, although macros can get you there, if you want). Choosing the least processed, highest quality foods to make your macros is the best way to ensure optimum nutritional intake, and hopefully keep you out of the chronic disease cycle. But life gives us no guarantees. We can just try our best.
If you’d like to know more about my philosophies, coaching style or macros, you can email me: shebnation|AT|gmail|dot|com.
Quelle Surprise! Today’s meal prep idea does not involve any legumes, yet still manages to pack a wallop in the fiber department (thanks sweet potatoes and celery!). To continue with my tendency towards vague, cultural appropriation, this stew has a Caribbean Vibe (an ambiance des Caraïbes), with a touch of Gambian cuisine (une touche de cuisine gambienne). But really it’s just vegetables thickened and flavored with the crazy deliciousness that is peanut butter. Who doesn’t love peanut butter??? I love peanut butter! I wish I could eat more but my macros often say no, no, no. They actually say that everyday.
Which brings me to a pervasive health myth that seems to be very common these days: a misperception that “good” or “clean” fats are somehow are processed differently in the body. Too much of anything will throw your body’s energy systems out of whack, and the body does not really discriminate, in terms of lipid break down, repackaging and storage of, say, a high quality MCT oil and shitty old margarine. I am not saying eat shitty old margarine. I am just saying that if you are after a lean body composition that can aid you in athletic pursuits, this is a consideration. There are definitely macro splits available to you that are very high in fat, however, you will be looking at extremely moderate protein and hella low carbohydrate targets. Something’s always gotta give, somewhere to keep the balance. Ok, off soapbox and onto stew!
Macros Per Serving: 512 Calories | 40 P | 16 F | 49 C . Fiber= 9 grams
This may be a bit aggressive in the carbohydrate department for some, but you can mitigate this by using less sweet potato and less quinoa. If the fat is a little high for your macros, you can also reduce the peanut butter, or use a combination of PB2 and peanut butter. The peanut butter gives a lot of flavor though, so another option is to use skinless chicken breast instead of pork tenderloin. Since the meat is not cooked in the stew, you can add any type of protein you like on top, to increase or decrease the total fat and protein content of the dish.
Vegetable and Peanut Stew
14 ml olive oil
4 cups defatted chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp shallots (40 grams)
330 grams raw sweet potato, small dice
150 grams red onion, finely chopped
300 grams carrots, small dice
115 grams zucchini, small dice
150 grams celery, small dice
1 small jalapeño, deveined and finely chopped
1 inch cube peeled and shredded ginger
15 ml (1 Tbsp) tomato paste
64 grams creamy peanut butter
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp ground Coriander
1 Tbsp Chili powder
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, to finish
100 grams dry quinoa
200 grams water or vegetable stock
567 grams raw pork tenderloin, seasoned with salt, pepper and spice mix of your choice (I used a jerk mix I had lying around). Just make sure the blend you use is compatible with the spices in the stew.
1.Cook the quinoa in a small pot on the stove or rice cooker. I like to let it hang out and dry a bit because mushy quinoa=gross.
2.To make the stew: Dice all the veggies, throw them into a bowl and shred the ginger on top of the bowl. Heat all the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and sweat this out for about 10-15 minutes. Add the tomato paste. It’s best if you make a small well in the veggies and let the paste have contact with the bottom of the pan so it caramelizes. Add all the spices and stir to combine. Add the stock and simmer for about two hours on low heat. You want the end product to look pretty homogenous and everything to be cooked down. Add the peanut butter, stir to combine. Add the red wine vinegar and let this hang out while you cook the pork.
3.Season the pork tenderloin with salt, pepper and seasoning blend of your choice. Cut into 1/2″ medallions and pan sear until it reaches your desired doneness. Most people cook the hell out of pork but I tend to go until medium. The chances of contracting trichinosis from farm raised pork purchased in a retail setting are about the same as you winning a powerball jackpot but hey, some of us are risk takers and some are not. YOU DO YOU!
4.Divide the cooked quinoa equally into 4 tupperwares, then ladle 1/4 of the stew on top of each portion of quinoa, and finally lay down your protein on top. Voila! Lunch for four days!
I try to get a good chunk ( about 25%) of my daily 200 grams of carbohydrates out of the way (i.e. eaten by me!) in the morning before my workout. That way, all that lovely stored glycogen can go right to use. Eat-deplete-eat-deplete. If you get it just right, you end of fueling yourself, and the carbs won’t sit around waiting to be turned into fat. Since the main source of my protein in the morning is egg whites, I am always a little texture starved at this particular time of day. Toast is always an option, but if you get more food if you make a big bowl of seasonal fruit with this delicious crunchy topping. If you are hungry in the morning, this kind of volume + fiber can go a long way in helping you feel full.
My Nene (Gran) used to get her fiber from a giant wheat cereal log that looked like a bathmat and tasted about as pleasant. It was so hard you could barely eat it and then about 2 seconds after the milk was poured, it became a soggy bowl full of tan threads. As much as I adored her, my way is much more appetizing.
Macros Per Serving: 130 Calories | 23C | 2 F | 4 P | . Fiber= 7 grams
You can make this recipe ”à la minute” and it literally will take you about 3 minutes total, but you can also make a larger batch of the crunchy part, weigh the finished product and divide by how many servings you made to be macro accurate. (#Maccurate?). You can use any fruit you like but the macros will change a bit depending. Raspberries are the queen of fiber in terms of fruit; figs are the king. The macros include the almond milk, which was unsweetened.
10 grams rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Old-Fashioned Oats, but any brand will do)
3 grams chia seeds
3 grams brown sugar (optional but tasty)
pinch of salt
126 grams strawberries
50 grams raspberries
50 ml unsweetened almond milk (use whatever milk you like, cow’s will add protein)
1.Put all the crunchy bits ingredients into a small pan, then toast over medium heat for about 2 minutes. The oats will begin to have a lovely warm and toasty smell. If this turns into a sharp, burnt acrid smell you’ve gone to far. You can shake the pan a bit to prevent going too far. If you keep going too far you have some problems and need to learn some impulse control.
2.Cut your strawberries into bite sized sized pieces. This of course will depend upon the size of your mouth. If your mouth is huge your pieces will be bigger, obvs. If your mouth is so tiny you need to cut the raspberries than perhaps you should choose a different fruit.
3.Put fruit in a bowl, top with crunchy bits and pour on your milk of choice. Done.
It doesn’t get a lot more simple, or cheap than rice and beans. Calorically dense, and micronutrient packed, if you keep everything in balance, adding grains and legumes to your main protein can really up the micronutrient ante. Billions of people across our planet (hello planet! I am still on your team!) and thousands of cultures have their own very special combinations.
I was asked this week if canned beans were less healthy than dried beans cooked from scratch. The nutritional profile is relatively similar, although canned beans do contain a lot more sodium. This can be reduced by rinsing the aquafaba from the beans. Aquafaba is a fancy word for that thick bean water in which canned beans are suspended. The French are very fond of making this into a vegan meringue. I do not like this idea at all. I am #teameggwhite. Canned beans are also more expensive. So there’s that.
Shebnation food prep for this week involves a cute little bean called the pigeon pea. It does look like a pea, but is a bean. I would label the flavor of this dish as “Puerto Rican Lite” if that’s a thing. Or maybe let’s call it cultural appropriation and all move on.
Chicken Thighs, Pigeon Peas, and Rice: Puerto Rican 'Lite' Style
Macros Per Serving: 495 Calories | 40 P | 18 F | 41 C . Fiber= 4 grams
Sometimes pigeon peas are called gandules, and make up the dish “arroz con gandules“, the traditional Puerto Rican recipe from which this was adapted. You should probably use a caldero, which is a rounded aluminum put, but I don’t have one so I used a stock pot and everything was fine. The Snackary rating was ‘I devoured it’.
20 ml olive oil
130 grams leeks, cleaned and finely chopped (use an onion if you do not have leeks)
100 grams raw carrot, finely chopped (guys, this is about 1 medium carrot- get it together)
86 grams dried guandules, or pigeon peas. If you want to use the canned version, use about 1/2 a can with the aquafaba drained
75 grams raw bell pepper, chopped (about 1 medium pepper)
1.Pick through the pigeon peas and remove any stones, broken beans and general detritus you might find in there. If you are unsure whether or not something qualifies as detritus, ask yourself “Does this look like a pigeon pea?”. If the answer is no, it’s detritus, toss it. Cover the peas that survived your careful inspection with cold water and soak them for 30 minutes.
2.Drain the peas, pour into the pressure cooker with 1 tsp of salt, (I use the Instant Pot), cover with 2 inches of new water and cook on manual for 9 minutes. Depressurize the pot and drain the beans again. If you are using canned beans just open and drain the can. Remember, using only half the drained peas.
3.Preheat your oven to 400. Season the chicken thighs, generously, with salt and pepper. Bake on a parchment lined tray for about 20 minutes. Cool, chop and reserve. It should not be cooked to death. A little under is just fine.
4.Sauté the leeks, garlic, bell pepper and carrots in the 20 ml of olive oil, in a large a pan on the stove top. Season with salt and pepper and cook the vegetables for about 5-6 minutes.
5.Add the rice and stir until it’s combined. Add the cumin, chili powder and chopped chicken thighs. Add the 300 ml of chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook this on low heat, covered, for about 40 minutes. Check on it a few times, if it seems very dry add a bit of water (maybe 1/4 cup).
6.After 40 minutes has elapsed check the texture of the rice. If it is cooked great- you’re done. If not, keep cooking for 5-10 more minutes. Add in the cooked (or canned) pigeon peas, stir and divide between 4 containers. #boom. Lunch.
My weirdo sister has been taco obsessed since the early 1980’s. She is a maverick this way, ahead of any millennial trend that frankly BORES THE FUCK OUT OF US O.G. GENERATION X TACO EATERS. We are also bitter people, if you need proof re-read the last sentence.
Old Aunt Stinky Smell, as she is now known (although honestly she smells real nice), became an ethical vegetarian when she was 14 or 15. What this means is that when she had hankering for Mexican food, which was nearly every damned day, she ate a shit ton of refried beans and really greasy quesadillas filled with chihuahua cheese, in these little hole in the walls that she insisted I drive her to. I am not sure how she found out where to go since THERE WAS NO INTERNET (wrap your pie hole around that), but I dutifully drove her because I am the good child. We didn’t know that these beans also probably contained tons of lard (NO INTERNET, remember), and also in the 1980’s there was not a lot of back and forth with your server regarding what was in or what was not in the food. They did not say their names or let you know they would be taking care of you. There was no inquiry regarding food allergies and they didn’t suggest sharing 3 or 4 small plates. There was an unspoken assumption that you might have BEEN IN A RESTAURANT SOMETIME BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE AND KNEW HOW TO OPEN A MENU AND READ IT. You would read it, then close the menu. Prompted by the magical closing of your menu, the server would reappear, you told them the order, they wrote it down, then a while later they returned with the food you requested. It was a much simpler transaction back then, with a lot less chat.
We often tried to recreate these beans at home, which involved a can of refried beans, water and a microwave. It never really worked. You also cannot make a hole-in-the-wall taqueria style quesadilla using corn tortillas, cheddar cheese and a microwave. We felt very sad when we tried this. If you try it this way at home, you’ll be very sad too so don’t do it.
30+ years later, I have discovered that it takes two things to make really good refried beans: A $1.29 package of Goya Mayo Coba Beans (sometimes called canary beans) and a pressure cooker.
The above is a Mayo Coba/canary bean. A small, thin-skinned, pale yellow friend that when cooked, melts into velvety deliciousness. This bean comes to us courtesy of Peru (“Thanks, Peru!” –although I will take a moment here to say “No Thanks, Peru!” to your horrible pan flutes), and because it is texturally superior to the pinto bean, no lard is necessary. Who has the macros for lard? I sure don’t. If you have macros for lard, by all means eat lard. Otherwise follow the recipe below. When I eat them, I am always magically reminded of my little sister, dingy taquerias and the 1980’s. You may be reminded of something else. Or you may just be in the present eating your beans mindfully but if you are going to do that pipe down about it and keep it to yourself- this is not a Yoga studio.
Macros/100 Gram Serving: 120 Calories | 7 P | 1 F| 21 C . Fiber= 8 grams
Leave out the bacon for a vegan/vegetarian version. (Macros would be 6 P | 1 F |21 C for the baconless version). You will need a pressure cooker and a potato masher. I don’t use any cumin or any spices except salt and pepper but if you like go ahead and add after you have sautéed the vegetables.
6 ml olive oil
50 grams onion, finely chopped
100 grams raw carrot, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper (get a nice firm one) finely chopped (de-vein and de-seed if you cannot handle the !Caliente! )
150 grams dried Mayo Coba beans, sometimes called canary beans. Don’t break my damned heart and use a pinto bean for this.
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sliced of pre-cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper
1.Pick through the canary beans and remove any stones, broken beans and general detritus you might find in there. If you are unsure whether or not something qualifies as detritus, ask yourself “Does this look like a bean?”. If the answer is no, it’s detritus, toss it. Cover the beans that survived your careful inspection with cold water and soak them for 30 minutes.
2.Drain the beans, pour into the pressure cooker with 1 tsp of salt, (I use the Instant Pot), cover with 2 inches of new water and cook on manual for 16 minutes. Depressurize the pot and drain the beans again. They should be about 3/4 cooked through, so a bit al dente at this stage. If they are very very hard, give it another 3-4 minutes under pressure.
3.Sauté all the rest of the ingredients in the 6 ml of olive oil. If your pressure cooker has a sauté function, do it in there. If not, a pan on the stove top. Season with salt and pepper and cook the vegetables for about 5-6 minutes.
4.Add the beans and mash them with the potato masher. Some of the veg might get mashed- that’s totes fine. Really get in there. Add this back into the pressure cooker (unless it is already in there) and add 1 -2 cups of water. This is a bit instinctive. You do not want them to be too soupy but you need enough so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
5.Close up the pressure cooker and go another 10 minutes on manual. Depressurize the pot and voilà- The beans of Aunt Stinky Smell’s dreams!
One of the sillier things that happened in Shebnation was the promotion of the “no bueno” policy of the humble legume. Now that we have calmed down the rhetoric and dismissed the needless vilification of perfectly nutritious food groups, beans and pulses are back, but not all day, like rosé or anything. Let’s be smart about it, for once, can’t we?
People that follow a paleo diet voice concerns about phytic acid and phytates. If you are concerned about the anti-nutritive effect of these items, please know that unless you have a chronic health condition, or are in the throes of severe malnutrition, your not-so-feeble-body can actually HANDLE THIS SHIT, and human bodies have been handling them since Neolithic times! Please also know that if you are in relatively good health, and eating in a balanced manner, even up to 2000 grams of phytic acid per day will most likely not negatively affect you. Also, that’s a fuck tons of beans, oil or peanuts! If you ate that many damned beans (or oil or peanuts) you would have a lot of other problems in your life, believe you me! Like gas and leaky stools. No-one enjoys a leaky stool. Or gas.
Here’s the thing about dried pulses and beans: a little goes a long way. Yes they have protein, yes they have fiber (glorious amounts) but they are very very calorically and nutrient dense. For instance, in this upcoming recipe, there are 50 grams of dried lentils per serving. That is a mere 1/3 cup. Cooked of course, the yield is greater. But that small handful of pulses supplies nearly all the carbohydrates for the dish, as well as a large percentage of the fiber. So think of them as a nourishing, but small accompaniment to your main protein source.
** Please note: I am an equal opportunity bean eater. Canned is great! But if you have the resources and space to purchase and store an instant pot, you should consider this appliance. I worried about it being a large pain in the rear that took up a lot of counter space. But now that I have it, I use it about 8 times a week. For me its become an indispensable kitchen tool that speeds ups food prep and insures incredible textures on almost everything- beans, brown rice, oatmeal and chicken- but especially beans.***
Flank Steak with a Mustardy Lentil and Bacon Salad
Macros/Serving: 468 Calories | P 43 | F 18| C 30. Fiber is 7 grams per serving
Another lunch prep for my Snackary. I am positive it will get 4 “goods” out of 4 because he’s kind of predictable that way.
45 ml olive oil
25 grams shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
485 grams flank steak (I used farmer’s market Piedmontese beef which is lower in fat than the typical flank. You may have to make a macro adjustment if you do not have access to this beef)
3 tbsp Herbs de Provence
2 bay leaves
200 grams dried brown lentils that have been soaked in cold water for 30 minutes.
8 slices pre-cooked bacon, chopped (It’s what I had. Using raw bacon again might call for a macro adjustment)
100 grams green onion, chopped
300 grams raw spinach, chopped
salt and pepper
1.Using the shallot, vinegar, mustard and 2.5 tbsp of the olive oil, make the vinaigrette. Recipe here, but only make half.
2.Season the flank steak generously on each side with salt, pepper and the Herbs de Provence. Place the 2 bay on top and drizzle the remaining 1/2 tbsp of olive oil over it. Let it hang out for about 10 minutes.
3.Cook the lentils. You can do this on the stove top or in a pressure cooker. I used an instant pot and cooked on manual for 8 minutes. Drain after cooking.
4.Sauté the chopped bacon until it is crispy and add the spinach. Cook this down, until completely wilted, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Add to the lentils, stir in the chopped green onion and all of the vinaigrette. Combine well. Divide into four containers.
5.Heat a cast iron skillet, or grill pan until very hot. Sear the flank steak to your desired doneness (Snackary likes medium rare). Let rest and slice against the grain. Divide into four portions and lay atop your lentil salad. Boom! Lunch for 4 days.