Robert Irvine Vs. Kevin Alexander: Fit Men Cook-off

How would you compose a winning dish with a basket of mystery ingredients? Check out how the winners of Robert Irvine's and Kevin Alexander's Fit Men Cook-Off rose to the challenge!

Chefs Robert Irvine and Kevin Alexander went head to head in an Instagram recipe contest where they challenged you, our readers, to make a dish with a basket of mystery ingredients. They called, and you delivered tenfold. It wasn't easy narrowing down the entries, but the two men wielded their culinary expertise and made the call. Read on as Irvine and Alexander present the winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions for each dish.

Chef Robert Irvine

I'm not sure who had the harder challenge: the entrants who had to create a recipe using my list of ingredients, or me, having to select a winner from so many amazing entries! I enjoyed reviewing all of the recipes.

The required ingredients:

  • Protein: Ground turkey or tofu (vegan option)
  • Carb: Polenta
  • Fat: Grapeseed oil
  • Vegetable: Asparagus
  • Special/kicker ingredient: Sriracha

Winner Turkey Sriracha Muffins With Polenta Frosting, by Healthnutlife

I selected the turkey muffin entry from Healthnutlife as the grand-prize winner because of his entry's creativeness. He was right when he asked, "Who doesn't love a muffin?"

Part of the challenge I posed was to create a picnic-style recipe, and this dish fits the bill. It's portable and delicious! In addition to using all the ingredients, Healthnutlife also made protein chips—a great way to add protein and a nice crunch to a dish. This earned him bonus points and a first-place finish.




Ingredients
Muffins

Ground turkey: 12 oz.


Whole egg: 1



Grapeseed oil: 1/2 tbsp


Sriracha: 3 tsp


Kosher salt: 1/4 tsp


Ground black pepper: 1/2 tsp


Granulated garlic: 1/2 tsp


Asparagus: 4 spears


Frosting

Polenta: 300 g


Water: 1/2 cup


Kosher salt: 1/8 tsp


Ground black pepper: 1/2 tsp


Granulated garlic: 1/2 tsp


Granulated onion: 1/2 tsp


Directions
Muffins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare a muffin tray by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a small blender, blend the protein chips into fine crumbs.
  3. Chop the asparagus into centimeter-sized pieces and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, add the ground turkey, egg, protein-chip crumbs, oil, Sriracha, salt, pepper, garlic, and chopped asparagus. Mix until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. Split the mix into five evenly sized balls and place in the muffin tray. Gently press each one down to be sure they are flattened on the bottom.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked.
Frosting
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the polenta along with the water to begin heating up.
  2. When the mix becomes creamy, add the salt, pepper, garlic, and onion until fully incorporated. Let sit on heat until it become frosting-like in consistency.
Assembly
  1. When the muffins are done and have slightly cooled, top with the polenta frosting.
  2. Optionally, you can add more Sriracha and some asparagus tips sautéed in the grapeseed oil.


Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 muffin with frosting
Recipe yields: 5 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 198
Fat 8 g
Carbs 12 g (1 g fiber)
Protein 19 g

Runner-Up Sriracha Turkey Polenta Sliders by Food4fuel_fit4life

For second place, I selected the Sriracha Turkey Polenta Sliders by Food4fuel_fit4life. She kept things simple and portable—two qualities I look for in an easy-to-replicate dish. These sliders would make a great addition at your next picnic or barbeque.


A photo posted by Aimèe (@food4fuel_fit4life) on



Ingredients
Polenta

Italian polenta: 3 1/2-inch thick with sides trimmed down


Grapeseed oil: 1 tsp


Ghee: 1/2 tbsp


Salt and pepper: to taste


Turkey sliders

Ground turkey: 12 oz.


Mushroom: 1 diced


Sliced green onion white end only: 1


Sriracha: 1 tbsp


Onion powder: 1/4 tsp


Salt and pepper: to taste


Toppings

Asparagus spears: 3 (tops cut off and bottoms sliced)


Sriracha: 1 tbsp


Grapeseed oil: 1 tsp


Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine all turkey ingredients in medium bowl and form 3 slider patties. Cook in oven for about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Melt ghee and 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil in saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4. Cut polenta into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and trim sides down. Place in saucepan, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook polenta until crispy on bottom, then flip, cooking until crispy on other side. Remove from the pan and place on paper towel. In same pan, fry asparagus tops until tender.
  6. To layer, start with polenta pieces on bottom, add Sriracha sauce on top, then add turkey slider, and top with more Sriracha and tops of asparagus spears. Sprinkle plate with chopped asparagus and drizzle Sriracha and remaining teaspoon of grapeseed oil over the top. Enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 slider
Recipe yields: 3 sliders
Amount per serving
Calories 160
Fat 10 g
Carbs 7 g
Protein 11 g

Honorable Mentions

There were a few additional entries I'd like to mention and encourage everybody to check out. The pizza submitted by Cookeatlift was one of the more creative submissions. I love and was inspired by Indyred73's meatloaf submission. And, although there weren't many, I have to commend Chefblandy and Pratchayab on their tofu submissions. Great job to all those who submitted!

Now, preheat your oven and kick back as you run through these top challenge entries. Get ready to recreate delicious, top-ranking dishes from some amazingly creative chefs!


Chef Kevin Alexander

It's challenging to think about white fish at a picnic, particularly when you're accustomed to burgers, hot dogs, and other various meats thrown on the grill. I was very impressed this year by the thoughtfulness of the entries!

From crusted fish and stuffed peppers to chips and burgers to everything in between, every chef really brought his or her A-game when it came to creativity, macronutrients, and practicality. What I expected to be an easy task of selecting a winner became a much harder one!

Required ingredients:

  • Protein: White fish or tempeh (vegan option)
  • Carb: Quinoa
  • Fat: Nuts or seeds
  • Vegetable: Kale
  • Special/kicker ingredient: Jalapeno pepper

Winner Mahi Mahi Jalapeno Ceviche with Quinoa, Kale, and Almond Chips by Kaoticfool

I gotta admit, I was not expecting this! In fact, I was so completely blown away by the creativity of this dish that I had to reread the description to make sure all ingredients were checked off the list. I thought this was a genius, healthy spin on a popular Latin American dish. And it fit the picnic theme perfectly.

Fact: You can't have an outdoor picnic without chips! But, what if you made chips with powerhouse foods such as kale, quinoa, and almonds? What if you then took those chips and paired their crunch with the citrus punch of ceviche? Well, you'd have this all-star dish that's packed full of guilt-free gains for days!

The versatility of this dish also drew me to it. The chip batter sounds like it could be used to make tostadas or even to "faux-fry" pieces of chicken breasts, almost like baked "fried" chicken tenders. And, well, there's nothing like beating the heat with chilled ceviche! The only thing your picnic will be missing is a little salsa or bachata music to get the party going.


A photo posted by Dan Chung (@kaoticfool) on



Ingredients
Ceviche

Mahi-mahi: 4 oz.


Limes: 3


Cilantro: 4 sprigs


Oregano: 1/2 tsp


Red onion: 1/4 cup diced


Jalapeno: 1 diced


Sea salt and pepper: to taste


Quinoa Almond Kale Chips

Uncooked tricolor quinoa: 1/4 cup


Raw slivered almonds: 2 tbsp


Kale: 1/2 cup


Water: 1/4 cup


Cayenne pepper: Dash


Sea salt and pepper: to taste


Coconut oil spray


Directions
  1. Season mahi-mahi filet with a squeeze of lime, salt, and pepper.
  2. Grill mahi-mahi filet in George Foreman grill for 5 minutes, and crumble once cooled.
  3. Combine cilantro, juice from limes, and the remaining ingredients into bowl with mahi-mahi pieces.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and rinse quinoa under cold water, removing as much excess water as possible.
  5. Toast quinoa and almonds in a frying pan for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  6. Transfer pan contents to a blender with kale and cayenne. Blend, and add water 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture becomes doughy.
  7. Spray parchment paper with coconut oil, and press dough onto parchment paper. Cover with another sheet and roll top to flatten. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 2 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and cut into squares or desired shape.
  10. Return to oven and bake for additional 5 minutes, or until browned.


Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 cups ceviche, 1 cup chips
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 540
Fat 15 g
Carbs 57 g
Protein 76 g

Runner-up Fish Burger by Mstora28

What I loved about this recipe is its "meal prep-ability." Premaking your burgers before heading to a picnic is a good idea when you have hungry guests waiting. Plus, since the patties are made with softer ingredients, opting to bake them in the oven first to make sure they're firm is wise. That way, you can toss them on the grill for a few minutes once you get to your picnic and simply allow the precooked burgers to pick up the smoky notes that come on the grate.

From a meal-prep standpoint, imagine making a huge bowl of the "burger" batter—quinoa, fish (flounder), and seeds—forming the patties, baking them in the oven, and literally in less than 1 hour, you'd have fully loaded quinoa-kale-fish patties to enjoy throughout the week. It doesn't get any better than that.


A photo posted by Mike Stora (@mstora28) on



Ingredients

Wild flounder: 6 oz.


Quinoa: 1/4 cup


Chia seeds: 1 tbsp


Baby kale: 1 handful


Cucumber: 1/8


Jalapeno: to your liking


Vegenaise mayo: 1/2 tbsp


Whole-wheat bun: 1


Garlic clove: 1


Whole-wheat bread crumbs: 1/8 cup


Salt and pepper: to taste


Curry: to taste


Lemon juice: to taste


Directions
  1. Cook quinoa for 15 minutes with salt and curry. Jamaican curry is a great choice!
  2. Cook flounder for a minute each side on a low flame.
  3. Preheat oven or grill to 425 degrees.
  4. In a bowl, combine chia seeds, quinoa, flounder, minced garlic clove, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and some chopped kale. Form into patty and put in oven for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Dice up peeled cucumber and jalapeno. Mix in with mayo and a splash of lemon juice.
  6. Toast buns, and combine everything to form your burger. Enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 burger
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 616
Fat 17 g
Carbs 67 g
Protein 49 g

Honorable Mentions

There were a few entries that didn't earn a top spot, but definitely deserve an honorable mention. Check out all of these incredible posts on Instagram!