If you want to realize your full potential as a bodybuilder, it is vital to at least have an idea of how to whip up quick but healthy meals that'll give you the energy to train hard and the nutrients you need to recover afterwards. Not to discredit skinless chicken breasts and steamed rice in any way, but it DOES tend to get kinda boring on the tenth day in a row. Variation is the key to staying sane, especially when on a diet.
Also remember that while supplements are generally good and certainly have a place in your overall bodybuilding strategy, they can never take the place of well-rounded, healthy food. Trying to pull off a diet consisting of pills, protein shakes and donuts just won't fly.
Personally, I hate cooking. Anything over 10 minutes is a waste of my time, so the trick is to find a dozen or two recipes that fulfill the following criteria:
- It must taste good, or at least decent.
- It must take less than 10 minutes of actual work to make.
- It must pack at least 25-30 grams of protein.
- Its fat must be in reasonable quantities and be mostly poly or unsaturated.
- If it can be varied with different spices etc., it's a bonus.
It might take a while to find the right fit for you, but my advice is: Start simple and ignore Emeril-like dweebs on those stupid TV cooking shows. Unless you have a burning desire to impress your friends with Indonesian vail on a bed of Yak-butter and Martian Cheese, you can happily ignore all Martha Stewart-inspired shows and articles. My personal favorites are simplicity itself, such as my tuna salad:
- Boil rice
- While it boils, open a can of tuna and a can of corn.
- Mix it all in a bowl.
- If any is left, store in fridge and eat cold the next day.
I think you get the idea.
Cooking In General
A few general rules apply:
- Always use no-fat no-stick spray when frying something -- never butter!
- When a recipe calls for oil or butter, try to use virgin olive oil.
- Putting pizza in the blender is only a good idea in movies.
- When boiling things, keep the lid on -- it makes it boil much faster.
- Keep a small fire extinguisher near the stove (if your cooking skills are on par with mine.)
Having been married to a vegetarian for 3+ years, I have reluctantly been subjected to every imaginable fake-meat product you can image. Some products, like the Boca burgers, reek bigtime, but others, such as the Morningstar fake chicken burger patties and Garden burger Riblets, actually taste really good even for a stubborn meat-eater like myself. And here's the kicker: These fake-meat product are almost ENTIRELY made of protein!
They have virtually no carbs and no fat, so a 250 calorie burger or a 180 calorie hot dog can be in the 90-95% protein range. The downside is that the protein isn't of as high quality as milk or eggs, but if you have some milk with your meal you'll make up for a lot of the shortfall and will be consuming an overall very powerful meal. This is a long way of saying that you should not wrinkle your nose at all vegetarian recipes by default.
I am much too lazy to search hundreds of recipes, ask the publishers for permission, and neatly type everything in here. Instead, I've gathered bunch of online collections of recipes you can browse. Remember the count the calories - just because something is low in fat doesn't automatically mean it has a place in your diet!
I also took the liberty of adding two links specifically for low-fat cake and cookies recipes at the end. This is not because I want to encourage you to pig out on cookies, but rather that it's just the kind of treat you can allow yourself once in a while (within the framework of your overall diet, of course) to stay sane. Just remember: One or two cookies, or one slice, is enough in one sitting. Put the rest away or give to someone in your family.
Zorba's Heart-Healthy Recipes
Dr. Zorba Paster and Tom Clark wrote a book on tasty, low-fat cooking, and here's their web site where they offer frequently updated recipes.
Vegetarian Fat Free Passover Recipes
Passover or not, these recipes are good! There should be plenty of tips here for vegetarians as well as those concerned the recent mad-cow disease scare.
Fatfree.com: The Low Fat Vegetarian Recipe Archive
This archive boasts and impressive 4,260 recipes in over 50 categories. They also have special sections for vegetarians. Recommended!
This would be just another collection of healthy recipes if it wasn't for the many useful extra features, such as the nutrient search, the health news, and the holiday specials.
Fat-Free Chocolate Cake
Just when you thought the diet was unbearable and your life miserable... How about a slice of fat-free chocolate cake to restore sanity and rejoin the human race?