Good nutrition is the basis of fit life. If you're like me, you want your journey to be as long and exciting as possible! Part of making that happen is challenging yourself in the kitchen as much as you do in the gym. Adding variety to your healthy food choices will help keep your diet interesting and guard against bland diet fatigue. In order to make that happen, awesome recipe ideas are essential! And that's what my recent #FitMenCookoff challenge was all about—sharing creative and healthy ideas so we can learn from each other and accomplish our individual fitness goals.
Here are the 10 final recipes of the Instagram #FitMenCookoff challenge. Each finalist did a great job creating an out-of-the-box dish with the five required ingredients: a protein choice of chicken, tempeh, or tofu; a complex carb of sweet potato or yam; zucchini; crisp green apple; and goat or vegan cheese for a bit of dairy.
Still, some meals rose above the rest. Each of the following dishes brought some "boom" to the table with an ideal blend of creativity, practicality, and out-of-sight flavor. When you're done checking these out, search #FitMenCookoff on Instagram for other solid meal ideas!
Chipotle Chicken Taco On Sweet Potato Tostada
Put a twist on traditional Mexican tostadas with this delightful dish! Instead of using typical corn or wheat, the use of sweet potato as a base struck me because it offers a healthier, gluten-free option. The simple, effective way of spicing up the chicken also makes it enjoyable to eat, which can be quite the task when you're eating tons of it throughout the week.
If you can't find salsa chipotle in a jar, opt for low-sodium chipotle seasonings instead. The spicy goat cheese cream sauce sounds bomb, and offers a great alternative to processed sour cream, which tends to be high in saturated fat. The finishing touch of fruit salsa really helps to offset the spicy notes, making this a truly robust dish!
Herb-Crusted Stuffed Chicken with Savory Sweet Potato
Cups and Baked Apple Oatmeal
Aside from the stellar presentation, what drew me to this dish was the creative practicality of it. Each of the components works as a standalone, but together they play off each other in a way that creates a complete, ridiculously good meal.
I was initially drawn to the sweet potato cups, primarily because you can cook them in bulk and use them as sides or small snacks. They also seem kid-friendly and, with vitamins C, B6, and D, sweet potatoes are a much better choice than a pack of fruit snacks.
The herb-stuffed chicken breast allows you to incorporate veggies without sacrificing taste—another way to sneak in the 5-6 recommended daily servings of the green stuff. I also love the power of the oatmeal bowl, and of incorporating traditional breakfast foods during other times of the day as a way to keep your diet interesting and fuel your body with natural sugars and healthy fats.
Apple-And-Goat-Cheese-Stuffed BBQ Chicken With Pecan
Crust and Sweet Potato-Zucchini Fritters
With this dish, I liked the idea of coating a chicken in nuts and seeds rather than flour. Protein boost, anyone? I also loved the use of barbecue sauce instead of egg as the base. It's a different, creative way to incorporate nuts in your diet beyond eating them in a salad or as a snack. Plus, if you're following a low-carb, high-fat diet, coating protein in nuts and seeds is a quick way to boost the caloric content of your meals and help you stay on track.
I also think the fritters are great for snacking, and make awesome sides for meals. They're an easy way to get a solid dose of complex carbohydrates and some green veggies.
Green Apple and Sweet Potato Muffins With Chicken and
Goat Cheese Zucchini Rolls
This is a great "hybrid meal" that blends traditional breakfast and dinner foods together into one complete meal. This keeps your meal interesting and delivers a refreshing change from the same old meat, veggies, and carbs. Both parts of this meal—the muffins and rolls—can be prepped as standalone snacks to be enjoyed throughout the week. The muffin combination of sweet potato and apple is a particularly delicious pairing! I imagine these would make awesome pre-workout snacks when paired with cottage cheese or a whey protein shake.
This recipe is a stroke of true genius. I've seen chicken-crust pizza before, but I hadn't seen one that was well made—until now. Forget dialing out for some pie. This recipe is a great way to ensure your pizza's high-protein and low-carb. The combination of sweet potato, apple, zucchini, and goat cheese is a nice way to incorporate the sweet and savory. It's essentially a salad on top of chicken that can be eaten like a pizza, a sandwich, or a wrap. Boom!
Grilled Chicken With Chimichurri and Creamy Goat-
This dish is a perfect balance of practical and creative. Part of living a healthy lifestyle is being able to take simple ingredients and make them pop, and this dish does just that. I like the idea of taking a traditional bodybuilding meal of chicken, sweet potato, and veggies, and enhancing it with goat-cheese dressing and chimichurri—not to mention great plating presentation.
Homemade dressings and sauces are a great way to save money over purchasing packaged sauces, which are often loaded with preservatives, hidden fats, and sodium. This way, you know exactly what you're putting in your body. Adding fruit to a veggie stir-fry—as was done here with the addition of pineapple and green apple—adds flavor and may even help curb sweet cravings for those following lower-carb diets.
Chicken Meatballs With Twice-Baked Sweet Potato
This meal stuck with me because it's a muscle-building staple that would be great to adapt into your weekly meal prep. I especially loved the twice-baked sweet potato, where apples were used as a topping to keep sugar content to a minimum. Upping the overall calories with protein-rich nuts also makes this a great recovery meal.
Lastly, I like the spin on traditional meatballs, accomplished by coating them with baked potato chips. This is a great way to add additional flavor, especially if you can find chips or even panko crumbs that are low-sodium. I would recommend this meal for your next "epic meal prep" session. It's delicious, practical and affordable.
Goat Cheese And Tofu Cheesecake With Green Apple,
Yams, And Zucchini Reduction
This dish is pure creativity. It's one of the few dessert dishes I've come across that turns vegetables into treats. It does a great job of transforming an often-overlooked protein source, tofu, into the star of a delectable dish you're sure to want to sink your fork into. This recipe is also pretty versatile, so if tofu isn't your thing, you can mix, match, and interchange the ingredients to fit your diet and complement your goals. Tofu, for instance, could be replaced with white beans or vegan yogurt for an equally creamy, guilt-free treat.
Gluten-Free Vegan Pot Pie
Who says you need animal protein to build muscle? You don't, and this dish is proof! This recipe was one of the few pure vegan and gluten-free entries, and it's a muscle-building standout. I like the idea of using sweet potato in the pie crust to boost the amount of complex carbohydrates and to make it thicker without adding additional flour. This meal is also easy to customize to fit your diet and goals—feel free to toss in seasonal veggies, or even an extra dose of protein with some tempeh.
Raw Zucchini Noodles With Sweet-Potato Cream Sauce
And Goat-Cheese-Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs
Where to start? This brilliant sweet potato cream sauce looks delicious! I like the idea because it's versatile and can be used as a sauce in other recipes, or even as a topping on poultry or fish. This is especially beneficial if you are following a lower-carb diet but want to sneak in some solid complex carbohydrates. Meatballs are a practical meal prep idea, and stuffing them with apples is an interesting way to add extra flavor and bring home the theme of this sweet-and-savory dish.