How Can You Make A Bland Diet Appealing?

How can you make a bland diet appealing? Our forum members once again do not let us down. They have listed a variety of ideas to improve upon a boring diet. Also included are many recipes to use as a part of your daily meal plan. Check it out!

TOPIC: How Can You Make A Bland Diet Appealing?

The Question:

Bodybuilders go through the pain of shoving down foods which they don't enjoy. Foods that are bland with no flavor, such as chicken, tuna, brown rice, etc are all apart of a bodybuilder's diet.

How can you make a bland diet appealing?

What types of additions or spices can be used?

What are some recipes for a great tasting and nutritional meal?

Bonus Question: What can you do to get your protein shake to taste great?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:


        1st place - 75 in store credit.

        2nd place - 50 in store credit.

      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

1st Place - bitterplacebo

When most people hear "diet" they think of a selection of foods geared toward weight loss. However, diet is actually a much broader term describing a selection of foods to control body weight in any way. This could mean people are on diets for weight loss, gain, or just maintenance.

In any case, dieters often find themselves consuming foods they do not particular enjoy, meal after meal, for an extended period of time. Many, including the dieter, might consider such a routine diet to be bland. The justification for this blandness sometimes lies in the convenience and simplicity of certain foods. However, it is my guess that most fallaciously appeal to the common practice of eating bland foods while dieting.

Remember, just because most people do something a certain way, does not make that way justified, correct, or even reasonable. Blandness is not a requirement of any diet, and as such, we are going to look at some tips and tricks for making any diet more appealing, regardless of the diet's goal.

Bland Diet:
How can you make a bland diet appealing?

The enjoyment of eating food is related to that food's flavor, temperature, aroma, texture, and presentation. Making modifications to any of these attributes may often make a food more suitable to an individual's appetite. While the next section will go over some of the changes that can be made to the actual food itself, this section contains advice regarding the presentation of the food.

The Sensory Aspects Of Appetite:

The smell of food plays an important role in stimulating appetite. The nerve receptors in the nose send signals to the brain, which then sends signals to other glands which release appetite related hormones. In the end, people feel more hungry after smelling the aroma of food. Basically, try to make sure foods have a pleasant smell before eaten. Some herbs and spices, which we will see in the next section, can help improve the smell of foods.

Food temperature can also influence its desirability. Typically, foods that aid us in maintaining a pleasant body temperature are appealing. For example, warm soup in the cold winter, and cold drinks in the summer or after exercise are common.

General temperature preferences differ from person to person, but everyone should make sure to eat food at the temperature they are most familiar and comfortable with in order to increase the appeal of it.

Appetite is also affected by colors. The most accepted colors for edible food are brown, red, and green. Blue has been found to be an appetite suppressant, possibly because our nature tells us to avoid darker colors due to a greater potential to be poisonous.

Serving the food on a light-colored plate may make the meal appear to be more fresh and thus more appealing. As we know, many of us tend to "eat with our eyes," so incorporating a good variety of colors in a bland dish may be enough to trick us into enjoying the meal more.

There are also social aspects of eating. Many find their dining experiences more enjoyable when they share it with other people, allowing for interesting conversations, jokes, and stories. Eating with others may help with taking the mind off of food that is not particularly appealing. Just make sure not to allow others to compromise a diet.

Some degree of enjoyment can also be attributed to how the food feels, its texture. Obviously, not many would prefer to eat something that would feel like sand. The dryness of a food is something that can be directly changed to meet one's preferences.

The way in which foods are eaten also fall into the sense of touch category. Preparing food meant to be eaten with the hands instead of utensils might be a fun change for some.

Lastly, eating simple and plain foods in a dull place obviously does not help it to be any less bland. Try eating in a different environment for a change. Have a picnic outdoors, or go to a nice restaurant if nutritional information is readily available.

Varietal Tips:

Many of the foods that plague the bland diet often come in different varieties and flavors. Maintaining a good selection to choose from often helps alleviate some of the tedium and boredom associated with bland diets. The following are some examples of common foods that have much room for variation.

    • Oatmeal: comes in different varieties-instant, old fashioned, and steel cut oats all offer different texture experiences. The instant oatmeal is also available in many different flavors, allowing the dieter a greater degree of convenience. Note that the flavored oatmeal comes at the price of containing some sugar, but it's usually not enough to worry over.

    • Protein Powders: many people, bodybuilders in particular, choose to supplement with protein. They often come in many flavors to accommodate differing tastes.

    • Rice: there are different varieties of rice-brown rice, white rice, wild rice, as well as short, medium, and long grains, giving different textures and tastes.

    • Potatoes: Russet Burbank, Yellow Finn, and Red Gold potatoes are different types. The good thing about potatoes is that they can be prepared in many different ways. They can be served baked, boiled, and mashed among other possibilities in order to make them more appealing to the diner.

    • Water: there are many flavored waters available that are still calories free.

    • Tuna: there is a variety of different species. It can be purchased in "solid" or "chunk" forms and packed in either water or oil to suit personal texture and consistency preferences.

    • Yogurt: is often made in many different flavors and consistencies, some even with real fruits.

Eating Alternately:

Another strategy is to prepare meals that consist of a combination of differing foods eaten separately, but alternately. Many "bland" dieters may eat foods separately, but not alternately. As an example, the following bland meal of plain lettuce, plain chicken breast, and plain baked potato, may be eaten systematically, one by one, since the diner knows each one is not very appealing by itself anyway.

However, the body can be tricked into finding the foods more appealing if the foods are eaten in an alternating fashion, eating some from each food a little at a time. Using this eating method keeps the taste buds guessing and may make the meal more enjoyable.

What types of additions or spices can be used?

It turns out that variety is not only the figurative spice of life, but also food, as we saw. However, there are also real spices, herbs, and other additions that can be used to make food more appealing. These additions can work to enhance flavor, aroma, texture, and color of food.

The following additives work to improve some of these aspects which we now know are essential for the enjoyment of food.

  • MSG (monosodium glutamate): a flavor enhancing substance that can be added before or during cooking to improve the savory taste of foods. The benefits of this additive are that it does not affect metabolism and that it can reduce the amount of regular salt used while still improving taste.

    In general, the FDA ruled that it is safe for consumption and had no relation to long-term adverse affects. However, just so you are aware, there are some cases of unpleasant, short-term side effects in some individuals.

  • Bouillon Cubes: these come in a wide array of flavors and enhance both the flavor and aroma of a food.

  • Tabasco/Hot Sauces: for those that like hot and spicy dishes, this is the perfect ingredient.

  • Ketchup: a popular condiment to improve flavor and gives the food more color. It is mainly made of tomatoes, but there are other ingredients as well--watch out for excessive salt and sugar content. In general, though, ketchup is a good low-calorie addition.

  • Mustard: another common condiment that tends to have a sharp flavor while enhancing the color of a dish. It is prepared from mustard seeds and other ingredients, so be sure to check out the salt and sugar content again, but in most cases mustard tends to be a low-calorie choice.

  • Pickles/Relish: this is a good pick for adding a more sweet or salty taste, while possibly adding some crunchiness to a food. There are many varieties available, but the main things to look for are the salt and sugar content, which may not be desirable for some.

  • Soy Sauce: adds a salty, slightly sweet flavor. It can be used as a dipping sauce or added directly to food to add its color and flavor improvements. The downside to soy sauce is that even the light versions contain a good deal of sodium.

  • Lettuce: a flexible vegetable that can be easily added to many dishes or on sandwiches to give it a more fresh feel and crunchy texture. There is really no downside to lettuce since it is basically a calorie-less fiber, which will only aid the body's digestive system.

  • Horseradish/Wasabi: adds a strong flavor that can also produce a slight burning sensation in the sinus cavity instead of on the tongue itself. These are generally low in calories and added in small amounts. My recommendation is to use some on sandwiches.

  • Sauerkraut: made by fermenting cabbage. It is distinguished by its sour and salty flavor. It's commonly added to meat dishes, but I also like it on sandwiches and with potatoes. The only thing to worry about with sauerkraut is that it does contain a moderate amount of salt.

  • Steak Sauces: has a peppery taste that can be sweet or tart. Can be put over meat to enhance taste at the cost of adding some salt. Some sauces may also have moderate sugar content, so be sure to check if necessary.

  • Barbecue Sauces: are marked by their combination of sour, sweet, and spicy tastes. They are really good to use over meats during or after cooking, or as a dipping sauce. The main drawback of this condiment is that they typically contain a moderate amount of sugar.

  • Mayonnaise: an emulsion and popular sandwich spread which may improve taste and give a more oily and moist texture. The problem that most people have with mayonnaise is that it also adds many fat calories, and should be used sparingly, if at all, when this is a concern.

  • Salsa: these are usually based on tomatoes and other vegetables. They help make food look brighter in color and spicier in flavor. They do contain some sodium to be aware of, but are good to use in dishes that involve tortilla wraps.

  • Salad Dressings: eating vegetables and salads plain is probably the ultimate bland food. Fortunately, there are plenty of low-calorie and low-sodium dressing available for all the non-masochists out there.

  • Salt: pure salt can be used as a seasoning for just about everything. It generally makes bland foods more palatable. Salt is also an additive in bread dough as an aid to making sure the texture and consistency turns out correctly after baking. Humans have been shown to be able to tolerate a wide range of sodium intake, but it is also shown that average blood pressure levels also tend to rise with increased intake.

    For those with high blood pressure, using salt as an additive may present an issue, but for others the main drawback is that it may promote some undesired water retention.

  • Pepper: often found sitting right beside the salt and adds a spicy heat. Black pepper, especially, is actually very healthy. It not only adds flavor, but also helps the body absorb the nutrients in the food we eat.

  • Garnishes: lemon wedges, parsley, orange slices, and chives among other fruits/vegetables can be placed on or alongside the food to add color and attractiveness.

  • Cinnamon: a common spice with a pleasant aroma and flavor. It's a perfect addition to a bowl of oatmeal.

  • Ginger, onion powder, garlic, chili powder, curry powder are all other good seasonings to add while cooking food to improve flavor as well as scent.

  • Thyme, oregano, paprika, nutmeg, mint, basil, and marjoram are all common herbs used in cooking to enhance flavor.

  • The following herbs, which tend to be more bitter, have been shown to have a relation with increasing a person's appetite: gentian, bitter orange, cinnamon, coriander, dandelion, hops, horehound, rosemary, wormwood, and yarrow.

  • Artificial Sweeteners: these are non-carbohydrate substances that taste sweet. While they do not add calories, the body may react to them in ways similar to sugar since the body perceives it as sweet. The result may be increased saliva and insulin output.

We know insulin is an appetite-stimulating hormone, so using these artificial sweeteners may actually make one more hungry in the long run. Splenda, aspartame, and saccharin are examples of such sweeteners. While they may make bland food more appealing, there is also ongoing controversy about these substances and their role in certain health issues, so it may be best to use these sparingly and at your own risk.

Often the best way to find out which additives suit individual preferences is just to experiment. Feel free to try various combinations of the seasonings and condiments as well. There's bound to be a way to make any bland food more appetizing.

What are some recipes for a great tasting and nutritional meal?

It is important to remember that in the most general regard to weight control, it is much more difficult to label specific foods as "bad," while much easier to spot a terrible diet. Keeping this in mind, here are some sample recipes for meals that are not only nutritious, but are also very flavorful.

The selected recipes were all chosen for their staple ingredients, which are often found in bland bodybuilding diets.

Cinco De Mango Chicken Quesadillas:
A fresh, fruity, and colorful way to eat your chicken.

(Recipe developed by the National Mango Board and obtained from

Chicken Quesadillas
(25 minute prep time, 35 minute cook time)

      • 2 small boneles, skinless chiken breasts
      • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
      • 1 dried ancho or pasilla chili pepper, stemmed/seeded
      • Salt to taste
      • 4 burrito-size flour tortillas (10-inc)
      • 6 ounces thinly sliced Jack cheese
      • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and thinly slices
      • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
      • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
      • Mango Salsa (recipe follows)

Mango Salsa

      • 1 large peeled, pitted and chopped mango
      • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
      • 1/4 cup minced red onion
      • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
      • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients for mango salsa.

Cook chicken on a lightly oiled grill over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side or until lightly charred and cooked through. Let cool slightly and cut into bite-size strips. (You may substitute leftover grilled chicken.)

Puree the tomato sauce and dried pepper in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add grilled chicken to pan and toss well to coat; season to taste with salt. Place flour tortillas on a flat surface.

Top half of each tortilla with equal amounts of cheese, mango, bell pepper, green onion and chicken; fold over tortilla. Cook in a large skillet on both sides until cheese is melted and tortilla is crisp, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve with mango salsa.

Makes 4 entree servings, or 8 appetizer servings.

Nutrition Information Per Entree Serving:

      • 560 calories
      • 30 g protein
      • 64 g carbohydrates
      • 19 g total fat (10 g. saturated)
      • 78 mg cholesterol
      • 1,380 mg sodium
      • 6 g fiber

Peanut Butter Oatmeal:
A nuttier and creamier oatmeal that is easy to prepare.

Prepare 1/2 cup of instant or old-fashioned oatmeal according to directions using 1/2 cup of lowfat or skim milk. Add a tablespoon of peanut butter, smooth or crunchy style depending on preference. After mixing, An additional scoop of protein powder of any flavor can also be added. Pour in additional milk or water to obtain the desired consistency and temperature. Stir well and enjoy.

1 serving

      • 350 calories
      • 10g fat
      • ~24g protein
      • 30g carbohydrates

Washington State Mashed Potatoes With Roasted Garlic:
A flavorful and simple way to serve potatoes.

(Recipe received from

      • 2 lbs Washington russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
      • 1/4 cup milk
      • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
      • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/4 tsp white pepper
      • 1 whole medium head garlic

Makes 6 servings

Bake garlic at 375 °F 45 minutes. Cut top 1/2 inch off head, squeeze to remove pulp and mash. Boil potatoes about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well. In a mixing bowl, combine hot potatoes, milk, mayonnaise, butter, salt and pepper. Whip at low speed only until smooth. Add garlic and mix well.

      • Calories 171
      • Protein 4.4 g
      • Carbohydrates 28.9 g
      • Fat 6 g
      • Cholesterol 9 mg
      • Dietary fiber 3.5 g
      • Sodium 248 mg

Crunchy Tuna Rice Salad:
Finally, we can stop eating the tuna straight from
the can and use up that leftover rice at the same time.

(Recipe received from

      • 3 cups cooked rice, cooled
      • 1 12-ounce can water packed tuna, drained and flaked
      • 2 medium carrots, shredded
      • 1 medium-size green or red bell pepper, chopped
      • 1 cup chopped jicama*
      • 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
      • 1-1/2 cups nonfat plain yogurt
      • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
      • 3 whole pita bread rounds, halved
      • Shredded lettuce

Combine rice, tuna, carrots, bell pepper, jicama and onion in large bowl. Add yogurt, lemon pepper, salt and pepper. Toss to combine ingredients. Chill at least 1 hour. Serve in pita bread with lettuce.

Makes 6 servings.

*Substitute 1 (6-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped, for the jicama if desired.

Each Serving Provides:

      • 288 calories
      • 20 g. protein
      • 1 g. fat
      • 47 g. carbohydrate
      • 4 g. dietary fiber
      • 15 mg. cholesterol
      • 508 mg. sodium

I hope these recipes are useful, or at least give some ideas of how to improve bland foods.

Bonus Question:
What can you do to get your protein shake to taste great?

The post-workout recovery shake is well known among anyone looking to build muscle size or strength. The ideal shake would include a substantial amount of quick absorbing carbohydrates and protein.

The intake of such a shake is essential in giving muscles the tools they need to start recovering and growing back stronger and bigger from an intense workout. Because they play such an important role and are consumed often, we would definitely welcome any advice in getting our protein shakes to taste better.

Many people, myself among them, are not partial to the taste of some whey powders when taken alone, so we build up shakes that including many other ingredients. I like to start off with putting any powders in a glass. This usually includes one flavored meal replacement powder containing some protein, sugars, and other nutrients, then one scoop of hemp protein for fiber, quality protein, and a fresh taste, and finally one scoop of flavored whey protein powder.

I then add the liquids, using 1% milk for enhancing the taste with some fat, and also egg whites for a highly bio-available protein. After mixing, the yogurt is added to give the shake a thicker and more enjoyable consistency.

Last, the honey is put in to add some sweetness and fast sugar that the body needs to when starting the recovery process. Feel free to substitute fresh fruits, like bananas or strawberries for the honey or the MRP. I found the honey to be simpler when looking to add some sugar, but the fruit really does add a fresher taste to the drink. Also the base flavor of the shake can easily be changed by altering the flavor of the MRP or whey protein that is used.

    • 1 MRP packet: 140 calories, ~6g of protein
    • 1 scoop hemp protein: 60 calories, ~7g of protein
    • 1 scoop whey protein: 50 calories, ~10g of protein
    • 1/2 cup milk: 50 calories, ~4g of protein
    • 1/2 cup yogurt: 50 calories, ~4g of protein
    • 1/4 cup egg whites: 30 calories, ~6g of protein
    • 1 tbsp. honey: 60 calories

Total: 440 calories, 37g of protein

There you have it, a protein shake not only loaded with everything the muscles need for growth, but also having a refreshing, flavorful, and sweet taste. Be sure to give the other recipes a try. I hope the offered suggestions work well for those suffering from a bland diet.


2nd Place - TinyMan


With the upcoming summer months, many of us have started to really restrict our diets in order to get ready for hitting the pool, the beaches, and the other various activities associated with summer. Unfortunately, that means putting together diets that turn out rather bland.

I'd have difficulty counting how many people have put together a diet of "a dry chicken breast, dry sweet potatoes, and a cup of steamed vegetables." Yuck!

With a few simple tweaks and changes (and a bit of imagination), another dreaded, boring meal can become a bodybuilder's feast. I'm writing this to break away from the stereotypical diet, and give examples of high-quality meals that won't break your diet, while not boring the taste buds.

Bland Diet:
How can you make a bland diet appealing?

The name of the game is imagination. There are plenty of condiments at your disposal, and used correctly, add a world of flavor without a lot in extra calories. Which sounds better: a plain chicken breast, plain brown rice, and a steamed carrot, or alternatively, peanut chicken served with stir-fried rice, with vegetables and a couple eggs in the mix?

You can bet I'm going to choose the latter, and if you're reading this article, chances are you will too. This is only one example where I used the same foods (chicken, rice, and vegetables), but with a simple change it becomes much more appealing.


The staple of practically every bodybuilder's diet, chicken breast can be either a pleasant treat or a nightmare to eat. It really takes very little to make it into a good tasting meat. My preferred way to spice things up is to marinade chicken, although there are many other options available.


Love it or hate it, there's no way around it. Tuna fish is a cheap source of protein. However, many don't like the taste of it, so there are several options to change the flavor. One way is actually to simply rinse the tuna fish using a strainer. Odd as it sounds, it will 'remove' the taste normally associated with tuna fish, however may leave it a bit dry.

With tuna, lime and lemon juices work very well to mask the bland flavor, although I prefer to just incorporate it in my cooking. It tastes much better when incorporated into a meal, while providing all the same nutritional value. Tuna lasagna anyone?


I've grown up on rice, simply put. It's just been a staple in my diet since I was a young child, so it feels normal to me to eat it daily (in fact, it feels odd when I don't have rice!). However, rice tends not to be the most flavorful. How to dress it up a bit? Here are a few ideas:

Cook the rice in a chicken or beef broth (bouillon) to add a bit of flavor. This is a great low calorie way to enhance the taste of rice. Alternatively, when cooking the meat for dinner (such as chicken), boil it in water with barbeque sauce mixed in, and when done use the remaining liquid as a sauce for the rice. This makes a quick, easy way to flavor the rice a bit further.


Steamed vegetables can be very drab, especially for those of us who really just don't like vegetables. Instead of trying to shovel down vegetables, make them in a more pleasant fashion. Make a stir-fry from the vegetables you're going to be eating, and mix with the rice. I use a mixture of soy/Worcestershire sauce when doing the stir-fry, and makes eating my vegetables not just easier, but pleasant!

What types of additions or spices can be used?

The list would be so long that it would take hours to read! However, I've got a list of some of my more common spices and sauces that I use, hopefully some of them will come in use for you.

Worcestershire Sauce:

That's right; it's not just for burgers anymore. Worcestershire sauce makes an excellent base for marinades, because it has a very robust flavor. Additionally, Worcestershire has much less sodium than soy sauce does, and makes an excellent substitute for it (especially in low-sodium diets!).

Chili Powder:

It is amazing what a bit of chili powder can do for meats. Depending on the power of the chili powder, and a person's individual tolerance that determines how much would be used. Chili powder also happens to be a mild thermogenic, as an added bonus.

Low Sodium Soy Sauce:

This is an excellent substitute for those who enjoy soy sauce (and who doesn't, in a good stir fry?), however regular soy sauce is loaded with sodium. While useful in cooking, I often still prefer to use Worcestershire, as I prefer the flavor of it.

Peanut Butter:

As odd as it may sound, natural peanut butter is excellent for making marinades, and for brushing on meats. Given that natural peanut butter only contains ground peanuts and some salt, it becomes great for cooking with. Peanuts happen to be a very good source of monounsaturated fat, which only furthers the benefit of cooking with peanut butter.

Sugar-Free Barbeque (BBQ) Sauce:

Useful not only during a barbeque, BBQ sauce makes for an excellent marinade, and is a quick and easy way to make good tasting meat.

McCormick Spices:

McCormick makes a large range of spices for meats, my favorite being the 'Montreal Chicken' seasoning. This works very well not only with chicken, but with other meats in general. It only takes a little bit too properly flavor meat. I use about a fourth of a teaspoon with these spices, generally speaking.

Curry Powder:

Excellent for making quick curried meat, the leftover liquid from making the curry is a good sauce for use on rice or potatoes, enhancing the flavor.


It is easy to go overboard with cumin, as it has a rather overpowering taste! Just a bit of cumin is all that is necessary, to give a more robust taste. This spice is very popular to use in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.


Typically, bouillon can be found in small cubes at the local supermarket. It is sometimes referred to as "stock," and makes a great broth for simmering. One of my favorite ways to use them is to use bouillon when making rice. Instead of cooking the rice in just plain water, cook it in water with bouillon.

Of course, I have only gone through a small fraction of what is available. Even juices from fruits make great marinades, such as the juice of oranges and especially limes. Experimentation is the key to success with cooking, not every dish prepared will be a smash hit (if you'd had my roommate's cooking, there would be no doubt this is true!).

What are some recipes for a great tasting and nutritional meal?

Below, I have listed some of my favorite dishes and marinades to make, however there are many more recipes. On the boards, there is a thread devoted entirely to recipes, and is a great place to find new ideas; check it out in this thread.

Additionally, I created a thread containing a compilation of my favorite marinades, which is a useful starting place for getting some ideas.

To start off with, if you are anything like me, you're constantly on the go. Between university and the rest of my life, there seems to be no time to get in enough meals during the day. Here's a protein bar recipe that is both easy to make, and good tasting (it's good enough that my roommates have wanted them - and they don't even work out!):

Protein Bars:

    • 4 oz Sugar Free/Fat Free Jell-O or similar (Butterscotch)
    • 8 oz cottage cheese
    • 3 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned oatmeal)
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1.5 scoop casein
    • 2 scoops whey (chocolate)
    • 2 tbsp peanut butter


It couldn't be easier to make these, just mix them in a bowl, spread out on a tray, and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, cut into squares, and eat when you're on the go!

The remaining recipes are still fairly simple to make, and taste great. I prefer to make in portions to last me at least two days, so I don't have to cook every night.

Pineapple Curry:

    • 1 small can of pineapple, cubed
    • .5 tsp curry powder
    • chili powder to taste


Simply combine all the ingredients with enough water to cover the chicken, and boil at a low heat setting for 25-30 minutes. Very easy and tasty, tender meats work best.

Fried Rice:

    • 2 eggs, yolk & white
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • Soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
    • Vegetables to stir fry with
    • Cooking oil


Cook the rice separately. Using basmati rice, I bring the rice to a boil (1:1.5 of rice: water), cover and cook at medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Fluff/Dry the rice somewhat.

Heat the cooking oil in a pan. If you are going to add meat (chicken, etc), cook the meat in this oil, and set aside on another plate. No needs to wipe down the pan really, scramble the eggs in it, and chop finely with a spatula (or similar implement). Add vegetables and rice, and add Worcestershire & soy, in equal portions (1:1). Cook until the vegetables are ready, turning occasionally so the rice doesn't burn. Mix with meat if desired, and presto, food.


    • 2 - 2.5 lbs beef, chicken, or lamb
    • 1 tbsp garam marsala
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 medium onion (diced)
    • 1.5 tsp curry powder (dry)
    • .75 - 1 cup water (depends on how much meat you have)
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
    • .5 tsp chili powder
    • Crock pot, or equivalent
    • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour (optional - used to thicken sauce)


      1. Cube the meat of choice. If you're using beef, broiling steaks work well, and are easy to work with. Lamb is also good, and while more expensive tends to be a more tender meat, and makes for a great curry.

      2. Dice onion, and place in crock pot. Add cubed beef, cumin, curry powder, garam marsala, lemon juice, chili powder.

      3. Add .75 - 1 cup of water, depending on how much meat you used. The water line should rise to be approximately as high as the meat being used, it's not necessary to completely immerse the meat with water.

      4. (in a crock pot, or similar) cook on low for 8 hours, or if you're in a hurry, cook on high for 4-5 hours. Cooking it slowly will give a much more tender meat, and is my preference for making curry. If you are using a pot, set the meat to a simmer, and cook for 2 - 2.5 hours (approximately).

Pad Thai With Chicken:

    • Worcestershire sauce
    • Soy sauce
    • Pad Thai
    • Chicken
    • Olive oil
    • Sesame oil
    • Chili powder (to taste)
    • Teriyaki marinade
    • Broccoli - finely chopped
    • Carrots - finely chopped
    • 2 Eggs

Pad Thai is rice noodles, which has the ingredients of rice, and water (jasmine rice for mine). It is very cheap, easy to work with, and can usually be found in supermarkets (often listed as one of the 'Asian Foods').


      1. Marinade 6-8 oz chicken (cubed) in 1 tbsp teriyaki, 1 tbsp Worcestershire, 1 tsp sesame oil, and chili powder to taste. I usually aim for at least 3 hours, sometimes I do it overnight.

      2. Place Pad Thai in a pot with lukewarm water. Allow to soak for 45-60 minutes. This will soften the noodles to an 'al dente' texture - strain the noodles, and place aside. Alternatively, cooking in boiling water for 2-3 minutes will prepare them.

      3. Scramble 2 eggs in a bowl, set aside.

      4. In a large skillet, fry the teriyaki chicken until cooked thoroughly. Empty into the bowl you will use for eating. No need to wipe down the pan after this.

      5. Cook the eggs in the skillet - the egg will absorb most of the leftover sauce from frying the chicken. Chop with spatula until fine, and add finely chopped broccoli/carrots (keep egg in pan). Continue frying until broccoli is finished.

      6. Add Pad Thai into the mixture, and use about a 50/50 split of Worcestershire/soy to add flavoring to the mixture. Toss everything together in the skillet and fry for a few minutes (don't let it sit there - the Pad Thai will dry out).


    • Tomato sauce
    • Basil
    • Thyme
    • Oregano
    • 10-12 oz tuna fish
    • 6-8 oz chicken breast (cubed)
    • Ricotta cheese/cottage cheese, 10-15 oz
    • Low fat cheddar/monterey jack cheese (optional, depending how strict you are)
    • Lasagna noodles (cooked)

It's Easy To Make:

      1. In a oven-safe tray, cover the bottom with tomato sauce, spiced with some basil/thyme/oregano.
      2. Add a layer of cooked lasagna on top of the tomato sauce. Cover top with a thin layer of chicken and tuna fish.
      3. Add some ricotta cheese or cottage cheese (I prefer to use ricotta) on top. No need to cover all over the lasagna - it will spread out just fine.
      4. Sprinkle cheese on top (if desired).
      5. Repeat steps 1-4 for as many layers as desired (I generally use 3 layers.)

        Cover, and heat at 375 (Fahrenheit!) for 35 minutes, then remove the cover and cook for another 10 minutes.



      • 1 tbsp Szechuan marinade (San-J)
      • 1 tsp soy sauce
      • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
      • 1 tsp BBQ sauce
      • chili powder
      • .5 tsp McCormick Montreal Seasoning


      • 1 tbsp light BBQ sauce
      • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
      • 1 tsp McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning
      • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
      • Chili powder


      • 1 tsp peanut butter
      • .5 - 1 tsp BBQ sauce (changes the taste, and it's not necessary)
      • 1 tsp sesame oil
      • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire

Bonus Question:
What can you do to get your protein shake to taste great?

Almost everyone can relate to this situation: you have just bought five pounds of a new whey protein powder, and only to find that it is not exactly pleasing to drink. There are two options from this point: you can either just drink and forget about it, or take a couple simple steps to make the shake actually enjoyable.

I consider blending fruit into a whey shake to be good, for a variety of reasons. After a workout, the fairly simple carbohydrates found within fruit are good for energy, and the nutritional profile of fruits is excellent (including potassium, which commonly needs to be replenished after working out). Berries tend to be my favorite fruit to use, due to the antioxidants they contain.

For other times of the day, I commonly use peanut butter and oatmeal. A scoop of whey, a tablespoon of peanut butter, half a cup of oatmeal, and a banana makes for a good meal replacement drink.

Whey protein increases the protein content of the shake, the banana and oatmeal for carbohydrates, and peanut butter for the monounsaturated fats. This makes for a very solid shake, although is not optimal directly post-workout due to the fat content (slower absorption).


Making the most out of your meals really isn't as hard as it may seem. As hard as we work in the gym, it is at least, if not more, important to work in the kitchen.

Who wants to go through life trying to down multiple cans of tuna fish a day, and living on meals with practically no flavor? Certainly not me, and with a bit of skill in the kitchen, I can achieve the results I want from the gym, while preserving an appreciation for the fine foods that life has to offer.

3rd Place - Nevel

Bodybuilders go through the pain of shoving down foods which they don't enjoy. Foods that are bland with no flavor, such as chicken, tuna, brown rice, etc are all apart of a bodybuilder's diet.

Bland Diet:
How can you make a bland diet appealing?

When one thinks of a bodybuilding diet, the words "flavorful" and "Can't wait!!" don't come to mind. Instead words like "bland," "difficult to swallow," and "ahhh S#!T" are more familiar thoughts. But it does not have to be this way. You can have your cake and eat it too (but seriously, keep your hands off the cake).

A bodybuilding diet high in protein and taste is possible while at the same time beating back the evil forces of high fat and high sugar foods.

Just because your food is bland does not mean that it can not be appealing to you. You have to consider that your mind takes more into consideration when picking what looks good to it rather than just taste. Although taste does play probably the most important role.

Before your first handful of whatever you are shoveling into your mouth hits your lips, your brain has taken into consideration every other sense associated with that food. All of these senses combine to decide to the overall satisfaction of what you are eating.


Color plays a big role in what is appealing and looks good to us. Think of this: would you rather eat a can of dark, almost black spinach or a bowl of bright green fresh spinach with chopped up onions, red peppers, and black olives added to it?" Both will provide a large amount of vitamins and fill you up, however you will probably be happier eating the more colorful bowl of mixed vegetables.


Variety is also an issue. Believe it or not, if you were to eat T-bones and Snickers bars every day, you would eventually become sick of it. Remember how pizza used to be a big deal and was actually considered a delicacy? Now, since every restaurant, gas station, and cafeteria serves it up on a regular basis, it is not as big a deal to us as it once was.

The same thing applies to your bodybuilding diet. This does not mean that you can't eat chicken every day. But if it is prepared the same way every day over and over, you are going to become sick of it. Try preparing foods with different flavors and methods each time you cook them to avoid this problem.


Your brain also cares about how the food feels in your mouth after it gets there. Is it too squishy? Hard? Hot? Cold? Scrambled egg whites are usually easier to eat if they are hot rather than cold. Yet, if you were to hard boil them, some would prefer them cold over hot. Experiment and see what textures and temperatures you like with certain foods.


Smell is probably the second most important sense associated with food after taste. This is because of the way your mind perceives flavor as a mixture of taste and smell when you eat a food. Studies have been done where when the participant was not able to smell what they were eating, they could not tell the difference between certain foods, like a slice of apple and a slice of potato.

This does not mean that you should hold your nose when you eat your post workout meal. This means that you should do what you can to improve the smell of whatever you are eating. If the food is naturally smelly by itself, like some fish and vegetables, then you will probably need to combine it with something else to overcome or compliment that smell. This means either combining it with another food, spice, or flavor, which are discussed below.

What types of additions or spices can be used?

This is a tricky question. The easy answer is that any spice or addition can be used to improve any bland food. But we are bodybuilders, a different breed of homo-sapiens. We have to watch our sodium, calorie, sugar, and fat content.

This throws out many marinades and commercial condiments that are butter based or have "hydrogenated blah blah" or "high fructose blah blah" as their first ingredient listed. But this still leaves us with many commercial condiments and even more spices that are fresh at our disposal.

Spices are a very popular solution to bland food. This is because you can shake them on or mix them into food very easily. They also, for the most part, are free or sparse of calories. First off, the most basic spices that can be added to any dish are salt and pepper.

They are found on just about every table in the country. The reason for this is because they make food taste better and are cheap to buy. If you want to be fancier, then just about any spice that you can pick up and you like the taste of will work for your food. However, you must be cautious of spices you are not familiar with.

If it is a mixed spice like Mrs. Dash or Old Bay (a personal favorite) or something like that, you need to look at the ingredients. Sometimes these mixes can include a lot of sugar to make them taste better. Heavy additions of these types of spices could add extra calories that would be better off being received elsewhere.

Also, if you are watching your salt intake and have to monitor how much you take in, you are better off using single spices instead of mixes so you know for sure that no sodium has been added. Some more personal favorites of mine are:

  • Curry powder in chicken dishes
  • Old bay on fish and scrambled eggs
  • Lemon pepper on pork
  • Chili powder on hard boiled eggs

Another option is to add spicy, hot items to your food to kick up the taste. In addition to the extra flavor, spicy foods can raise your metabolism by a small amount, making you burn more calories than you normally do. Hot sauces are probably the most popular addition in this category.

In my kitchen, there are two main condiments that go into 90% of the foods prepared there, one of them is Frank's Red Hot. Sometimes I buy that liquid gold by the gallon. It is calorie free (not salt free however) and makes just about anything taste great. I'm convinced that if people on Fear Factor were allowed to put Red Hot on whatever testicles or intestines they were eating, they would all be able to finish.

Hot sauces can be added to meats, eggs, pasta, potatoes, or anything else you can think of. I sometimes use them as salad dressings when I'm cutting down my calories. Another option for heat addition is to use peppers in your cooking. You can either use fresh peppers from the produce section or dried peppers from the spice aisle.

Scoville Chile Heat Chart
The Scoville scale is a measure of the hotness of a chilli pepper. These fruits of the Capsicum genus contain capsaicin, a chemical compound which stimulates thermoreceptor nerve endings in the tongue, and the number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Many hot sauces use their Scoville rating in advertising as a selling point.
Variety Rating Heat Level
Sweet Bells; Sweet Banana; and Pimento 0 Negligible Scoville Units
Mexi-Bells; Cherry; New Mexica; New Mexico; Anaheim; Big Jim 1 100-1,000 Scoville Units
Ancho; Pasilla; Espanola; Anaheim 2 1,000 - 1,500 Scoville Units
Sandia; Cascabel 3 1,500 - 2,500 Scoville Units
Jalapeno; Mirasol; Chipotle; Poblano 4 2,500 - 5,000 Scoville Units
Yellow Wax; Serrano 5 5,000 - 15,000 Scoville Units
Chile De Arbol 6 15,000 - 30,000 Scoville Units
Aji; Cayenne; Tabasco; Piquin 7 30,000 - 50,000 Scoville Units
Santaka; Chiltecpin; Thai 8 50,000 - 100,000 Scoville Units
Habanero; Scotch Bonnet 9 100,000 - 350,000 Scoville Units
Red Savina Habanero; Indian Tezpur 10 350-855,000 Scoville Units

Either way, they are a sure way to make any dull flavored food a desired dish. However, you must be careful when using spicy items. If you go overboard and put too much heat into your food, it can have the opposite effect of your original intentions. Foods that are way too hot are NOT appealing to most people and will cause your more pain than pleasure.

Other additions that can be used to improve taste are condiments. Before, I stated that Red Hot was 1 of 2 main ingredients I use in most of my cooking. Well, the other is yellow mustard. Once again this item is calorie free but not salt free. It can be added to almost everything as well.

Other condiments fit for bodybuilding use are:

    • Soy sauce
    • Low carb ketchup
    • Salsa
    • Butter spray
    • BBQ sauce (watch the sugar!!)
    • Da-vinci syrups
    • Splenda and other non calorie sweeteners
    • Relish
    • Light salad dressings

    ...just to name a few.

If none of these appeal to you, I'm sure you can find other condiments in your grocery store that would be perfect. Just remember to check the nutritional facts and ingredients before you buy.

What are some recipes for a great tasting and nutritional meal?

I'm a busy guy. I got classes, papers, work, workouts, sleep, and sometimes partying to do. I don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen each day. That's why most of my meals are:

  1. Made in large batches so I get multiple meals out of them, and
  2. Easy to make and don't have a lot of ingredients.

I have gone on's Recipe of the Week and other recipe pages many times and gotten some great ideas from them on healthy meals to make. Sometimes though, I'll find a recipe, and when I go to the webpage, there will be about 20 ingredients listed.

This is an immediate turnoff for me. I don't have the time to collect all these ingredients, or the money to buy them and only use them once. So most of my recipes from my personal stash have few ingredients and don't take long to make. Here are some of my favorites:

Salsa Stoup:

Got this one from the lovely Rachael Ray on the Food Network. It's a good way to get a lot of vegetables in your diet without sitting on your couch trying to choke down raw broccoli and celery.


      • 1 green pepper (chopped)
      • 1 onion (chopped)
      • 3 ribs of celery (chopped)
      • 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes
      • 1 can crushed tomatoes
      • 1 can chicken broth


        In a big pot, sautç the peppers, onion, and celery until soft, then add everything else (both cans of tomatoes and the chicken broth), and bring to a boil.

Chicken Stir Fry:

Easy to make and tastes awesome, plus you can add/remove whatever you want from this recipe depending on what you have and still come out with a good meal.


      • Chicken (chopped up)
      • Frozen/Fresh chopped up vegetables - you can use whatever you have on hand
      • Soy sauce
      • Hot sauce


        In a stir fry pan or regular frying pan, cook vegetables 'til soft, then add chicken and cook it until it is done all the way through, then add as much soy/hot sauce as you want until it looks good to you. Can be eaten by itself or served over rice/noodles or whatever.

Steak & Veggies
For poor people like me.


      • Hamburger (as lean as possible)
      • Mixed frozen vegetables (corn, peas, carrots)
      • A1 steak sauce


        In a stir fry pan or regular frying pan, cook vegetables until they are thawed, then add hamburger and cook until brown. Then during the last minute of cooking, add a good amount of A1 to the pan and cook it. This will thicken the steak sauce and have it stick to the vegetables and meat. Then serve and eat.

Tuna Patties:
An old favorite.

This is one everyone knows and the reason is that it is so good.


      • Canned tuna
      • 1 egg white for each can of tuna
      • Some oatmeal for texture
      • Vegetables: onions and peppers
      • Fat free cheese
      • Hot sauce


        Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl. Then form into patties. Pan fry each side until golden brown, using fat free cooking spray in the pan. It's that easy. This is a good recipe because you can add whatever you want after the tuna, egg white, and oatmeal. Put in whatever vegetables and flavors that you personally like.

Bonus Question:
What can you do to get your protein shake to taste great?

The first piece of advice you can take is to buy a good tasting protein powder. This isn't the 1950's anymore where you have limited choices of flavors. These days there are hundreds of companies that make a wide variety of flavors of protein powders.

Also, with our modern sweeteners, we have been able to make protein powders that have the sweetness of sugar without the added calories. My personal favorite is Optimum 100% Whey Protein I use the Rocky Road flavored Optimum Whey powder and it is delicious. (There's a reason this stuff is a best seller).

On days where I want ultimate flavor however, I have a shake of Strawberry and White chocolate Protein Delite. There are chunks of strawberry in the powder and it tastes like a milkshake, even when mixed with water.

But I know that everyone has their personal favorites in the way of protein powders. So what can you do to get your shakes to taste better? There are tons of things that you can do.

First of all, you can try mixing your powder with different liquids. Milk makes any protein shake richer and thicker, giving it more of a milkshake consistency that's pleasing to the pallet. Fruit juices can also be used to mix your protein. The added flavor of fruit can sometimes complement whatever flavor of protein your powder comes in.

As a last resort, if you absolutely cannot stand the taste of your protein shake, you can mix it with coffee. The strong taste of coffee covers up almost any protein powder taste that you can throw at it.

A word of caution however: if you are using a shaker cup, make sure the coffee is room temperature or cooler when mixing your protein in the cup. Shaking a heated liquid in an airtight container (like a shaker cup) is asking for a nasty explosion of your cup. I speak from experience. Those dorm room walls are probably still stained brown.

If you don't like any of the above suggestions you can try adding different foods to your shake to make it taste better. Peanut butter is a popular addition. It gives any shake a peanut butter background. Whole pieces of fruit also contribute flavor to a poor tasting shake, as well as add color and aroma. I have used packets of sweetener before to enhance the sweetness of my shakes. Any of these additives can be put in a blender with your shake and be liquefied to become part of the shake.

If all else fails, it's time to start thinking outside the box. Who said that protein powder had to be used to make shakes? It is probably one of the most versatile food products ever created.

A few suggestions for how else to use protein powder:

  • Mix with cottage cheese for a delicious flavored dessert (I've heard the flavor compared to cheesecake).
  • Find a recipe online and make your own bars. A quick favorite recipe of mix is mix 2 cups of powder with 1 cup of egg whites and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. You can also mix in some oatmeal or cereal for carbs.
  • Protein pancakes are also a popular recipe. You can find probably a dozen recipes by doing a search for it on My quick recipe is 1 scoop of powder, 1 packet of instant oatmeal, and 6 egg whites. Mix together and make them like you would any other pancake.

These are just a few suggestions for what else to do with powder to make it more appealing to you. Use your imagination and I'm sure you can come up with dozens of ideas of your own.

Review Of Other Articles
Or "Why Wasn't Mine Picked?"

Brute Force


  • From a culinary standpoint, flavor profiles are sound. Interesting suggestions.


    • Writer did not conform to outline. Not enough content for a good e-zine article.

Comments: This was a generally pleasant read with some interesting ideas. Topic of the Week gives aspiring writers a great leg up by doing the outline for them. Make it your friend. Follow the outline by answering the questions in order. Discuss nothing else.

Check out the articles published on this site to get a good feel for how much content is expected by your publisher. This effort showed us some basic capabilities. Writing is like any other skill. Keep at it.



  • Good job of following outline. Appropriate amount of content for an article. Great references and some precise data.


    • Some basic errors with sentence structure.

Comments: One of the hardest things in writing articles is achieving the right cadence or flow. Strictly proper grammar is not always the way to go. Some principles from classic disciplines have carried over to the modern day.

Sentences should be easy to read and at the same time informative. Let's look at this example. To wit:

"If your diet is designed such that you eat maximum volumes of food while still controlling calories (e.g. eating lot of veggies and adding healthy fat to every meal) you will less likely be irritated by blandness, because you may be so full you often have no desire to eat anything."

In terms of the run on sentence we hooked a whopper here. Here is one of many possibilities for conveying this concept. e.g:

"Design your diet for maximum volumes of food and minimal calories. Eating lots of fibrous carbs or vegetables and adding healthy fat to every meal is a good plan. You may be less likely to be irritated by blandness when you are full."

The above group of sentences can now be read and re-read, fine tuning it several times. With careful editing this group of sentences could be constructed into a great paragraph instead of a run on sentence. Having something to say is important. How you convey it is equally important.

This writer may benefit by becoming familiar with some basic writing guidelines. Strunk's Elements of style is a well recognized source for learning the ropes.

Dubble G


  • Nice conversational style. The author took a position and re-enforced it without coming off as arrogant.


    • This submission was a too short to make a good article.

Comments: Subjectively, this reviewer enjoyed reading the work. The ideas were not "canned." While not ground breaking work this author gave us some things to think about.

The third paragraph may have been stronger as two paragraphs. The first one introducing the concept of moderation in flavoring and the second providing an example. Again, the reviewer would encourage this writer to read articles on the site and especially winning Topic Of The Week articles to get a feel for content length.

Hue Ghas


  • Some really interesting recipes.


    • Not much else to work with.

Comments: This submission left the impression of an author who could have done more. Earlier comments about content length and structure apply here. This writer displayed some basic skills and a command of the territory.

Topic of the week is a place where you "bring it." A quote historically attributed to a few sources goes something like this: "Make no small plans for they have no power to stir the soul..." Just like going to the gym, hit it like you want it.

This is the premiere fitness web site on the planet. Topic Of The Week is a forum to allow anyone with anything to say a chance to be published by Ponder this when competing next week.