Built in the Kitchen; Sculpted in the Gym.

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FitMenCook
Author Author / 491 Posts
My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is truly a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and enjoying adequate exercise. By experimenting in the kitchen and openly sharing my meals, I learned that healthy eating is hardly boring and that by making a few adjustments, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my personal fitness goals. Our bodies are built in the kitchen and sculpted in the gym.
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Here’s a delicious 20-minute excuse to: 1) fire up the grill this summer; and 2) to finally get yourself a cast-iron skillet.

The 12-inch cast iron skillet I’m using is by the Food Network – they have a lot of quality cooking products that are exclusively available from Kohls.

BBQ chicken pizza cast iron skillet

Get the skillet used in this recipe video here!

 

HEALTHY BBQ PIZZA RECIPE

 

Ingredients for one 12-inch pizza:

  • spray olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond meal or corn meal
  • 3/4 lb wheat pizza dough (store-bought)
  • 2/3 cup low calorie BBQ sauce
  • 3/4 lb cooked chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup red onion slices
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella (or pizza blend)
  • pinches of pepper to taste
  • Garnish
    • fresh cilantro or green onion
    • grated parmesan

 

Steps:

  1. Fire up the grill to high heat, at least 400F (if using the oven, pre-heat to 410F).
  2. Spray a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, then wipe/pat it dry with a cloth but don’t completely wipe off the oil.
  3. Dust the inside of the skillet with almond or corn meal to prevent sticking when baking.
  4. Add the raw wheat pizza dough to the skillet and spread it out, using your fingers to make the outside crust slightly thicker (if desired of course).
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to the pizza.
  6. Spray the outside crust with a little olive oil before placing on the grill or oven.  Grill for about 15 minutes until the outside crust is golden brown and crispy.
  7. Slice, garnish and enjoy!

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 8 slices of pizza:

195 calories, 21g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 19g protein, 2g fiber, 3g sugar

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Growing up in the south, soul food was a regular staple in my house, especially on Sundays and holidays.  One of my favorite dishes was/is dirty rice.  It’s a cajun rice dish of meat and rice and peppers.  While it sounds pretty basic, the flavor is anything but.

It’s not uncommon to see variations of the recipe with different types of meat and sausage; however, the most common ingredient is ground/chopped liver.  I’ll make a “wild” assumption in that most of us are not fans of liver – it has a very harsh gamey taste that’s not pleasing to most palates.  You’ve really got to pair liver with other foods in order to enjoy it.  Dirty rice is one of those dishes that’ll make you LOVE liver.

The spicy creole seasoning, the savory broth and herbs give this dish – and your tastebuds – new life.  For my meal prep version, I’m taking out the liver and just using ground beef and making our own creole seasoning, which is a distinct characteristic of cajun recipes.  It may not be as good as the kind that I had growing up – it’s impossible to compete with my Aunt Annie’s dirty rice recipe – but this version is tasty and nutritious.

I suggest pairing it with a sweet side dish – such as my maple roasted carrots – since it is such a spicy and savory dish.

HEALTHY DIRTY RICE RECIPE

Ingredients for 4 large servings:

  • 24oz (1lb 8oz) raw cauliflower florets
  • 24oz 90% lean ground beef
    • Substitutes: fatty meat to make this recipe more ketogenic-friendly; or leaner meat to reduce calories; veggie ground
  •  1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • Creole Seasonings:
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons creole seasoning
    • OR the following:
      • 2 teaspoons paprika
      • 1 tablespoon onion powder
      • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
      • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
      • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
      • 2 teaspoons cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 1/2 cup beef stock
    • Substitute: veggies stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sage leaves, fresh
  • spray olive oil

 

Steps:

  1. Place raw cauliflower florets in a food processor or blender and pulse blend to create rice-like chunks.  Careful not to overdo it and create “quinoa-like” pieces where it is too fine.  Set the cauliflower rice aside.  Note:  usually when I create cauliflower rice, I like to dry out of the cauliflower rice by wrapping it in a thin towel or cheesecloth and squeezing the moisture into a bowl.  This prevents the final product from being watery and runny.  However, since we’ll be adding broth to this recipe and lightly cooking the cauliflower, it is not needed.
  2. Set a nonstick pot on medium heat, spray with olive oil and add garlic and ground meat.  Chop and cook until the meat is about 90% finished with only a few visible pink pieces, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the bell pepper, celery and red onion and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the seasonings – either Creole or individual – and season to taste with sea salt & pepper.  Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, then add in the Worcestershire, only 1 cup beef stock, bay leaves and sage.  Stir, bring it to a light simmer on low heat, then cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  5. Add the cauliflower rice and stir the ingredients together.  If there is enough liquid in the pot after rice has been added, then cover and cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.  If not, add the remaining stock, then cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with sea salt & pepper and enjoy.

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 4 large servings WITHOUT the maple candied carrots:

364 calories, 13g carbohydrates, 17g fat, 38g protein, 6g fiber, 6g sugar

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Here’s a quick side dish recipe for your next meal prep – this is best paired with a savory or spicy main dish – such as my healthy dirty rice recipe.

In general, I’m not the biggest fan of carrots.  Despite my intense cravings for sweet foods, I actually find carrots a bit too naturally sweet for me – they “confuse” my tastebuds.  However, when they are roasted and seasoned to be both sweet & salty, I tend to really enjoy them.

 

MAPLE ROASTED CARROTS RECIPE

Ingredients for 5 servings:

  • 6 small orange carrots
  • 5 small purple (rainbow) carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar-free maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinches of sea salt & pepper to taste

 

Steps:

  1. Set oven to 450F.
  2. Slice carrots down the middle – vertically – to make two thin pieces.   Place the halves in a bow.
  3. Add olive oil, 1 tablespoon sugar-free maple syrup, thyme, cinnamon and sea salt & pepper.  Rub the slices in the spices, then place them on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the edges are brown but have not burned.
  5. Drizzle the remaining syrup over the carrots and serve immediately.

Approximate macros for 1 of 5 servings:

75 calories, 11g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 1g protein, 4g fiber, 6g sugar

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Here’s a quick 15-minute spin on a popular comfort food, Pad Kee Mao.  It’s a delicious shrimp and noodle stir-fry drenched in savory, spicy sauce.  While there are several version out there – some with more vegetables, others with a different base sauce, etc – the end result will always be the same…Delicious!

HEALTHY PAD KEE MAO RECIPE

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 3/4 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce mixed with 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lime zest (shavings from lime skin)
  • 1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce
  • 16oz Shirataki noodles
  • fresh basil, small handful (about 12-15 leaves)
  • Garnish
    • fresh lime juice

Steps:

  1. Set a nonstick wok on medium heat.  Add oil and garlic.  Lightly brown the garlic for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the raw shrimp to the wok and cook until the outside edges of all the shrimp are pink, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Beat an egg in a small bowl, then add it to the wok.  Cook for about 1 minute as the egg begins to cook and settle.
  4. Then add tomatoes, fish sauce, soy, lime zest and chili sauce.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have created their own paste and sauce.
  5. Add shirataki noodles and gently fold.
  6. Add fresh basil, fold and enjoy!

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 2 servings:

295 calories, 15g carbohydrates, 12g fat, 30g protein, 5g fiber, 6g sugar

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Here are the 5 smoothies that you’ll need for the 5-Day Smoothie Challenge.  Be sure to check out the official challenge page for all the details as well as the complete grocery list!

Again, the purpose is to increase our consumption of raw veggies and fruits, as well as give us ideas/inspiration for new flavor combinations that we can use to enrich our own diet.

 


 

GOLDEN YELLOW SMOOTHIE RECIPE

5 day healthy smoothie challenge recipe

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • 1 large carrot
  • ½ medium avocado
  • 1 small red apple
  • ½ medium cucumber, peeled
  • Optional Add-ons:
    • 1-inch piece of ginger
    • 1-inch piece of turmeric
  • 6 oz water
  • ice

Steps

Add ingredients to a blender, then gradually increase the speed until it reaches the maximum speed. Blend until smooth.

Approximate macros for 1 serving

242 calories, 37g carbohydrates, 11g fat, 4g protein, 12g fiber, 20g sugar

 


STRAWBERRY LETTUCE (OFF PINK) SMOOTHIE RECIPE

5 day healthy smoothie challenge recipe

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cup of chopped lettuce
  • 1 banana
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • Optional Add-ons:
    • 1 scoop unflavored or vanilla whey protein powder (30g isolate whey with 1g carb)

Steps

Add ingredients to a blender, then gradually increase the speed until it reaches the maximum speed. Blend until smooth.

Approximate macros for 1 serving

283 calories, 38g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 26g protein, 8g fiber, 5g sugar

 


HIPSTER GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE

5 day healthy smoothie challenge recipe
**Meal Replacement Smoothie**

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • 1 cup of 2% cottage cheese
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup fresh pineapple
  • Optional Add-ons:
    • 1 teaspoon  Matcha green tea powder
  • ice

Steps:

Add ingredients to a blender, then gradually increase the speed until it reaches the maximum speed. Blend until smooth.

Approximate macros for 1 serving

363 calories, 48g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 34g protein, 5g fiber, 9g sugar

 


BERRY BEET RED SMOOTHIE RECIPE

5 day healthy smoothie challenge recipe

Ingredients for 2 servings (because of volume):

  • 2 cups of shredded kale
  • 1 small mandarin orange
  • 1 beet
  • ½ cup frozen (or fresh) blueberries
  • Optional Add-ons:
    • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • 8oz water
  • ice

Steps:

Add ingredients to a blender, then gradually increase the speed until it reaches the maximum speed. Blend until smooth.

Approximate macros for 2 servings

104 calories, 23g carbohydrates, 1g fat, 6g protein, 6g fiber, 13g sugar

 


SWEET & SALTY CASHEW SMOOTHIE RECIPE

5 day healthy smoothie challenge recipe
**Meal replacement smoothie**

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons raw oatmeal
  • Optional Add-ons:
    • 1 date (or 1/2 tablespoon agave OR 1g Stevia in the raw)
  • ice

Steps:

Add ingredients to a blender, then gradually increase the speed until it reaches the maximum speed. Blend until smooth.  Add some coarse sea salt to the rim of the glass, then pour in the smoothie. Alternatively, you can also just add a pinch or two of coarse sea salt to the smoothie after blending.

Approximate macros for 2 servings

534 calories, 58g carbohydrates, 21g fat, 32g protein, 5g fiber, 17g sugar

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Despite the title, making this delicious berry oatmeal bake is something that can be done year-round to help you stay on track.  It’s a meal prep recipe that can be enjoyed hot or cold, by itself as a quick snack, or with some delicious Greek yogurt or whey protein shake.

No matter how you “slice” this oatmeal bake, it wins every time.

Remember to check out the substitutions below so you can adapt for your specific needs and wellness goals.

HEALTHY BERRY OATMEAL BAKE RECIPE

berry oatmeal bake recipe

Ingredients for 8 servings:

  • 3 cups frozen (or fresh) berries
    • I used 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries and 1 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • Wet
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or your preferred low fat or non-dairy milk)
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons flax oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • Dry
    • 2 cups uncooked rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or your choice of nut)
    • 3 tablespoons Swerve sugar replacement
      • Substitutions: 1 tablespoon Stevia in the raw; 1/4 cup coconut sugar; 1/8 cup raw cane sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons turmeric* (optional)
  • Garnish
    • cinnamon
    • Greek yogurt

 

Steps:

  1. Set oven to 400F.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Spray a baking dish or cast iron skillet with baking spray.  Add about half of the berries to the skillet.  Scatter them around the baking dish or skillet.
  5. Pour the dry mixture over the berries and use a spatula to ensure the dry mixture is spread evenly throughout the pan.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and tap the baking dish or skillet to ensure the wet ingredients completely cover the dry ingredients.  Use a spatula to lightly pat down areas where the dry ingredients are not covered by the wet ingredients.  Then add the rest of the frozen berries on top.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until you can pierce it with a toothpick and it comes out clean (minus the berries), and the edges and top of the bake are golden brown.
  8. Allow it to cool before slicing.  Garnish and enjoy with a moderate serving of Greek yogurt or your favorite lean protein shake.

Approximate macros for 1 of 8 servings:

208 calories, 28g carbohydrates, 10g fat, 6g protein, 4g fiber, 7g sugar

 

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Using a grill to meal prep is not only adds flavor/personality to your meals throughout the week, but also it’s pretty efficient.  Grills are generally large enough to cook multiple items at once.  When it comes to seafood for me, it can be a hit or miss on whether or not I’ll be in the mood to eat it later in the week.  I’ve been known to come up with an excuse or two as to why I can’t eat the fish I prepped. Lol

But I can honestly say I’ve never turned it away when it was smoked on the grill.   Here’s a super easy smoked white fish recipe using orange roughy.  I like using orange roughy because it’s buttery and waxy and is less likely to dry out after smoking on a grill f0r a few hours.

 

Ingredients for 5 servings:

  • 2 lbs orange roughy filets, raw (or your choice of white fish, preferably one that is naturally buttery)
  • Seasonings
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
    • pinches of sea salt & pepper
  • spray olive oil
  • Garnish
    • fresh lemon juice
    • fresh chopped cilantro

 

Steps:

  1. Fire up  your grill to about 200F (or set it on the low heat smoke setting) and add soaked wood chips to create smoke.
  2. Spray the filets with a little olive oil and then rub on the seasonings, making sure the top and bottom are covered.  Spray the filets one final time before adding to the grill.
  3. Place the filets on a soaked wooden plank OR a cast iron grill and then add them to the smoker/grill.  Smoke on low heat for about 2 hours.
  4. Garnish and enjoy!

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 5 servings:

142 calories, 0g carbohydrates, 2g fat, 30g protein, 0g fiber, 0g sugar

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Whether you’re pressed for time or cash, eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore.  All you need is a little creativity.  Spiralizing vegetables is a great way to “trick” yourself or your family into eating more vegetables.  Plus, they’re gluten-free and in the raw form, very hearty and filling.

All you need is a quality spiralizer.  I’ve used handheld spiralizers, Julienne peelers, mandolins and the newer countertop spiralizers with multi-attachments, like the one used here.  In terms of accuracy, I think the countertop spiralizers are more versatile and accurate, allowing you to create noodles of different thickness AND providing a wider range of veggies and fruits to spiralize.

I purchased this OXO Tabletop Spiralizer from Kohl’s. I’ve been impressed with both the handheld and countertop spiralizers by OXO.  But hands down, I prefer this one. Aside from the blades, it’s plastic so it’s very easy to clean and wipe down.  Also, it’s lightweight BUT it has a suction cup underneath so it holds the unit in place while cutting.

DSC04138-1

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SPAGHETTI RECIPE

Ingredients for 4 servings of spaghetti using butternut squash noodles:

  • 1 lb choice of protein
    • I used ground lamb in this video example but I recommend 95% lean beef,  93% turkey or veggie ground
  • 1 1/2 cup lean store-bought marinara (I used Simple Truth Organic Marinara)
  • 24oz butternut squash noodles (you may need about 2 butternut squash)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Optional garnish
    • fresh parsley or cilantro
    • parmesan (understand this will change the macros)

 

Steps

  1. Set oven to 350F.
  2. Chop up butternut squash, slicing horizontally into thick chunks, then peel or cut off the skin.  Place the chunks in a spiralizer to make thin or thick noodles.
  3. Place the noodles on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil, then bake noodles for 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Spray a skillet with olive oil, then add garlic and your choice of protein or veggie ground.  Chop it up as it cooks in the skillet.  When it’s almost finished, about 5 minutes, add your favorite store-bought marinara or pizza sauce.
  5. Mix the marinara with the ground meat or veggies, then place over a serving of baked butternut noodles.  The noodles should be tender, yet still somewhat firm.
  6. Garnish with cilantro or parsley, and/or parmesan.

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 4 servings (using 95% lean beef):

286 calories, 28g carbohydrates, 8g fat, 28g protein, 6g fiber, 9g sugar

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When the sun’s out this summer, your grill should be fired up and ready too!  Cooking on the grill is not only tasty, but it’s pretty efficient when it comes to meal prep.  You can place all of your meal prep foods on the grill and monitor them as needed. Think of the grill like a “giant pot” whereby all food is a one pot recipe.

KOREAN CHICKEN & PINEAPPLE KABOB RECIPE

Ingredients for about 5 large kabobs:

  • 1 1/2 lb raw chicken breast, chunks
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh pineapple, chunks
    • substitution: mango, pear/apple, firm kiwi
  • Marinade
    • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy (or tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
    • 2 tablespoons raw honey
      • substitution: coconut sugar, agave
    • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced or paste
    • 1 tablespoon sriracha (or more/less to taste)

 

Steps:

  1. Fire up the grill to about 350F.  Or, set oven to 420F.  Place wooden skewers in water in order to prevent them from burning on the grill or in the oven.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade.  Set aside about 1/4 cup of the marinade for basting during and after cooking.  Add the chicken chunks, then marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Assemble the kabobs, alternating between skewering chicken and pineapple.   If desired, you can also add red or green bell peppers and onion to the kabobs. Repeat until all the ingredients are used.
  4.  Place the kabobs on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through and brushing with the marinade that you set aside earlier.
  5. Once the edges are brown, the juices of the chicken run clear and there are grill marks, remove the kabobs from the grill/oven.
  6. Brush the chicken with any remaining sauce then garnish with green onion.
  7. Enjoy immediately or set aside for your weekly meal prep.  These can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Approximate macros for 1 of 5 kabobs:

212 calories, 14g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 31g protein, 1g fiber, 12g sugar

 


 

TANGY CUCUMBER, TOMATO & CARROT SALAD RECIPE

korean chicken & pineapple kabobs

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 1/2 large cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • fresh chopped cilantro to taste
  • Dressing
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
      • substitution: rice vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
    • 2 teaspoons spicy (Chinese) mustard

Approximate macros for 1 of 2 servings:

49 calories, 9g carbohydrates, 0g fat, 3g protein, 3g fiber, 5g protein

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If you’re following the ketogenic diet – or a lower carbohydrate diet – try these tasty coconut curry chicken thighs.  It only takes about 20 minutes and four ingredients from your local grocery store.

 

COCONUT CHICKEN CURRY RECIPE

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 1/2 lb (24oz) chicken thighs, raw and fat minimally trimmed
    • substitution: lean chicken breasts, firm tofu, salmon
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
    • substitution: lite coconut milk to reduce amount of calories
  • 4 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • spray olive oil
  • Garnish:
    • sea salt & pepper to taste
    • fresh cilantro

 

Steps:

  1. Set oven to 400F.
  2. Trim some of the large pieces of fat from the chicken thighs.  Then, rub the chicken thighs in 2 teaspoons of the red curry paste.  Set them aside for about 20 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Spray a skillet with a little oil and set on medium heat.  Once it’s hot, toss in onions and 2 teaspoons red curry paste.  Cook the onions in the red curry paste for 3 to 5 minutes, careful not to let them burn.
  4. Add the chicken thighs and sear the top part of the the chicken thigh for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip the chicken thighs over, reduce the heat and add the canned coconut milk.  Bring it to a simmer on low heat.
  5. Place the entire skillet in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400F.  You can broil for the final 2 minutes in order to brown the top of the chicken.
  6.  Garnish and enjoy!

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 4 servings:

370 calories, 2g carbohydrates, 25g fat, 33g protein, 0g fiber, 3g sugar