Saturday, September 22, 2007

"Cheap" and yummy protein shake

It's a recurring theme on the Guestbook: how expensive the Meal Replacement Shakes are, and that the bars are really glorified candy bars. To add insult to injury, most of these have considerably more carbs than protein.

So it's time for a bit of BFL Kitchen Chemistry. The shake below works out to about $0.40 per serving.

PROTEIN POWDER. I buy mine at my local Costco where, over in the pharmacy section, they have 6 pound bags of EAS PREMIUM PROTEIN. It's a blend of casein, soy and whey protein. Here in NC, it costs about $28/6 lbs so it's relatively cost effective. For the recipe below, that means about $0.30 per serving. Note that I use chocolate powder; EAS also makes vanilla which I have not tried, but it should work just fine.

CARBS. Oatmeal. Cheap, and good for you. Note that your oats need to be fresh: if that box of oats has been in your cupboard for a couple of months, the oats are probably stale and will taste like cardboard. Toss 'em and buy new. I buy oats in the bulk food department, buying as much as I need each week.

FLAVORINGS. I use cinnamon, vanilla and a packet of splenda. If your cinnamon is "old" toss it and buy fresh. Cinnamon oil will go rancid. Keep you cinnamon in an airtight container in the dark.


1) A few hours before you want to drink the shake, cook: 2/3 cups oats with 1-1/3 cups of water and if you wish, a dash of salt (normal oatmeal cooking). Refrigerate overnight, or until you have a cold blob of oatmeal. (Note: I usually do this step at night, ready for the next day.)

2) Put the oatmeal blob in your blender (cut it up into a few pieces) and add 1 cup cold (refrigerator cold!) water. Puree to make a nice creamy oatmeal slurpee.

3) Add 3 scoops EAS Premium Protein Powder, a big dash of vanilla, several good shakes of cinnamon, and one packet of Splenda. Blend well.

You now have about 20 ounces of oatmeal protein drink. THIS RECIPE MAKES TWO SERVINGS

I divide the shake into two containers and put it in my cooler bag with blue ice blocks. Because there is no dairy, I'm not concerned with keeping it super-cold during the day; blue ice is fine. Now I've got two meals that I can gulp quickly during my hectic day. And they're filling and cut "sweet" cravings, even though they havve just half a packet of Splenda per serving.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT. Using the EAS powder, this recipe works out, per serving, to:
* Protein = 24 g
* Carbs = 20 g (sugars = 2 g)
* Fat = 4 g
* Calories = 212

VARIATIONS. Be careful. Flavorings like cinnamon and vanilla don't add calories. If you start adding bananas, berries or peanut butter, be aware of the additional cals, sugars and fats. If you don't like cinnamon, experiment with other flavorings like peppermint extract, nutmeg, etc.

It's a grab-n-go BFL meal!

And, as always, take a high quality multivitamin every day!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Crustless quiche" or "veggie egg bake"

Think of this as a crustless quiche or as a large baked veggie omlette, or as a frittata.

Basically you’re going to bake an egg-and-cottage-cheese custard around veggies and rice. When done it should be a little brown around the edges, and a knife should come out nearly clean. It will firm up when chilled.

1 bag frozen chopped spinach (about 12-16 oz)
1 bag frozen broccoli florettes (about 12-16 oz)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tomato coarsely chopped
1.5 cups of COOKED brown rice
16 oz of egg product
16 oz of Non-Fat Cottage Cheese

Seasoning to taste.
This week I used a bit of Trader Joe’s Thai Red curry sauce, other times I just use garlic, salt pepper. Next week I might use Indian spices like Masala, or go southwestern with green chilis. Or you could use fresh basil and oregano – that would be lovely with the tomato.

Thaw the frozen veggies. Squeeze the water out of the spinach. Mix the spinach, broccoli, onion, tomato and rice, and spread loosely in a lightly oiled 9x13 pan.

Blend the non-fat cottage cheese, egg product and seasonings. Pour over the veggie mix, and let it seep into the nooks and crannies.

Bake at 350 degrees until it starts to brown around the edges – about 30-45 minutes depending on the liquid/solid ratio. Keep an eye on it.

Cool, and cut into individual servings. Base serving size on the nutritional content

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT: for the rice, cottage cheese and egg product (so, not counting the veggies): CALS = 820, carbs = 84g, protein = 112 g.

VARIATIONS use whatever veggies you want to, so long as it adds up to about the same volume. Over the years, I’ve made this with tomatoes, okra and onions for a “gumbo” bake, and with green chilis, onion, tomato and corn for a southwestern bake. I’ve also used drained marinated artichoke hearts – though that will add residual fat to the bake. Asparagus and tomato is a good combination. INVENT!

Why a BFL Cooking Blog?

Lots of folks try the "Body for Life" program and give up because they find the food side challenging: rather than paying for some company to send you all your horrendously expensive meals, you take responsibility for creating small, balanced meals yourself following guidelines set forth in the program.

But chicken breasts and brown rice get to be dull after a while. And, as all of our fore-mothers knew, planning, shopping and cooking take time and skill. Hence the boom in fast food chains: convient poor health.

I like good food. I hate fast food (well, I do like French fries!). But I also like to cook only once or twice a week. Hence I do a lot of experimenting to create BFL-legal meals that I can grab from the fridge and eat cold, or nuke in the microwave. The meals are portable, too, so that there's (almost) never a reason to not have your meals with you.

Cooking is, basically, kitchen chemistry. Pretty cool, actually. I'll be posting my "experiments" here for others to try and, if they like them, incorporate into their BFL meal planning.

Bon apetit!