Poultry · Recipes

Crispy Curry Chicken Thighs

I have to admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of chicken thighs – or any dark meat really, but The Boyfriend loves it so I’ve spent…many years trying to find a way to love it. This accidental concoction (in that, I didn’t know just how good it would actually be) has been the answer to all our dark vs light meat problems and it is so quick to put together! You can even prep the night before if needed, for all you meal plan lovers like me.

Equipment:
Large ziplock bag
Cast iron skillet
Oven

Ingredients:
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp British curry powder
1 tbsp Tandoori Masala
2 tsp turmeric (optional)
High-temp cooking oil (avocado oil, tallow/lard)
Salt, to taste

This recipe can definitely be prepped the night before, but as long as you’ve got at least four hours, it’ll be just as good.

Place chicken thighs in a large ziplock bag. Gently add all spices/seasonings and a pinch of salt to the bag – I like to be a little strategic about this and try to pour the dried spices down the sides of the bag rather than directly onto the chicken. This will make it a little easier to distribute.

Continue reading “Crispy Curry Chicken Thighs”

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Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes

Default Wings: DIY

Wings are such a quick, easy, and often very cheap way to make everyone happy. They’re frequently labeled at the butcher counter as “party wings” and are already split up into the flat wing and the drumette, which is perfect for me because The Boyfriend prefers the drums and I want *all* the flats. For a little while I was preparing a new recipe each time we wanted wings, until I finally figured out my “go to” or The Default. If you love wings, but you and your meal buddy want different flavors, this is the recipe for you. The Default delivers perfectly crispy wings with a delicious dry rub every time, ready to be eaten as is or drenched in your sauce of choice.

Equipment:
Oven
Large glass pan
Tongs

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs “party wings”
2 tbsp cooking oil or animal fat of choice
1-2 tbsp granulated garlic
2-3 tsp Diamond Crystal salt

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease one or two glass pans with your fat of choice, using a silicone brush or other preferred utensil to coat the whole bottom of the pan and up the sides. (You may need two pans if you are making more than one pound of wings, if they are too close together, it can overcrowd the pan and they won’t cook as well or as evenly).

Continue reading “Default Wings: DIY”

Recipes · Seafood

Five Minute Meal: Chili Shrimp

I really love shellfish, almost all of them, and especially when they are cooked with Asian and Indonesian flavors like sambal oelek (chili paste), soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Recipes like this pop up a lot when the sun is out and the grill is hot, but in the meantime, it makes a nice dish for a chilly night in too.

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Equipment:
1 large nonstick pan
1 large microwave-safe bowl
tongs
plastic wrap

Continue reading “Five Minute Meal: Chili Shrimp”

Kid-Friendly · Pork · Poultry · Recipes

WTF: The Easiest Stir-Fry Ever

Yea yea, I know, I haven’t posted a recipe since April. I don’t really have an excuse – I just haven’t been writing much, though cooking plenty. So let’s just skip all the apologies and whatnot and get down to business.

If you saw my post on the SlowCarbSnacktime Facebook the other day, I mentioned that I want to start a new series of posts for the blog entitled “What’s in The Fridge” or WTF. After some feedback from friends and readers, I realized what the people want: fast and easy options for living a slow carb life. Many of my recipes comes from the same “base” recipe – once you know how to cook a type of dish or protein, you basically have free reign to make it your own, fit it to your needs and the foods you have on hand. I’ll be sharing some of these “build-a-bear” style recipes to help you get things started, with some ingredient recommendations to make it your own.

Before we get started with the recipe, a mini update just to say that I have changed my Instagram username. Neither blog nor their respective Facebook pages will be changing, but I decided to update my IG to something more inclusive of the actual content I post and to better reflect my personality. You can now find me on Instagram @lipsticksanddeadlifts.

On to the easiest stir-fry ever! Due to the make-your-own style of this recipe, I have not included any photos for the time being.

You will need: 
Large non-stick pan
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Spatula
Tongs

Ingredients: 
1 lb sausage in casings (pork or chicken)
10oz bag frozen pepper strips
10oz bag frozen sliced mushrooms
1 onion, halved and sliced thin

Seasoning & Spices: 
salt
garlic powder

Since I’m working with frozen veggies, it takes a bit longer to cook, but it’s worth it for the added nutrients.* Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat and dump in the peppers and mushrooms – you don’t need any cooking fat right now, the veggies need to defrost and lose some of their water. Stirring occasionally, cook the veggies until the water begins to evaporate (7-10 minutes) and then add in the onions. The onions will also let go of some water – once all the liquid has evaporated, add your cooking fat (ghee, tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, etc), salt, and any herbs or spices you like.

mild-links220_0Once the vegetables begin to caramelize, add in your sausage links. I prefer to use uncooked sausages and usually buy Mulay’s brand, but cooked sausages like Aidell’s Organic are just fine too! Just be sure to check your ingredients. If you are using raw sausage, let them cook for 5-7 minutes, turning once – continue to stir the veggies as well. Using tongs, remove the sausages one at a time to the cutting board and slice them into rings. If you are using pre-cooked sausages, you can slice them right away.

Continue to cook the veggie-sausage mixture until the sausages are cooked through, mixing occasionally so that nothing sticks to the pan. Serve immediately.

***

Okay, so that’s my basic sausage stir-fry, but you can make it work with almost any veggies you have available. Here are some options that I have tried or would, but you can use whatever you like:

  • fresh or frozen sweet peppers, sliced
  • fresh hot peppers, chopped
  • fresh or frozen mushrooms, sliced
  • onion (any kind)
  • scallions
  • shallots
  • broccoli
  • cabbage, sliced
  • green beans
  • carrots

Some herb and spice options, though I would not recommend using them all at once:

  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • Chinese five-spice
  • oregano
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • white pepper

*Notes:

If the veggies you’re buying are out of season, you’re better off buying frozen vs. imported. Produce begins to lose nutrients once its picked and the longer it takes to get to your plate, the less you benefit from it!

Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Just Beet It! Beet Purée

I’ll be honest, for most of my life beets have been a hard limit. No way, no how, they were not going in my mouth. The taste was fine, a little earthy, whatever; but the texture, ugh I could not get over that texture – and so I spent all my life pushing away my grandma’s borscht and every fancy beet salad at nice restaurants.

“What changed?” you ask. For one, taste buds evolve as you get older. There are so many foods that I used to despise as a child that I love now (mushrooms for one). This doesn’t really help if you have a thing with texture though, so let me just get to the beet story: I recently had the extreme pleasure of ordering my Passover Seder plate contents from authentic-Russian/Ukrainian Portland powerhouse Kachka. Let me just say, if you’re in Portland and looking for a place to eat – you will not be disappointed.

One of the components of the Seder plate is commonly a shank bone or lamb chop, but vegetarians often use root vegetables. Kachka’s z’roah was a phenomenal lamb chop with a beetroot purée. Guys, listen to me when I tell you, this was the most amazing vegetable item I had ever put in my mouth. I licked my plate clean… and the container the purée came in, and the Seder plate, and The Boyfriend’s plate. Revelation: I love beets, and have been on a mission to recreate the recipe since this discovery (took me about… four days). Kachka let me know that their recipe uses a bit of honey which I have obviously omitted as it is not a slow carb compliant ingredient, but feel free to add some in on cheat day or if you’re eating paleo!

If you have never worked with beets before, don’t panic! I hadn’t either, but it was very easy!

For this recipe, you will need: 
Clean kitchen gloves (or two pairs disposable gloves)
Large pot with lid
Strainer (optional, but recommended)
Blender or food processor

Ingredients: 
1 bunch red beets (3-4 large beets)
1-2 tsp olive oil
~ 2 tbsp warm water
Salt, to taste

While wearing gloves, remove greens from beets. Leave the beets whole including the roots (the long skinny part) and about 2″ of the stem – this will help keep the red color from going all over the place. Place the beets in a pot, season with salt to taste, and cover with water.

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Cover pot with lid and bring water to a boil. Allow beets to boil until tender, about 40-45 minutes (very large beets may need some more time). Immediately drain beets and rinse them in cold water for 1-2 minutes. While wearing gloves, gently peel the skins off the beets – they should just slip right off along with the root, no peelers needed!

Allow beets to cool on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes. I gently cut the beets into a few large pieces so the insides would cool as well.

Once beets are cool to the touch, add them to the bowl of your blender or food processor with salt, olive oil, and 1 tbsp warm water. Blend until smooth or desired texture. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed – if your purée is very thick, you may need to add a bit more water or oil – and blend again.

Serve as is, or refrigerate and serve cool (I like it cold). Eat within 2-3 days.

Beef · CrockPot · Recipes

Spring Fling: Short Rib Chili

Spring is here, spring is here! Well… sort of. In between glorious bits of sunshine, it’s still a little chilly which makes chili the perfect choice for dinner!

We picked up some beautiful boneless short ribs the other day, but I’m mixing it 50/50 with beef stew meat for a slightly more budget-friendly meal. This spicy hearty chili is a great option for weekend camping trips too (we usually make chili ahead of time and then reheat it in cast iron). And let me just say, these pictures may not be great, but the chili was amazing (seal of approval from The Boyfriend too).

For this recipe, you will need:
crockpot/slow cooker
non-stick pan
blender

Ingredients: 
~ 1.25 lb boneless beef short ribs
1 lb beef stew meat
2 cans (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (16oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (7oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1.5 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove elephant garlic (or 3-5 cloves garlic)
3 dried chili peppers
2 tsp extra dark cocoa powder
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp avocado oil (olive or coconut is fine)

Seasoning: 
4 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt / to taste

Add one can of diced tomatoes and liquid to the crockpot. With the other can of diced tomatoes, drain the liquid first (do not rinse) and add to the pot. Drain and rinse beans until water runs clear, add beans to the crockpot. Remove stems and seeds from dried chili peppers and combine in blender cup with one full can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Blend pepper mixture for about one minute or until it resembles a uniform paste and add to the crockpot. Add 2 tsp extra dark cocoa powder, 2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp ancho chili powder to the crockpot mix.

Using a sharp knife, finely chop elephant garlic clove (also called elephant toes) or 3-5 cloves normal-sized garlic. Set aside in a bowl with the chopped onion. Add 2 tsp each of oregano, cumin, and ancho chili powder to the onions and garlic.

One clove of elephant garlic vs a whole head of "regular" garlic
One clove of elephant garlic vs. a whole head of “regular” garlic

Pre-heat oil in a non-stick pan on high-heat. While the pan is heating up, dice the ribs and stew meat into ~1/2 cubes – they do not at all have to be uniform in shape, just similar in size. You want the pieces to be small enough that they are “bite size” but big enough that they can still be shredded later on. Add meat to the pan, in batches if necessary, and cook for 3-5 minutes on one side only to sear the meat and lock in some flavor. Add all of the meat to the crockpot.

In the same pan, add the onion-garlic-spice mixture and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and the onions have softened slightly. Add this to the crockpot.

Add 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, stir to mix everything together, and set crockpot on low for 7-9 hours. If you don’t want to wait that long, try cooking on high for 3-5 hours checking periodically to make sure it doesn’t burn. If you find that the chili has let off a lot of liquid, you can crack the lid a little bit to let some of the liquid evaporate. I personally prefer a thicker chili (as opposed to more liquid) so we usually crack the lid for half the cooking time.

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Serve immediately – as is, with chopped raw onion on top, with guacamole, or with grilled veggies.

Store in the fridge up to three days.

Beef · CrockPot · Lamb · Poultry · Recipes · Soup · Vegetarian

Two Years: My Top 20 Recipes!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been TWO YEARS since I first created SlowCarbSnacktime. It’s been a long road learning how to eat properly and fuel my body, and there’s still a very long journey ahead, but it has been such an amazing and educational adventure so far and I’ve come up with so many healthy slow carb recipes along the way. There’s many more to come, but for now, I’m celebrating two years of SlowCarbSnacktime with my top 20 recipes.

All 20 of these recipes are grain, gluten, sugar, corn, potato, rice, and soy-free. Two recipes use some dairy, but I’ll make sure to note that in the list. I will also note paleo and whole30 compliant recipes (they are obviously all slow carb compliant). Items marked “vegetarian” are either vegetarian or can easily be made so by changing an ingredient such as swapping out chicken stock for vegetable stock.

  1. Amazeballs: Super Scallion Turkey Meatballs – paleo/whole30 – I used ground pork rinds instead of bread crumbs to give these meatballs the fluffiness they need without the carbs you don’t want.
  2. B^3: Butternut Bacon Bitespaleo/whole30 – It may take a few minutes to wrap these precious little pieces of squash in strips of bacon, but I promise it’s worth every second of your time.
    IMG_20140101_092322
  3. Butternut Squeek Soupvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – There are few things better than a hot butternut squash soup on a cold winter day… this soup with butternut squash plus leeks is one of them.
  4. Chicken Liver Mousse – dairy – Okay, I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of butter in this recipe, but it is one of the easiest things to make for a classy dish to stun your guests without sacrificing protein. Also tastes great with eggs for breakfast, or by itself on a very large spoon…

    Beautifully set. Dig in!
    Beautifully set. Dig in!
  5. Decontamination: Ginger Chicken Souppaleo/whole30 – The perfect comeback to any cold, my chicken soup is infused with a ton of ginger to help combat the ickiest of feelings. A favorite of my dad’s to fight back against chronic sinus infections.
  6. Duck Duck Asparaguspaleo/whole30 – Crispy asparagus oven-roasted in duck fat. The way to my heart is through my stomach.
  7. Easy Peas-y: Split Pea Soup w/ Sausage – One of The Boyfriend’s favorites, I boil the sausage in chicken stock and then use that stock in the soup. So rich, so good.
    IMG_20131118_102852
  8. “Gazpacheaux” Gazpachovegetarian, paleo/whole30 – This cold tomato soup is a perfect snack to beat the summer heat or spoon into shot glasses for a classier kind of party.
  9. Hold the Sizzle: Fiery Chicken Fajitas – paleo/whole30 – This spicy little stir fry is a great option for a protein-packed dinner for two and tastes great with strips of beef too!
  10. Holy Crap! Garlic Soupvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – Over 20 cloves of garlic and a whole head of cauliflower into the pot for a super smooth, bright white soup.
  11. Kimchi Fried Cauli-Rice – paleo/whole30 – Cauliflower rice, kimchi, eggs, and bacon fat. What more could you want?
  12. Lamb Chop’s Play Along: One Baaaaad Burgerpaleo/whole30 – This ground lamb burger with fresh rosemary is so juicy, sticking it on a bun would just be a waste.
  13. Perfect ‘Stachio Guacvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – My copy cat version of the stunning guacamole at Jose Garces’ El Vez. Never pay $14 for guac again.
    P1010122
  14. Red Lentils are Dal-iciousvegetarian – My take on a traditional Indian dal, prepared in a slow cooker using red lentils and a ton of fresh spinach. I crave this all the time and it’s a great dish entirely on its own, paired with a meaty protein, or even reheated in a pan with some eggs!
  15. Rosemary Bone Brothcrockpot, paleo/whole30 – This slow-cooked broth is made from beef soup/marrow bones and cooks on low for nearly two days to extract all the vitamin goodness from the bones. When it’s cold, it looks like jell-o, but warm it up for a mineral-packed cup of life. Seriously, I know how cheesy that sounds, just try it. It’s amazing.
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  16. Saturday Morning Shakshuka / Date Night Zoodlesvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – These two quick dishes pair great together for a meal so tasty, you won’t even realize there’s no meat!
  17. Sweet Hundos: Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomato Saucevegetarian, paleo/whole30 – This super easy tomato sauce is made with “Sweet 100’s” cherry tomatoes and is unlike any sauce I’ve tasted before. I just couldn’t get enough and ate half the jar with a spoon. Serve with just about anything.

    Mmm saucy!
    Mmm saucy!
  18. Top Secret Deviled Eggs / Devilish Egg Salad – My go-to potluck dish and an easy alternative for cravings at home.
  19. Tiny Viking Funerals – cheat day, dairy – Jalapenos stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese. A cheat day treat guaranteed to knock the socks off all your friends.
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  20. Whatsername Fish Tacos – Chickpea flour-crusted tilapia fillets and large lettuce leaves make for this delicate but delicious taco dinner. You won’t even miss the tortillas.
Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Snacks

XXX: Spiced Up Chicken Salad

With the very last of our warm weather, we’ve been using the grill basically every day, and this meal was no different. Since I first came up with this dish, we’ve had it at least three times and it is definitely a new house staple.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1-2 tsp za’atar
1-2 tsp harissa
2 tsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)

For Salad:
1/2 cup sugar-free mayo or to taste
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, drizzle oil over chicken thighs. Add harissa and za’atar and mixed gently until coated well. Grill on medium heat until cooked through (or oven roast at 425*F for about 20 minutes). If you are grilling chicken specifically for this recipe, let the meat cool completely and refrigerate for at least an hour before chopping – you don’t want the onions to soften or the mayo to melt! I specifically made extra so I’d have leftovers to make this spiced up chicken salad for lunch the next day, so I’m working with meat right out of the fridge.

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To a large bowl, add chopped 1/2 of a sweet yellow or Walla Walla onion. I highly recommend chopping the onion quite fine, I don’t think I went small enough and ended up with lots of mayo-covered onion at the bottom of the bowl (though The Boyfriend did not seem to mind this and cleaned out both plates).

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, coarsely chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add to the chopped onion. I have been relying on my squeeze-tube mayo lately, but I am estimating that I used about 3/4 cup. This really comes down to personal preference, so add a little bit at a time, stirring and tasting until you get to your desired consistency and flavor. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon to taste and mix well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Recommend eating within 24-36 hours.

Health · Information · Uncategorized

Grad School Life

Am I the worst? I’m kind of the worst. It’s been almost two months since I’ve last posted, but between the new house, starting grad school, and heading back to Philly for two weeks, it’s been pretty crazy around here! In addition to the insanity of life, if you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know that we just got our (absolutely amazing) new refrigerator this past week – yup, we spent the first six weeks living out of a mini fridge… hence, no new recipes (there was no room!)

Don’t worry though, I’m back now! I’ve got a bunch of new recipes in the works (slow carb, keto, and even cheat day), plus a few new guest posts to keep things interesting, and my first academic paper to share!

Hopefully this will keep you guys busy until I get my new dishes in order:

This is my first academic research paper for my graduate program and I am so excited that I was able to write about a topic I am already so passionate about. It’s definitely fueled the fire to keep me on track with my personal health and fitness journey and I’m really looking forward to continuing my research on the subject of diet and chronic illness –

Cause and Effect – An examination of diet and its role in chronic illness

Health · Information · Progress

Guest Post: Deadlifts & Discoveries

As some of you already know, The Boyfriend and I are moving this weekend, which means my kitchen(s) will be in shambles for the next few days and new recipes will be on hold. Thankfully, my lovely friend Molly, creator and author of Deadlifts & Discoveries, is here to save the day and keep you guys busy until I have something new to share. Until then, Happy 4th of July! Have a fantastic weekend, please be safe, please drink responsibly, and please please PLEASE DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

So lately I’ve had great success from tracking my food intake and keeping an eye on my macros. While I have no issues experimenting with my own body, I’m grateful to have someone else with a bit more experience to share her story and fill in the blanks.

I absolutely love Molly’s approach, even though it’s not 100% slow carb. Personally, I try to eat between 80-90% of my TDEE and aim for 1g of protein and 0.5g of fat per pound of bodyweight, you already know I’m shooting for as little sugar as possible, but I understand that isn’t the case for everyone and I’m not here to tell you what you’re doing is wrong (unless it’s really really wrong). Even though it’s not slow carb, I think it’s good to understand all facets of fitness and nutrition so you can make an educated decision. Let’s see what Molly has to say about that.

 

From Ms. Deadlifts & Discoveries herself:

“Hello from the Right Coast! Our lovely blogess here has asked me to do a guest post about calculating and tracking macros and calories for performance, for aesthetics, for whatever you like. I am not a registered, licensed, certified, professional, expert anything; just a girl with a passion for health and lifting, and a compulsive reading habit. I come from a very disordered eating background, but I did learn how to weigh, approximate, and track food early on. Not healthfully, but at least I was accurate.

I meticulously track everything I eat. Rather than punishing myself harshly anytime I went over my goal of zero calories (you read that right. I aimed for literally no food every single day from the age of 14 to 20), now I track to ensure that I’m getting the most out of every last one of the many calories I put in my body and making sure it’s enough to allow me to squat more than my bodyweight for reps, run a 5k, climb trees, haul 500lbs of bricks, summit a mountain with a full pack. I’m a 5’3”, 119lb girl and I eat more than the average adult male, and I lose fat and inches doing it. I attribute my high caloric needs solely to heavy lifting, as muscle burns calories just by existing. More muscle means more food. More food means I’m less likely to smother my boyfriend with a pillow when he starts snoring. Not to mention that I look and feel the best I ever have in my life, and a million times better than my 108lb high school foolishness.

Calculating and detailing my training and diet is one of my favorite pastimes, no joke. I’m a total data junkie, and love to analyze, compare, contrast, make graphs, note trends, integrate other data, and organize things.

All that said, I’m not incredibly obsessive about it. Nor do I need to be. I figure life is hard enough, why stress about it if 10g of carbs come from pretzels in hot sauce and not a sweet potato sometimes? Why freak out if my macro ratio ends up at 42% fats and not 45%? “Close enough” keeps me sane, as long as it truly is close enough. It’s a balance, a tightrope walk, to find that line between being effective and not driving yourself nuts.

So let’s get down to the part you care about. Macronutrients are basically what food is made of. They consist of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. I could get into how there’s 4 calories per gram of protein, 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, and 9 calories per gram of fat, but truthfully, that’s too technical for me. To me, ice cream and vodka are macros too (actually, alcohol sugars are technically a macro, but that’s another post entirely) and I budget them into my caloric bills.

If I were to apply the trendy terms to how I feed my body, I would be a primal intermittent fasting clean eater following 85/15 IIFYM HFLCish. What. In layman’s terms, I’m too lazy to get up to make breakfast, so I just have liquids until about 7pm (coffee, water, BCAAs for training, protein shake). I eat what I like, which is mostly meat, dairy, fresh produce, and nuts. Yup. I actually like foods as close to their natural state as possible. I focus on getting protein up early, followed by fats. Around midnight, I’ll have a few hundred calories left, so I’ll indulge in whatever I want, in the healthiest way I can. Usually. Sometimes it’s nachos (local organic grass-fed cheese, homemade salsa, beans, some kind of leafy green, some meat, organic hot sauce, avocado on regular tortilla chips), sometimes it’s a half pint of Ben & Jerry’s, sometimes it’s a PB&J on Ezekiel bread. This is what works for me. It won’t work for everyone, mentally or physically. The details of my diet aren’t particularly important, other than to illustrate that you don’t need to eat a bodybuilding contest prep diet of tilapia, chicken breast, and broccoli day in and day out, nor do you need to 1200 calories a day to get a fit body.

I’ve developed my own little nuances and found some tweaks that suited me better over the years, but Calorie Tracking 101 is pretty simple and all encompassing.

First, determine your caloric needs. There’s a million ways to do this; I prefer to use a combination of several online calculators, and two additional formulas specifically for athletes, then average them out to get a general idea (google “TDEE calculator”, try out a few and see what you get; I use the IIFYM and Scooby’s Workshop calculators primarily. Try them at the lowest activity option in the list as well as what you would estimate your level to be and average those four numbers and set the goal as maintenance where applicable. That number is the calories you burn in your everyday life, walking, eating, digesting, breathing, pooping, exercising, dancing while brushing your teeth, etc. If you eat that number for a few weeks, you’ll see how your body responds. If you gain weight, it’s too much. Lose weight, it’s too little. Adjust that number according to your goals: If you want to get big and strong, you’ll need to eat more than that number (350 calories more per day is the general starting point). If you want to lose fat, you’ll need to eat less (again, about 350 is a pretty good starting place). Note: don’t even think about “eating back calories burned”. You’ll only confuse yourself and end up back where you started. Keep it simple.

Next is macros. Again, a million ways to calculate this. Some people say 0.8g protein per kilogram of body weight, some say 2g per pound of bodyweight, some say you’ll have a heart attack if you go over 35g of fat… it’s pretty personal. Fats are a bit more important for women, especially those seeking low body fat, as they directly control hormonal response. I eat a minimum of 100g of fat per day and my recent bloodwork came back “perfect”. My LDL is lower than my HDL by a few points. My blood pressure is stable and “very acceptable,” according to my doctor. Fats aren’t the enemy. Protein is the necessary building block for muscle. If you’re trying to get big and strong, that’s what you need. If you’re trying to cut body fat while preserving muscle, you’ll want a lot of that. Carbohydrates provide energy. If you’re a runner, or a nurse on your feet all day, don’t be afraid to carb up. It’s a very personal ratio. If you have no idea where to start, try for a 33/33/33% split and play with it. Remember that it does take time to see changes, so be sure to stick with each variation for at least 3 weeks or so.

Once you’ve gotten the numbers you need, then you need to put them to work. I use the free app MyFitnessPal. While not dead accurate, it’s again, close enough. Note: the preset “goals” in the app are absolute BS; take the time to put in your own calorie/macro goals. Some people prefer pen and paper, or a different app. Whatever allows you to look at hard data. For the first few months, it’s easiest to slightly inconvenience yourself and weigh everything you eat. You’ll soon be able to estimate pretty accurately how much of a certain food is present, and about how many calories it is. But in the beginning, be as anal as you possibly can about it without driving yourself bonkers. Be honest about what you’ve eaten, don’t lie to the app and expect results, and accept that you’ll see red “you messed this up” notifications sometimes.

That’s it. Calculate, log, progress. Over time, you’ll learn to eat almost intuitively, realize your problem areas, and find alternative solutions. Experiment. You won’t do irreversible damage. What worked for that IFBB pro on Instagram won’t necessarily work for you, and what works for you won’t necessarily work for me. Be patient, but be honest and critical of your progress. You’ll learn what your body wants and needs, and when you should differentiate between the two.”

Here's my proof. January 21, 2014 to today, one picture per month. In the first three, I weighed about 120lbs and was eating about 1700 calories a day. Somewhere shortly after the third picture, I bumped them up to 2200 and got very skinny very fast. In the fourth picture, I weighed 127lbs and was "dirty bulking" at 3000 calories a day! Picture number 5 is two weeks into a cut at 2200 again, and the last picture is today, at 119lbs and 2100 calories a day. My weight is almost identical in the first and last pictures, but what a difference!
Here’s my proof. January 21, 2014 to today, one picture per month. In the first three, I weighed about 120lbs and was eating about 1700 calories a day. Somewhere shortly after the third picture, I bumped them up to 2200 and got very skinny very fast. In the fourth picture, I weighed 127lbs and was “dirty bulking” at 3000 calories a day! Picture number 5 is two weeks into a cut at 2200 again, and the last picture is today, at 119lbs and 2100 calories a day. My weight is almost identical in the first and last pictures, but what a difference!