The new “Power Lunch”

The new “Power Lunch”
Johnathan Zamora

As a dedicated weight trainer, there are several aspects of your life that are constant.  Pre-planning the meals for the week, making sure your supplements are stocked and ready to consume, getting plenty of sleep etc.  As avid bodybuilders, we know the benefits of eating lean protein sources; however the side dishes we eat with those proteins can make the difference between staying true to your diet and veering off path.  Here are some new choices of good for your muscle food.
Lunch is one of my favorite meals – it provides a “break” from the working day to re-charge and refuel so you can finish the day off strong.  One of the great ways to expand your arsenal of bodybuilding foods is to “test drive” them at your mid-day meal.  You know your body better than anyone – and know how it responds to certain foods when they are eaten.  For example, a traditional body friendly meal of chicken breast, sweet potato and steamed vegetables makes for excellent muscle food.  It also primes your body with energy that you can feel working for you, instead of say, a junky fast food meal that only makes you sleepy and is counterproductive to your goals of achieving or maintaining a lean body.  The point is to have wide variety of foods available at your disposal to help prevent boredom and instead keep meal planning new and interesting.  As they say, variety is the spice of life.

Beets-
These colorful root vegetables contain a powerful mix of antioxidants.  High in the carotenoid beta-carotene, beets have the unique blend of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.  Lutein, which provides nutritional support for the eyes and skin, has promising research promoting its effectiveness as sort of an internal sunblock – protecting the body from harmful free radicals.  Zeaxanthin, the most potent antioxidant found in the retina, acts as a shield against damaging UV –blue light from the sun.  These powerful nutrients plus the high concentration of Vitamin C found in beets makes evidence to include them as a regular part of your diet.

To prepare beets, cut off the green tops and cut an “X” on the raw vegetable – as this will make for easier peeling after cooking.  I recommend steaming the beets in two inches of water for 15 minutes, as this method will help retain the most vitamins.  Feel free to add low-sodium vegetable stock for flavor.  After cooking, peel the beets – please be careful as these vegetables will stain clothing.  After the beets are peeled, chill them in the refrigerator and then chop or slice them as you like.  These are great eaten alone or added to salads for an instant nutrient boost.

For quick beets follow these steps-

2 cups cooked beets
1 Tbs. minced garlic
2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. ground black pepper

1.  Toss all ingredients in a bowl and chill for 30 minutes.  Serve cold.

Lentils –
Ounce for ounce, lentils are by far one of the most inexpensive sources of protein.  They typically cost around $1 per pound making them an easily affordable source of nutrients.  Lentils, packed with 18g of protein per half-cup makes them a nutritional force.  In addition, lentils contain nutrients phosphorus, copper and potassium.  Phosphorus aids in the protection and formation of healthy bones and teeth and works synergistically with calcium to provide strength to bones.  This is essential protection for regular exercisers and athletes.  Copper plays an important role in stimulating brain function in addition to a whole host of other benefits including combatting arthritis.  Potassium, aside from its helpful properties as an electrolyte, is a mineral that is required for keeping heart, brain, kidney and muscle tissue in good condition.
For best results, prepare the lentils according to the package instructions and add to salads, chili, and soups or serve as a side dish with your meals.  Cooked lentils keep fresh in the refrigerator for 3 days in a covered container.

Try this simple recipe for lentils.

2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup mixed bell peppers, diced
½ bunch parsley, chopped
1 Tbs. Olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Salmon –
Containing the heart-healthy Omega-3 Fatty acids, salmon is a “sure thing” when it comes to providing your body with a quality protein source that does wonders for your health.  In addition to reducing your risk of developing coronary artery disease, salmon contains 19g of high-quality protein per 3-ounce portion and has been shown to help reduce blood pressure, stabilize heartbeat, control hypertension and helps to prevent cancer.  Salmon has been all the rage as a topic in health magazines and other media – giving much deserved recognition to this amazing nutritional gift.  Of course, if you’re not a fan of eating fish, but still want the health benefits, I suggest using Labrada’s EFA Lean Gold.  This product contains just the right mix of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids to help you achieve your lean body.

Try this marinade the next time you prepare this tasty fish –
1 pound salmon fillet
2 Tbs. Lime juice
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground mustard
2 Tbs. Soy sauce, low-sodium

1. Combine all ingredients in a zip top bag and let marinate for at least 2 hours.
2.  Remove the fillets from the marinade and grill until an internal temperature of 140 degrees has been reached.  Serve immediately.

Feel free to experiment with different foods on a regular basis.  One great way to progress on your fitness journey is to utilize as many healthful ingredients as possible and come up with quick and easy ways to prepare them.

Johnathan Zamora
The Fit Chef

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