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I'm a Food Network fan, a gourmet par excellence, and, as such, I have several tricks and hints to keep my sanity throughout the seemingly eternal ordeal of precontest dieting.
One thing everybody on the planet has to do is eat, whether they're vegan, ovolactovegetarian, omnivore or carnivore. You gotta eat, you gotta fix your food. Everything I eat is relished, but I also enjoy the preparation process. Food, especially during precontest, needs to be provocative. Good food keeps me mentally sharp, motivated and physically responsive. When that's the case, the entire 12-week period becomes an exciting adventure. Something you need to do becomes something you love to do. This culinary adventure feeds my yearning for the next meal and calls for innovative recipes, such as these three creations.
GOURMET MEAL #1
EGG FRITTATA AND BEEF
Six to eight weeks out from a contest, I go with egg recipes--and lots of them--one of which is an egg frittata. I buy eggs five to 10 dozen at a time. Start with four to six egg whites and two whole eggs. Slightly mix them in a bowl. Add Vidalia onions, which have a sweet taste that I prefer over the smell of yellow onions. Slice in some celery, carrots, mushrooms and green onions. I'm a green onion freak; I love green onions. Then add some fresh minced garlic or garlic powder.
Keep in mind that a frittata is similar to an omelet, except that you don't flip it. Mix everything together and pour the ingredients into a preheated iron skillet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking oil or another sodium-free nonstick coating. Scramble the mixture slightly, only until the frittata starts to set. Let it cook halfway through before transferring it into an oven preheated to 400 or 425 degrees. Let it bake for seven or eight minutes.
In addition to the frittata, I'll have about 16 ounces of flank steak or 90% lean ground beef. This meal gives me an egg protein alongside an animal protein for a very complete amino acid source. I don't have a calorie breakdown for this, but I'm sure someone who's stricter about that can figure it out. I don't go by calorie content during precontest--I just "roughtimate" it.
GOURMET MEAL #2
I also make a killer turkey loaf. You'd be amazed at how much better a meal tastes when different ingredients are combined, as opposed to eating them individually. A little creativity results in a meal that I would have in a "normal" lifestyle, so that I'm able to maintain a lean condition year-round.
For this recipe, I use about two pounds of turkey, KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce (mixed with the turkey, not as a crust), Italian bread crumbs, green onions and mushrooms (which add moisture, so the meat remains nice and juicy). I don't measure any of this. I just say, "OK, that's enough." You know, a squeeze here, another squeeze there, one more squeeze and we're done.
I fit all of this in a greased bread-loaf pan, then invert the loaf on top of a flat sheet, mold it into the shape I want and bake it for an hour at 350 degrees.
GOURMET MEAL #3
On my grill, I'll torch up some turkey burgers and foie gras chicken burgers, mixing in some vegetables and bits and pieces of mushrooms and green onions. I mix flavorings in with the meat because they're more susceptible to burning when placed on top of the meat.
I'll eat this until Wednesday of the final week. Then, I have to suffer for three days without the flavorings because I have to cut the sodium. Still, precontest dining is a luxury for me, because I eat more during that time than I do offseason.
PINCH OF SALT
During precontest, I never, ever, allow eating to become boring, and let me tell you, food without salt or flavoring--that's plain boring. Steak is the only exception. If you get a good steak, all you need is pepper and kosher salt, and you're ready to rock. Kosher salt is the key to the steak's flavor and piquancy. More and more cooking schools are discovering that. The only change to these recipes is that, during the final week before a contest, I won't add salt. Other than that, I eat these meals right up to the moment I step onstage.
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BY DAVID HENRY
2002 NPC NATIONAL MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION
COPYRIGHT 2004 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group