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"Diet" foods and simple tasty ways to prepare them. Quick diet meals and snacks.

Updated on February 12, 2010


Please understand, this article is a work in progress. I began work on it in January 19th 2010, so you may just be seeing part of the final draft. If so, continue to check back periodically, as updated information is added virtually every day.

Athletes and food-

Yes, athletes know better than anyone the marvels of the foods we eat. Although we see many advertisements with celebrities touting the efficacy of "this supplement", they more often get most of their nutrition from food. One of the primary reasons whole foods are so important is they have a type of synergism woven into them. What I mean is, foods contain nutrients that somehow boost or catalyze the effectiveness of each other. Think of a symbiotic relationship- but not quite the same. If you think of this, the organism that we're getting our nutrition from assembled the infrastructure of whatever that item may be out of the raw materials that were needed to synthesize that material.

Kinda makes sense, doesn't it?

That's not to say engineered foods don't hold a multitude of influence on certain diseases, conditions, or just well being. Well being is cool, too. Not everyone is eating as a means to an end-- or at least not consciously. That said, many of the capsules that follow will focus on specifics. Eating for peak athletic performance and weight management are two subjects I have the most background in.

Also, I'll say this right now, and maybe turn a few of you off. I will neither write about, NOR condone a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR US AS HUMANS! Anthropologists mostly agree that the introduction of animal flesh (protein) was responsible for the evolution of our larger brains. This makes perfect sense. Also, no matter what you've heard, there is not a single plant source of complete protein. Sure, you can Google that and find sites that make this claim. Unfortunately those people have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. For some strange reason, vegans and the like think a complete protein contains only nine essential amino acids. Uh, no, that's incorrect. There are TEN essential amino acids! Only proteins that contain these ten EAA are considered complete. You can combine foods to fill in the AA gaps, though.

Meat, yes meat is the only source of the most easily assimilated and bioavailable iron. Only heme iron (primarily in mammalian meats) is such an iron. Non heme sources should be combined with a decent dose of vitamin C.

Here are all of the amino acids-

Aspartic acid
Glutamic acid

Although I've said "all of the amino acids", this isn't 100% accurate. There are certain chemicals that science has isolated that are amino acids, but apparently more study needs to be done before they pin that moniker on them.

The essential amino acids (that we cannot produce internally) are arginine (required for the young, but not for adults), histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These amino acids are required in the diet. The human body simply lacks certain enzymes in order to synthesize these AAs. Oddly, though, plants can synthesize all amino acids. They just seem incapable (or unwilling) to put them all in one package.

Whilst speaking of plant sources of complete proteins, I need to mention soy. Many vegans get a huge amount of their protein from soy products. As far as male athletes (and even females- I guess) and soy go-- bad mojo, man. Soy is very rich in phyto estrogen. Phyto refers to anything derived from a plant. Estrogen, as we all know is the female sex hormone. It's also a testosterone antagonist! A biological antagonist is a chemical or compound that detracts from the activity, or stops the production-secretion of another chemical compound. Loosely put- more estrogen less testosterone. EVERY athlete should be concerned with test levels. Yes, woman need testosterone, though they only make a fraction of what men do.

Poor sources of protein and why

Okay, soy protein has shown in numerous studies to have benefits for our cardiovascular system- so poor source is almost unfair.

Many vegans get a huge amount of their protein from soy products. As far as male athletes (and even females- I guess) and soy go-- bad mojo, man. Soy is very rich in phyto estrogen. Phyto refers to anything derived from a plant. Estrogen, as we all know is the female sex hormone. It's also a testosterone antagonist! A biological antagonist is a chemical or compound that detracts from the activity, or stops the production-secretion of another chemical compound. Loosely put- more estrogen less testosterone. EVERY athlete should be concerned with test levels. Yes, women need testosterone, though they only make a fraction of what men do.

Quick and easy meals and the benefits you may expect

The purpose of his capsule and those that follow, is primarily just assembling a database of simple healthy meals. When I say meals, I mean anything from a satisfying snack to a full dinner. As I try to make most of my diet whole foods, much of the suggestions will be such. Substitutions of certain ingredients may make them more palatable to you, but may drastically impact the desired effect that I've explained.

Most of the following capsules will be named according to the primary food item the meal is comprised of, while some fall into preparation categorically. Not every meal or dish that follows will be "quick and easy", but that title sure helps the search engines find me ;-)

Canned beans by attribute.

While the canning process does have a detrimental effect on certain nutrients, primarily proteins, canned beans are my choice.

Chick peas have a pretty good glycemic load- somewhere around 50, but adding a small amount of fat will improve that score.

Chick peas/garbanzo beans

The chick pea has quite a few strong points, which is why it's the one bean I eat most frequently. It's five best attributes are fiber, protein (while high in protein for a non-meat, still not a complete protein), EFAs, magnesium, and folate (folic acid). Fiber folate, and essential fatty acids are three powerful nutrients for a healthy heart. Chick peas have also been shown to reduce homocysteines. Homocysteine is an amino acid linked to different forms of heart disease. It seems folate and methylcobalamin (biologically active form of B12- but while cyancobalamin is also biologically active, it doesn't seem to show the same promise.

Garbanzos' supply of magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects. Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker. Essentially, this is a biochemical reaction causing vasodilation.

With an EFA panel like the one that follows, these beans are beneficial in many ways. EFAs are also beneficial in combating inflammation (another heart benefit- but helpful in pain management). They do this by disrupting the arachidonic acid cacade.

Total Omega-3 fatty acids

70.5 mg Total Omega-6 fatty acids 1825 mg

Citation----"A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as garbanzo beans, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD."

Chick peas recipes

Again, this first section will center around quick stuff. So, canned garbanzos' in lazy-people-quick-stuff.

Ingredients: Chick peas, Smart Balance spread (or any oil, but the lightest I'd recommend is extra virgin olive oil), granulated garlic (don't like fresh for this one), onion powder. black pepper, NO SALT!, cumin, peanuts (also a legume-not a nut) or cashews (a fruit-not a nut).

Combine spices to taste *I never measure my spices* with the Smart Balance or olive oil (I like to melt the Smart Balance, but over VERY low heat, and NEVER in a microwave- high heats destroy EFAs and denature proteins). Stir them well. It's important to ensure good distribution of spices in any meal. I like to let he spices sit in the oil for at least an hour, creating an infusion of sorts. Drain the beans and rinse them very well. Canned beans have a lot of added sodium- rinsing removes a good amount.

You can just mix this all up and eat it room temp or cold. Room temp suits me fine, and it's fast. If you do heat this, again, low heat. It's not just EFAs that are destroyed by heat! Sometimes I like to add tuna, salmon, clams, chicken or even pork. You can also add croutons that can be made by leaving bread out for long periods of time, or simply over toasting it. I like any of the Arnold Natural Whole Grain breads, but the Healthy Multi Grain bread works best in this recipe.

Grape tomatoes work in this, too. I'll add a bit more garlic if I use tomatoes, and less if I add tuna. Bean sprouts, alfalfa, chickory (PUKE), lemon juice also can be added for variety.

The recipe as I've laid it out, is a great meal for weight loss. Fiber has been shown to positively effect blood glucose, the oils will improve the GI score- even though they add calories (this is an accepted science). The EFAs in the beans and oils help, as do the monounsaturated fats in any of them. I suggest athletes add the aforementioned fishes. The protein will pay dividends in recovery, though this is not a pre workout carb load (which should never be done less that 2.5 hours beforehand). This is also an extremely heart healthy meal.

Chick peas
Chick peas

Let's try some simple dessert ideas

   Okay, deserts are obviously a little tricky here, but not impossible. You can start with plain yogurt and add many different items. If available, I suggest low fat, not fat free. The tiny amount of fat will aid in lowering the glycemic index a bit. Cottage chess works with many of the ideas listed here, too. Cottage cheese is primarily comprised of the casein fraction from milk. Casein is a very good source of complete protein, but as this is an animal sourced product, cholesterol has to be taken into account.

I'm not a proponent of using a blender to make shakes out of any of these ideas. Pulverizing any food wreaks havoc on it's glycemic load. Part of the digestive process, peristalsis, is circumvented by processing food!

   Adding fruits not only improves the flavor, but adds some very important nutritive value. A list of fruits with good glycemic load: apples, blackberries, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, raspberries and strawberries. 

Nuts... nuts are a great addition to add flavor, texture, and helpful fats or fatty acids. Walnuts are particularly high in EFAs. Peanuts (actually a legume), cashews (a fruit, not a nut) and macadamias (very high in fat, but primarily mono or polyunsaturated) all add flavor to plain yogurt.

Weird stuff: Old fashioned oats (I never cook my oatmeal- so I don't mind raw oats in my food), Believe it out not, making unseasoned croutons out of whole grain bread mixes quite nicely with any of this. Make absolutely sure the bread does not contain any high fructose corn syrup. I know all of the new commercial say it the same as sugar, but it most certainly is not! The combination of fructose and glucose is fine. It's the rendering of HFCS that changes the way it behaves in the body.

Most of these, particularly the citrus fruits are a great source of potassium. Potassium is essential for everyone, but on average, and athlete requires about 50% more potassium per day.The USRDA for potassium is 3,000 mg. Remember, the RDA is the *minimum needed to prevent deficiency and deficiency related diseases*.

   Persons involved in sports, exercise regimens or during certain illnesses (diarrhea, fever and sweating) need more potassium-- about 4,600 mg per day. Cramping is often caused by potassium deficiency, as well as calcium deficiency and dehydration.

High-GI fruit includes: cantaloupe, dates, honeydew melon, raisins and water melon, so avoid these, or use them in moderation.

Brown rice dishes that don't taste like crap.

Okay, let me add, they're very healthy, too. I'd also like to add that I'd like the uneducated masses that scream that brown rice is some kind of friggin miracle food should shut the Hell up!

It IS NOT. Truth is, brown rice is a whole grain. This makes it slower to digest, so the fear that carbohydrates will make us fat has little truth to it. It's the type of carbohydrate-- how quickly that carb raises blood glucose (BG) that's truly of any importance. This is what makes brown rice better that white (primarily). The fiber, bran, hull etc are all intact with brown rice. It is in this sense a "whole grain".

So, shut up, Joe. Here's the first recipe:

Ingredients- Smart Balance spread or light olive oil, brown rice, fresh garlic, unsalted cashews (or peanuts), a white onion, chicken broth, Morton Lite Salt

I like to brown the rice and cashews over medium high heat with no oil (yet). I do this so I don't destroy the essential fatty acids. Bring the heat down a touch and add the oil (or Smart Balance) and continue browning a bit with the fresh garlic and salt. This should not be sizzling. The eat is way too high if it is. Once the oil is infused with garlic (the salt helps that), add the chicken broth. Note, the broth should be added slowly, as the oil will be hot. Still well for a few minutes, then continue to cook according to the directions on the package. With about five minutes of cooking time left, add chopped onions and reduce the heat. Doing this keeps the onions crunchy an flavorful. Also, I cook my brown rice covered, though many products say not to.

When it's done, you're done.

There are several ways to make this a main course. Future articles will explain how to prepare monk fish, salmon, sole (or flounder/halibut) to add directly to this recipe.

"Non-boring" homemade chicken soup

This one's pretty simple, though it takes a long time to fix.

   Ingredients. 1 medium chicken, baby carrots, 1 yellow onion, two cloves of fresh garlic (or to taste), dried shiitake mushrooms, been sprouts, celery (optional-BLECH), tamari or soy sauce (optional), white wine, 1 can whole clams-drained and rinsed (optional), 1can straw mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in water overnight.

   Start by bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil. Place the entire chicken into the water- boil chicken on a low simmer for no less that six hours covered(I sometimes wait longer). If you're trying to limit your fat consumption, remove the skin from the chicken- it will be removed at some point anyway.

   While you're waiting for that-put some oil in a frying pan or wok. Heat the oil on the lowest possible setting, then add crushed garlic- it shouldn't fry. If it does, the heat is too high. Next, add the shiitake,  and a little salt. Simmer about ten minutes.

   Once the chicken is done, you'll have an excellent chicken stock. At this point remove the chicken(I snag it at the neck with a fork). Leave the chicken to cool for awhile- the stock goes into the fridge to congeal the fat, to be skimmed off later.

When the chicken is cool enough (especially inside- or OUCH, you've got burned hands), start separating the meat, pulling it apart by hand. This is when you strip the skin and toss it. I like to use white meat only, but you may add it if you desire. Add the garlic from you saute.

Once you've skimmed the stock, add the cayenne (just a pinch!), pepper, salt to taste, straw mushrooms, shiitake, carrots, (celery-ew), bean sprouts, chicken, yellow onion, white wine (to taste), clams (optional). Let this simmer 'til the carrots are firm but cooked.

Pork tenderloin for health

Firstly, please, none of you parasite nuts need chime in a single word here! Pork rraised in the USA has been safe for decades now. No known cases of trichinosis etc. since 1975! Stick that in your parasitic bonnet and go away!

I'm sure some of you reading this article may also believe in the medicinal properties of honey and cinnamon. Some anecdotal evidence there, but hardly enough to make me a believer. So, here's the recipe:

How 'bout a full blown meal?

Click edit above to add content to this empty capsule.

This is "pretty healthy" and freakin' delicious. Here's what you need:

Two one pound pork tenderloins

Two medium sweet potatoes. Leave the skins on, but wash them thoroughly- I use the scrubbing side of a clean sponge-.

Ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, any type of oily spread (butter {last choice for health- first for taste}), margarine, Olivio, Smart balance etc., any type honey (do NOT serve young children raw honey!!!. Raw honey may, and most likely will contain botulinum toxin- botulism),Morton Lite salt or sea salt.

The following are optional, so try them on occasion.

You may add apple slices (braeburn apples or golden delicious work well), baby carrots, plantains, add your own ideas. Coconuts, any tree nuts (including cashews and peanuts- which are not true nuts), pine nuts (not that great here).

Slice the sweet potatoes into lengthy wedges.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. 16-18 minutes per pound cooking time.

Place the tenderloin and wedges (or carrots, plantains, apples, clean orange peels, whatever you intend to use) in a deep baking pan, coat it with honey (you may use REAL maple syrup), cinnamon, nutmeg (use sparingly, nutmeg is strong),a healthy oil (light olive, Smart Balance spread, olivio, peanut oil). Coat everything evenly with all the ingredients. Do not add any salt 'til the meal is done cooking. Salt is used to ran leather and hides, removing the moisture. Why would you add it before the meal is cooked?

Slice the sweet potatoes into lengthy, equally sized wedges. You may try the Braeburn apples or any of the other items listed above as an adjunct or a replacement. Add them to the dish by distributing them about the pan. Be sure to coat them and the pork with the honey, nutmeg and cinnamon mixture. Also, be sure the mix is beneath all of the ingredients. The same applies to any of the fringe ingredients. Don't overdue it with the cinnamon, nor the nutmeg. Use less than half the nutmeg:cinnamon. Turn the pork periodically while shuffling the other ingredients around, too.

Bake 16-18 minutes, but continue to check t'ward the end. When the dish is almost done, turn your broiler on in your oven and blast the meal with heat for two minutes. This will caramelize the sugar a little, bringing out more flavor, and making the dish more appealing to the eye.\

If you do use salt while you're cooking meat, which YOU SHOULDN'T (it dries the meat somewhat), salt the dish after it's sat for a couple of minutes away from the heat.

Simple wrap ideas

Oh, the wrap. That annoying little food item that's become SO-O-O trendy. Hey, give in to it. Wraps are a good way to get a fairly even dose of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. There are many, MANY brands and types of wraps. For the sake of this article, as well as the general motif of my articles, only whole grain wraps, preferably free of any enriched flours OR high fructose corn syrup.

Brief disclaimer: I had the unfortunate displeasure of watching the idiot box the other day (that's television!). Some hokey ad came on trying to say high fructose corn syrup was somehow the same as sugar(sucrose). It's NOOOOOOOOTTTTT. HFCS is rendered in such a way that it behaves differently in the human body than glucose or fructose (which is fruit sugar- and has the best glycemic score of any sugar known to us).

Enriched flour is far more digestible than other grains. No matter who you are, think of the long term. Exhausting the pancreas is the best way to ensure you may fall victim to type II diabetes. Health is health. Even though these articles are written from the perspective of an athlete (me), and performance enhancement is the goal, a healthy strong body starts with your constitution (what you're made of-build yourself out of- combined with genetics).


Can you change your genes (not jeans wise guys)? Absolutely NOT! The moment the sperm hit the egg, your genes were set in stone. I'll speak of gene expression in future articles. That can be altered (and I'm ignoring gene splicing for now). Rant finished.

So, the many brands of wraps out there that I'd personally endorse (and not compensated for said endorsement as of 02/09/2005-will update if needed) are: Mission Carb Balance (loaded with fiber, but not very cohesive), South Beach Diet, Nature's Promise, Kashi (though I believe they only make pitas- same diff. The cereals etc are good, too) are all brands that I've used and found fit for this program.

Here's a quick how-to about foldiing these babies:

To start, select any of the following ingredients to combine with the focus of the dish:

Sliced tomatoes, slivered romaine lettuce or cabbage (cabbage is more nutritious, though romaine has an Earthy neutral taste {note, the tougher thee better for weight reduction and insulin control}. Iceberg is disgusting and worthless!!!), sliced peppers, thinly sliced onions (I prefer white or Bermuda onions raw), raisins (be careful what you combine with raisins, and I do not advocate raisins for any weight loss regime), very thinly sliced pineapple goes well with pork, black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, avocado slices (mostly healthy fat-no cholesterol),

The other ingredients that will form the foundation of this all inclusive meal are:

Battered codfish, smoked salmon, chicken tenderloins, sliced turkey, lime sauce, sliced roast beef, (though never on a cholesterol reduced diet, but bacon tastes WAY good on any of this!!!!). Experiment, send me your ideas (No guarantee I'll publish them, though I'll give you credit and props in the article). Much more to come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quick healthy lunches that your kids may eat?

I'll start with two disclaimers right off.

1) In these "Quick" segments I recommend the use of canned foods. This is only for the sake of ease of preparation! Canned foods always suffer some loss of nutrition due to the process (primarily proteins, and in some cases water soluble vitamins, and electrolytes). They are also much higher in sodium, though some foods can be rinsed to remove some of the salt.

2) I tend to endorse certain products by their name brands. As of today, 02/12/2010, I am not compensated, nor expect to be compensated for my recommendations. I simply know what I like or I know which combinations of certain foods/bands exhibit some synergism or "fill in the gaps".

I'll start with what lies between the bread:

Take one of the following (two if you like): Canned tuna (I like Chicken of the Sea solid white albacore), salmon, or any number of cold water fish (tuna is actually a warm water fish,but still rich in O3 EFAs). Real crab meat works well, too. Please know, imitation crab meat is pollock (cod family) with modified food starch and color added). Using left over baked fish like cod, hake, haddock, pollock, scallops (bay scallops ARE NOT scallops! These are pieces of skate wings (stingray/shark family), shrimp, sole or flounder work equally as well- and it's probably the only "non-disgusting" ways to use leftover fish!.

Okay, not very child will eat some of these, just DON'T tell them! You'll have an opportunity to hide all of it. Maybe hard boiled eggs for an egg salad, but most of the hearth healthy benefit obtained from these meals is lost.

Choose one or two of the following to combine with the "protein phase" of this recipe:

Del Monte Petite cut tomatoes lightly drained (the garlic and olive oil is tasty), artichoke hearts,-drain them well, if you really pulverize the Hell out of this when you mix it, adding fresh baby spinach or cut romaine adds (vit A,C, iron, potassium in the case of spinach) some extra fiber and texture, as well as some plant sterols (and science is learning more about phytosterols and health than ever!), peas (I find this disgusting, but this is MY article so I'll add my two cents!), just be creative- provided you have a big dog or a gabage disposal ;-) 

Now, onto spices:

Since this is primarily a health based series, I'd like to let ya'll in on a little secret-If you are eating garlic, taking a garlic supplement or any of the like to control cholesetrol... STOP, maybe you'll land a date! Sorry, science has probed that realm almost to the end, and a recent study in Europe concluded that garlic has no desirable affect on cholesterol. (did I hear a bubble burst?). I believe there is a stronger connection between onion and cognition.

Always use spices to add flavor. Using hot spices because it hurts like Hell seems just a tad neurotic!!! Also, think of your seasoning as a team. Somethings go great with others (olive oil and garlic), while others do not (a sweet taste and black pepper)

Some of the spices I play around with in these recipes: granulated garlic, onion, black pepper, and cumin. You may like thyme, rosemary, parsley, chickory (BLECH) or oregano. The latter having a more Earthy taste.

So, with those ideas, on to the rest. I like to make a large quantity of this mix at a time. I'll refrigerate some and pop some in the freezer. I don't like to let it stay in the fridge more than 3-4 days, and I keep my fridge cold.

As it stands, this "meal" is almost barren of carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin D and a few minerals. Note that garlic is a very good source of selenium, a trace mineral having a synergistic relationship with Vit E.

Bread, slap it onto some good healthy whole grain bread. Whole grains are more desirable because they are digested more slowly, contain more fiber, and the vitamins haven't been destroyed from bleaching. Again, I have recommendations based on my tastes and nutritional value; either Arnold Whole Grain Natural (many styles and no high fructose corn syrup) or South Beach Diet tortillas.

With our proteins and carbohydrates, as well as good fats if you chose to add a natural spread or olive, peanut, safflower oils, we need some good dairy calcium (I will not tout dairy calcium as a positive weight reduction tool, yet. More research is needed).

We'll get that from yogurt. Dannon is on the forefront of friendly bacteria research. I like to use Activia and Danactive. I drink an awful lot of straight  alcohol. What does alcohol kill? Yep, germs. Like it or not, the human digestive system is largely dependent on "friendly bacteria". These are the germs that make up our intestinal flora. Alcohol and antibiotics both kill germs! Neither is selective. It's like using a guillotine to shave!

Add a whole orange, grapefruit, red grapes or an apple and you've got a slammin' lunch to pack for the entire week, maybe longer!

Healty eating made delicious

What types of foods would you like more recipes for?

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    • joecseko profile image

      Joe Cseko jr 4 years ago from New York, USA, Earth

      Wow, thank you! I really wish I had more time to add all of the things that I have stirring about in my head. I just haven'y had the time that I'd liker to devote to writing lately.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I chose this article because I expected to find some quick healthful snacks (or meals) that dieters might appreciate. Really, anyone who wants to eat better would appreciate your recipes. It's very difficult to find snacks that are nutritious and quick to replace the potato chips and ice cream most people are used to and that got them on their diet in the first place.

      Going to share this with my followers in hopes they will discover some great snacks and nutritious foods they can eat on their diets.

    • joecseko profile image

      Joe Cseko jr 8 years ago from New York, USA, Earth

      Please, DNF, if there is anything within the scope of my knowledge that you'd like to understand better, let me know!

    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 8 years ago from The Boondocks

      Great! This will give me something to refer to. Thanks for the advice!