Under eating is typically over looked in America, where there is a fast food place on every corner and most of the people you encounter are not in shape. Over eating is just as serious as under eating. A sustained caloric deficit is no fun and can wreak havoc on your body. People assume that because they don’t eat, they will lose weight. This is a true statement, but only for so long. Calories in vs. calories out is the basic golden rule for losing weight. Once you start a caloric deficit, a cut, or drastically start under eating, your body will begin to use what you have stored to “run” or keep going.
There are numerous side effects to prolonged under eating: fluctuation in hormones (lack of sexual desire), slow circulation, lack of bone growth and density (can be irreversible if under eating occurs during puberty), heightened sensitivity to bloatedness and fullness due to the slow rate of digestion, adverse effects on the skin and hair, lack of sleep and restfulness, etc. With so many side effects to staying in a caloric deficit, it is imperative that you go through cycles of cutting, maintenance, and bulking. I’ve never done cycles, but this is my first cut so I will go on a maintenance cycle after the cut, then (possibly) to a mass.
I am in no way talking about cutting your calories for 12 weeks at a time. Cutting your calories, a few weeks at a time, is not a bad idea for everyone to try (if they are eating enough to cut the calories). A cut is not for everyone, just like a massing phase is not for everyone. I have been on a maintenance diet for my entire life it seems.
I don’t really remember weighing much more than I do now or much less. My body composition has changed, for sure. With my increased workout regime over the years I have gained more muscle, but it has all balanced out. The fat that I carried around has turned into muscle (which weighs more), so I am leaner, but still weigh around the same as I did In high school.
I am not looking forward to cutting calories. I like to eat and eat a lot. Currently I am eating around 2100 everyday. Usually, I am lacking on my fat, but I intentionally try to keep my fat low, because fat has the most calories per gram. Here’s to hoping I stay sane and don’t lose muscle.
Spaghetti + Spaghetti Squash
Pork Loin Chops + Sauteed Zucchini with Mint, Basil, & Pine Nuts
I could cook recipes JUST from Half Baked Harvest and never get bored. Her food is gorgeous, flavorful, and so fresh…and I also wish I had her barn/studio kitchen. She obviously isn’t worried about her macro count like I am (I assume), so I do make a few adjustments, but it always turns out delicious. Typically I either opt for no oil and go with low-fat options or reduce the oil by a significant amount. I like to use my misto when I need to coat a pan with oil or any produce needs oil for seasoning to stick to it.
This soup has pasta in it, gasp! Real pasta…not spiralized zucchini. I know some of you are in shock that I am not using a substitute. This pasta is not like your typical pasta noodles though. It is more like a rice shaped pasta. I think if you are concerned about the carbs you can always reduce the amount of pasta used here, which is exactly what I will be doing or use a substitute like cauliflower rice. I like that these are not pasta noodles, so I would not mess it up and do anything spiralized.
I like that the pasta goes in separately from the dish. That makes calculating the macros a lot easier. One pot/pan dishes are great, but not so great for getting an exact amount on the macros. I will say from experience kale tends to clump together in pastas, so make sure you chop it finely and try to separate it enough where one dish isn’t getting the bulk of the kale.
2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8-12 large cloves of garlic, smashed (use to your taste)
6 carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt and pepper
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 parmesan rind, plus grated parmesan, for serving
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch Tuscan kale, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill, plus more for serving
juice of 2 lemons (or to taste)
1 pound orzo pasta
Spaghetti + Spaghetti Squash
So now that I have gotten pasta out of my system, I will be using a substitution for my spaghetti noodles. Some people use spiralized zucchini, but I love spaghetti squash. It does take me about 3 good sized squashes to get 4 cups of “noodles”. We did just acquire an abundance of zucchini, but I like the squash much better.
The spaghetti sauce I use does not come from different blogger. The recipe I use is adapted from a lasagna recipe my brother in law makes. It is a thicker sauce, with lots of meat and vegetables.
4 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 can Tomato Paste (about 1 cup)
3 cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
8 ounces Mushrooms (diced)
2-4 pounds 80/20 cooked and drained (depending on amount of people serving, I use 3.5 pounds typically)
8 ounces Whole Milk (optional)
4 ounces Red Wine (optional)
Dice the onion and bell pepper and saute’ with the minced garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Once the mushrooms have cooked down, drain any excess water. Add the vegetables to a large pot, along with the canned tomatoes. Once the meat has cooked thoroughly, drain and add to the tomatoes and vegetables.
Stir in the milk and wine. Let the spaghetti simmer on low. Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed. The amount of tomato paste you add, depends on how thick you want your sauce to be. I use to add the whole milk and wine, but have recently opted out of putting it in. It is delicious with or without the wine and milk.
I like to add dried oregano, salt, pepper, dried parsley, and any other Italian herbs I have on hand.
Here is Half Baked Harvest again. I love a sheet pan meal and one with so much flavor is going to be amazing! The great thing about a sheet pan meal, is I can still customize the macros I eat vs. in a soup or pasta dish. I can keep my ingredients pretty separated on the pan and still allow the flavors to mix. I am going to take it easy on the potatoes because the oranges will add a decent amount of carbohydrates to the macro count and I will be having rice with the meal following this one and don’t want to overdo it on the carbs in both meals. Like I said, you can tailor the macros to fit your needs more with a sheet pan than in a soup. I can go heavy on the potatoes for supper, when I have had a light carbohydrate lunch and then for lunch the next day, go easy on the potatoes, if my supper that night will have a carbohydrate with it.
Normally, the only change I to make her recipes work for us, is to cut back on the amount of oil being used. I don’t like to waste my calories on a flavorless and invisible macros.
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons orange zest + orange juice
zest + juice of 1 lime
kosher salt and pepper
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 russet potatoes, cut into wedges
1 bell pepper sliced
1 small orange, sliced
This one pan dish, has a totally different flavor than the Cuban chicken recipe. I was going to make fajitas, but decided to go with this dish. We received an abundance of zucchini this week so I am going to replace the snap peas with zucchini. I will be doubling the recipe for us, so it can spread across 4 meals (2 suppers and 2 lunches the following day). I will likely only double the amount of broccoli and the chicken will depend on how many grams of protein I need in my meal. Usually one chicken breast per person is more than plenty to accommodate (chicken breasts around here, look more like turkey breasts).
I love that the sauce does not have any oil in it! I will definitely use sriracha. It is my favorite hot sauce, I even use it on my chicken salad! I will be mindful of the chili sauce and make sure I don’t add more than I need to. Sauces can have a lot of hidden carbohydrates and fat in them. Make sure you check the label!
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
1 bell pepper chopped
1 cup snap peas
For the sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce Mae Ploy
1 tablespoon sriracha optional
1 garlic minced
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame seeds optional
Pork Loin Chops+ Sauteed Zucchini with Mint, Basil, & Pine Nuts
Pork Loin Chops are always my go-to meat. I appreciate that they have more protein than chicken, don’t dry out as easily, and I can use part of the loin for stuffing at a later date. I cook my pork chops on 425, to temperature. Depending on the thickness of your chops, this could take as little as 10 minutes. This is something that can be done the night of or one of the last things you cook while you are meal prepping.
Sure you could just saute some zucchini and be done with it, but why not add some flavor! Pine nuts add some fat, so don’t over do it, but the herbs used here are a great addition to the typical flavorless zucchini.
This recipe is a bit time consuming, because you do need to cook the zucchini in one layer on your pan. You want each slice to get it’s fair share of time in the pan and not compete with another piece to get fully cooked. The goal is to have each piece to be a little firm. If they are over crowded, they will get mushy. I spray my pan with the misto instead of using too much oil cooking the zucchini.
1 pound zucchini (or any summer squash), sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 tablespoons (or less) olive oil, divided
3 small cloves garlic
10 (or more) mint leaves
5 (or more) basil leaves
1 heaping tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted
1 to 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar or white balsamic or whatever vinegar you have
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Additional mint and basil, torn, to garnish