Squid? Yes please!

When I’m out in a Chinese restaurant my favorite dishes to order usually involve seafood, with salted chili squid being a regular delight.

Squid is something I had never even thought of cooking before and recently my good friend Nick K mentioned that it was not only easy to cook but also inexpensive to buy from the ethnic store just down the road from me.

In my naivity I presumed the squid I purchased to resemble that served to hungry diners, albeit uncooked and frozen, so you can imagine my surprise when I defrosted a box and saw a bunch of these guys staring out at me:

squid - raw

A primal fear rose in me yet I was determined to see the process through. Some furious googling provided me with necessary instructions on how to prepare squid and I got busy gutting and cleaning:

squid - gutted

I chopped the mantle into rings and after 90 seconds stir-fry in a hot wok this was the result:

squid - cooked

A perfect high protein snack, moderate in carbs and fat. Nom.

Batch preparation of boiled eggs

In my post on batch preparation of oats, written in response to Trent’s post, I mentioned that I also prepare the boiled eggs I enjoy for breakfast in advance.

At the weekend past I’d just boiled a saucepan of eggs, cooled them with cold water and put them into a tupperware box when I remembered my previous post, so I took a quick snap to provide a follow-up:

boiled eggs - batch preparation

Whole, boiled eggs will keep for up to a week in their shells in the fridge and provide an excellent source of complete protein, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol along with a hearty dose of Vitamin D, all of which are essential to those pursuing an active lifestyle which includes weight training.

Don’t fear the fat and eat those yolks!

Oats – weekly batch preparation

I read Trent’s post on preparing oats at the weekend and decided to write about my own process. I’m also relieved I’m not the only one doing this kind of thing ;)

Part of my weekend routine involves preparing my breakfasts for the coming week. I boil a large saucepan of eggs which end up in a tupperware box in my fridge and I start a process which results in the following:

Oats - the breakfast of champions

Each container contains:

  • oats
  • raisins
  • teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of sea-salt

Each week-morning, after I’ve washed and dressed, all that’s left to do is dump the contents of one the containers into a saucepan, add water and shell a few boiled eggs while my oats cook.

This leads to my favourite part of the day: eating a cooked breakfast and drinking fresh coffee while catching up on my RSS feeds.

Nerves of chocolate

My brother got married at the weekend and as part of the preparations we had to transport the wedding cake from my uncle’s bakery to Lusty Beg island, where the reception was held: a distance of 10.6 miles, according to Google.

Due to the size and weight of the cake it was decided that I would hold it on my lap while my brother drove, here’s an action shot:

Tim's wedding cake

At every twist and turn in the road my nerves were jangled and by the end of the journey Tim had sweat stains under his arms. The aroma coming from the cake had my taste buds watering in anticipation.

Forget crisps, sweets, pizza and all other junk foods: chocolate is the one thing that I feel is worth abandoning a strict, clean diet for ;) My brother Tim is also a huge chocolate fan and hence decided against a traditional fruit cake.

It tasted as good as it looks, compliments go out to my uncle Leslie!

Bulk Powders

In my time honored tradition of bulk purchasing I placed an order with bulkpowders.co.uk, which arrived last week. I refrained from documenting it at the time as I’ve only just had the opportunity to sample the produce and here is what was waiting for me at reception last Tuesday:

Bulk Powders - Box Unopened

I’d been meaning to start buying my supplements online for a while but I wasn’t going to be saving much going for brand name products, especially when delivery costs were factored in. I scoured through uk-muscle.co.uk and compared the online retailers I found discussed there and decided on the aforementioned site which specialises in no-frills, bulk orders:

Bulk Powders - Box Opened

As you can see, the goods came packaged in food-grade buckets, with the contents described via an ink-jet printed label:

Bulk Powders - Dextrose and Flavour Systems

My main objective was to find a cheaper source for whey: I’d been buying my protein powder locally and I knew from reading various forums that there had to be a cheaper solution. A 2.27 Kg tub of Instant Whey was costing me £34.95 approximately every 6 weeks, so I was pleased to find a 5 Kg bucket of unflavoured whey for only £24.99:

Bulk Powders - Unflavoured Whey

My breakfast/pre-workout smoothie has contained this stuff for the past 2 mornings and I’ve had no complaints. Along with the whey and the dextrose, I ordered a couple of “flavouring systems,” chocolate and strawberry cream. I put a minuscule amount of the strawberry cream powder into into my post-swim shake and was rewarded with a pink-hued liquid which was actually quite tasty! When it comes to food, flavour isn’t particularly important to me, so I suspect that I could get away without adding flavouring to my shakes but it’s good to have the option if need be.

Post and packing was a pain to the wallet at £10.99, but the saving far out-weighed this cost and is unfortunately unavoidable when buying online and my only gripe with the company is that they have been out of stock of fish oil capsules for the past while. I’m pleased with the purchase and I suspect I’ll be ordering from bulkpowders.co.uk again!

Tuna Shake (Baby!)

A good while back, while I was reading up on the Squat, I stumbled upon the Tuna Shake. Tuna is a very inexpensive source of protein and I’ve possibly eaten the equivalent of my body weight of it over the past year; I didn’t think it was possible to consume it in the form of a shake and when I learned of this preparation I immediately thought of the time, effort and money I could save myself by adding these into my diet. Until Friday I didn’t have a blender to try it out, but after a quick trip to Argos and a £20 debit from my bank account I was set. Here’s the ingredients:

Tuna Shake - Ingredients

Everything was weighed and measured out, the oats were ground and some water was added. From memory the result was approximately 40g protein, 50g carbohydrate and 15g fat: a meal typical of my current diet. The combined ingredients looked like this:

Tuna Share- Ready For Blending

A bit of blitzing left me with this:

Tuna Shake - Blended

Please note the leakage in the above photo. Due to my lack of experience with properly setting up and using a blender, when I went to remove the jug the contents rushed out the bottom, leaving my worktop flooded with liquid fish, nice. Cleaning up took an age but I dusted myself down, started again and this was the result:

Tuna Shake - Ready And Waiting

Needless to say, the sight and smell of this concoction left a lot to be desired but I was determined to go through with it, I brought the glass to my lips and swilled it down. I’ve been using ground oats in shakes for a while now so I’m used to the taste and texture they bring but the tuna lent a thicker, meatier consistency which I wasn’t expecting. I expected the blender to produce an entirely smooth shake, so you can imagine my shock when I got 2/3 of the way down and could see what was waiting for me at the bottom of the glass. What was worse was consuming what was left in the jug. This will give you an idea:

Tuna Shake - Debris

I was surprised I managed to get it all drunk and thought I’d gotten away with it until 10 minutes later when my stomach started to complain. For a while I thought I was going to be sick, but that passed. All hunger left me and didn’t return for a few hours when I was due my next feed, which turned out to be another shake, but of much saner composition.

Unfortunately tuna shakes are never going to be an addition to my diet. The experiment was a success, in a twisted way, but will never be repeated. I’ll leave you with the words of a man wiser than I: “don’t try this at home.

Ghan House

Early yesterday morning we were all bundled onto a bus and were delivered to Ghan House, down in Carlingford for a spot of staff team building. Turning up on time meant me getting out of bed earlier than usual, so from the get go I was less than enthusiastic about the whole affair, but I weighed in and did my bit regardless.

Ghan House

We were split into 2 teams, with the objective being for each team to cook 3 courses of culinary delight. Our team’s task was to cook an Italian themed meal while the others whipped up a range of Irish dishes. It was interesting to see the end results of our labours: we did our thing which didn’t look particularly haute cuisine and the establishment staff took this away and presented it to us professionally. It was hard to believe it was the same food we had prepared earlier.

The latter part of the day was spent doing an assortment of exercises which I’m assuming were meant to help us feel closer as a team. One activity which stood out involved each person in turn saying what they enjoyed most about the day, followed up with a compliment of the person seated to their immediate left. The brown-nosing that came into play here was nauseating to say the least and when it came to my turn I was well and truly stumped, I just couldn’t think of anything that I had enjoyed about the day!

Over the past couple of years, as I’ve gotten more and more obsessed with training and nutrition, food as become more or less functional and the taste and enjoyment of it has been relegated to secondary importantance. There was a lot of butter, double cream and so on involved in the preparation of the food and I wasn’t looking forward to having to eat it, knowing that my nutritional requirements weren’t going to be met, but I must admit it was tasty and skipping dessert helped me not feel quite so unhealthy.

Yep, obsession in all areas, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bye Bye Bodum

I was doing a bit of washing up last night before I went to bed and as Fortuna would it, the glass component of my cafetière fell over in my dish rack and promptly broke. It was made of Pyrex / borosilicate glass and the fall seemed so mild for want of a better term so I felt both shocked and confused that such a thing could happen. Here’s a snap of the fallen soldier:

Bodum Cafetière - Broken

I would have had that particular piece of paraphernalia for 2 years next month, though I haven’t used it much since christmas when my brother and his missus donated a filter coffee maker to the cause, which has seen daily use. I guess it was just it’s Time. Ahh, the fond memories of sitting in front of my monitor at 4 in the morning with a steaming mug of java at hand. It will be missed.

I see that Amazon sell replacement parts so I’ll scope out the prices in town in my lunch break, compare and contrast and decide on my next action.

Less mourning and more coding…

Breakfast Of Champions

I had a bit of a lie-in on Saturday and I was hitting the gym at 10am so I was only going to get the opportunity for one meal before my workout. I knew I would have to have a slightly larger breakfast than normal. When the food was on the plate my first thought was “I have to eat all of that?” followed by the need to photograph it:

Breakfast

I wish I had put something in the photo to reference the size of the plate against! Needless to say, it was both tasty and nutritious with the combination of porridge and scambled eggs providing approximately 60g carbs, 30g protein and a whopping 14g fat (I had 3 yolks instead of my usual 2.)

Supplement-wise, I had a multi-vitamin, a fish-oil capsule and a couple of grams of creatine (I’ve been giving this a go for a few weeks now and it seems to have had a positive effect on my training.)

Training is one of the most consistently difficult things I’ve ever done and some times I just hate doing it but the pay-off is so great in terms of stress relief, increased confidence and maybe some day I’ll actually have a decent physique!