Breakfast is served.

I’m known for posting some pretty edgy material on The Gram. Eight eggs? F**k it. The people can handle the truth. I can’t stand idly by, enjoying my yolks guilt-free, while the rest of you suffer with your cauliflower (insert replacement food here).

No, it’s unconscionable. But I should explain myself further, instead of just posting gratuitous images of yolky eggs with little context. I need to get to the real heart of the artichoke.

It’s time to come clean, or at least lick the plate clean. So, let’s talk stock. And I’m not talking the S&P 500, champ.

I’m talking bouillon, b***h.

Food. Am I Right??

I thought I’d share some insights into how I approach eating. The following isn’t an exhaustive list, and I certainly don’t follow these principles 100% of the time. Instead, these are rough guidelines and strategies for reframing food that help me navigate the overwhelming abundance of options we have access to today.

I’ve talked about it before, but I often view fitness and nutrition with an 80-20 rule lens. In this context, I interpret it as a disproportionate amount of your diet’s success, say 80%, will come from a small number of causes, say 20%. In other words, there are a “vital few” number of actions that will be responsible for the vast majority of your success.

So, 80% of your fitness and nutrition goals can be reached by following the top 20% most powerful strategies. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a deadly effective framework to apply when approaching your fitness and nutrition strategy. Don’t focus on optimization—focus and getting most things right.

Prioritize Protein

This might be one of the largest rocks people neglect. Calorie reduction gets a lot of love, but the protein ratio on your plate should weigh just as heavily. There are two main reasons for this.

  1. Protein builds muscle. Of the calories you feed your body, you want to ensure a sufficient portion is comprised of this muscle-building macronutrient. When losing weight, higher protein levels can help ensure a greater proportion of that weight loss comes from fat, versus muscle.
  2. Protein is satiating. Compared to carbohydrates, protein will leave you feeling fuller, longer, all else equal. Protein doesn’t trigger the same craving response that carbs do. Just try and eat a lot of steak. It’s tough. It’s even tougher to do if that steak doesn’t come saddled with mashed potatoes.

Here are a couple of examples of how I might prioritize protein in a meal.

  • Are you grabbing fast food for dinner? Skip the fries, and double up on the patty, instead. Maybe even add bacon and cheese, and lose the bun.
  • Use bone broth in place of water when making rice. Bone broth adds fantastic flavour to your rice and provides a healthy serving of protein.

Pursue Simplicity

Don’t add another unnecessary challenge to your day by trying to dream up an elaborate dinner with dozens of ingredients. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a well prepared, elaborate dinner. The problem arises if you frequently fail to make these dinners and opt for something much junkier. Have go-to, easy to access meals in your back pocket.

Here are some of my favourites.

  • Grocery store rotisserie chicken. Inexpensive and very high in protein. Filling and satiating – especially dark meat and skin. Convenient. You can eat the chicken in the grocery store parking lot before dropping Timmy at soccer practice.

Shred the chicken over some baby spinach with olive oil, lemon, and salt, if you want to get fancy.

  • Frozen ground beef. Our house never runs out of ground beef. We always have multiple pre-portioned slabs at the ready in our freezer. If nothing else, I can toss the meat on low on the stove, covered, and mix with taco seasoning for a delicious, healthy dinner. We usually enjoy it with shredded cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce. Level it up with a bed of rice if you’re feeling loco.
  • Eggs. These are a no-brainer. Healthy and affordable. You can prepare them in dozens of ways, and fast. If you have some, but not quite enough, leftovers from the night before, eggs are perfect for stretching the meal out further. I’ll add eggs over leftover sausage and steak, stir fry, or even a frozen burrito.

Get Spicy

F**k all these sauces. No one likes a saucy person, and no one likes saucy food. Yes, there are many exceptions, but I’m talking about the sugar-laden BBQ sauces, and the like. I’m not referring to some nutritious and delicious homemade sauce your grandma makes with butter and herbs.

Want to move the needle? Stop coating all your food in these canola oil concoctions.

Salt reigns supreme in flavour city. Enjoy it. And try playing around with spices and fresh herbs. Get creative and use a lot! Don’t be afraid to experiment.

And then there’s the lemon. Your favourite chef’s favourite chef’s secret weapon. Your chicken probably sucks, but lemon will make it about 43% better.

Lemon, salt, and pepper, chicken wings tick all the right boxes.

Set the Foundation

I aim to keep my carbs somewhat low. At least lower than the typical standard American diet. On days where I want to aggressively reduce my carb intake, the most effective strategy is to ensure my first meal is the strictest.

Why?

It builds momentum for the remainder of the day. Maybe it’s like making your bed, it starts the day with a win.

More importantly, though, it fills you up!

If you start the day with a high carb meal, you’ll be hungry again in no time. It’s that simple.

Your body wants carbohydrates. Carbs are an efficient source of quick energy. As a caveman with food insecurity, carbs were great. As a modern-day desk jockey, not so great.

Moreover, cavemen didn’t have cupcakes. You don’t find fat and carbs together in nature the way they exist in our food today.

Prehistoric man ate carbs, but likely earned them. They probably engaged in considerably more daily movement than we enjoy in 2020. Moreover, when carbs were found, it may have been in the form of a dozen raspberries, not a movie theatre sized serving of Sour Patch Kids.

Also, I like Sour Patch Kids.

Learn to Love Water

Forget trying to always optimize for taste. There is always a better-tasting option available, but if you fixate on only having your ideal meal or drink, you’re doomed. If you constantly drink Coke, everything else will pale in comparison (note, I like Coke even more than I like Sour Patch Kids).

If helpful, try to make your water more appealing. Drop some lemon slices or cucumber in a jug and keep the water ice cold in the fridge.

On the flip side, keep Coke in the basement, warm. If you want one, you have a hurdle to cross. Better yet, leave the Coke at the store if you have trouble resisting that devil-red can.

Don’t Fixate on ‘Deals’ on Junk Food

If you’re like me, sometimes you have difficulty passing up a “deal” on some junk food. The conversation usually goes something like this:

  • Junk Food Jesse: Oh snap, Tim Tams are on sale. That’s like 150 Tim Tams for only $20.
  • Jacked Jesse: Dumba**, remember what happened last time you bought all those Tim Tams? Are you sure this is a good idea?
  • Junk Food Jesse: Listen, bro, it’s not ideal, but wouldn’t it be irresponsible to pass up the savings? I’ll keep the cookies tucked away in the cupboard. I probably won’t even remember they’re there.
  • Jacked Jesse: You drive a hard bargain. Make it 300 Tim Tams, just in case this deal doesn’t roll around again soon.

More often than I’d like, I end up with the junk and proceed to deplete a bunker-size serving of cookies in short order.

Junk food in bulk is never a ‘good deal.’ If you have tendencies like mine, you end up eating more junk. Junk that will likely lead to additional costs down the road in terms of health expenses. It doesn’t make sense to grab four 2L of pop when they’re on sale. Eventually, you’ll pay full price, and then some.

Whenever I can, I obtain my protein through real, unprocessed food sources (usually beef or chicken). Occasionally, however, I’ll supplement with a protein shake. And nine times out ten (probably more), I’ll choose to make this delicious milkshake-like impostor.

This isn’t a light shake. It’s not a great option if calories are a concern. But if you’re looking for a satiating, protein-packed shake, you’ve found it.

“It’s just so damn good” – I was quoted as saying this afternoon after taking a sip.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 Servings of Chocolate Protein Powder: I personally use 2 scoops (70 grams of protein total) of Kaizen Whey Isolate Chocolate Protein from Costco. It contains artificial sweeteners, whose taste I’m generally not a huge fan of, but in this shake it works out well. Plus, some random dudes on the internet said this is preemo protein powder.
  • 2 Tablespoons of Natural Peanut Butter: I recently discovered Kraft makes a natural peanut butter with added sea salt. Tastes great in this shake, plus gives you a little extra sodium.
  • Half a Frozen Banana: The secret ingredient to help mirror the consistency of a milkshake.
  • 2 Cups of 2% Milk: I have used almond milk in the past, but like… Why?
  • 3-4 Ice Cubes (optional).

Directions

Ummm…. Blend?

For as long as I can recall, my dad has been grilling up spicy, mouth watering hamburgers during the summer months. Just one of his many food specialties, perfected over the years. These burgers are now a staple in our household, with my wife and I regularly grilling them up.

Since I’ve been asked about the recipe a few times, I thought I’d share it here. Note, however, this recipe has been tweaked slightly from my dad’s original version, so any issues can be blamed on me.

Usually I’ll prepare roughly 1.3 kg (2.8 lbs) of ground beef into an infantry of small patties. This amount represents the average size of the large mince packages found at our local grocery store. This produces around 30 patties, give or take, but don’t you dare hold me to that amount.

A colourful bowl of spices at the ready.

Burger Patties

  • 1.3 kg (2.8 lbs) medium ground beef (full disclosure: more often than not I have to settle for the lean mince at our grocery store, but I prefer medium for the additional fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 3 tablespoons of paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (add more after cooked, if required)
  • 1 large onion (chopped finely)
  • 2-3 crushed, fresh garlic cloves (optional – my dad hates garlic and would never use this in his burgers)
  • 1-3 jalapenos (chopped finely)
  • 1 bunch of parsley or coriander (optional)
Prepping the ingredients.

I like to mix all the spices together in a separate bowl before forming the burgers. Similarly with the garlic and onion. This allows me to add spice, onion, and garlic gradually as I break up and mix the mince in a large mixing bowl, helping ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed.

I’m not concerned with producing perfectly round patties, but I do want them thin.

I also prepare a whole wack of parchment paper ahead of time. I make squares big enough to fit the flattened patties on. Let’s call them five inches squared.

Once I have the ingredients prepared and set aside, and the parchment cut, I mix everything together (mince, spices, eggs) and begin forming the burgers.

I grab a small chunk of mince, roll the meat into a round ball the size of a meatball – maybe a bit larger – and flatten the patty out between two pieces of parchment. I don’t use any special ‘as seen on tv’ tools, but feel free to get creative.

I like my burgers thin. Like, super thin. I’m going for that 1950’s roller skating drive-in vibe. You know, the one I never experienced? I just figure these were the types of burgers they made.

Thin also means these bad boys are difficult to handle. You have to carefully remove the parchment when grilling them or they’ll just fall apart. There are other ways to do this (i.e. form the meatball and mash the patty on a pan on the stove top, but I’m grilling these, so that’s not an option).

I repeat this process until I have a few towers of super thin burgers. Usually we’ll end up cooking up a third of the batch, and freezing the rest. If freezing, avoid squishing the burgers together, or they’ll be difficult to separate once frozen.

Bonus! Toasted Buns

Toasting your buns on the grill is great, but for truly exceptional, drive-in style hamburgers, butter your buns and toast them on a piping hot pan over the stove. Ensure the butter is evenly spread out on each half of the bun. Aim to have a consistent golden bun when complete. Voila!

Enjoy

These burgers are meant to be thin. You can easily double, triple, or yes, even quadruple up the patties. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to keep the carb consumption low. Just go heavy on the patties.

Also, I didn’t mention the obvious, but you might want to throw a little cheddar on these hamburgers near the end. Your call. Lately I’ve been enjoying mine with a little ketchup, mayo, and hot peppers. Highly recommended.

Time to fire up the grill.