Recipe of The Week: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

5 06 2012

I’m a sucker for Mellow Mushroom, a pizza “chain” (only because they have a few locations in the south) with great beer selection AND great pizza.  I actually just took my brother and sister there when they were visiting Orlando.  Good times were had, since I hadn’t touched pizza in months (and hadn’t seen the siblings for just as long)!

One of my favorites is their Buffalo Chicken pizza.  The problem with that is, like most Buffalo Chicken pizzas, is the amounts of sodium-laden sauce and blue cheese dressing in the recipe.  Those two things are deathtraps in the war against obesity, for sure!

That’s why I’m glad Muscle & Fitness came up with this healthier version.  Basically, it replaces the usual suspects with their lower sodium/fat counterparts.  The only thing I’d change is maybe making the pizza a thing-crust and use a low-carb tortilla or naan bread to control portion size.

If you’re feeling SUPER creative,  here a link that teaches how to make a pizza crust out of quinoa, which will give a boost of protein.

Happy cooking!

The Dreaded “Guts” of a Man’s Life (And How To Prevent Them From Happening)

14 05 2012

This is actually the brainchild of my mother…

We were out on the beach celebrating Mother’s Day when she asked me what I was thinking about.  I told her that it was about the Huffington Post article saying over 40% of the U.S. population will be considered “overweight” by BMI standards.  This turned our lovely brunch into a roundtable discussion, which included my father.

Eventually, it came full circle and we started discussing how my dad put on weight over the years while my mom was pregnant with me, my brother and my sister.  This of course led to the suggestion, “Hey! You should write about that!”

So here we are:  a day after Mother’s Day and we’re talking about dads!  I can’t do that to all of you dads (since Father’s Day is only a month away), so I’ve modified the scope of who I’d talk to…ladies, you can go ahead and watch “The Bachelor” finale, if you’d like…

Ok, guys.  Let’s talk for a second.  There are different milestones we all go through.  With some of these come the pitfall of overeating, lack of exercise and just overall poor decision making.  Whether it be because of commitments, stress or a combination of both, we as a gender tend to gain weight during these times.  Today I want to talk about three different guts a guy develops.

College Gut

It was NOT over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!

By now, you’ve heard of the “Freshman Fifteen.”  This is the first time you’re free from your parents!  You can eat cookies for breakfast, drink beer by the pool at your new apartment (or dorm), AND there are countless places that serve burgers, fries and pizza…ALL DAY!

Between this new freedom and 12 credit hours of classes (that you may or may not be attending…no judgement here!),  you’re inevitably going to pack on the poundage, if you’re not careful.  Don’t worry, college boy (you’re not a man, yet).  Having been there, I can help you through your four-year plan:

  • The gym!  Such a simple concept.  The price of membership is built into your tuition, so it’s at no cost to you.  A lot of colleges also offer courses on nutrition and even free personal training sessions, at no cost to you!  The best part about the gym, though?  THE SORORITY GIRLS!  Let’s get real:  seeing those girls walking around in their perfectly matched Nike & Under Armor outfits should be enough reason to get your ass in that gym!
  • If you have a meal plan that your parents bought you (as many do), there are countless options better than the all-night pizza & burger spot in there.  When I was in school,  I would go in for breakfast and grab myself a piece of fruit and head to the omelette station and pack that bad boy (and by bad boy…I mean egg whites) full of veggies.  You’ll catch some crap from friends, but you’ll be getting the last laugh soon enough!
  • And of course there’s the drinking…this is an inevitable part of college life.  With drinking comes late-night runs to local pizza places and fast food joints.  All I can say is this:  if you want to drink & party every night, you’re going to be screwed.  In such events,  I’d just go with light beer (or if you’re more of a liquor guy, keep it straight or mix it with diet drinks & juices) and keep it moderate.  It’ll save your wallet on $9 beer night downtown and you’ll be less inclined to listen to those fake hunger pangs that your brain sends you signals for.

Relationship Gut

“I think Barney ATE the relationship chicken.” – Marshall Erickson

So you’re in a relationship.  That’s great!  You’ve found a great girl who can not only stand you for more than five minutes, but wants to go out and show you off on the town to her friends as the object of her affection.

This means a LOT of dates…which means a LOT of eating out…which means a LOT of together time, which means LESS time to hit the gym (and money in your wallet)!

Fear not, relationship guy!  There is hope!  Here are just a few suggestions I’d make that’ll help you out in the long run (and keep you looking good for your lady):

  • Suggest active dates:  A nice game of laser tag (yes, an homage to the above photo), a walk with your dog at the dog park or even a golf outting will be not only more fun that your basic dinner & movie date, but will also save you calories in the form of food, drinks and mindless snacking at the movie.
  • Since we’ve mentioned the dinner & movie date, why not do one in-house?  I’ve actually done this type of date and had a blast.  You pretty much control what it is you’re eating (and know EXACTLY what’s going into it) and you can control the popcorn consumption (or even switch over to something more nutritious, such as almonds or baked chips).  You’re still spending time together, but now you’re saving yourself from the gut AND you’re saving some money in the process!
  • Since we’ve covered the diet portion of survival, it’s time to figure out gym time.  Having been in a relationship where the gym time had to be modified so the (now ex) girlfriend won’t complain that you have “no time” for them, why not take aerobic classes with them?  Now, I don’t mean the lame-ass step classes or anything like that.  What I mean is if she wants to do a spinning class, tag along!  Inviting her to the gym and sharing an interest of yours will save you from the gut and let her into your world a little bit more, which apparently girls LOVE.

Pregnancy Gut

No, this is NOT a tumor!

Now you’re at a point in your life where you’re happily married to the right woman and now the two of you have decided it’s time to start having kids (or this decision has been made for you by your mother, via guilt trips of never being able to spoil grandchildren).

The dirty little secret no one tells you is that you’re about to go through nine months of hell yourself!  While she’s got cravings, cramps and mood swings, you’ll be having a lot of the same!  The only difference?  She’s got a miniature version of you growing in her uterus (translation: she wins, so don’t bother fighting this one).

My own dad told me stories of trips to the convenience store for my mom to go get Oreos and Hagen-Daas vanilla ice cream.  She’d have one cookie and maybe a few spoonfuls of the ice cream…and he’d wax off the rest!  The worst part?  He doesn’t even LIKE vanilla ice cream!  This was due to the stress of running around like a maniac for my mom and the normal feelings of “God, I hope I don’t mess this kid up” that comes with every pregnancy.

For this man, I do have some suggestions that just may help!

  • Take ANY opportunity to get some exercise.  Naturally, having to be at your wife’s beck & call may mean less time in the gym.  Go for a walk or a jog!  You’ll burn off some calories AND activate the endorphines to make you feel better about not screwing up your kid.
  • By the same token, get as much sleep as you can.  In order to even FUNCTION, you need at least six hours.  While this may be easier said than done,  get as many hours as possible and supplement with times where the wife is taking a nap.  It’ll help you stay sane and keep your brain from playing tricks on you about whether or not you’re hungry.
  • When the wife has a craving for something, you find the healthy alternative for yourself and eat THAT.  If she wants ice cream, opt for a sorbet.  If you eat together, you’ll be full enough that you’ll have met your satiety needs and will be less inclined to partake in whatever it is she wants.  You’ll feel a lot better about your choice, thus relieving you of a LITTLE bit of stress…until the next craving, that is.

While there are many other guts that come with being a man (feel free to share them, by the way),  this covers the three most common.  With a little self-control and some tricky maneuvering, you can get through all three scenarios with little to no damage.

…ok she can come back in the room now.  Word to the wise?  Ask her who won.

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