Sunday, April 15, 2007

Food Is Fuel. Continue The March

Food is fuel. Continue the march. -- Captain Dale Dye, USMC

I love food!

There are very few things in life that bring me as much simple joy as good food. I love to eat it. I love to cook it. I really love to cook it for other people (I like the attention...).

Of course, I also realize that I love food a little too much. Hence, the fat Roland of five years back. But, it's been a long journey since I was fat. I've changed a lot of bad habits. I eat less food -- I eat better food -- and I exercise more. I'm no longer fat.

Because of my job, I keep a cooler full of food in my car. For two years now, that cooler has called my name. Reminding me that it was filled with tasty food. Just sitting there, behind the passenger seat. Taunting me. I'd often have to force myself to wait until my next meal. Watching the clock, counting down the minutes until 3 hours was up.

One day, at the gym, I was listening to a podcast of Captain Dale Dye. He doesn't talk about food, health, or fitness. He talks about our troops. I don't know how it came up, but the subject of feeding the troops in the field came up. His brief statement, "Food is fuel. Continue the march," struck a cord with me. I actually stopped lifting to write it down.

Over the next day or two, I thought a lot about that simple statement. I'm sure the guys in Iraq enjoy good food when they get it. But, they have to make do with whatever rations they can get when they are on the march, patrol, or whatever. Likely, they know they have the food handy, but just eat when they need it. It's just their fuel.

At that point, I decided to make a few adjustments to my daily food plan. I'd stick with the good foods when I had the time to cook, sit, and eat. But, when I was on the run, I decided that simple fuel was in order.

Enter the SuperShake, a concoction concocted by John Berardi. A homemade meal replacement shake. Unfortunately, the only good ones are the ones hefty enough to eat when bulking or maintaining your weight. When you're trying to lose weight, they are either tiny and unsatisfying or gross.

Re-enter the Velocity Diet shakes. I did The Velocity Diet about a year and a half ago. The shakes aren't all that great. But, they aren't bad. They just are. I remembered my V-Diet experience and what it taught me. I can survive for 28 days with nothing tasty passing my lips.

For about a month, I'd eat breakfast and dinner, but load up the cooler with three V-Diet shakes for my day. It was nice and stress free, having nothing in the cooler to look forward to.

After a while, I decided to try to add some veggies into the shakes. Gross. Back to a quasi-SuperShake. When that didn't pan out, I started eating cut up veggies with my shake. But, what I really wanted was some sort of homemade bar of protein, nuts or seeds, and veggies. It couldn't taste too good, either.

"Soylent Green is people!" I heard the familiar movie line repeated on some late night comedy show one night. That was what I needed. Soylent Green, sans the unusual protein source. I'd made some zucchini bread and zucchini bars before. It wasn't much of a stretch to make some that weren't as tasty.

I started cooking and ended up with this:

Soylent Green Bars

8 scoops Cyto-Sport Pure Whey (Vanilla Bean)
6 large omega-3 eggs
3 packs Splenda (optional)
6 tbsp flax seed, ground
15oz zucchini, cut up (about three medium squash)
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed (use frozen, not fresh. trust me.)

6 servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend eggs, squash, and spinach until very well pureed. Stir in protein powder, Splenda and flaxseed meal. Mix well.

Spray a flat baking dish (I used a 10x7 inch pan) with cooking spray and pour it in.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until a knife blade comes out pretty clean. The very center may still be a little soft when a knife blade is inserted.

Cut into 12 bars.

2 Soylent Green Bars per serving.

Nutrition (per 2 bar serving): Calories 263, Fat 11g, Carb 7g, Fiber 3.5g, Protein 33g

That's the basic version. I've got some variations (a tasty Yellow and less than tasty Red), too.

A few batches of these gets me through my week with a lot less hassle than three shakes a day. The perfect fuel.

I feel a little funny eating these things. They look weird. I explained this all to a friend at work. He saw me eating one and asked "How's the Soylent Green?" I laughed and told him that that was what I called them. He asked why I didn't just buy protein bars. Three reasons. Most are crappy for you. They are expensive. They taste too good. If they taste good, I'll just want to eat more and more of them.

For the last month, these have been my daily staple. And, you know how we start to appreciate the simple tastes of healthier food, over time? I'm afraid I'm really starting to like these bars. I've already dropped the Splenda from the recipe. The spinach is a recent add. Neither change altered the taste much. These bars are starting to be too good. How will I make them worse than they already should be? If these bars start calling to me, I'm in trouble.

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