Popcorn Broccoli

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A little while ago, whilst surfing the bodybuilding.com forum (I love that website way too much), I saw someone raving about how they slathered their broccoli in butter, baked it, and that it ended up tasting like popcorn.

“Pffffft.. hah!” I told myself, “That’s impossible!” These starving fitness fanatics are probably just confusing one food for another in a haze of post-workout hunger.

Broccoli tasting like popcorn? Yeah right.

But then I got thinking. Well .. I need better ways to make vegetables. Ways that will make me actually eat them. So I tried to recreate the mythical popcorn broccoli. And boy did it work.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this broccoli is not popcorn. What it is though, is quite mythical in itself. The broccoli wilts slightly and caramelizes. It gets ever-so-slightly crispy on the edges of the crown. It has kind of a sweet, savoury, and buttery thing going on, all while retaining the natural ‘bite’ the broccoli has if you leave a bit of stalk on. If that’s not your thing, you can totally popcorn-ify just the crown if you’d like something that melts in your mouth. Because sometimes, chewing is for chumps (probably why I drink at least one smoothie a day, actually).

Broccoli used to be my second or third favourite vegetable (with salad and brussels sprouts being the winners). Now it is my favourite. And I hope this recipe can do the same for you!

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Popcorn Broccoli

  • 2 broccoli crowns, chopped into large, bite-size pieces (broccoli will shrink to about half its size after baking)
  • 2 tbsp butter or oil (I use 1 tbsp of each)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • dash of onion and garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
  2. Mix oil and/or melted butter and spices in a bowl, and stir to combine. Add broccoli and toss until evenly coated.
  3. Place broccoli on non-stick pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Flip broccoli, reduce heat to 375*, and bake for another 10 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Nutritional info per 1/2 recipe using salted butter: 147 calories, 12g fat (7g saturated), 30mg cholesterol, 319mg sodium, 9g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 2g sugar, and 4g protein

Nutritional info per 1/2 recipe using oil: 167 calories, 14.5g fat (2g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 238mg sodium, 9g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 2g sugar, 4g protein

Nutritional info per 1/2 recipe using 1 tbsp of each: 157 calories, 13g fat (4.5g saturated), 15mg cholesterol, 280mg sodium, 9g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 2g sugar, 4g protein

— By the way .. in the back of the photo is pork tenderloin dusted with cinnamon, nutmeg, and white pepper. If you’d like some of that, just cut a tenderloin into 3 pieces, moisten the meat with olive oil (I do this using my hands — just pouring oil on my hands and rubbing the meat, then I wash my hands later), and dust with cinnamon, nutmeg, and white pepper. Then you bake it uncovered at 400*F until it has an internal temperature of 145* (took mine about 20 mins). I like to cover this with a bit of mandarin orange salad dressing. The sweet spices go well with it. Consider this your reward for reading to the very end of my post 😉 you little trooper, you.

Protein Pudding

Protein pudding is a little concoction I have been living off of (well, not literally) when I can’t exactly decide what to snack on. It tastes strongly of protein powder but also kind of like pudding. Because of this, my suggestion is to find a protein powder you really like first before making protein pudding with it. My favourites lately have been Vanilla Caramel Whey HD by BPI Sports and Vanilla Cake by Muscletech Platinum.

Some people may look back on protein powder and shudder (I used to), but I promise you, in the last half-decade alone, protein powder has evolved drastically. It no longer tastes like chalk! In fact, the 2 I listed above taste pretty close to frosting to me. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been eating ‘clean’ long enough to appreciate less-desirable food (well, not less desirable .. but more healthy, really — and ymmv on what ‘healthy’ means), or perhaps it’s because I’ve been used to supplementing with tons of smoothies and powders during my 3 years without meat back in the day. However, those looking to jump on the fitness bandwagon have no fear — there are wonderful websites out there like bodybuilding.ca where you can order samples of protein powders for under $10. And these aren’t just little sample packets either. You can get a 5-7 serving tub for about $10, so you can really see if you like it before you buy a bigger size. They ship from Richmond, too, so it only took like 6 days (and $5 for shipping!) for my order to get to Northern Alberta (and I believe they have another warehouse in Ontario for those on the other side of Canada, but forgive me if I’m wrong). They also have a US website! (which I don’t get as excited about, because almost everything has a US website 😉 ).

No, I’m not affiliated with these guys in any way whatsoever. I just really, really love that website because I am indecisive. I’m so indecisive that I ordered 8 different samples of vanilla-based flavors alone. I wanted to make sure I could have a staple in my cupboard that I am absolutely sure I love. So if you’re tired of the sugar content of RTDs like Boost and Ensure; and you’re tired of the price of Vega ($70 a tub in some places! Ack!), it’s certainly an option!

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For this photo, I used my good ‘ol faithful, Isoflex Chocolate. It’s nice to find a product you can get locally, and you can find that particular brand in many grocery stores these days. Even Wal-Mart has it! I know a lot of people knock Wal-Mart for having poor quality supplements (and to me, their Pure Protein and IsoFemme powders taste like ass), but it can be handy when you need it. And heck, for those of you who are on a budget, or go there often enough anyway, I fail to see the difference between Wal-Mart and some of the generic GNC-brand stuff that’s 3x the price. Alas, I am getting off topic.

Protein pudding. It tastes kinda like pudding but it has protein.

Anyyyhoo. Here’s the recipe:

Protein Pudding:

  • 1 serving protein powder. Use any you like!
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup milk, depending on the thickness of your protein powder (if your shakes come out the consistency of pancake batter – use more milk, if they come out more like the consistency of milk – use less milk .. some brands are thicker, some thinner, so it’s best to experiment a bit)
  • 1 tsp – 1 tbsp coconut oil, depending on how creamy you like it
  1. Scoop or weigh protein powder in a bowl. Add coconut oil.
  2. IMPORTANT – heat your milk in the microwave for about 15 – 20 seconds. This makes it warm enough to melt the coconut oil, but not hot enough to ‘cook’ the protein powder. If you heat it too much your protein powder could clump as the protein denatures. That was the mistake I made the first time I tried protein pudding (then I tried it cold and the coconut oil stayed solid and became chunky). This is what makes the recipe.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk and stir, stir, stir!
  4. Enjoy!

Note: The nutritional information on this will vary wildly depending on the amount of oil, and types of milk and protein powder you use. Protein powder is generally 100-200 calories a scoop, and milk can range from 40 calories a cup for unsweetened almond, to 160 a cup for whole or goat’s milk. My suggestion is to use whatever fits your goals.