Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

With all the cakes and desserts I’ve been posting lately, I figured I might as well level my blog out by posting another recipe for vegetables. This one is quite simple, similar to the popcorn broccoli that I’ve been making for a while now.

I find the easiest and best ways to have vegetables are not to fool with them too much. Of course, I do enjoy the odd way-too-time-consuming vegetable dish such as maple-butter carrots, or scalloped potatoes, but I honestly can’t think of more than a handful of times I’ve bothered cooking that way. Mr. Cake’s family steams their vegetables, usually with no salt at all, and I tend to prefer that.

However, when I want a bit of a treat, I tend to lean towards adding just a smattering of bacon or cheese to my vegetables (rather than boiling them in broth or roasting them with just a drizzle of oil, which is what I usually do). Or butter, like I do with broccoli.

This recipe was inspired by the time we decided to order groceries online from a local organization in Edmonton that sold things like local bacon. We kept ordering local bacon and I had to find things to do with it. We have since stopped ordering after a little fiasco with a whole bunch of bug eggs being sent in our organic brussels sprouts (yes, there are times I am willing to try organic — unfortunately, sometimes it ends that way, and I feel that is my punishment), but we still do, of course, buy bacon.

And as long as we have bacon, we will hopefully have..

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus:

  • A 1.5″ bundle of asparagus (4-8 spears, depending on size) per person
  • 1 slice of bacon per person
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • toothpicks
  1. Preheat oven to 400*C.
  2. Trim about 1-2″ off the end of the asparagus. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, some salt, pepper, and separate into individual bundles.
  3. Wrap with bacon, securing each end with a toothpick.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes.

Nutritional info per bundle: 76 calories, 5g fat (1.5g saturated), 8mg cholesterol, 4g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 1g sugar, and 5g protein

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.

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Shake

chocolateshake

Here’s yet another concoction I’ve come up with in the past few days having to do with protein. I know what you guys are thinking, “What’s with all the protein, man?!”

Well, to be honest, I was diagnosed with a heart infection right before I started this blog. The pinnacle of health, right? Why should you be following someone’s health blog when they have/had a heart infection?

It wasn’t my fault, I swear. I just happened to get a fever when I was camping last August and it went a little too deep for comfort. Probably started with strep bacteria because my throat was mighty sore at the time. Believe it or not, heart infections are actually somewhat common in people my age (I am 23). I felt a little bit of chest pain starting in October … nothing major, just a bit of burning. Kind of like acid reflux but a bit to the left. Went to the doctor in January when it wouldn’t go away, and BOOM, pericarditis.

Did you know that your body usually goes for muscle first if you’re an active or dieting individual? I mean, active enough that carbs don’t even have a chance. What muscle does the body like to choose, of all things? The heart muscle. And because my habit of staying healthy includes running 3 miles a day and eating in moderation, I figured it would be best to up the protein just in case my body decides to have a little snack on my ticker.

I’ve also been taking 600mg of advil a day, a bit of potassium citrate every other day (about 1/4 tsp pharmaceutical grade powder, roughly 600mg), and 200mg magnesium citrate every other night. Electrolytes are important when the heart is involved. I can also afford to eat a bit of salt because I have a low resting blood pressure.

However, if you ever get something wrong with your heart, I highly, highly suggest you go see a doctor. That’s not something to be screwing around with. The only reason I am is because I was directed to take that much advil a day, and my test results came back completely normal, so it’s likely just a very mild infection. Even my thyroid was normal, which is unusual, because it’s autoimmune (I know, I’m sooo healthy, right? That one is hereditary, though!). Only 1 in 3 people experience spontaneous thyroid remission. I guess I have good gambling odds.

Anyhoo, in order to force more protein into myself (my macros are about 35% fat/ 35% carbs/ 30% protein right now, it is recommended that active individuals looking to burn fat/maintain muscle eat between 20 – 40% fat, 20 – 40% carbs, and 30 – 50% protein), I’ve been tinkering around with a bunch of recipes involving protein powder. I even just had a whole stash mailed to me from bodybuilding.ca so I can find the best vanilla flavour ever (even though I did find a pretty good one from Superstore in the meantime, the Vanilla Whey Isolate – PC brand). But I’m not sure what to do with vanilla (yet!), so on with the chocolate!
chocolateshake2(Look, it’s my blue sippy-cup again! Boy do I love that thing. You can get a whole set — orange, purple, and blue — from Costco, for about $20.)

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Shake

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • sugar or sweetener to taste (I used just a few drops of stevia)
  1. Place everything in the blender; almond milk first, followed by sweetener, protein and cocoa powder, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ice on the top.
  2. Blend for a minute or two.
  3. Pour and serve.
  4. Mmmm.

Nutritional Info using unsweetened almond milk, 2% cottage cheese, regular cream cheese, and Isoflex: 267 calories, 9.5g fat (4g saturated), 450mg sodium, 9.5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, and 38g protein