2017/02/23 13:08:06
James Leave a comment

Baked Bean Casserole

This recipe was created by Big Les and was originally published in The MuscleTalker November 2009 edition
** Ingredients
  • One 420g can baked beans
  • One onion finely sliced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced into very small pieces
  • Garlic to taste and you can even mix in a little quark with the tomato if you like a creamy taste
** Directions
  • Pre-heat oven to 190°C /Gas 5
  • Put alternate layers of beans, onion, tomato, and chicken in a greased baking dish, then repeat with another layer and you can sprinkle with grated cheese if you are so inclined (and bulking)
  • Bake in the oven for 45 minutes
More great recipes available in our Muscle Menus ebook available for Kindle at Amazon.

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2017/02/23 13:07:29
James Leave a comment

Baked Beans

This article was written by Big Les & was originally published in The MuscleTalker November 2009 edition
Baked beans are a British institution; originally a premium product, they now symbolise cheap and cheerful; arguably without beans on toast the nations' students may well have starved! What surprises many is that baked beans did not originate in the UK, and that a can of baked beans is actually rather nutritious, and beans on toast is a very good meal indeed.

So let's look a little more closely at what us Brits call the baked bean: Baked bean dishes originated in America; arguably based on a Native American dish, changed by settlers and exported. Heinz launched the product that defined the baked bean in 1895 in the US and then the UK nine years later. Originally it contained pork, but in the UK, Second World War rationing put paid to that. Indeed there are significant transatlantic differences in what a baked bean is. In the UK it is beans in a tomato sauce; however the US version is more faithful to its origins retaining pork and often molasses in its recipe, believed to be an adaptation of the Native American bear fat and maple syrup dish that was baked in an earthenware pot. What commercial products do have in common is that they use the haricot bean, often referred to as a navy bean. Heinz uses the larger Canadian navy bean. There are, of course, many different varieties for example Great Northern beans, Rainy River, robust, michelite, sanilac; although I won't list all 57.

One other notable non nutritional fact about baked beans is they are actually stewed, not baked. However, enough about the bean; why does a body builder want to eat it? Approximately half a can's worth of baked beans has only 1g of fat, 12g or protein and 17g of carbohydrate, as well as being excellent sources of iron, calcium and fibre.

If you are looking for a quick snack then look not further than the baked bean and if you are feeling more adventurous you can do more than put it on toast!

Baked Bean Casserole Recipe

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2017/02/16 13:24:58
James Leave a comment

Beta-Glucan and FOS Prebiotics and their roles in Optimum Health

This article was originally published in The MuscleTalker November 2009 edition
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fibre found in foods. Not only does it help gut health, but it can also help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. It is found in a range of fruits and pulses but is available in particularly high amounts from oats. FOS, or fructo-oligosaccharides, are types of prebiotic fibre which our gut flora can feed on, thus improving digestion and helping to strengthen the immune system.

Note, prebiotics are different to probiotics: Probiotics are live strains of 'friendly' bacteria which help our digestive system work efficiently, and we can obtain them from certain live yoghurts or supplements and examples include bifidus and acidophilus. Prebiotics are certain nutrients and constituents of food which our gut flora feed on, thus increasing their numbers. Click here for more about probiotics and prebiotics.

The benefits of beta-glucan and FOS on gut health, the immune system and in reducing severity of food allergies and the effects from food poisoning have been reported for a number of years. However, more recently, it has been suggested that their intake may also have a role in promoting satiety and reducing food intake, in turn possibly helping weight loss (Peters et al 2009).

Prebiotics, along with probiotics, are proving very popular. This is because, unlike many nutrition trends, the evidence that they promote good health is strong (Gibson 2003). Not only do they help us digest our food, but users report that formulas also help improve general well-being and they may help improve performance in sport due to improved digestion of food and therefore increased availability of nutrients. Also improved immunity to disease and reduction in illness means fewer interruptions to our training.

Gibson (2003). Functional Nutr. 2 (2): 11-13
Peters, et al (2009). Am J Clin Nutr. 89: 58-63
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2017/02/15 18:47:36
James Leave a comment

Whole baked Tilapia with Parsley and Garlic

This recipe was originally published in The MuscleTalker October 2009 edition
** Ingredients
2 whole tilapia, cleaned
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
30g butter, softened
large handful of fresh parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper

** Directions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  • Mix together the softened butter, garlic and lemon juice.
  • Rinse and pat the fish dry, including inside the body cavity. Lay each fish in the centre of a piece of aluminium foil, put small amount of olive oil onto the foil.
  • Season with salt and pepper inside the body cavity, then spread half the butter inside each fish. Lay the onions on top of the butter inside each fish's body cavity and top the onions with a flat-leaf parsley. Make 2 slashes in the skin on the top surface of each fish.
  • Sprinkle the skin of the fish with salt and wrap each fish in its foil parcel. Place on a baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Carefully open each parcel and place under the grill for a further 5 minutes to brown a little before serving.
More great recipes available in our Muscle Menus ebook available for Kindle at Amazon.

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2017/02/15 18:47:01
James Leave a comment


This article was originally published in The MuscleTalker October 2009 edition
Tilapia is also known as 'St Peter's Fish' from the Bible story of Peter catching a fish that carried a coin in its mouth. The type of fish was not named but one tilapia species is found in the Sea of Galilee where Peter was said to have caught the fish.

Tilapia, native to tropical climates is farmed largely in China. It is increasing in popularity due to the ease at which it can be farmed. Tilapia are omnivores, they survive on vegetables, seaweed and cereal grains. Combined with a rapid growth rate and short lifespan, they contain very low levels of mercury unlike some other large, oily fish. It has a mild flavour, light texture and is white in colour and is said to be the 'fish of the future', overtaking salmon as the number one farmed fish in the world.

This high protein fish is also low in carbohydrates and fat (2g of fat per 3.5 ounces as per the US Department of Agriculture). It is low in sodium and is rich in selenium and vitamin B12, essential for healthy cell function. The mild flavour of tilapia makes it versatile for cooking. Season or marinade the white fish then grill or bake and you have another healthy, high protein, low carb option to add to your meal plan!
Try our Whole baked Tilapia with Parsley and Garlic recipe!
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2017/02/04 07:15:21
James Leave a comment


This article was written by Big Les & was originally published in The MuscleTalker September 2009 edition
The hazelnut, also known as the cobnut, is produced by the hazel or cob tree. Hazelnuts are best known for their use in syrups to flavour coffee and in praline chocolate. Hazelnuts also find themselves made into a butter which is promoted as a healthier alternative to the perennial favourite peanut butter.

For the health conscious, the question is, what is a hazelnut good for, are hazelnuts the healthy nutritious snack they are made out to be and why should I choose them?

Luckily, so far, hazelnuts have not been given the honour of the ability to cure cancer or reverse the credit crunch, which means they can be forgotten. However, nutritionally the hazelnut is one of the heavy nutritional hitters, rich in: calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, vitamin E, thiamine and vitamin B6. Not only this, hazelnuts are rich in the antioxidant proanthocyanidin; antioxidants have been linked to reduced risk of a number of diseases and for the athlete help reduce the cell damage caused by intense exercise.

Like all nuts, the hazelnut is a good source of fats, with over 90% being monounsaturated. It also manages 15g of protein per 100g and even a little fibre. If you want to give hazelnuts a try then you are probably wondering what to do with them apart from eating them raw. You could make home-made 'Nutella', or you could try out my hazelnut coleslaw.
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2017/02/04 07:14:03
James Leave a comment

Hazelnut Coleslaw

This recipe was written by Big Les and was originally published in The MuscleTalker September 2009 edition
4 tbsp extra light mayonnaise
Juice of ½ lemon
1 white cabbage, halved, cored and finely shredded
1 small red cabbage, halved cored and finely shredded
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 carrot peeled and shredded
1-2 or more garlic cloves crushed (to taste)
20g chopped fresh parsley - flatleaf works best
100g chopped roasted hazelnuts
2 x 200g cans tuna steak in spring water

Roast your hazelnuts:
  • Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C)
  • Remove the shells of the nuts, if this has not already been done
  • Arrange the shelled nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet
  • Roast until the nuts begin to turn a golden brown; about 5 to 10 minutes
  • Let the nuts cool completely

Tuna and hazelnut coleslaw:
  • In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and lemon juice
  • Add the cabbage (both) to the bowl, along with the garlic, onion carrots, parsley and hazelnuts. Toss everything together to lightly coat in the mayonnaise
  • Drain the tuna steak in spring water well, add to the coleslaw and gently mix through
  • I sometimes add a pinch of ground or grated fresh nutmeg and a handful of raisins

More great recipes available in our Muscle Menus ebook available for Kindle at Amazon.

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2017/01/28 18:08:36
James 2 comments

Volume Training the Chest

This article was originally published in The MuscleTalker Novermber 2009 edition
The chest is one body part which, when you've got some mass on it through compound movements, will benefit from some volume training to stimulate all the types of muscle fibres, working the whole chest. This means lots of sets and lots of reps with a range of different exercises. Some modern gyms are fortunate enough to be equipped with loads of great machines, each designed to hit the chest at different angles, and this means knocking out 20-odd sets is easy. However, most gyms we use aren't huge and don't have loads of apparatus; just free weights and a few of the more fundamental machines.

With this in mind, here is a good basic volume routine for chest made up of six exercises:
  • 5 mins low intensity cardio to warm up
  • Stretch the pecs, tris, lats and delts
  • Dumbbell press (flat) - 4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Seated machine press - 3 sets of 12 reps + 1 x 25 reps
  • Lying dumbbell flyes - 4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Seated machine flyes (or pec-dec) - 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Dumbbell pull-overs - 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Cable cross-overs - 7 sets of 15 reps with just 30 secs rest in between each set. Vary the sets with two movements: slightly bet over downward movement and upright outward in front movement
  • 10 mins low intensity cardio to warm down
  • Stretching

The whole workout of 27 sets should be done quickly with minimal rest, and, can be performed within one hour including the cardio and stretching. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest between workouts and, of course, a suitable diet, as this workout is very intense and tiring. However, as it's done quickly, there is a cardiovascular element to it, so it will help fitness. Why not try it for 6 weeks?

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