Boring Lunches No More!

Just think of the exhilarating jolt that rocks your world when bust out a new workout or the rush you get when you hike or bike unfamiliar trails and vistas. You already know that doing the same exercise routine stales your fitness enthusiasm, so why do you eat the same boring – although healthy – lunch foods day in and day out?

Get out of your uninspired, unfulfilling rut of brown bag boredom and heighten your lunchtime pleasure with the following nutrient-rich, palate-piquing recipes.

These recipes are geared for two servings but can easily be doubled or tripled if feeding a hungry crowd. So, lets get straight to it.


Saffron-Mustard Salmon Sauté
Makes 2 servings

The irreplaceable earthy flavor of saffron blended with piquant lemon, mustard and garlic infuse the nutrient-rich salmon fillets for a sumptuous lunch with deceivingly complex taste. The growing popularity of saffron has landed it on the shelves of most supermarkets and whole foods stores. Though pricey, its bold, unique flavor is well worth the cost – and a little pinch goes a long way.

In a small bowl, whisk together and set aside:

  • Juice of one lemon
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rub salmon fillets with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook salmon for 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Salmon is done when just cooked through and flakes when firmly pressed with the back of a fork – do not overcook, salmon is better slightly undercooked. Transfer to a plate of mixed greens and drizzle with saffron-mustard sauce.

Sauce can be made the day before and refrigerated. Ingredients may separate and will need to be rewhisked before drizzling on salmon. This dish can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Salmon may also be cooked on a grill or broiled, for a change.

Nutritional Analysis (per fillet):

Calories 468 (60% from fat); Protein 38 grams; Carbohydrates 2 grams; Fiber less than 1 gram; Total Fat 32 grams (Saturated Fat 5 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 20 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 6 grams); Cholesterol 124 milligrams; Sodium 645 milligrams.

Moroccan Chicken Salad
Makes about 4 cups

The infamous high-protein stand-by – rotisserie chicken – is great to gnaw on when you have that carnivoristic desire to break bones with your teeth and gnash cooked flesh. But the “tastes like chicken” flavor can get old, too. Good news is that leftover chicken gives you endless opportunities for exciting meals with stimulating new tastes. Mix a hearty shred of chicken with pungent spices, crunchy almonds, and sweet currants for a salad or salad-sandwich that will perk up your lulling senses.

Whisk the following in a large bowl:

  • ½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ an orange (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the following and mix well:

  • 3 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (preferably skinless breast)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 large green onion, finely chopped (white and green parts)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced almonds (toasted, if desired)
  • ¼ cup currants (or raisins)

Adjust spices and other ingredients to your liking. Chicken mixture can be artfully mounded on mixed greens, stuffed in a pita, wrapped in a tortilla, or sandwiched with whole-grain breads or simply eaten alone.

Nutritional Analysis (per 2 cups):

Calories 561 (33% from fat); Protein 57 grams; Carbohydrates 35 grams; Fiber 7 grams; Total Fat 21 grams (Saturated Fat 8 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 8 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 5 grams); Cholesterol 166 milligrams; Sodium 327 milligrams.

Tempeh Simmer
Makes 2 servings

Vegetarian cooking evokes creativity, by default, in that meals have to be carefully planned in order to supply the recommended daily intakes of nutrients. Tempeh is an excellent vegetarian choice. Its nutty flavor and meaty texture make it a hearty, satisfying midday meal. Whether you eat meat or not, this curry-inspired dish is a delicious change from the norm.

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 (8-ounce) package of tempeh, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed, patted dry
  • 1 can lite coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or more to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Wedges of lemon

Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer tempeh for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard bay leaves. Serve immediately and garnish with cilantro leaves and lemon wedges.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving):

Calories 367 (41% from fat); Protein 26 grams; Carbohydrates 32 grams; Fiber 14 grams; Total Fat 17 grams (Saturated Fat 7 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 4 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 6 grams); Cholesterol 0 milligrams; Sodium 353 milligrams.

Written by Shelly Sinton

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Boring Lunches No More discussion thread.

Gaining Muscle Mass the Easy Way

How many high school and college age guys would like to add 20-30 lbs of muscle? I cannot say for sure, but I would venture to say it is in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and millions if you go worldwide.

With the advent of the internet and the subsequent glut of information available how can it be that there are so many young men who want to gain weight but are forever frustrated with their results? The answer lies in the simplicity of what one must do to gain weight and the marketing ploys of some individuals. You see, the sad truth of our culture is that things have to be new and radical, or have catchy names in order for people to buy them.

We need look no further than the developers of HST and Max OT.

They needed to come up with something they can bill as their own, something which is differentiated from the rest in order to capture your dollars (make no mistake; those programs are vehicles to generate profit).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with someone making a living in this field and I think both HST and Max OT are solid programs. Unfortunately, they really don’t address the problem of the masses of young men who are looking to gain a large amount of muscle and having a hard time of it.

Let’s break this problem down to its core and work our way back from there. If anyone, regardless of how thin and how much of a “hard-gainer” they are, consume enough calories and trains properly they will put on weight. They can add as much bodyweight as they like. I know you are reading this and thinking, “This guy is full of it, I train like a banshee and eat anything that is not bolted to the ground and I can’t gain one stinking pound!” Bear with me; I shall set you free from the chains of skinnyitude!

Progressive resistance training stimulates the growth of muscles. If you are consuming sufficient calories you will add muscle if you train in a progressive fashion and allow the body to recover and supercompensate from your sessions in the gym. The two key phrases in that sentence (consume sufficient calories and allow the body enough time to recover) are what trip-up a lot of guys out there. They are the bane of the skinny man’s existence.

How many calories do you need to eat? You want a formula, right? No luck here, a formula is generic, you are unique. Here is the deal, if you are not gaining weight you need to eat more (I said this was simple). Thin young men have fast metabolisms. Eating “clean”, you know; chicken, rice, fish, oatmeal and so on, will not get you big! Sure, you can eat those foods, but you have to eat so much of them in order to meet your caloric needs that you literally have to become like a grazing cow and just be munching all day. Nobody will keep this up; they will just decide that being huge is not in the cards for them. You have to loosen up the reigns a bit and eat some fat. This doesn’t mean you have to live at McDonalds like that guy in the documentary, but it does mean that you need to consume calorie-dense foods. Here is a brief list:

  • peanut butter
  • beef
  • whole milk
  • cheese
  • whole eggs
  • ice cream

Are you starting to get the idea? You can even indulge in some fast food from time to time. Hamburgers are a great source of protein and very calorie dense. You don’t want to live on these foods, but they can certainly be a tasty supplement to your diet.

You DO NOT need to eat 6 times per day. You DO need to eat a lot of food. The number of meals is not as important as the total number of calories you consume.

As some of you may already know, it is a lot easier to drink calories than it is to eat them. You need to consume high-calorie shakes throughout the day. These shakes combined with the calorie-dense foods mentioned above will make it possible to consume enough calories to grow.

Protein intake is very important if you want maximum size. High level strength athletes have known for years that you need plenty of protein to allow for the muscle growth you desire. Chances are that if you consume enough calories to put on weight you will concurrently be consuming sufficient protein. Most of the calorie-dense foods mentioned above are both high in protein and fat. Of course, if you are on a quest for size you don’t want to take chances. This is where supplemental protein comes into the picture. If you mix a high quality protein supplement (Nitrean or Opticen from AtLarge Nutrition) into your daily shakes you will be virtually guaranteed of consuming sufficient protein to fuel rapid growth in size and strength.

Training is equally simple. You need to use the BIG BOY lifts, the compound movements. Here is a brief list of compound movements:

  • Bench press
  • Standing or seated shoulder press
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bent rows
  • Chins
  • Dips

The above movements performed properly will pack the mass on you (assuming you eat enough). Compound movements work so well because they are efficient and they allow the use of heavy loads. They are efficient because one movement hits a lot of muscle and the value of lifting big weights is self-evident.

There is a lot of talk out there about training to failure or not. Training to failure is a viable technique, but I don’t recommend it as the way to train on a consistent basis (this is a BIG change for me). The way for young men to train in order to pack on the mass is hit each body part 2 times per week using the big movements and stopping short of failure. For the purposes of packing on the mass a specific number of reps are secondary to how you train. In other words you can train with 3 reps per set or you can use 10 reps per set (not to contradict myself, but I recommend you do not exceed 10 reps). Training hard and eating right will add mass and strength within the 3-10 rep range parameter. I recommend you train with the rep scheme with which you are most comfortable.

I know people get freaky about this stuff, but you really don’t need to. The important part is that you finish each set with some gas left in the tank. For each unique exercise you perform in your workout I recommend 1-3 warmup sets followed by 3 working sets. The working sets should be challenging, but not so much that you cannot complete the desired number of reps for each of the 3 sets without changing the resistance. So, if you are using 5 reps in your routine, your 3 working sets should be performed for 5 reps each with the same weight.

The key to progression on this routine is that you bump the weight by 5-10 lbs (your call) when you feel that each of the 3 sets has become easy enough that you can graduate and get 3 sets of 5 with the higher weight next time without training to failure. Don’t get too greedy! Make sure to stay within the confines of the routine and you will be rewarded with greater size and strength very quickly. This is a progression by “feel”. It is the only way to progress with maximum efficiency. I, nor anyone else, can tell you when you will be able to progress. Only you can ascertain that by gauging how you feel from workout to workout.

The first time you use a particular resistance for 3 sets of X (5 in the previous example) the weight should feel heavy, quite challenging (but again, remember, you should STILL be able to make the 3 sets of X without hitting failure).

Subsequent sessions with the same weight should get easier and easier. After 2-3 sessions (in most cases) you should be ready to progress. You will get a feel for this once you have done the routine for a few sessions.

Continuing with the “feel” theme you will find that from time to time your body will need a rest. You might start to get aches in your joints. You might just feel excessively worn-out or tired when training. When this occurs you can just lighten your loads and “go through the motions” for a few sessions. These sessions should be very easy, just enough to get the blood flowing. Once you have done this for 2-4 sessions per bodypart you should once again be ready for heavy training.

I recommend a 2 day split performed twice per week. You can vary this if you like but remember your body needs rest from the gym! Here is a SAMPLE routine (in terms of exercises):

Monday and Wednesday:

  • Bench Press
  • Chins
  • Seated shoulder press

Tuesday and Friday (alternate squats and deadlifts every other week):

  • Squats
  • Calf Raises

Abbreviated, yes, but also highly effective if practiced as I have recommended.

If you really, truly want to gain weight all you need do is follow the guidelines above, and then get back to me when you have put on 20-30 lbs of solid mass.

Now, get to it!

Written by Chris Mason

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If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Gaining Muscle Mass the Easy Way discussion thread.

The Importance of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation

Modern society has been a boon to the human population, but it has a dark side as well. Today, western civilization enjoys some of the highest standards of living in the history of mankind.

There is an abundance of food that is unprecedented in human history. The poor of today don’t starve to death; it is much more common for them to be obese. The problem today is not a lack of food in sheer quantity; it is a lack of nutritious foods to fuel our bodies to optimal health and performance.

It isn’t only the poor that are suffering; in excess of 60% of our society is overweight. Diet related ailments such as cancer and diabetes are more prevalent today than at any other time in our history.

What is causing these problems? The same mass production technology which has given everyone enough to eat has robbed our foods of the health benefits that were once derived from our diet. Modern food preparation and processing techniques have stripped our foods of their natural vitamin and mineral content and it has been replaced by sodium, altered fats, and refined sugars. Of course, even in relatively unprocessed foods the levels of vitamins and minerals are dangerously low due to the fact our soil has been stripped by modern farming methods. It is a silent crisis of unparalleled proportions.

The healthiest people in the world are those who consume natural foods which are rich in vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, it is impractical in our fast moving society for most individuals to be able to consume the necessary quantities of health promoting, truly natural foods. This is where supplemental vitamins and minerals come into play. I will not claim that supplemental vitamins and minerals are as healthy or effective (on a dose for dose basis) as those naturally occurring in foods, but their inclusion in your diet is paramount to your ability to reclaim the vibrant health which is your right! We should not settle for ill health and shortened lives when we can do something which will greatly enhance our likelihood of obtaining optimal health.

In my opinion, there are certain vitamins and minerals which stand out as being essential for both good health and the best results possible from your training in the gym. They are as follows:

Vitamin A: is a fat soluble vitamin which helps to protect you against pollution and infection by maintaining the health and integrity of the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs; builds strong bones, teeth, and rich blood. (1)

Vitamin C: is a water soluble vitamin whose importance cannot be overstated; is a natural antihistamine; (1) aids in the formation of collagen which is integral to the connective tissues; is thought to help lessen the effects of the common cold. (2)

Vitamin D: is integrally tied to our absorption of calcium; can play a role in the reduction of risk for some common cancers.

Vitamin E: supplies oxygen to the muscles; can act as a natural anticoagulant; can act to prevent wasting and weakness of muscle tissue. (1)

The B-Complex of vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folic Acid, B12, Biotin, and Pantothenic Acid): are water soluble vitamins which are best consumed together; help to support the endocrine glands and ward off the exhaustive effects of stress; may help to reduce cholesterol; are required for the metabolism of the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. (1)

Magnesium: has been shown in studies to support strength training; can act as an antacid; (1) in a deficiency state has been implicated with adverse cardiac events; (3) is central to a variety of cellular mechanisms which control activity of muscle and nerve cells. (3)

Zinc: has been shown in studies to support increased strength when combined with resistance training; helps to heal wounds at an increased rate; (1)

The correct dose for each of the above vitamins and minerals can vary individually, but you should be fine with the following daily supplemental recommendations:

  • Vitamin A – 5000 IU
  • Vitamin C – 500 mg
  • Vitamin D – 400 IU
  • Vitamin E – 400 IU
  • Thiamin – 100 mg
  • Riboflavin – 100 mg
  • Niacin – 100 mg
  • B6 – 100 mg
  • Folic Acid – 400 mcg
  • B12 – 100 mcg
  • Biotin – 100 mcg
  • Pantothenic Acid – 100mg
  • Magnesium – 350 mg
  • Zinc – 30 mg

My recommendation for a good Multi-Vitamin supplement is Multi-Plus by AtLarge Nutrition.

So, get on the road to better health and vitality and start supplementing your diet with the right kinds of vitamins and minerals!

Written by Chris Mason

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – The Importance of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation discussion thread.


1. Linda Clark. Know Your Nutrition. Paperback Edition. Connecticut: Keats Publishing, 1973.

2. Dr. Franco Columbu. The Bodybuilder’s Nutrition Book. Contemporary Books, 1985.

3. Klevay L, Milne D. Low dietary magnesium increases supraventricular ectopy. Am J of Clin Nutr 2002; 75: 550-554.