Cooked by TFW: Sheet Pan Dinners
Hi y'all, Coach L.A. here, filling in for Tym while he prepares for his fight this weekend (did you know he is in Fight Camp?).
Today I am not sharing a specific recipe, but rather a formula. When one works all day, then puts in three to four hours at the gym each evening, it can be trying to cook quick, healthy meals and still get in bed by 10:00pm. So Coach Mike and I have a basic formula that helps us eat well every evening. I call them Sheet Pan Dinners.
Sheet pan dinners are meals where everything is cooked on one single sheet pan. The protein, vegetables, and seasonings configuration may change, but the essential formula stays the same.
400 Degree Oven + Oiled Sheet Pan + Protein + Veggies
Dinner in 25 minutes
There are a multitude of benefits in cooking these sheet pan meals, including the relatively easy clean up of taking care of only one pan after dinner. But the best reason to roast veggies with protein is because they become infused with the delicious juices generated by roasting meat.
Last evening, I made roasted chicken thighs and zucchini, then tossed them in a bowl with chopped lettuce and homemade honey mustard sauce (Stevia + mustard = low-carb honey mustard). The juice from the boneless, skinless chicken thighs flavored the zucchini and both protein and veggie became satisfyingly crispy from the high-temp roasting.
I make this formula with a variety of protein sources, from chicken thighs (usually boneless, skinless to keep the fat count low), salmon fillets, and even miniature meatloaves. The key is to chose cuts of meat and seafood that do well with short-term roasting. Meats that require long roasting times, such as pot roasts or briskets, should not be cooked in this method. Also, some seafood and shellfish should only go on the pan for the last 5-10 minutes of the roasting period.
So let's look at options:
Protein Sources for Roasting:
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Bone-on, Skin-On Chicken or Turkey parts (for those of you who like eating higher fat)
- Pork Loins
- Salmon and tuna fillets
- Meatloaf (I usually break these into multiple mini-meatloaves to ensure that they are cooked all the way through - and to make them cook faster)
Vegetable Sources for Roasting
- Zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant
- Cauliflower and broccoli
- All cabbages
- Mushrooms, onions, peppers
- Kale and other greens
- White and sweet potatoes (for higher carb days)
- Soy sauce + Stevia + rice wine vinegar
- Tumeric + Nutritional Yeast + salt
- Lime Juice + Cumin + Salt + Cayenne Pepper
- Salt + Pepper + Vinegar
- Mustard + Stevia + Salt
*these are just a few of the seasoning/sauces that we employ at our home
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. If you are in a hurry, don't be scared of higher temperatures.
2. Lightly coat a large sheet pan with spray oil. You can purchase spray oils or make your own with a mister or spray bottle.
3. Add protein and veggies to the sheet pan. If you are cooking a protein source such as seafood, cook the veggies for about 10 minutes and then add the fish.
4. Cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on the level of 'doneness' that you prefer. Stir veggies every ten minutes or so.
5. Throw in a bowl and eat. Also, add to lettuce for a salad.
That's it! Cook everything in one pan and then eat that shit.
Fight camps are very difficult, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Most people...shall we say... fall off the dietary wagon after their fights, which makes complete sense as they have essentially deprived their bodies of calories for nearly two months. These men and women endure grueling workouts, abstain from all alcohol and other 'fun' foods, and then are ready to celebrate post fight. The problem is that a calorie-deprived body is primed for all those excess calories, and thus it is incredibly easy to gain weight after fight camp. And not just a little weight, but often far more weight than seems possible in a week span. I've seen folks bump up 30 to 40 pounds in a single week post-fight. It is the very sad reality of how our bodies operate. We punished ourselves for that two months, and now our body is getting its revenge.
My coach always told me that I had 24 hours to goof off, and then it was back to the gym and back on the diet (or, at least, an 80% version of the diet). Not everyone is able to do that post-fight, and it is, again, completely understandable - our brains and bodies NEED a break.
This is where Tym has been more successful than nearly any other fighter we have ever had. Tym will definitely indulge post-fight, but he always gets right back to training and to eating a healthy diet with a moderate level of non-fight camp food consumption. He is a dedicated fighter and even more important to Coach Mike and me, he is a leader at our gym, always supporting everyone, whether they are part of our fight team or one of the many people who like to get a good workout and train with cool people. Next week, Tym will be back to share another creative and delicious recipe on this blog, but in the meantime, I, as gym mom and the HBIC, just have to brag. So thank you to Tym, for feeding our bodies and our hearts each week. We look forward to watching you EAT SOULS this weekend.