Healthy Cook: Real men CAN eat quiche

Real men shouldn’t eat quiche! Quiche has eggs, bacon, and cheese in the filling and butter in the crust. That’s a lot of high-calorie foods in one dish.

Men need energy to keep them going without adding inches to their waistlines. “Energy density” is the key to feeling full and having plenty of get-up-and-go without having extra girth.

You can have heaps of food if they are not high “energy dense.” Fat is high energy. Water is low energy.

Compare a cup of grapes and a cup of raisins. Grapes are largely water and low-energy, about 104 calories. Raisins are low-water and high energy, 434 calories. That’s a big difference.

Three elements make food high or low “energy dense”—water, fiber and fat. Half a grapefruit has only 32 calories because it’s 90 percent water. Half a cup of raw carrots has 25 calories because it’s 88 percent water.

High-fiber foods make you feel full for a long time with fewer calories than the high energy foods. They provide volume, too. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are high-fiber.

Fat tastes good. It has 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram in carbohydrates and protein. One teaspoon of butter has about the same calories as 2 cups of fresh broccoli. Mayonnaise, salad dressing, bacon fat, cooking oil, olive oil for dipping are all “energy dense.”

Now, let’s look at how a guy can eat a bunch and be healthy and ready for anything. First: skimp on the “energy dense” fatty foods. That’s meat and dairy. Instead of having a 12-ounce steak bordered in succulent fat or a gigantic ground chuck burger dripping juices have a smaller piece of leaner meat. Round or sirloin steak braised to tenderness in onions and red wine tastes super. Ground round doesn’t taste as rich as ground chuck, but garlic and herbs boost the flavor while cutting calories you don’t need. With enough steak sauce, mustard, hot sauce, sweet onions, tomato, lettuce, avocado, and pickles you wouldn’t miss the meat in the bun if it wasn’t there.

Full fat milk tastes rich; so does full fat cheese. Wean your way down to skim milk and low fat cheese. We switched to organic milk two years ago and found that two percent tastes almost as good as full fat regular milk. Skim is tolerable, too.

You get a pile of flavor from a strong cheese such as bleu, Gorgonzola and Roquefort and need only a small bit instead of a heap of milder cheese to top a burger or salad. The stronger the cheese, the less you need. Grate Romano instead of Parmesan on pasta.

Vegetables are low “energy dense.” Instead of the ground beef in a pasta sauce, add red wine for flavor and double up on vegetables. Cauliflower cut into small pieces and braised in the tomato sauce is amazing over whole wheat fettuccine. Peeled cubes of eggplant almost disappear into the sauce while adding flavor and energy. Top the pile with crumbles of Gorgonzola and shreds of Romano.

Instead of soft white bread, serve crusty whole wheat. Dip it in the sauce instead of being a vehicle for butter.

Fruits are super-foods when it comes to nutrients, and are low “energy dense” when raw.

Dried or canned in syrup, they are not your friend. Juices lack fiber and have more calories because of it.

Whole grains are great carbohydrates. They are packed with nutrients and they taste good, too. Processed cereals are easy to fix. Pour, top with milk, and eat. Rolled oats take minutes to cook in a microwave and, garnished with fresh fruit, are a great way to start your day. Forget pappy white bread and go to gutsy whole grain. Instead of slathering on the energy-dense butter, enjoy the taste of the bread for a change.

You want to have high-protein, low “energy-dense” foods. Beans, lentils and peas fall into this category and are high fiber as well. Fish, skinless white meat poultry, and egg whites fit this bill.

You need fat because some vitamins are soluble only in fat. Look on the label for percentages of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Flax, olive, and vegetable oils are good, but not by the bucket.

The quiche? Make it with half whole eggs and half whites. Increase the onion and herbs. Use a strong cheese but not much of it. Use turkey bacon that’s low fat. Spray a glass pie pan and make it without the crust. Real men can eat quiche.

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