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We all know you can’t out train a bad diet. Whether you’re a high level athlete or a desk to deadlift fitness rat who, in the words of Give ‘Em Cold Steel athlete and Australian Olympic weightlifting hopeful Pip Malone, works out just to “get ripped and sling chicks,” you’ve probably spent some time figuring out how to get the most out of your food. We know firsthand that giving up doughnuts is hard, but what’s even harder is the mind boggling monotony that comes with eating the same food day in and out, all in the names of gainz and abs.

Roasted Tomato
Roasted Tomato

With all of the diet and lifestyle hullabaloo and drastic before & after pics circling Instagram these days, it’s tempting and worthwhile to give one of these programs a shot. Going into a program like RP Strength or If It Fits Your Macros takes solid dedication, and if you’re shelling out the money for a template or a nutrition coach, you’re likely pretty committed. The future is full of Sunday prep, that elusive six pack, and tupperware refrigerator Tetris.

Alas, you are human, and if the food doesn’t taste good, you’re going to lose the six pack battle. Here are a two easy adjustments to make to your Sunday food prep ritual to bring even more flavor and deliciousness to your usual fare.  

Caramelized Onions
Caramelized Onions

1. More onion, please.

The biggest difference between the food you make and what you get in a restaurant is how flavor is developed over time, and one of the most important ingredients for developing flavor is the humble onion. Elevate your usual beef patties or chicken by adding fresh, sauteed, or caramelized onions. Fresh onions will give you a spicy bite, sauteed will give you a roasty depth, and our favorite, caramelized, will add an incomparable sweetness.

We like to caramelize big batches of onions on Sunday and then throw a spoonful or two into the week’s food to deepen flavor and add texture. Simply slice, chop, or dice a large onion and throw it into a pot with some salt and a teaspoon or two of oil. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are sweet and golden brown. Add to your morning spinach, and you’ll never never go back to plain old greens again.

Seared Beef Shank
Seared Beef Shank

2. Can I have some more Maillard?

What do the crispy crust on a seared steak, a golden brown hue on a hamburger bun, and a roasted carrot all have in common? Chemistry! Specifically the Maillard reaction, which occurs when a food’s amino acids recombine with simple sugar to create browning and flavor. That seared crust, brown bubbly spots of goodness on a carrot, and evenly colored bun is all thanks to the Maillard reaction. The thing to keep in mind is that the Maillard reaction generally only happens above 285 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you’re throwing your veggies and cubed chicken in a pan over a low heat, it’s not going to happen, and you’re going end up with bland chicken.

To get that browned flavor, add a touch of oil to a pan over medium-high heat, add your meat or veg, and then don’t touch anything. Constantly moving your food around in the hot pan will inhibit the Maillard reaction. Turn the contents of the pan over every minute or so, but resist the urge to move everything about!

 

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