Defeating the Onions of Doom: The Nerd Fitness Pantry

How many times has this happened to you? Your neighbor, that attractive person you’ve been desperately wanting to meet for months, comes to the door and asks to borrow a couple of oranges. You think, “Shazam! It’s my lucky day.” Immediately agreeing to help, you dash to the refrigerator to retrieve said oranges only to find your refrigerator stocked entirely with onions.

Martin Short and Tina TurnerMany years ago, back when Saturday Night Live was funny, Martin Short did one of his Ed Grimley sketches in which Tina Turner showed up at Ed’s door asking for oranges. If you didn’t sleep through that first paragraph, you can guess what Ed found in his fridge.

Sometimes that’s how I feel when I go to the kitchen in search of food. In my case, my frustration usually arises when my food-snarfing son has gone all conehead on me and consumed mass quantities of whatever I had counted on finding, but the lack of healthy, edible food is a significant obstacle to successful eating.

That’s why I was so pleased that the guys at Nerd Fitness determined to take the common sense approach of describing the Nerd Fitness Pantry. The idea here is to have a flexible selection of ingredients that will keep you from finding your refrigerator full of onions when hunger strikes. In normal Nerd Fitness style, the piece is presented using a video game comparison.

Each item you’ll be gathering on your grocery store mission is like a tool used during questing for one or more purposes. Think of coconut oil like the hook shot in Ocarina of Time: it’s going to take some effort (and real-life rupees) to obtain, but after you have it, you’ll be using it all the time.

Others items are like potions, great to keep around in case of emergency (like if you didn’t have time to cook before work).

This longish entry on the NF blog goes into a lot of detail on both what you ought to buy but why you ought to buy it. It prioritizes things and takes the incredibly commonsense approach of pointing out that you can vary the list to suit your own needs and wants. They even provide a handy chart.

Penny and I have been working on stocking our kitchen in just such a manner, although with different details. What we’ve found is that by having the raw materials on hand, we’re able to eat healthier and waste less while we resist the temptation to throw up our hands in frustration and order a pizza. This sort of planning just seems like good stewardship all around.


Crispy Lentil Energy Bites

Crispy-Lentil-Energy-Bites-11I’d love to say that I created this recipe by myself. I didn’t. Instead, I shamelessly stole it from somewhere that I can’t even recall.

If you’ve checked into my previous Friday Food entries, you’ll know that I like to keep recipes simple. After all, what good is a recipe that is so complicated that you won’t make it? With an even dozen ingredients, this recipe does not qualify as simple. Look over the list of those ingredient–coconut sugar? Really?–and you’ll undoubtedly find a few things that do not already dwell in your kitchen.

Part of my reasoning for posting this recipe is that we can make some substitutions without changing the nature of the resulting snacks. For starters, all the coconut items (aside from the shredded coconut) can be easily replaced. You will not be thrown out of heaven for using regular salt rather than sea salt. Several of the other things you probably already have. (And if you go buy a bag of lentils, there are other good uses for them.)

Yes, this recipe is a bit more complicated that I like to propose, but if you make a batch of these, they’ll provide you with tasty and healthy snacks for a solid week. They freeze and travel well.

Give ’em a try.


  • 1/2 cup dry green lentils
  • 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup (or a combo of both)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Rinse lentils and transfer them to a small saucepan. Cover them with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes
  3. Drain lentils and transfer them to a small mixing bowl. Stir in the coconut oil and coat the lentils. Sprinkle with the coconut sugar, cinnamon, coconut flour and sea salt and stir well
  4. Spread lentils evenly onto lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring after halfway and keep an eye on them if they start to burn
  5. Set the lentils aside to cool
  6. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, seeds, coconut and chocolate chips. Add in crispy lentils, then the peanut butter and honey/maple syrup and stir well again
  7. Roll into tablespoon sized balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  8. Store covered in the fridge or freezer

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

379b138c004e6dbff942d58021d96bdfPenny and I have been leaning in a Paleo direction lately. I’d been controlling calories pretty well but not eating enough quality stuff. She needed to get jump-started. This recipe popped up on Facebook and then popped up on my dinner table recently.



8 oz. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
8 Slices Provolone Cheese
2 Large Green Bell Peppers
1 Medium Sweet Onion – Sliced
6 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms – Sliced
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Garlic – Minced
Salt and Pepper – to taste


Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds.In a large sauté pan over low-medium heat, add butter, olive oil, garlic, mushrooms onions and a little salt and pepper.  Sauté until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized.  About 30 minutes.Preheat oven to 400°Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture.  Allow to cook 5-10 minutes.Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese.  Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing.  Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.

Here’s the beauty of the thing. They come in at between 300 and 400 calories per pepper. We scaled ours back from the recipe above by cutting back a bit on the main calorie culprits: the cheese, butter, and oil. For that modest count, you get some terrific cheese, some savory meat, and the decadent feel of butter. What’s not to love.
Yes, you have something like 18 g of fat here, but that’s not a day-killing amount, provided you don’t eat biscuits and gravy for your other two meals. You get a reasonable measure of carbs but 30 g of protein.
Throw in the fact that you’ll have the righteous feel of that half green pepper with all its vitaminy goodness, and this is a guilt-free indulgence.

Food was made for the person; not the other way around. I intend to enjoy my food while still eating wisely.

A Whole Grain No-Brainer

Whole Grain BreadsGluten-free has become a new promise of life and health in food circles lately. What with people eating “Paleo,” is there any real place in our cupboards for grains any more?

Whenever I hear of somebody putting the hate on grain, I remember that God commanded Ezekiel to bake bread with not one grain but four plus a couple legumes.

“Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side…. Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people.” (Ezekiel 4:9,12)

Of course, if you know this passage, you might be thinking of the part of verse 12 I left out. That, I believe, doesn’t change the goodness of grain. God also commands showbread in the temple and various sacrifices of grain. Grain is good stuff.

Imagine my lack of surprise to discover that science has “discovered” what God already told us. A recent study has indicated that eating whole grains correlates with a 9% decrease in mortality and a 15% decrease in death from heart disease.

So enjoy that whole-grain bread. Just don’t eat the whole loaf.