By: Sinan Ozyemisci
M.S. Clinical Nutrition
It’s easy to get lost looking at beautiful dishes from around the world on social media wanderlust accounts. We’re more intrigued now by cultural cuisine than ever before. And as macro-tracking foodies, we can’t help but think about how simple, delicious, and macro-friendly some of these dishes look. And who can blame us? The cuisine from around the world reinforces what we already know: how valuable clean, wholesome, and delicious ingredients can be.
Sure, that may not be the case for the baklavas, the tuigin mandu (deep-fried dumplings), the gulab jamuns (rose-syrup soaked munchkins), or the arancini di rosa (Sicilian rice balls) BUT with a little creativity and a willingness to try, you too can start adding more global cuisine to your table.
Build a Better Bite
Now before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post, let’s make it clear that none of these macro-friendly recipe recreations are going to top the quality of grandma’s gravy, your cousin Vinny’s meat sauce, or your sister-in-law’s grape-leaves. They simply aren’t. Instead, these alternatives are going to provide you some fun options to bring global cuisine into the house as well as to some of this summer’s BBQs and cookouts you attend.
When trying global recipes, here are a few easy considerations to make these delicious foods more macro-friendly:
- Trade out some of the fattier ingredients for leaner alternatives.
- Swap out classic starches for quinoa.
- Pre-track any desserts or drinks before serving your main course to adjust the serving size appropriately.
- Sub out heavy cream and ghee for fat-free yogurt, 1% milk, olive oil, and coconut oil.
When we think about travel and we think about our wanderlust lifestyle, it’s the bottles of wine that come with dinner, the mimosas that come with brunch, and the “oh come on, you gotta have more” kind of external pressure that pulls us off the rails. Let this post serve as a guide on how you can. When we get ahead of macros with a lot of these recipes we can still make room for those decadent dishes in moderation.
Bring a Brighter Side
When was the last time you brought a salad to a potluck (or cookout) that brought the wow factor? Do you ever find yourself unsure about what the host will throw on the grill, whether it’s fish, poultry, beef, or veggies? If you have ever been in that position before, you know how tough it is to nail that perfect side-dish to complement the main course. Want to know a little cheat code? The classic Middle Eastern salad known as tabbouleh not only pairs well with any protein but with the simple upgrade to quinoa tabbouleh, it can help you hit your macros pretty darn close.
Do you have that one friend who always loves to host cookouts but often overcooks everything on the grill? You don’t have to sell them out or tell me their name, I promise. Instead, I just want to offer you the idea of a side salad that will provide plenty of dressing left behind on that plate (this will help with any dry meat that is on your plate). With its vibrant colors, aromatic overload of fresh herbs, and lemony zing, a Turkish shepherd salad is a perfect side dish to bring. Give it a try! (Pro tip: if you end up finding sumac to throw on there, pat yourself on the back for mastering one of the key, hidden ingredients to Turkish cuisine!)
Mediterranean cuisine is one of my favorite hacks for cookout sides. The fresh produce, bright herbs, and unique flavors play well with a wide variety of grilled meats. The bonus? A fresh salad will stand out amongst traditional BBQ sides and provide you with a macro-friendly option when building your meal.
Host a Delicious Dinner
Have you been eyeing down all of the food truck events that are starting to pop up on your Facebook Events feed, but you aren’t super comfortable diving into such a crowded setting just yet? Bring some of those food truck themes back to your place and invite a handful of your friends to join in on the fun. A theme that I strongly believe is the most underutilized, macro-friendly food party is the street taco.
Whether you’re someone who must abide by the #tacotuesday guidelines, or you want to wrap up the work week with a taco social, throw the instant pot on before you leave for work. Let a recipe like the MasonFit Green Dragon Instant-Pot Shredded Chicken Breast work its magic while you’re at the office. This way, when you get home from your evening commute and smash that front door open, you are immediately engulfed in the mouth-watering aroma of spicy, pulled chicken.
And if you’re still not having fun at that point, then grab your phone, start a group chat with all your guests, and tell them the guest that prepares the best-tasting pico de gallo gets to bring home a six-pack of Dos Equis.
With 40 world cuisines out there, the possibilities are endless. When you’re willing to try a new dish you’re not only flexing your creative muscles, but these recipes will get many of your friends to crack out of their comfort zone too. Next time you host those friends, throwing something as delicious as a vegan, Middle-Eastern chickpea salad, like the one out of RecipeTinEats, is the best way to bring punchy flavor and new favorites to the table. Let them experience herbs, spices, and oils that may have never made it to their pantry with their cooking style. Worst case scenario… they don’t like it, and you have more to yourself! WINNING!
Here’s my challenge for you: plan an adventurous macro-friendly meal for yourself next week (tweaking where you need to for it to fit in your plan) and after you make it take a picture and tag @StrongerU. Let’s see how creative you can be when it comes to global cuisine!