The Dude Diet: It Takes a Village

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” -The Beatles on how to be successful on The Dude Diet

the-dude-diet
Dudes.

While the months since the Dude Diet’s inception have been a rollercoaster (physically for Logan and emotionally for me), I am very pleased to report that Logan’s nutritional idiocy has markedly improved. Although he still makes terrible meal choices from time to time, he is beginning to delineate between good and bad decisions when it comes to food. I know this because Logan now seems compelled to confess his Dude Diet sins to me without provocation. (Honestly, I would probably sleep better at night if we stuck with the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that was instituted for China Fest 2012.)

At first, I was taken aback by these confessional outbursts. We would be lying in bed and Logan would suddenly blurt out things like, “I had a piece of pizza on my walk home!” or “I had Chinese for lunch! It was all they had!” Initially, I couldn’t figure out why was he was telling me these things, but I eventually put it together. Some small part of Logan feels like he’s disappointing me when he deviates from the Dude Diet. This is great news! I mean, I don’t want him to beat himself up every time he gets dirty on the food front, but a little bit of guilt and feelings of accountability can do wonders for keeping a dude’s eating in check. Harsh, but true.

Changing one’s eating habits is difficult and dudes need others to support them and to give them some tough love when necessary. So, dudes, if you are serious about getting healthy, tell everyone you know that you are on the Dude Diet. Whether it’s your girlfriend, your best friend, your mom (no judgment), or a fellow Dude Dieter, make yourself accountable to at least one other person. (I am also available to sponsor dudes upon request via email: serenagwolf@gmail.com.) Long story short, it really helps to have someone around to remind you that an Awesome Blossom is not the best side order choice, or maybe it’s time to switch from Bud Heavy to Bud Light. The more eyes that a dude has on his diet, the better! It takes a village, people.

For the record, I have eyes everywhere.

At a recent cocktail party, Logan was reaching for some salami and cheese when a girl he had never met tapped him on the shoulder to tell him that she didn’t think that his snack choice was “Dude Diet approved.” In a similar instance, one of Logan’s classmates approached him last week while he was eating tacos and said, “I don’t think those are on the Dude Diet.” Correct, they are not! Thank you, random Columbia student!

The actions of these good Samaritans are exciting on many levels. First and foremost, Logan is famous. This is great because dating a celebrity is good for my image. Second, there are other people out there keeping an eye on Logan’s eating habits and rooting for his success. It is as if I have an army of unpaid minions to do my bidding, which is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted in life. So, thank you Dude Diet enforcers, I couldn’t do this without you!

Based on this “it takes a village mentality,” I was thrilled when Logan suggested that we have four of his classmates over for dinner earlier this week. I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to convert potential Dude Dieters, or at the very least recruit a few extra sets of eyes to keep Logan on the straight and narrow when I’m not around. Also, the idea of having dinner with five intelligent, attractive men who would most likely spend the evening complimenting my domestic skills very much appealed to me.

The dinner was everything I hoped it would be. There was wine, un-PC conversation that miraculously did not involve sports or politics, general enthusiasm for the Dude Diet, and plenty of gushing over my cooking. All of these things were greatly appreciated. The dudes were served a Dude Diet-friendly meal of turkey meatballs in marinara sauce over roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and red peppers:

To toot my own horn, this meal is a Dude Diet game-changer. These turkey meatballs are light, moist and packed with flavor. I also replaced your typical breadcrumbs with quinoa, which means that they have more protein, fiber, and healthy grains than your average meatballs. Smothered in smooth marinara sauce, and served over slightly spicy roasted vegetables, turkey meatballs make for a seriously hearty meal. Logan didn’t even ask why there was no spaghetti. This could be because he is getting smarter, but I choose to believe that he actually didn’t miss it.

Don’t panic when you see that this recipe serves 8. It can easily be scaled down. And if you end up with leftover meatballs, you should be psyched. These bad boys are possibly even more delicious the next day. Serve them with a fried egg on top for a Dude Diet-friendly breakfast, or throw them in a whole-wheat pita with 2 tbsp part-skim mozzarella cheese for a  “meatball sub” that you won’t have to confess to your Dude Diet sponsor.  Having a cocktail party? Mini turkey meatballs also make excellent finger food. The possibilities are endless. Get on board.

Turkey Meatballs: (Serves 8)

Ingredients:
3 lbs ground turkey
2 cups cooked quinoa
½ onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups parmesan cheese
3 tbsp Italian parsley
½ tsp salt

 

Preparing your meatballs:

-Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

-In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil (which will be used for frying the meatballs).

-Use your hands to mix everything together. Really get in there. It is simultaneously gross and fun.

the-dude-diet-healthy-turkey-meatballs-step-by-step-recipe
Gross. I know. But you all seem to like visual aids.

-Mold the meat into balls. You can make big balls or small balls, but I find most people prefer bigger balls (in all contexts).

-Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick pan. When the oil is very hot, add the meatballs (you will probably need to do this in batches).

-Cook until brown on the bottom, and then turn the meatballs over and brown the top (2-3 minutes per side).

-Remove the meatballs to a paper-towel lined plate to drain any excess oil.

the-dude-diet-healthy-turkey-meatballs-step-by-step-recipe
Hot Balls.

-CAREFULLY place the meatballs in a deep saucepan or pot and cover with the tomato sauce. Cook at a simmer for at least 45 minutes.

-Serve your turkey meatballs over vegetables, pasta (if you must), or on their own. Delicious and seriously nutritious.

Marinara Sauce: (Serves 8)
Ingredients:
3 28 oz cans San Marzano diced Tomatoes
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried Oregano
salt to taste

 

Preparing your marinara sauce:

-Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and garlic. Saute until the garlic is fragrant and the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.

-Add the tomatoes and oregano. Bring the sauce to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to combine. Salt to taste.

*I like a smooth marinara sauce with meatballs, so after 30 minutes, I let the sauce cool slightly and then puree it in a blender before pouring it over the meatballs. I suggest you do the same.

Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Red Peppers: (Serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 head broccoli florets
1 head cauliflower florets
3 red bell peppers, sliced into ¾ inch strips
3 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp red chili flakes

 

Preparing your roasted vegetables:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

-Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet (you can use multiple roasting pans if you need too). Add the olive oil, salt, and chili flakes. Toss to coat.

-Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, turning once.  They should come out nicely browned. Yes, it really is that easy.

Turkey Meatballs

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp Italian parsley
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil (which will be used for frying the meatballs). Use your hands to mix everything together. Really get in there. It is simultaneously gross and fun.
  3. Mold the meat into balls. You can make big balls or small balls, but I find most people prefer bigger balls (in all contexts).
  4. Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick pan. When the oil is very hot, add the meatballs (you will probably need to do this in batches).
  5. Cook until brown on the bottom, and then turn the meatballs over and brown the top (2-3 minutes per side).
  6. Remove the meatballs to a paper-towel lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  7. CAREFULLY place the meatballs in a deep saucepan or pot and cover with the tomato sauce. Cook at a simmer for at least 45 minutes.
  8. Serve your turkey meatballs over vegetables, pasta (if you must), or on their own. Delicious and seriously nutritious.
http://domesticate-me.com/the-dude-diet-it-takes-a-village/
Marinara Sauce

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 28 oz cans San Marzano diced Tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried Oregano
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and garlic. Saute until the garlic is fragrant and the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Bring the sauce to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to combine. Salt to taste.

Notes

I like a smooth marinara sauce with meatballs, so after 30 minutes, I let the sauce cool slightly and then puree it in a blender before pouring it over the meatballs. I suggest you do the same.

http://domesticate-me.com/the-dude-diet-it-takes-a-village/
Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Red Peppers

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head broccoli florets
  • 1 head cauliflower florets
  • 3 red bell peppers, sliced into ¾ inch strips
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp red chili flakes

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet (you can use multiple roasting pans if you need too). Add the olive oil, salt, and chili flakes. Toss to coat.
  3. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, turning once. They should come out nicely browned. Yes, it really is that easy.
http://domesticate-me.com/the-dude-diet-it-takes-a-village/
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  • I love turkey meatballs. Adding quinoa is genius! I also tell my husband I have eyes everywhere. But, truly I don’t need to because he is the dummy that leaves either late night taco receipts on the table or old McDonald’s bags in his car where I can clearly see them. Then he asks, “How did you know?” Ummm duh!

  • Lisanne

    Loved. this. Loved the meatballs, loved the sauce, loved the idea of serving over veggies. In fact, I am going to keep this sauce in my fridge on a regular basis — fresh, real sauce makes everything better. I baked the meatballs out of laziness and served them over spaghetti squash and it was still delish. So glad to have some new weeknight recipes that make me seem super competent in the kitchen.

    • Serena_Wolf

      Lisanne, I’m beyond thrilled that my recipes are such a hit at your house!! You’re right, fresh sauce really does make everything so much better, and I love the idea of serving them over spaghetti squash. Way to get creative with the healthy “spaghetti and meatballs” idea.