The Dude Diet: Cheesesteak Edition
I hate to say it, but it’s been a rough few weeks for The Dude Diet. The wedding triple-header and its associated finger foods did the expected damage, and the Dude’s new job has left him with very little time to exercise. There has also been some aggressive pizza and barbecue consumption, as well as an unfortunate incident involving Logan coming home with an array of gummy bears and chips, claiming that I was “trying to starve him to death.” But that’s neither here nor there.
While I’m worried that starting a new job has exacerbated Logan’s stress-eating tendencies, I’m more concerned about the toll that football season is going to take on his wonderland body. As much as Logan loves football, he loves the food that he eats while watching football even more, specifically, pizza, wings, burgers, and Philly cheesesteaks. Today, I’d like to focus on the latter, as Logan was raised in Philly and cheesesteaks may actually be The Dude Diet’s kryptonite.
I was first exposed to Logan’s cheesesteak fetish early in our relationship. On a lazy Sunday afternoon not long after we DTR’d, Logan suggested that we get cheesesteaks from his favorite spot. I happily agreed, informing him that I had never actually eaten one before. Horrified by this admission, the Dude immediately picked up the phone and ordered three different cheesesteaks (one traditional with extra whiz, one pizza steak, and one buffalo chicken). He then spent the next twenty minutes staring at me like I was a foreign exchange student and trying to fathom how I had possibly lived 24 years without eating a cheesesteak.
The excitement of popping my cheesesteak cherry was almost too much for Logan to bear, and as soon as buzzer sounded, he sprinted to the door with the enthusiasm usually reserved for Dominos’ deliverymen. I tried all three cheesesteaks with Logan watching me, eagerly anticipating my reaction. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that impressed, especially when it came to the cheese whiz. When I told Logan as much, he was both angry and confused, and I’m pretty sure he seriously questioned our compatibility as a couple. Luckily, he managed to placate himself by eating the remaining cheesesteaks and saying to no one in particular, “She’ll come around.”
Unfortunately, my lack of interest in cheesesteaks has not stopped Logan from eating or talking about them on a regular basis over the past two and a half years. I am now intimately familiar with the great Pat’s vs. Geno’s vs. Jim’s Philly cheesesteak debate (for the record, Logan is a Pat’s dude), and I have heard many a disturbing story revolving around these “epic sandos.”
Logan has also shared several fond childhood memories of eating “football-sized” cheesesteaks at a restaurant called Mama’s. When his family eventually moved to Colorado, he convinced his parents to bring Mama’s sandwiches back with them on the plane whenever they made a trip to Philly. Nothing says dedication to a sandwich quite like getting your parents to act as your personal cheesesteak mules.
While cheesesteaks provide year-round temptation, they become particularly problematic during football season for obvious reasons. As a die-hard Eagles fan, Logan frequents several Philly bars in NYC where he feels that it is his “duty” to eat cheesesteaks, crush brews and get incredibly weird with his fellow fans. According to him, a cheesesteak with a dozen wings and 4-6 Coors lattes is his “perfect meal,” and scarily, he plans on indulging in the aforementioned perfection for the duration of football season.
While game-day eating is intense in NYC, it gets infinitely worse when Logan physically attends games in Philly. Eating a single cheesesteak is bad enough, but Logan has admitted to “doubling down” when he goes to see the Birds in person. “Daddy makes himself pretty ill” because he likes to hit up Pat’s on the way to the game before “destroying” a second cheesesteak in the stadium along with 15 beers and maybe a piece of pizza and/or a hot dog. I told him that was humanly impossible, to which he simply responded, “I told you, I get pretty sick!”
Knowing that The Dude Diet would be tackling the cheesesteak issue today, I asked Logan to talk to me about his beloved sandwiches for a bit last night. This was a mistake. Reminiscing about his favorite cheesesteaks and his old stomping grounds in Philly got the Dude pretty hot and bothered, and I swear he started sweating during a very enthusiastic dissertation on the awesomeness of cheese whiz. He even offered to “list out all the dank foods that there are in Philly” for me because “there are so many!!!” Much to Logan’s disappointment, I politely declined this offer, as I prefer not to be traumatized right before bed.
Sadly, I’ve found that Logan’s cheesesteak habit is one that’s shared by many dudes. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that cheesesteaks are up there with pizza, burgers and burritos on the list of ultimate dude foods. This is terrifying, since ordering a loaded cheesesteak is essentially asking for a heart attack with a side of man boobs. And that’s without the wings, waffle fries, and several alcoholic beverages that are inevitably consumed alongside it.
Just to break it down for you, dudes, a traditional cheesesteak is a pile of shaved rib-eye steak with sauteed peppers and onions, slathered in melted provolone cheese or cheese whiz, and then stuffed into a giant hoagie roll. On average, this monstrosity contains upwards of 1100 calories, 60 grams of fat, and 2500 milligrams of sodium. So basically, a cheesesteak is one giant fat-and-calorie-bomb that will blow you up like an Oompa-Loompa faster than you can say “extra whiz.” The truth hurts, I know.
As always, I’m not saying that you can never eat a cheesesteak again. If you choose to get dirty with one of these bad boys every once in a while, that is your prerogative, dudes. However, if you, like Logan, are inclined to inhale these button-popping subs on the reg, and you wish to live to see the Super Bowl, something’s gotta give. So, in the hope of keeping your guts in check this football season, I have given the cheesesteak a slimming makeover. Please get a load of The Dude Diet Philly Cheesesteak…
These Philly Cheesesteaks are a Dude Diet masterpiece. They have all the amazing flavor and cheesy goodness that you crave without any of the unflattering consequences. First and foremost, these sandwiches are an appropriate size. Swapping an entire loaf of Italian bread for a hollowed out, 6-inch whole wheat roll is excellent portion control, and it gives you a healthy dose of fiber while cutting unnecessary carbs. Boom.
Instead of the traditional ribeye, I used lean top round steak for these sandwiches, which is just as flavorful but has only a fraction of the fat and calories. The shaved steak is beefed up (pun intended) with meaty Portobello mushrooms, onions and nutrient-rich peppers, and it’s seasoned with a simple combo of Worcestershire, low-sodium soy sauce and fresh ground pepper. The gooey, melted cheese factor is courtesy of sliced provolone that clocks in at less than 100 calories a pop. Sorry, dudes, I just couldn’t stomach using cheese whiz, even in small amounts. That shit will kill you.
The best part about these sandwiches is that they can be ready to eat in less than half an hour. Therefore, you have no excuse not to whip them up before your next weird football party or on any given weeknight that you’re jonesing for a cheesesteak. The filling is also dope in low-carb tortillas and whole wheat pitas, over brown rice, or, if you’re going really low carb, wrapped in some butter lettuce leaves. I like to give you options, dudes.
For the record, when I informed Logan that I had made cheesesteaks for dinner last night, he did the excited squeal that I live for as a nutritional spirit guide. I believe his exact words were, “Ohhhhhh, you must be fisting me! Cheesesteaks on a Monday??!!! Daddy LIKE.” I’m not going to lie, I was slightly nervous about how these would go over with the self-proclaimed “cheesesteak authority,” but they were a great success. Logan gave five full minutes of appreciative grunts, which, as you know, is the Dude’s highest form of praise.
Dude Diet Philly Cheesesteaks: (Serves 4)
1 pound top round steak
½ each green, red and yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large portobello mushroom caps, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 1-ounce slices provolone cheese
4 6-inch whole wheat sub rolls
1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
Fresh ground pepper
Preparing your Dude Diet Philly Cheesesteaks:
-Place your top round steak in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is not mandatory, but it makes it much easier to slice.
-While the steak is in the freezer, prepare your vegetables. I know you know how to slice peppers and onions, dudes, but the portobellos require a little extra attention. Remove the stems from each portobello, and use a spoon to remove the brown gills on the underside of the caps.
-Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the beef to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, constantly stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces with a spatula until it is no longer pink. Remove the steak from the pan and set aside.
-Slice your whole wheat rolls almost of the way through. (You want one side to remain attached!) Hollow out the insides of the rolls, leaving a ½-inch shell. (You can keep the insides of the break to make breadcrumbs or something. Domestic!)
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