Seven Favorite Meals

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Food.

For some, food is just a means to an end, just a bunch of calories that serves no other purpose than to provide “fuel” and allow us to “do stuff.”

These are generally the individuals who eat the same things everyday – egg whites, coffee and maybe a piece of toast (NO BUTTER!!11!!) for breakfast, plain chicken breast and some spinach for lunch, a handful of almonds with an apple and protein powder that tastes like powdered fart as a mid-afternoon snack, and for dinner, maybe they’ll spice it up with some beef and veggies.

If that’s your schtick and it works for you, more power to you.  Speaking truthfully, I used to be one of those people.

Sure, I’d enjoy the occasional slice of pizza here and there, and if I was really feeling dangerous I’d have a cookie (or two), but for the most part food was fuel.  That’s it.

I’d bust out my grill on the weekends and stock up on grilled chicken breast for the week, and I’d also prepare a bunch of beef too.  As a bachelor, my spice rack was pretty much relegated to salt, pepper, and the occasional vat of Adobo.

You could say that my palette wasn’t used to a lot of variety.

If you were to take a gander into my fridge back in the day, you’d pretty much find nothing but an endless supply of eggs, thawed bags of frozen vegetables (which would get kinda messy), and maybe a container or two of salsa.

It was pretty pathetic to say the least.

On the other end of the spectrum, for most people, food is (as it should be) much much more.  Food is culture.  It’s the centerpiece behind birthdays, 4th of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Yom Kippur (after the fact, anyways), anniversaries, weddings, graduation parties, movie marathons, you name it – food is usually the cornerstone or main attraction of any event or get together.

I’ve come a long ways since my bachelor days.  Granted the kitchen is still no-man’s land for me and really the only thing I’m good at is turning the toaster on.

But give me a recipe to follow and a watchful eye, I’m fairly confident I won’t blow up the apartment building.

To that end, I recently read an article by the great Dan John where he noted:

Recently, I added a list of “Ten favorite meals” from the insights of Sean Greeley. These lists give me an idea of how I am doing socially, spiritually, emotionally, physically and fiscally.

A light bulb immediately turned on in my head, and I thought this had potential for a pretty neat and fun blog post.

Everyone’s relationship with food is different. As I noted above, before, food was just a means to an end – simply fuel to get me from one deadlift session to another.  But in the years that I’ve matured (poop!) and the more I have experienced life and all its trials and tribulations, food – and all that it means and represents – has blossomed, and has grown to mean much much more to me.

While I still tend to eat the same things on a day-to-day basis, below are some of my favorite meals.  Some are the healthy, “I’m still a meathead” variety, while others are there solely because they’re deliciously badass.

Lets get to it!

1. Date Night

Where I’m from “eating out” doesn’t have quite the same connotation as it does here in a big city – mostly because there isn’t nearly as many options.

Where I’m from a romantic evening out is generally reduced to Applebees or Olive Garden.  

Nothing says “I love you” more than a bottomless bowl of garlic breadsticks.  BOM CHICKA BOM BOM!

When I first moved to Boston, “fine dining” was not in my vocabulary.  Place three forks in front me, and I was more likely to start pretending they were spaceships than anything else.

Luckily, with practice, my culinary and dining aptitude have improved, and one of my most favorite things to do now is explore new and interesting restaurants.

Just about every weekend Lisa and I head out on the town and head to the Back Bay to hit up a steakhouse and dominate a succulent filet mignon, or maybe we head to the North End and drown ourselves in vintage marinara sauce and pasta.

Whether we’re in the mood for seafood (rarely on my end, I hate seafood) or eating “dirty” (NACHOS!!!!!!!), Boston has it all, and I love being able to explore new foods and flavors.

2. My Morning Omelet

In a word: EPIC.

Every morning I look forward to two things:

1. Peeing

2. Eating my omelet.

Here’s the stats:

5 Whole Eggs (with the yolks). I try my best to purchase “free range” eggs from farms that I know allow their chickens to roam.

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2-1 cup chopped broccoli
A few sun-dried tomatoes
Garlic, turmeric, oregano, pepper, parsley
Goat cheese, and salsa

I’m good to go.

As an aside, one game I like to play when we go out to brunch is to see the reactions of the waiter or waitress when I ask for a double order omelet.  I’ve gotten everything from, “are you sure about that?  That’s like, six eggs!”  (mind you, the stack of pancakes and syrup that the person at the table next to me ordered has like twice the calories) to looks of disbelief that I can’t possibly eat that much to the chef coming out in person to congratulate me and offer me a free shirt.

It’s weird, but always makes for interesting conversation.

3. Pizza and JP Licks

I know it’s blasphemous to say that anywhere other than New York City or Chicago has good pizza, but Boston has it’s fair share of stellar pizza joints.  No, really, I’m not kidding!

One of my go to places is Upper Crust Pizza – which is literally right down the street from my apartment.  On occasion I’ll head down after a grueling training session and order a few “slices of the day” (buffalo chicken with blue cheese is a staple) and then top that off by walking diagonally across the street and hitting up the JP Licks for some peanut butter Oreo ice-cream.

4. My “Earth” Protein Shake

I know it’s kind of lame to list a shake as one of my favorite meals, but there’s rarely a day that goes by where I don’t have at least one (sometimes two) of these due to my busy schedule and the fact that I spend upwards of 6-8 hours of my day coaching.

Assuming you have a Magic Bullet or something to its equivalent, give this bad boy a shot:

I start with placing half a bag of (preferably organic) baby leaf spinach into a container, along with a scoop of creatine, SuperFood, and 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds (all of which are optional).

Pour 1/2-1 cup of almond or coconut milk into container and mix.

From there I’ll add a scoop of protein powder (Grow), maybe 1/4 cup of rolled oats, some unsweetened shaved coconut, a scoop or two of cacao nibs, and some frozen blueberries or mixed berries.

Mix again, and you’ll end up with a greenish/brownish “earthy” looking concoction that will taste GREAT and almost certainly get some weird looks if you drink in public.

5. Healthy Fajitas

I love fajitas, but not the gluten-fest that they’re often affiliated with.  Don’t get me wrong: sometimes I’ll go for broke and crush the flour tortillas like the next guy, but more often than not we’ll make our version of fajitas that are little more guilt-free and far healthier.

We’ll ground up some grass fed beef and cook that in a fajita mix along with some cutlets of chicken.

From there we’ll lay ou the prerequisite sides of guacamole, cheese, salsa, and while sour cream is great, to be honest, greek yogurt works just as well.

Instead of the flour tortillas, we’ll use huge leafs of bibb salad and use those as our wraps.

And for the record: We got rid of that white couch looooooooooog ago.  One guess as to who wasn’t allowed to eat on it during fajita night?????

6. Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because there’s no commercialized Hallmark way about it.  It’s all about family and friends and FOOD!!!!!

I mean come on: what else is better than eating some of Mom’s homemade apple pie???????

7. Meatza

I “stole” this meal from my pal and fellow lover of all things lifting heavy, Nia Shanks.

Essentially it’s a flattened meatloaf cooked in a way that mimics a pizza.  Genius!

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll just defer to Nia’s post about it HERE.

And there you have it!  Those are just a handful (well seven, so a little more than a handful) of my favorite meals.  Got any you’d like to share?  Sound off below!

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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  • Mike A.

    I ordered 6 eggs and corned beef hash at Zaftigs once, and when i finished the waitress checked to see if i really ate it all. The cooks wanted to know who ordered that much food. I was still hungry.

    • TonyGentilcore

      HA! I had that happen there too. We should go together one morning and really throw them for a loop and both order TWO, 6-egg omelets

  • Jeff

    I tried Meatza but didn’t use the right meat – needs to be a lean cut or a lean meat or the fat gets in the way of any binding. Still was able to thoroughly enjoy it, though.

    Going to five the fajita a try for sure.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Yeah, I’ve used nothing but 85% grass fed beef and it seems to work fine.

  • Jay

    You may have to switch from Upper Crust to Otto. Upper Crust filed for bankruptcy. After reading the Globe’s expose of their shady treatment of their workers, my wife and I boycotted them over a year ago. They do make a good pizza though :(

    • TonyGentilcore

      Yeah, I just heard that from several people. I’m bummed. The one in my neighborhood is still there, but Otto (which is GLORIOUS) opened up shop right across the street. Must be they knew something we didn’t……;o)

  • Russell Demczak

    Upper Crust…no Regina’s on Thatcher?!!? Hands down the best pizza I’ve had. You are fortunate to be in Boston though, the food is phenomenol. Perhaps I will be able to afford to live there one day. I could probabaly make a list of my 7 favorite meals just in Boston. In no particular order:

    1. Regina’s prosciutto con spinachi pizza, add sausage

    2. Al Dente – Chicken Venensia

    3. Rueben from Michaels Deli n Coolidge Corner

    4. Any corned beef or pastrami sandwich fron Sam LaGrassa’s

    5. Cafe Polonia – Polish Plate or Royal Duck

    6. Aceituna Cafe – Chicken/Beef Shawarma Combo

    7. Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry followed by hot chocolate from Cafe Vittoria a few doors down
    …..I need to move!

    • TonyGentilcore

      I LOVE Al Dente. Lisa and think that’s our favorite North End restaurant thus far (and we’ve been to a lot). Also, Mike’s, while good, is nothing compared to Bova which is on Salem St. I believe.

      • Russell Demczak

        You’ve peaked my interest with Bova sir….I’ll have to stop by next trip to Boston. Hopefully before the end of the year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthewbernal31 Matthew Bernal

    that awkward moment when u have to stop drooling over your laptop :O

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.pellis Ben Pellis

    Hey Tony, really nice article. I’ve gotten in the habit of betting friends the cost of the meal that I can’t eat 12 eggs at a restaurant. The waitress usually looks mortified but it’s a pretty easy way to get to eat alot of eggs for free.

    • TonyGentilcore

      You, my friend, are a genius!!!!! I’ll have to keep that in my back pocket the next time I go out to brunch with a group of people who don’t know me that well…….;o)

  • http://www.carascravings.com Cara

    I know you are being inclusive but I might suggest changing Yom Kippur to, say, Rosh Hashanah since YK is the day we fast ;)

    • TonyGentilcore

      hahahaha. Yeah, Adam Bornstein noted that to me as well. Dammit!!! I can’t seem to get my Jewish holidays correct. Well, food is a part of the festivities AFTER the fact, right?????

      • http://www.carascravings.com Cara

        That is true :) It’s one a handful of times per year I treat myself to a bagel (cinnamon raisin, toasted with cream cheese) and I look forward to it all day!

  • Nick

    ” anniversary’s”

    Anniversaries.

    You DID recently post something about blogging and grammar and getting taken seriously…

    • TonyGentilcore

      I did indeed Nick. Thanks for putting me in my place for misspelling one word out of a 1500 word blog post.

  • Neil

    Awesome post!

  • Lisa V.

    Favorite breakfast: Bacon & Brussels Sprouts Hash (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/bacon-and-brussels-sprout-hash-recipe/index.html) with 3 over-easy eggs on top.

  • Julie

    I always look forward to my morning oatmeal with flax, blueberries, raisins, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, a teaspoon of almond butter, topped with almond milk and banana slices…so good!

  • Sean Cheng

    touche on the thanksgiving!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jbzero John J Brooks

    Go to weeknight dinner is this: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/40-cloves-and-a-chicken-recipe/index.html and a baked sweet potato. It is the goods. Beth’s cafe down the street from my house has a 12 egg omelet on the menu. One more reason to love Seattle.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I do want to come to Seattle at some point. Lisa and I LOVED Vancouver, and I’ve always heard that Seattle is similar.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jbzero John J Brooks

        Similar, but less.. Canadian.
        Great city. I’ve lived all over and I live here by choice. Drop me an email when you are thinking about coming, I’ll give you the inside scoop.

  • Chris

    Hey Tony, a while back I recall you mentioning a sort of IF approach where you were omitting breakfast. Is this still the case? Just wondering your thoughts on IF and/or your own experience.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Actually, I’m still doing it like 85% of the time. My omelet is essentially my first meal of the day (at noon, right after I train).

      All in all, I like it. I do most of my writing/work in the AM before I head to the facility, and I fine my concentration is more on point and my mind isn’t as “murky” compared to when I used to have 1000+ calories sitting in my stomach.

      Sure, there are times where I’m really hungry, but it’s not that big of a deal. I’m not to militant about it, either. if I break my “fast” and eat an hour early and eat an extra meal after 8 o’clock at night, I don’t think less of myself…..;o)

      So, in short: yes, I’m still doing it. And yes, I really like it!

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