I’m finally feeling like I’m moving on from my whole Crossfit California Regionals experience. I feel as if my life was put on hold for the last three months and I wasn’t really able to relax and be “normal” because when preparing for something like that, you really can’t be normal. What your putting your body and mind through is not normal. Despite the outcome of my performance at Regionals, I am proud that I got myself there, for pushing through some of the most physically demanding training I’ve ever experienced, and being disciplined enough to stick to a way of eating that allowed me to train at the volume that was being expected. No, my food was not very exciting or creative during the last few months, but that’s ok. It didn’t need it to be. I was using food strictly for fuel. Did I have a day here and there where I ate something “bad”? Sure. But I stuck to my flexible eating plan, added in more protein and carbs to sustain the training volume and watched my body composition change in a very short time frame as a result.
Unfortunately for y’all, my lack of creativity in the kitchen during Regionals prep meant no new food inspiration for your meals. However, food doesn’t always have to look extravagant or require an overly complicated recipe to be damn delicious. My “dog food” plates of just massive piles of grilled meats and roasted veggies over rice, potatoes, spaghetti squash and even lettuce were simple but so satisfying. I never felt like I was deprived. I like to eat for volume and clean eating generally allows you to eat ALL the food the majority of the time. I will touch on some of the things I learned about food during my training process in another blog post soon.
Anyways, with life slowing down a bit and summer approaching, it’s time for me to have a little more fun with my food. After Regionals was over, my friends and I drove to downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp district to this amazing bar/restaurant Barley Mash. I literally found it on Yelp, was intrigued by the menu and “Farm to Bar” concept and suggested we go there. To say that this restaurant was right up my alley is an understatement. When I go out to dinner, I want it to be worth my money and my macros. I usually opt to make my own dinners, one because restaurants are so overpriced now, two I have a toddler who makes dining out sometimes very difficult, and three, I usually am completely underwhelmed by the portions and taste of the food that I’m left feeling like I could have made it better. It’s not an ego thing, or that I think I’m an amazing chef, it’s just that I think delicious home-cooked meals are the most satisfying that it’s sometimes hard for me to justify deviating from that. But Barley Mash. I could have eaten almost every single thing off the menu. It was unreal. And I have used some of their menu items as inspiration in my own kitchen.
As much as I wanted to just go full blown eff it and order the Mac and Cheese, I opted for the roasted spaghetti squash “pasta” and added short ribs to it. I know. I’m lame. Who orders spaghetti squash at a restaurant for their first cheat meal after months and months of strict training and dieting? Apparently I do. BUT OMG. First of all, the fact that spaghetti squash is even on the menu is freakin’ amazing and, second of all, it was one of the most delicious dinners I’ve ever had in my entire life. The fact that this restaurant is only located in San Diego and that I will most likely not be back in San Diego for like five years is SO depressing. But that’s not the recipe I’m sharing in this post. I made my version of the skillet fries that my husband ordered. I mean, these things were obscene. Three different types of pork piled on top of French fries, covered in cheese, sauce and god knows what else. Just because this place was “farm to bar” and used all sorts of local and sustainable ingredients, it by no means meant that everything on their menu was health conscious. My husband is privileged enough to be able to eat 5,000 calories in one sitting without much consequence. I, however, am not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to!
I love to take foods that are “fun” and see if I can make a healthier version while still maintaining that feeling of indulgence. I think I may have done that here! The Warriors have made the NBA Finals, so for the first game of the series the other night, I wanted to make some “bar food” to go along with the occasion. Enter my Barley Mash inspiration. I took my husband’s calorie dense meal and made my own version of loaded fries. This is one of those recipes that can go in so many different directions and you can look in your refrigerator and see what you have and probably make almost anything work. I wanted my fries to feel like nachos so I took the Mexican route (surprise right?).
Baked Russet potato fries topped with perfectly medium grilled tri-tip steak chunks, my homemade pico de gallo, drizzled with an avocado-lime yogurt crema. I didn’t even need to go to the store. All the ingredients were things I already had in my pantry or fridge, they just required assembly. You can top your fries with any type of meat you have on hand or are desiring: grilled chicken, pulled pork, crockpot shredded beef, etc. Simply choose your meat and find additional toppings that are complimentary. You really can’t go wrong.
These loaded fries are fun and versatile. Shortcuts can be taken by buying premade ingredients, however, I like to start from scratch when I have the time because it allows me to control what goes into my food and maximize the clean eating and macro aspect of the dish. When following the recipe below, I have provided link to my previous recipe post for Perfect French Fries for the base of this dish. Click the link for the specifics.
For those who follow a flexible eating diet, for your reference, I wanted a huge portion of these fries for dinner so my macro and calorie breakdown for 222g of Russet Potato Fries (baked) and 8 oz. of trip tip (grilled) was 519 calories with a macro count of 50C / 15F / 52P (These numbers also include the pico de gallo and avocado crema).
Loaded French Fries
4 Large or 8 Small Potato of Choice (Russet, Yukon, Sweet, etc.)
16 oz. Tri Tip Steak (Or other meat of choice)
1 container Mini Grape or Cherry Tomatoes (3-4 Roma tomatoes work as well)
1/2 – 3/4 White Onion
1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (Full, Low or Nonfat)
Kosher Salt & Pepper
Onion & Garlic Powder
Olive Oil or Non-Stick Olive Oil Spray
Preheat oven to 425 degrees in preparation for the baked French fries. Choose your potato of choice and follow the recipe for the Perfect French fries here.
Prepare your meat of choice: For grilled tri tip, rub a small amount of olive oil on all sides of the raw meat and season liberally and to taste with Kosher salt, cracked black pepper, onion and garlic powder. These are basic seasonings that create a great simple flavor, however additional spices (i.e. cumin, chili powder) can be used depending on the direction of your dish. Set aside the steak until ready to be grilled. When the fries are almost finished baking, cook the meat on the BBQ until medium in temperature, remove from grill and let rest until ready to be served. Chop steak into small square bites.
Prepare the Pico de Gallo: Dice equal parts tomatoes and white onion and place into a small mixing bowl. If using a grape or cherry type tomato, cut into sixths. If using a Roma tomato, cut in half, scoop out the insides and only use outer shell. Cut into strips and then dice. Finely chop one jalapeno (de-seeded for less heat) and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lastly, finely chop a small handful of cilantro, add to the bowl and mix until thoroughly incorporated. If possible, it is best to make the pico ahead of time so that the flavors can meld.
Prepare the Avocado Crema: In a small food processor, combine half an avocado, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt of choice, the juice of one lime, salt, pepper and onion powder to taste. Pulse until smooth. The desired consistency and thickness is that of sour cream.
Assembling the Loaded Fries: Layer in the following order…
Perfect French Fries at the base
Bite size grilled Tri Tip pieces
Pico de Gallo
Drizzle with Avocado Crema
Depending on your dietary preferences and/or macro flexibility, you may add beans and cheese if you would like additional toppings to your loaded fries! Hot Sauce is also a nice addition 🙂