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Carbohydrates are very important when it comes to putting on strength and size. But that said, eating rice and potatoes all the time can get a bit boring, no matter how creative you get in the kitchen.
To help you build the habit of eating more after training, I thought I’d share a delicious recipe that includes an often under-utilized muscle building carbohydrate, barley. It was good enough to keep Roman Gladiators in fighting shape, even with little to no meat in the diet. So, I guess it’s also perfect after tough WODs.
Cooked barley packs a higher carb punch per ½ cup than either rice or sweet potato (about 32g, total). It’s also pretty low on the glycemic index, unlike rice, so you might quickly prefer it in your post-training meals.
If you’re in need of a calorie boost I’ve got you covered. Check out my recipe for Barley with butternut squash and smoky chorizo. Just one portion contains about 54 grams of high-quality carbohydrate. Couple this with a bit of protein and a healthy spice kick, and you’ve got one hell of a #gainz meal!
Chorizo, the sexiest of the tube-form meats.
Here’s what you need to feed 2-3 people, or maybe just 1 really hungry weightlifter:
- 1 lb of chopped butternut squash. Small cubes work best.
- 8 small Portobello mushrooms, quartered.
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika.
- 1 teaspoon turmeric.
- 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil.
- 2 cups of cooked barley, preferably without the hull. I always keep some prepared ahead of time in the fridge.
- 2 chorizo sausages, or 2 to 3 organic chicken thighs, per person.
- 2 finely chopped green onions.
- Handful of freshly chopped basil.
Notes: You can use chicken if good chorizo is hard to find, but you have to add in lots of flavor. Here’s a great marinade that you can keep in the fridge and use during meal prep.
For 8 thighs:
- 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.
- 2 crushed cloves of garlic.
- ½ teaspoon of allspice.
- ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric.
- ½ teaspoon of ground cumin.
Combine your chicken with the spices. Pop it into a freezer bag and then marinate the meat in the fridge for an hour before grilling.
Barley is a great rice substitute, and awesome for supporting training and muscle growth.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Coat your squash and mushrooms with oil then season everything with paprika, the turmeric and salt. Put all the squat on a baking sheet then cook for 15 minutes. Add your mushrooms then cook for another 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Barely is easy to cook, just follow the instructions on the back of the box. I bring my hull-less barley up to a boil with some water, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-1.5 hours. It should have a firm bite when done, unlike rice which can be a bit mushy. Like I said, this is something you can cook and store way ahead of time. But just as a note, if your barley looks gloopy and gel-like in the fridge, just give it a quick rinse with cold water before heating it up and adding it to the dish.
Remove the hot butternut squash and mushrooms from the oven, mix in the warm barley, divide it all into bowls, top with a healthy portion of sliced chorizo or chicken, and then garnish with some chopped green onions and basil.
Let me tell you, along with a cold beer, you will not find a better tasting meal for your window of gains, I promise you that.
Remember, carbs are your friend! If your goal is to gain some size and strength, give barley a try. I think you’ll love it.
Got diet questions? Just leave them in the comments below. Also, you can find more awesome recipes on my blog, Moozlers.
- Ready to build muscle and gain strength? Learn more about our Muscle Gain Challenge!
- Need help dialing in your nutritional strategy? You’ll dig Nutrition For Weightlifters.