Diet and Nutrition

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Cooking With Sensei – Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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Welcome back to cooking with Sensei. Today’s episode is all about finger food – perfect for a snack, an appetizer or for entertaining guests. Today’s recipe is the perfect balance – tasty and delicious, but also healthy, simple and inviting.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Buffalo cauliflower bites are on the menu for today. These are quick & easy and will delight  your guests – vegetarian or not. In the past, Some recipes for cauliflower buffalo are heavy, they are deep fried and full of oil and just plain unhealthy. Our version of this recipe will still pack in the same flavor and maintain the vegetable’s rich nutritional value without the unhealthy mess.

First, start with the cauliflower. To prep it, de-leave it, wash it, dry it and cut into bite-size pieces. There is no rule on how large or small to cut them, it’s truthfully based on preference.

Simple & Easy Recipe

Preheat your  oven to 400°. Lay the washed, dried and cut pieces out flower side up on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Next spray your cauliflower with a little oil spray (Sensei Tip: use olive oil or avocado oil spray).  After sprayed, lightly dust them with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Once the cauliflower is seasoned and your oven has reached its temp, they go right into the oven for about 15 to 18 minutes until soft.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl to cool down for a few minutes. Once cooled, spoon in buffalo sauce mix until lightly coated. Transfer the cauliflower back onto your original baking sheet and place back into the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes until you see that they are lightly browned on the tips.  Keep a close eye and make sure not to overcook them.  



  • fresh cauliflower head 
  • avocado or olive oil spray 
  • ½ cup buffalo wing sauce
  • ranch dressing (optional)  
  • spices: salt / pepper / garlic powder


  • pre-heated oven at 400°
  • baking sheet 
  • parchment paper 
  • large bowl 
  • platter for serving 
  • toothpicks or small serving fork 
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Cooking With Sensei – Turkey Kielbasa

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Cooking With Sensei, episode Turkey Kielbasa

Happy Fall – this summer was just magical. Hopefully yours was filled with adventure and happy memories. With cooler days approaching, we figured a warm weather meal would be great to kick off Autumn. Of course with kids being back to school, we wanted to put together a meal might be a little easier now that we all have a less time on our hands. So let’s do something super easy and super simple, and of course – super delicious! 

Trying Turkey Kielbasa 

Today we are going to make a turkey kielbasa with sauerkraut. This dish is delightful as well as flavorful and only has a handful of ingredients. After you put this together, all you need to do is let it heat up on the grill while freeing you up for some other things you need to do (like home work from the kids).

Quick & Easy Turkey Kielbasa Recipe

Grab a tin foil tray with a lid and get ready to see how easy it is. You will need a turkey kielbasa preferably one with a lower sodium content, basil, whole pepper corn, mustard powder, sauerkraut and a bottle of beer but that’s optional.

Combine ingredients in tin foil pan cover and put it right on the grill. Let it simmer for 15 minutes and then that the kielbasa out and throw it right on the grill to get some grill marks on it. At this point you just about done, serve in a bun or a side salad.

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Cooking With Sensei – Portobello Mushrooms

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Why Portobello Mushrooms?

The amount of things you can throw on the grill is really endless! Today we will be preparing portobello mushrooms on the grill. Did you know the portobello mushroom is one of the most widely consumed mushrooms in the world? They are widely available in most grocery stores and usually pretty cost-efficient. But what impresses me the most are their health benefits.

Portobello mushrooms are known as natural cancer-fighters by providing plant-based protein, plus many essential nutrients. They contain disease-fighting antioxidants and are terrific protectors of the immune system. Remember, choosing to live a healthy lifestyle takes commitment and effort. With the right amount of variety and food selections the nutrients your looking for to support that healthy lifestyle is in your control.

Cooking Portobello Mushrooms

Now back to the grill…. Several hours before cooking, place 3-4 portobello mushrooms in a large sealable plastic bag. Pour in some extra virgin olive oil, enough to coat all of the mushrooms, plus a few tablespoons for some excess. (Use the best extra virgin olive oil you can find. Believe it or not, in moderation olive oil is one fo the healthiest fats you could eat.) Sprinkle a little salt and some cracked pepper into the bag. Add about a tablespoon of fresh minced garlic. Seal the bag and shake. Refrigerate for a few hours.

Preheat your grill to high, remove the mushrooms from the bags and place on grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side or longer; you really can’t overcook them. Flip them every few minutes or so.

There you have a delicious vegan / gluten free plant based protein you can opt to eat in a variety of ways that’s not only delicious but really good for you too!
Sensei Chris Iavarone cooking Portobello Mushrooms
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Cooking With Sensei – Pico de Gallo

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How To Make Fresh Pico De Gallo

Get ready for a  fresh flavor explosion in your mouth!  This very special topping for your BBQ delight is made quick and easy. It literally takes minutes! In this salsa you will have a combination of tomato, onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, salt and fresh lime juice. 
Quick & Easy Tomato Prep
  1. Dice up your tomatoes
  2. Season them (A quick sprinkle of kosher salt will do)
  3. Place tomatoes into food strainer with a bowl underneath
  4. Refrigerate for ~1 hour
 This will do 2 things; one, amplify and open up the sweetness of your tomatoes and drain out any excess liquid that is released from the tomatoes before mixing it with the additional ingredients.
While the tomatoes are resting in the fridge, now dice up the onion, (I prefer my onion cut up into smaller pieces to avoid a strong sense of onion over any of the other ingredients.) Then follow by cutting up the jalapeño pepper even smaller. (This is a personal preference. You can opt to leave it out if you don’t like too much heat in your food, or reduce the amount you put in based on your preference.)  Chop up the cilantro. Then pour all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, squeeze one fresh lime and mix.

Fun Pico de Gallo Trivia!

The wonderful thing about fresh pico de gallo is that you can eat it right out of the bowl on a chip, or use it as an ingredient for other recipes like guacamole, fajitas, enchiladas, and black bean soup. Not only is it so rich and versatile in its flavor, but it’s highly adaptable so that you can make it according to how YOU like. All you need is ripe tomatoes,onions, jalepeno, cilantro, salt and lime juice.
So here’s a little trivia for you … Did you know the name “Pico de Gallo” literal translation is “rooster’s beak”? Why you might ask? 

Well it’s because it contains the colors found on a rooster’s head! Think about it …comb and all. Another reason why it was called that is because of the way people once ate it by hand; with the thumb and forefinger imitating the pecking of a rooster while eating.  You can even see the colors of the Mexican flag in the ingredients!

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Cooking With Sensei – Grilled Shrimp

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Lets throw some shrimp on the barbie!  Grilled shrimp is one of my favorite things to do.  This method really brings out the flavor of the food. Aside from protein, shrimp provide a pretty impressive array of nutrients. For the best possible results, buy fresh shrimp on the day that you plan to grill them. 

Great Garlic Grilled Shrimp

Shrimp thaw quickly and can go bad even more quickly. Make sure that you buy either jumbo or colossal sized shrimp for easier grilling.  Shrimp can be grilled with or without their shells.  I like to peel the shrimp prior to grilling. Remove all of the shell except for the part that is around the tail of the shrimp.  Removing the shell will allow the marinade to penetrate the meat and give the shrimp more taste.  Devein the shrimp by using a small, sharp knife to cut down the back of each peeled shrimp. Pull out the vein while washing the shrimp under cold water.  My favorite marinade for the shrimp is quite simple; just olive oil, fresh chopped parsley, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. Simply mix everything is small bowl and let sit in refrigerator for 20 minutes.  Now it’s time to grill the shrimp.
Cooking Tip: The outside should turn a nice pink color when its cooked while the meat inside should be white and opaque.Be careful not to over cook the shrimp or else it will become tough. 
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Cooking With Sensei – Swordfish

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Cooking With Sensei – SwordfishIts time to change it up a little with some grilled swordfish instead of the usual suspects like chicken or beef.  If you’ve never had swordfish, you definitely should try it. Swordfish is delicious! It has a very clean taste to it and when cooked right basically flakes apart. It really is one of the best fish to grill during the summer and with minimal preparation too.  Since swordfish is rich and flavorful it will pair well with grilled vegetables.  


Simple & Easy Swordfish

First, prepare the grill and set it to a medium-high heat. I chose to do a simple marinade with some fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil. To begin, whisk olive oil, mint, lemon juice, basil, and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Then season the lemon and olive oil mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. Brush the swordfish steaks with 2 tablespoons of the lemon and olive oil mixture.
Grill the steaks until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of steaks). Transfer the steaks to plates. Spoon the remaining sauce over and serve.
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Cooking With Sensei – Veggie Kabobs

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Cooking With Sensei – Veggie Kabobs

How To Make Veggie Kabobs

Summer time is always a great time to get out and grill something. Today we are going to keep it light with veggie kabobs. In order to live a healthy lifestyle we must take into consideration the food we eat. Try to keep in mind having a low fat low sugar diet and try all kinds of foods with lots of color. As a kid I remember my plate always having a vegetable along side whatever was for dinner. If you arent big on eating them start now with these grilled ones and you will love it.

Most vegetables are low in fat and are low in calories. They are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber,folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. The benefits of eating healthy go beyond what most people even know. Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure, help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Super easy and without too much effort go to local super market and pick up some produce.

Ingredients & Directions

Start with some green, yellow,red, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and squash. You can use either metal or wooden skewers To grill them with. Next rise and cut them into 1 inch pieces. Then start making your kabobs. While you’re preparing everything remember to turn on your BBQ. Lastly, brush them with grape seed oil (which has a higher smoke point, sprinkle with salt pepper and leave them on the grill for about 10-12 minutes turning to get all sides charred a little.

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Cooking with Sensei – Black Bean Burger

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Are you looking for a change up on the usually beef or turkey burger? Try this awesomely simple black bean burger! This burger will supply enough protein and satiate you the same as a burger made the traditional way.

I love this burger and I don’t even need the bread bun because it would just add extra carbs, instead I used Boston lettuce as the Bun..


1 1/3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oats) (use certified gluten-free oats to assure that the burgers are gluten-free)
16 ounces black beans (1 can, well drained)
3/4 cup salsa low sodium
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional)
1 1/4 teaspoons mild chili powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (more or less, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed) optional


  1. Place the oats in a food processor fitted with an S-blade and pulse 5 or 6 times until they are partially chopped (some will be powder, some will be whole.) Add all ingredients except the corn and pulse until most of the beans are blended.
  2. Pour bean mixture into a bowl and stir in the corn. Cover and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form bean mixture into six patties. Bake for 20-30 minutes, being careful not to overcook and dry them out. They’re done when the outside is beginning to get crispy and they hold together well.
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Cooking With Sensei – Zucchini Burrito Boats

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Get ready for a flavor packed burrito without all the extra carbs. This recipe combines a meatless option that is protein packed. Zucchini makes a very creative vessel for a variety of different stuffings. We choose a colorful mix of black beans, peppers, fresh herbs and spices that will make your mouth water.

In under an hour you can prepare this mean and get plenty of yield. This is an ideal option for an evening mean if you want to forgo on carbs. You can easily try this with turkey, chicken or beef.


4 large zucchini
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup salsa (use your preferred level of spiciness)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 jalapeno (or poblano pepper), cored and diced
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
salt to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar/monterey jack cheese


  • Start by greasing a 9 x 13” casserole dish then set aside. Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or metal teaspoon, hollow out the center of each zucchini. Lightly brush the tops with one teaspoon of olive oil then place them skin side down in the casserole dish.
  • Next warm the tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the rice, corn, and beans along with the salsa, chili powder and cumin. Stir everything together and continue to cook for about 5 minutes then remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and then stir in 1/4 cup of the cilantro and salt to taste to the filling. Spoon the filling inside of each zucchini until they are all full. Sprinkle each one with cheese then arrange them in the dish and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes then remove the foil and set the oven to broil. Cook them for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  • Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes then top with fresh cilantro and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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Cooking With Sensei – Turkey and Vegetarian Chili

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Today we cooked up something are are going to love Chili and who doesn’t want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Here’s a recipe that you can put your own spin on. I was blown away with how easy it was to make and it was so delicious. from the texture to the little kick you get will keep you coming back for more.

One batch of this stuff will either feed a family of four or keep you good for a few days. Very few recipes I come across have it all, the ratio of protein to carbohydrates is amazing giving you what you need. Try this tonight and you will good, remember what they say “Don’t eat till your full but when your satisfied”.

Lean Turkey Chili



1 tbsp. canola oil

1 large Spanish onion, diced

1 cup of diced mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. lean ground turkey

1 15-oz. can no-salt added black beans, rinsed

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 15-oz. can stewed tomatoes

1 c. water (or low-sodium chicken broth)

1/4 jalapeño, minced (avoid adding seeds)

1/2 c. fresh cilantro, minced

2 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 tsp. kosher salt




For Vegetarian Chili remove the ground turkey and replace with 2 additional bean sources such as Red Kidney and Cannellini. This will replace your protein source in the recipe. This recipe is incredibly flexible. Feel free to add additional veggies such as red bell pepper or even zucchini.


1 tbsp. low-fat Greek yogurt

Diced green onions

2 tbsp. shredded cheddar




In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion until tender and translucent to golden, 8 minutes. Add mushroom, garlic and jalapeño and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes more. Remove from stockpot.
Add lean ground turkey to stockpot and cook, stirring, until cooked through and golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
Return onion, mushroom and garlic to stock-pot with browned ground turkey.
Add black beans and canned tomatoes, stirring to combine, then add water or broth.
Add cilantro, kosher salt, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.
Increase heat to a simmer and let cook, 25 minutes.
Serve in bowls and garnish with green onions and cheddar. * If using for meal prep, see suggestion to cool and store appropriately.


MEAL PREP SUGGESTION: If making this recipe for meal prep, let cool for 10-15 minutes off stove top and separate into 1/2. Refrigerate 1/2 and freeze 1/2 for either the second 1/2 of the week or for the following week.


PREP: 0:20



SERVINGS: 8 – 10