Introduction: Muscle Building Protein Balls to Feed a Training Athlete

Protein Balls are an essential building block to muscle repair and to help stimulate muscle growth.  It is a combination of high protein intake, carbohydrates to help produce ATP, and basic essential vitamins and minerals.  ATP, also known as Adenosine Triphosphate is the fuel to drive us into physical activity.  In order to perform at our best we need substantial amounts of ATP, and we can do this by supplementing healthy meals like Protein Balls. Protein balls are tuna based with complimenting seasonings and cheese holding together the delicious entity.


Step 1: Ingredients and Essential Tools

1/2 - Stack of Unsalted Crackers
1 - Large Egg
2 -Can's of Tuna in Water
1 - Jar of Chunky Salsa
1 - Bottle of Virgin Olive
4 - Servings of Asparagus
1 - Cup of Cottage Cheese
5 - Ounces of  Mozzarella Cheese
1 - Black Pepper, Lemon Pepper, and Basil Leaf

If you like, you can add a complimenting side dish of low-fat cottage cheese.  This truly makes this a high-protein diet meal.  


1            - Skillet/Searing Pan
1            - Mixing Bowl
1            - Baking Sheet
1            - Mixing Spoon
1            - Knife/Kitchen Scissors
1            - Mobile Grill (i.e. George Foreman Grill)
1            - Can Opener

You will need a mobile grill if you plan to grill your asparagus, but if you want to get the best nutritional value you can steam the vegetable.  By steaming the asparagus you keep all the nutrients within the vegetable versus cooking on a grill where you will lose some nutrient value (not a noticeable difference unless you are eating large quantities).


Step 2: Nutrition Facts for the Healthy Person

Thanks to for a Meal Nutrition Calculator, I was able to provide a relative calorie and protein intake from this meal.

This meal is defined as protein balls due to the 119g of quality protein that comes directly from the food you eat.  This is by far the best supplementation for a training athlete compared to power based protein replacement. 

Also, do not fear the fat content in this meal.  The numbers may be high, but if you can see we have over half of the fat content as Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fat.  These are labeled as the "good" fats that your body needs. The amount of time to burn of this meal is the time you put into your work out.  Nonetheless, is your energy supplier, which makes this a promising meal for the training athlete.

Step 3: Mixing Bowl and Adding Tuna

Our initial steps in preparing for the tuna balls is to establish a mixing bowl.  I have chosen a clear plastic container for both my convenience and you the viewer.  We will start by getting our can opener tool and remove the lids of  both "Tuna in Water" cans.  You will then use your proper mixing utensil, which mine is a large spoon and use it to get  all of the tuna out of the can and into the plastic mixing container.

Next, you will do the same to the other tuna can until you have (2) cans of tuna displaced in the mixing container.

Safety:  After removing the tuna can lids to be careful with the sharp edges of the can lid.  Handle the lid by not touching the cut edge and placing two fingers on each side i the middle of the plane.  Discard as soon as possible.

Step 4: Adding Eggs to Mixing Bowl

Our next step is to include (1) Large egg into our mixing bowl/container.  The purpose is to have the whole egg to help glue the materials into a ball along with adding a good source of protein. 

You may mix the ingredients to have an even spread of egg and tuna.


Step 5: Adding Cheese to Mixing Bowl

We will continue by adding 3 to 5 ounces of mozzarella cheese to the mixing bowl.  The cheese adds protein, calcium, and the "glue" that cohesively holds the protein ball together.

Remember: In order to be consistent in having a healthy meal, you need to stay within a portion size.  This will keep the calorie count to a minimal with out hindering your nutrient intake.

Step 6: Adding Salsa, Seasoning, Then Mixing Ingredients

Next, we include (3) full-spoon servings of salsa.  The salsa we prefer would be a chunky salsa, so the ingredients will give texture to the protein ball along with a bite at the end.

Also, you will include the remainder of the spices that will compliment your taste buds.  I have selected (3) normal combination for a fish based meat: Black Pepper, Lemon Pepper, and Basil Leaf.  Leave a pinch or two of each in the mixing bowl.

Now, you will start mixing the ingredients to provide a blend of the variety of ingredients.  Mix for at least 60 seconds. Then move to the following step.


Step 7: Breading the Protein Balls

Our next task is to take a full stack of crackers and open the package.  Next you will displace half of the package and set them into a new container and away from the cooking area.  The half that remains in the original package, will then be hand crushed.  The crackers are then used to take in the moisture of the tuna and also create a breading.  

*Note: Keeping the crackers in the original package will contain the ingredients and save you from a mess later. 

The crackers serve as a bread and supplement the neccessary carbohydrates to regain your glycogen and ATP energy levels.

Step 8: Preparing Asparagus

The next step in preparing our meal is to wash the asparagus.  For this meal you will use (10) or less spears of asparagus.  Grab the spears and wash them thoroughly under a cold water supply.  Then you will cut and remove an inch or more of teach end of the spears to ensure freshness and quality of vegetables. 

Step 9: Glazing the Base of the Searing Pan

After we've cleaned the vegetables we are prepared to start browning the protein balls.  We start by glazing the searing pan with Virgin olive oil.  This will help with the browning process and keeping the tuna from sticking to the bottom of the pan/skillet.  Thoroughly distribute the oil on the pan by rotating the angle of the handle several times until he base is completely covered with olive oil.

Next, you will turn on the stove top to a medium setting to heat up the oil and to efficiently place the protein balls in the pan upon completion. Also, turn on the oven to 350 degrees preheat which should take up to 5-10 minutes.  This will be enough time to provide for browning of the Protein Balls.

Step 10: Creating Proprotioned Protein Ball Size to Be Browned

The next step is to create perfect entre sized balls.  You start by getting your hands wet under a cold water faucet.  This will ensure the tuna ingredient combination doesn't stick to your hands when creating the ball.  The buffer creates the separation and allows for easy handling.

You will then create a ball from the mixture at the size of a (1/3) of your palm.  Then you will place the ball on the searing pan and roll the entire ball until the ball has been glazed with virgin olive oil.

You will recursively repeat this step, until there are no more ingredients to prepare an additional ball.

This starts the process of browning and you will need to keep a close eye on each individual protein ball, depending on the location on the searing pan each protein ball will cook at a different speed.  The point of browning is the give the crispy exterior and the flavorful color. Make sure to rotate the protein balls to cover as much surface area as possible.


Step 11: Transition Seared Tuna Balls Into Oven

After 5 - 10 minutes of browning the protein balls they should all be placed onto your cooking sheet.  Evenly space the protein balls on your cooking sheet so they can dissipate any heat with out disrupting the next ball.  After the organization of the protein balls are finalized you will place the cooking sheet into the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes to ensure quality cooking of the insides of the ball.

This will also take the moisture out of the ball thus producing a quality dinner entree.

Step 12: Grill/Sautee Asparagus

Our next task is to take our mobile grill and plug it into our wall current and have it preheating.  Then you will lightly glaze your prepared asparagus with virgin olive oil and lightly season with black pepper. 

After marination the grill should be properly warmed up.  Start by  placing each spear end outwards of the grill.  You will then place the grill down on the asparagus for 2-3 minutes and you will check the asparagus and move the asparagus slightly to keep from burning.  Reapply the upper grill and maintain for little over a minute.  Directly place the cooked asparagus onto your serving plate to the desired proportions.

Step 13: Final Product

Once the protein balls are completely cooked through you will remove them from the oven.  Give (2) minutes to cool the protein balls down, then place the selected amount on a serving plate.  Also, add your finished asparagus and a complimenting dish (i.e. cottage cheese).

Lastly, before serving drizzle some salsa over the tops of the protein balls.  You have now completed a delicious high-protein (119g) meal for the training athlete.