What’s For Breakfast? Another Spring Salad


SpringSalad

Spring is in the air! I have been giving the “I’m watching you” eyes to my linen suits in my closet. I know the rules: linen suits are relegated to the closet except between Memorial Day and Labor Day; official summer months only. Despite that, there have been a few days in the high 60’s, and probably they were over 70 in the sun. And that makes me want to break out my linen suits! Or, at least start to wear the summer colors. And to go along with that “summer is coming” feeling I am taking full advantage of the spring fruits in my cooking!

What you’ll need:

  • Baby Kale (about a cup)
  • Strawberry (about 4 medium organic strawberries)
  • Kiwi (1 kiwi, skinned)
  • Cucumber (1/4 medium cucumber)
  • Crimini mushrooms (about 2)
  • Turkey (about 4 ounces)
  • Flax seed (1 tablespoon)
  • Olive Oil (Extra Virgin!) (1-2 tablespoons)

As with most salads, this one is fairly simple. Chop the ingredients, mix them all together, and you have your salad! So let’s talk about the ingredients instead!

SpringSalad2

I find that Kale is a seasonal treat. For “Spring” flavors, I find myself looking at “Baby” vegetables. And yes, I tend toward the mature plants in the summer and fall too – it just works out that way. I am sure that there is some science or chemistry behind that, but I’m not going to get in to that. I just think that this spring salad is supported by the “light” flavors of the baby kale. It’s a great vegetable, and the flavor of the “baby” version is just perfect for this salad! If I were to use other greens, I would likely go with “baby” spinach, or a “spring mix” of vegetables.

Kiwi and strawberry. For some reason, that seems to be a seasonal mix, though from the perspective of the individual fruit, I can’t imagine why… Kiwi is an autumn fruit, though mostly grown near the equator where seasons are less obvious. Strawberry is a spring fruit. Either way, I’m happy eating them together. Their flavors are definitely complimentary, and they make this salad quite delicious! In fact, as much fun as strawberry has been for me this spring, I think that the inclusion of the kiwi and the baby kale is what really sets this salad apart; or brings it together. These ingredients make a cohesive and delicious salad!

Questions:

  • I have a few quest posts coming up. The most interesting is a Paleo Cocktail which I will be trying to put together. Do any of you have a particular cocktail that you like/love and have been doing a Paleo version of?
  • What kinds of “Spring Salads” have you been eating?
  • I am continue to work on the “Slow-Cooker Smoked Meat” recipe, and have further refined it from the last attempt (though it was quite successful!). Have any of you made an attempt? What was your experience with it?

What’s For Breakfast? Crimini Mushrooms And Zucchini Scrambled Eggs


EggsMushroomsZuccini

I had a fantastic weekend! The sun was out, the temperature was quite nice, and the weather was fantastic all weekend! I got in a couple of great runs, and some workouts besides. All told, the weekend couldn’t have been better! So, of course, just to make sure that I meant it when I said it, the people in the apartment above me spent the entire night dancing on the only squeeky board in their apartment. And when I say all night, I really mean all night! My wife and I actually looked at each other at 2:30am and asked “Should we go up there?” Honest to god, I am not sure if they brewed several pots of coffee to stay up and dance on that floor board or not, but they did it clear through the night!

Needless to say, this morning I was in need of some serious comfort food. But, perhaps even more importantly, it needed to be something to help fuel me through the day, not something to give me a brief sugar-high so that I can crash at 10:00am. Without a full night of sleep, I know better than to think that I can recover from a sugar crash today… It just isn’t going to happen!!

One note: You may or may not have noticed the questions that I’m posing at the end of some of my posts now. Since you all are reading and commenting regularly, and it’s helping to keep me motivated, I have decided to give you a little something back: help me to understand what things you’re looking for, and I will try to respond!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Eggs (pastured, no-soy feed)
  • 1 small Zucchini, chopped (2 “baby” zucchini)
  • 2 Crimini Mushrooms, chopped
  • Rosemary, Sea Salt, Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

Cook and Prep time: About 20 minutes
Serves: 1 (but easy to double!)

First chop and saute the mushrooms in the Coconut oil on just under a medium heat, about 4 out of 10. These take the longest to cook, so start them first. Also, this is a great time to add about half of the rosemary that you’re going to use. Save the other half for when you add the zucchini, later. While the mushrooms are sauteing, chop up the zucchini. Stir the mushrooms every minute or so.

After about 5 minutes of cooking add the zucchini and the rest of the rosemary. At this point, turn the heat up to about 5 or 6, or just over medium. You want the zucchini to crisp a bit, but you don’t want it to soften much – the flavor is great when it’s browned, but it’s harder to cook with when it softens. Stir regularly for about 2 minutes.

At about 7 minutes of cooking total, or 2 minutes after you added the zucchini, go ahead and pour the eggs in over the top of the zucchini and mushrooms. As I have mentioned previously, I don’t pre-mix my eggs when I’m making scrambled eggs. There are a variety of reasons: I don’t see the benefit, I think that they’ll all be mixed up in the pan anyway, so why bother pre-mixing, I like the coloring of the yellows and whites, which you lose when you pre-mix. I think that’s enough reasoning for now, but if you pre-mix, that’s fine too – just be ready to add the eggs on time. On top of the eggs, you can add the rest of your spices. At this point, you can turn the heat up to about a 7 out of 10, letting the eggs cook very quickly. And make sure that you’re stirring constantly to keep the eggs from burning or sticking to the pan. There won’t be any coconut oil in the pan to make that easier for you – so be proactive and keep the eggs moving!

Serving:

I like my eggs well done, so I cook them until the eggs are starting to brown slightly. The extra flavor is something I find quite satisfying, and fortunately, my wife likes her eggs that way too! Once the eggs are cooked the way you like, go ahead and serve them on a bowl, or in a plate. If you need a bit more fat with your meal, this will go really well with some avocado!

Questions:

  • What’s a typical breakfast food for you?
  • How do you like it prepared? Why do you like it that way?
  • What breakfast foods are you looking to try, but haven’t yet? And what is the hold-up?

How Do You Fuel The Fire?


BaconShrimp-Plated

I was asked a really interesting question the other day while working out with a friend. See, in our workout-chatting, he asked me about my workouts for the past several days, and marveled at my claim to have had 3 workouts within 24 hours, and still able to put together a good, strong workout! He asked me: “How do you fuel your workouts? What do you eat before and after your workouts to prepare for that kind of an output?” So, today’s post is going to answer that question.

I’ll get to my macronutrient breakdown in a minute. First, let me tell you why that question is important. I had had a rough 3 days! They were great – but they were rough! Here’s the breakdown: On Sunday, just for the heck of it, I ran 14 miles. It wasn’t planned. I just headed out for a run, and each time I came to a fork in the road, I chose the one which would lengthen my run. I got home after my unplanned long-run and mapped out the distance I had run, learning to my delight that it had been just a bit over 14 miles! So Monday I took it easy, letting my body recover. I had every intention of running on Tuesday morning, but I stayed up late on Monday night and slept late on Tuesday, missing my run.

Soshable.com Starting Line photo

Photo courtesy of Soshable.com

Tuesday night I came home with that familiar “itch” to go for a run, so I did! I pumped out a 6-mile run with a really hard sprint workout in the middle, and came back beaming with excitement from my workout! I felt great, and that leg-“itch” was completely taken care of! So on Wednesday morning when I woke up, I figured I would do a quick “recovery run” to keep my legs nice and loose, and to get back in the morning run pattern. I felt good! A little bit of soreness, which was expected, but otherwise comfortable. Then, Wednesday night I got a text from a friend asking me if I wanted to join him on a workout. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself, doing a thorough mental systems-check to see if it was even feasible. “Sure!” I texted back, after mentally confirming that I would be fine.

Where is all this headed? Well, let me tell you: None of those three workouts was planned. So, since this blog is all about food, let me catch you up a bit on how I feed myself; fueling my capacity to output 3 workouts in 24 hours, and still be in good shape.

How do I fuel the fire?

StewedShankSteakMy daily macronutrient intake is almost identical, regardless of the season, my fitness goals, or what social situations are going on. An average of once a month, I fast for a day or so. Similarly, about twice per month I have a high-carb day, ingesting perhaps 200 or more grams of carbs. These are usually fruit, dried fruit, or some other Paleo appropriate form of carbohydrate. Other than that, I eat approximately 70-80 grams of carbs per day, every day. Here’s the big deal: I did not eat any differently on Tuesday, or Wednesday, than I do almost every other day. I can give you a meal-by-meal breakdown, if you like. I meticulous about my eating, and don’t mind sharing it. But my guess is that you all don’t really want to know exactly what I eat. You want to know what I do to make the workouts work, right?

Managing my macronutrient intake.

Here’s the big question: If I know that I’ll eat a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats throughout the day, will choosing¬†when I eat those make any difference in my output potential? Well, research suggests that the answer to that question is “Yes.” According to the current research available, carbs are processed and absorbed faster immediately following a workout. Similarly, current research supports eating protein immediately following a workout.

Now don’t go grabbing a Power Bar just yet!¬†The body, as I have come to understand, responds best to what I like to call a “Whole Meal” – that is, if you’re going to have protein, eat a steak. If you’re going to have some carbs, eat an apple. And if you want to consume both protein and carbohydrates, have a meal. A real meal. Eat a steak and a salad. Or, like I’ve done in the past, follow one of these “Post Workout Meals” that I use:

As you can see, I go for the whole-meal plan. It doesn’t have to be a big meal, mind you. But if I’m going to eat, I’m going to give my body the full spectrum of what it needs: the obvious macronutrients consisting of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, and I will also make sure, by using whole-food meals, that I am giving it a battery of the vitamins and minerals that it needs too!

How did this help me do 3 hard workouts in 24 hours?

Well, the first of the workouts was right before dinner, so I cooked a “Post Workout Meal” while I was working out, and ate when I returned. It was delicious, nutritious, and precisely what my body needed at that time! The following day, I worked out right before breakfast, so, again, I had a meal waiting for me! In both cases, recovery was maximized by having the full spectrum of nutrients, vitamins and minerals all completely available as the body needed them! And that made the difference between having to say “No”, or actually getting to say “Yes!” when my friend called me for my third workout in 24 hours! Would I do anything differently? Absolutely not.

What’s For Dinner? Ground Beef, Sauteed Bella Mushrooms, And Bacon Mashed Sweet Potatoes


GroundBeefBaconMash

My legs are a bit sore from the triple-workout day-and-a-half I pulled off on Tuesday/Wednesday. It’s a good sore! I like feeling like I accomplished something, and that mild residual soreness 2 days after a tough workout is a great way to know that you’ve put together a solid workout! The keyword, of course, is “mild” when talking about the post-workout soreness – if it’s a sharp soreness, you may have overdone it. To make sure that I’m ready for a great weekend, I’m going to get in a decent workout this evening, and have a great meal when I get in tonight!

What you’ll need:

  • Beef and Simple Cilantro Sauce:
  • 1 lb Grass-fed Ground Beef
  • Italian Seasoning, Salt, and Pepper
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 can Coconut Cream
  • 1-inch Ginger
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Sauteed Bella Mushrooms:
  • 6-8 ounces Crimini Mushrooms (also known as Baby Bella)
  • Rosemary (fresh is best, dried will be fine)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • Bacon Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
  • 1/2 lb Bacon, crumbled
  • 2 medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1-inch Ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter (or 4 tbsp Coconut cream)

Prep and Cook Time: About 1 hour
Serves: 2, with some leftovers

BaconYamMashHalfWayStart with the Sweet Potatoes – they take the longest to cook. Chop these up in to 1/2 cubes, or so, and drop them in a pot to boil. Add water to the pot until it covers the sweet potatoes, then set it to boil. Keep an eye on the pot, and stir it occasionally until the sweet potato chunks start to fall apart in the pot. Hopefully that will start to happen at about 15 minutes before dinner time.

CilantroSauceBlendWhile the potatoes are boiling, make the cilantro sauce. First wash the cilantro – this usually does not come pre-washed, and I think it’s better that way! Next chop the cilantro, garlic, and ginger. Throw it all in a blender with the rest of the ingredients, and blend thoroughly until the color is mostly uniform. Some recipes call for using only the cilantro leaves, but I think the stems have a lot of flavor – so I use the whole bunch. As this is fully blended, give it a taste and decide whether it needs just a bit of salt or not. Remember, though, that you’re also likely to salt the beef while you cook that, so don’t overdo the salt in the sauce! Once this is done and ready, stick it in the refrigerator to cool while you’re making the rest of dinner.

About 20 minutes before the meal, you’ll want to start cooking both the beef, the mushrooms, and the bacon. I hope it’s not necessary to say this, but these should be cooked in different pans. Go ahead and season the beef and mushrooms now too, so that the seasoning has a chance to cook in. I would suggest cooking the bacon on high heat, so that it cooks fast, and gets nice and crispy! I find that crispy bacon is easiest to crumble. And remember to stir the beef and mushrooms regularly. As a note: depending on your stove, you may decide it’s best to cook the beef and mushrooms together. This is a fine, and quite delicious alternative way to make this meal. Some of the time, that’s exactly what I do. But some times I just want to enjoy the singular flavor of the cooked mushrooms – they really can be quite delicious on their own!

Once the beef and bacon are started, it’s time to turn your attention back to the sweet potato mash. At this point, the water should be almost entirely boiled off, and the sweet potatoes should be disintegrating in the pot. If you’ve timed it right, it should be about 15 minutes before dinner time, and the sweet potatoes should be ready for a quick mashing, before being set aside for serving. Add the coconut butter or cream, and start mashing! I always use a hand-masher, but I understand that a food processor works quite well for this too. Don’t forget to stir the beef and mushrooms.

BaconYamMashAlmostDoneAs the bacon is done, pull it out of the pan, dry it on a paper bag, and crumble it. I really like using a paper bag for two reasons. First, a lot of the grocery stores I shop at give them instead of plastic for my groceries, so I always have a few on hand, and I would much prefer to re-use these than to throw away a paper towel! Second, the paper bag is extra convenient because it is strong enough to allow you to use it (getting now three uses out of the same bag!) to crush the bacon after you’ve dried the bacon in the bag. It works great! Give a quick stir to the beef and mushrooms too.

Serving:

If you’ve timed things right, everything should be finished up at just about the same time! The bacon should be ready to be sprinkled on top of the mashed sweet potatoes. The beef should be just about done, and ready to serve. Serve the mushrooms first, if you did not combine them with the beef. The sweet potato is plated next. If you elected (great for family-style meals) to bring the sweet potato and bacon to the table separately, just make sure that the bacon is sprinkled on top of the sweet potato after serving. Finally, serve the beef, drizzling the cilantro sauce across the top of the beef. This sauce will be delicious with the mushrooms too, so if you have extra, it’s ok to serve a bit on the plate to dip the mushrooms in as you eat them. Or save the extra for a dip and veggies mid-day snack tomorrow!

And enjoy!

What’s For Dinner? Another Post-Workout Meal!


AfterWorkoutSteakAndCuminCarrots

I am in a GREAT mood today! I had an awesome workout last night with a friend that I’ve been trying to catch up with for weeks! I slept well. The weather is amazing! It’s not too warm, nor too cool, and it’s bright and sunny outside! It is literally the best kind of Spring weather! And I’ve been getting some great workouts, eating some amazing food, and everything is just peachy! Actually, since it’s spring, it’s more strawberry-y. Or, maybe blueberry-y. Or something like that. But anyway, back to the topic at hand: My post workout meal. I wasn’t planning a workout last night, but was pleasantly surprised by a text message on my way home inviting me to join my friend for a workout. I immediately accepted, got home, changed, and set up today’s “What’s For Dinner?” meal to be ready for me when I returned!

What you’ll need:

  • 1lb Grass-fed beef (any cut will do, even ground)
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 carrots
  • Cumin on the carrots
  • Fresh black pepper on the steak
  • 1 large Avocado

Prep and Cook time: about 70 minutes
Serves: 2

AfterWorkoutSteakAndCuminCarrots-PreCooked

Put the steak in a pan to cook on “simmer” or about 2 out of 10. Slice the carrots the long way in to nice, thick slices. These are going to simmer with the beef, so they need to be thick enough to not fall apart while they’re cooking. Carefully place the sliced ginger on top of the beef, spreading it out to cover the beef. As I’ve mentioned before, this helps to keep the moisture in the beef while it cooks, making sure that the final product is nice and moist. Spread the carrots around the steak, put the coconut oil on top of the steak, season the steak with the black pepper, and season the carrots with the cumin. Now cover, and leave it – it should be ready for you in an hour, or so, when you’re done with your workout!

Since we’ve done this meal before, I’ll talk more about why I love it, and less about how to do it. Letting the carrots simmer with the cumin and the steak juice is really delicious! The carrots on the bottom will ever so lightly caramelize, while on the top they will soften like they’re steamed. The water vapor inside the covered pan will help the carrots to absorb the cumin flavor. And because the cook time is so short, they will maintain just a bit of their crispness, so the combination of the flavor of the spice, the different textures, and the caramelized flavor from the bottom will be really great!

I love slow-cooked meat. The way that the flavor of the meat, with whatever spices you’re using mix is almost always just exactly what I’m looking for. I was looking for something a little more on the spicy side last night, especially to help my muscles recover from the workout. I’ve read a lot about how much cumin, pepper, and ginger are great for assisting in recovery. Not to mention having a great source of protein, like grass-fed steak. Fortunately, the flavors of cumin, pepper, and ginger seem to mix really really well in a slow-cooked steak! So I get to eat something that will aid in my recovery, while still tasting delicious! What a combination!

Questions:

  1. I was asked recently why I don’t do any diet-related posts, why my posting is almost entire food-specific. Would you like to see some posts from me that are diet or exercise specific posts? If so, how many?
  2. I LOVED the crock-pot smoked meat post the other day, and I really can’t wait to give it another try! What kinds of things would you guys like to see me try? Which flavor combinations (alcohol? vinegar? other fruits? tubers/veggies?) and/or meats (pork, chicken, beef, turkey, fish) would you like to see me use? And are there any other ingredients that you’d like to see (cedar plank? applewood plank? juniper berries? fresh-cut pine boughs?) me try out?
  3. This may be the most important question: I am actually planning on doing a “Weekend Food Commentary” post for this weekend. Do any of you have a topic that’s been sitting in your head that you’d like to see me tackle?