Restaurant Review: Plan B Burger, Milford, Connecticut


PlanB-Burger-InTheGrass-Plate1

It is delightful to see more and more restaurants start to offer Paleo-friendly food options! I’ve talked about how to “build your own” Paleo meals in a restaurant before. Perhaps one of these days I will actually sit down and write up a little “Paleo Restaurant Guide” for you all to print out and use. But in the mean time, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying going to some of the closer-to-Paleo restaurants, and trying their fare!

Plan B Burger:

Overall, this was a very nice experience. The decor was impressive, and clearly had been carefully considered. The ambiance of the place was very much what I would consider to be an upscale Bar & Grill style restaurant, and considering the bar itself took up nearly 25% of the available space in the restaurant, my guess is that the owners were looking for that feel as well.

Menu:

The menu, like the decor, is very Bar & Grill. They have a lot of easy-to-make appetizers, with a focus on the Bar & Grill types of hot-sellers, like wings and sliders. While we were ordering, a waiter brought out a “Tower of Sliders” which was quite impressive – it was 3 sliders, stacked and pinned in a tower formation. Impressive, but definitely not Paleo. The most impressive part of the menu overall was this:

The Menu featured “Verified Humane” Meats.

I find this to be amazing, and definitely worthy of my business! I am not sure if they’re additionally verifying the meat themselves, or if they’re just taking a “Verified Humane” certification at it’s word. And either of those is fine with me, because just the fact that they’re cognizant of that, and working to bring it to the market is a step in the right direction!

There was a “Gluten Free” Menu. This is where Plan B Burger really started to stand out. I love that restaurants are really picking up on the Gluten Free culture which has been growing in strength. There are some restaurants out there which are almost entirely Gluten Free, while others are starting to build a “Gluten Free” menu, to cater to their Gluten Free guests. It’s fantastic! And Plan B Burger certainly deserves commendation!
PlanB-Burger-InTheGrass-Plate

Off the Gluten Free Menu, I ordered a burger called “The Squeeler” which is a half-pork, half-beef burger, shown in the pictures above and below. It is served with bacon, cheese, tomato, mustard and mayo. I ordered it without the cheese, mustard and mayo. There’s no sense in ordering an exciting Paleo meal, only to sully it with non-Paleo goo! Soy with your “Squeeler” anyone?? Didn’t think so.

PlanB-Burger-InTheGrass

The menu offered the option to order your burgers “In The Grass” which would result in the burger being served on a thick slice of lettuce. And, as you can see from the picture above, a “slice of lettuce” is exactly what they give you! They take a head of lettuce, and slice a chunk out of the middle, serving the burger on top of the slice. It’s excellent!

The cons:

It’s still a normal Bar & Grill, not a Paleo restaurant. And what that means is that you need to remember to speak with your waiter about what the burger will be cooked in. If you forget to ask for Butter or Olive Oil, it will be cooked in Pam, or some other Soy-based cooking spray. This is important! Make sure to request that your burger, or whatever foods you’re eating, are cooked in butter or olive oil!

Summary:

This is an impressive restaurant. The decor, combined with the efforts that the kitchen and executive chef made in putting together a Gluten Free menu are impressive. Their “Verified Humane” meat is a huge plus! All told, as long as you remember to talk about your food allergies (yes, Paleo people, you simply have to use the word “Allergy” when dealing with wheat and soy in foods) you should come out the other side feeling satisfied, healthy, and energized by the fact that restaurants are starting work harder for higher quality foods!

What’s For Dinner? Steak & Sweet Potato Steak Fries


SteakAndPotatoes

UPC’s Steak Fries

Have you ever wondered what “Steak Fries” actually means? A quick internet search will bring up all sorts of different baked potato-fry recipes. You’ll see the skinny-cut that restaurants most often serve all the way through the thick-cut home-fry style steak fries. My question, every time I have seen them on a menu, has been: “Why are they ‘Steak Fries’?” What is special about these fries that warrants a separate name? I mean, if they’re just “Fries” which are being served with a steak, that shouldn’t warrant a name of it’s own, right?
Well, I’ve decided that we need a definition for what “Steak Fries” are, and it’s not enough for it to just be some fries served with a steak.

Paleo Definition: Steak Fries

“French Fry” or “Home Fry” cut sweet potatoes, cooked at a high temperature, skin down, in the same pan as a steak. By cooking the “Steak Fries” in that same pan, the sweet potato fries will take on some of the flavor of the steak. Hence the name: “Steak Fries”.

Steak & Steak Fries; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Rib Eye Steak (any fatty cut will do – but you need the fat for the Steak Fries to really come out excellent)
  • 2 long Sweet Potatoes, sliced home-fry style (Organic, if possible)
  • Spices: Ground Black Pepper, Turmeric, Oregano
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 8-10 Cherry Tomatoes, chopped

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes

1. Add the steak to your pan and season lightly on the top of the steak.

2. Arrange the Steak Fries around the edge of the steak with the skin down on the pan.

3. Cook on Medium-High, covered, for 5 minutes.

4. After 5 minutes of cook time, flip the steak, and continue to cook on Medium-High, covered, for another 3-4 minutes.

5. Turn the heat down to just below Medium and uncover the pan.

6. Re-spice the steak, and let the steak and Steak Fries continue to cook until you’re ready to serve. Total cook time should not exceed 20 minutes.

7. Prepare the side-salad. Serve when ready!

Serving:

Serve the salad first, followed by the steak. If you did this right, the sweet potato Steak Fries should be moist and soft, and you’ll want to have easy access to them in order to serve them without damaging their shape or presentation. Once the steak and salad are served, arrange the Steak Fries parallel to each other, serve, and enjoy!

Workout and Diet


Day 31 of my 90-day challenge.

Today’s Workout

  • Morning Workout:
  • Afternoon Workout: Speed
  • 2 miles warm-up
  • 2 miles cool-down
  • I did a full-length 200-sprint session (12 200s, total):
  • 32, 36, 35, 35, 35, 35, 35, 34, 35, 35, 35, 35
  • After my 12 200s: I did 2 35 second hill-sprints.
  • And I did a 200 jog in between each 200 sprint (I was on a track) to complete the lap.
  • Total Mileage: 7 Mile
  • Weekly Total: 9 Miles

Today’s Diet:

  • Breakfast:
  • Celery and Mushroom Eggs
  • Morning Snack:
  • Nothing
  • Lunch: Salad
  • Mixed salad greens, Ham, Carrots, Mushrooms, Tomato, Leeks, Olive Oil
  • Afternoon Snack:
  • Nothing
  • Dinner:
  • Braised Ham-Steak with slow-cooked carrots and mushrooms.

This 200 workout was awesome! It was really exciting for me to be able to hold my goal pace of 35 seconds for the entire workout! It wasn’t too surprising when I broke the goal pace (with a 32) on my first sprint, nor was the 36 too surprising. Getting your speed right takes practice. But then I dialed it in and stayed right on the 35 second mark for the remainder of the workout!!

This is a huge win for me! I think I need to drop another 2-3 seconds by the end of the summer, and be able to sustain 32 seconds, or so, for a full-length sprint workout (16-20 by that point?). But even hitting and maintaining a 35 for the full length is a great feeling, and really pumps me up for keeping this thing going strong! I had just a little left over after finishing the 12 that I set out to do. Rather than tacking on another 4 200s, my wife suggested that I take it to the hills, and give myself some 35-second all-outs and see if I can get close to the 200 marker. My first sprint was close. My second one was not so close…

What’s For Lunch? Open Faced Steak Sandwich, with Portobello Mushroom Caps


OpenFaceSteakSandwich

UPC’s Open Faced Steak Sandwich

I have been using the Portobello Mushroom Caps for some time as my burger buns in restaurants. I ask for it in almost every restaurant I go to, and when they say yes, I get all excited and often go back! But this past weekend was the first time I’ve done it at home. I was inspired by the food, the cooking style, and even how much we all enjoyed it when we ate it! I was so inspired, in fact, that I decided to see what other ways I could use that idea. Today’s meal: the open faced steak sandwich.
This is most often served as a steak on top of a baguette, or some garlic bread. It’s an interesting meal, and one that I used to enjoy thoroughly when I was pre-Paleo. The idea of eating a steak from a slice of otherwise enticing bread was always something that sold me. Since going Paleo, of course, I haven’t recreated that dish. Until today.

Open Faced Steak Sandwich; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak
  • 4 Portobello Mushroom Caps
  • Spices: I used black pepper and turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Green Olives
  • Burger dressings: Lettuce leaves, Sliced Tomato, Sliced Onion, etc.

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 45 minutes

1. Coat a large baking sheet with the coconut oil, then place the mushroom caps face up on the sheet.

2. Put the mushroom caps in the oven at 400 degrees.

3. After 20 minutes of bake time, flip the mushroom caps so that they’re face down.

4. After flipping the mushroom caps, add the steak to a pan and cook on high, covered.

5. Give the steak 3-4 minutes before turning the heat down to medium.

6. After about 7-8 minutes of cook time, flip the steak and spice the top with your spices. Continue to cook on medium, covered.

7. About 3 minutes before meal time, turn the steak back up to high heat.

8. Cook the steak for 1 minute on high, then flip it again, to cook for the remaining 2 minutes. Leave the pan uncovered for the remainder of the meal.

Serving:

Serve the “bottom” mushroom cap on each plate first. These should be somewhat soggy, since heating a mushroom cap often releases the water it has stored inside it. That’s fine, and it will taste delicious! Serve the steak on top of the “bottom” mushroom cap. Then serve the “top” mushroom cap to the side of the steak, and layer your “burger fixings” on top of the “top” cap. Now add your salad and/or green olives to the plate to make a complete meal. And enjoy!

Workout and Diet


Day 30 of my 90-day challenge.

Today’s Workout

  • Morning Workout:
  • 1 mile
  • Total Mileage: 1 Mile
  • Weekly Total: 2 Miles

Today’s Diet:

  • Breakfast:
  • Eggs with Celery and Mushrooms
  • Morning Snack:
  • 1 oz Baker’s Chocolate (100%)
  • Lunch: Salad
  • Salad with Sweet Potato, Cabbage, Braised Beef, Olive Oil
  • Afternoon Snack:
  • 1 oz Baker’s Chocolate (100%)
  • Dinner:
  • Braised beef, Portobello mushroom caps, green olives
  • Evening Snacks:
  • 4 oz dried mango
  • 6 prunes
  • 2 oz coconut chips
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter

Off Day (Second of the week) – I had a helluva hard workout on Sunday, so 2 off-days in a row is kind of ok. But unless I get a gym day in on Friday, that means I will have at least 3 off-days this week.

I was ravenous for dinner. I ate everything on my plate, some of what my wife had left over, then I hit up the dried mangoes and coconut chips. It was crazy… I wonder if this is the calorie-craving that comes after a super-hard workout. Keeping in mind that Sunday I did a back-to-back serious track workout, once on my own, and after that with my wife, and totalled over 13 miles with sprints, running, and plyometrics, it’s not surprising that I would have a huge craving. It is a little surprising that it waited until Tuesday evening to set in. But that’s ok; I’ll just keep an eye out for that next time.

Sprints tomorrow night.

What’s For Dinner? Braised Ham Steak, Caramelized Mushrooms, and Fruit Salad


BraisedHamSteakAndMushrooms

UPC’s Braised Ham Steak

We’ve had a bit of a heat wave these past few weeks. It has been really hot – over 90 degrees. Despite the heat I have been hitting the track every chance I get. I’ve been really enjoying my speed work, and I’ve been prioritizing the workouts every chance that I get! Of course, working a full time job doesn’t help, but I find time to get my workouts in, cook 3 meals per day for the two of us, and still squeeze in some social time.
Strangely, though, I seem to be the only person out on the River Walk every morning lately. There aren’t any other people walking to work, cycling, running, or even walking their dogs. It’s almost like the overabundance of Air Conditioning has weakened people’s capacity to handle heat at all. A legitimate heat-wave has come in, and scared people inside not just during the hottest hours of the day, but also in the morning and evening when the heat is much more tolerable. And I’m out there running to the ferry in my suit! I wonder what would happen if the heat went up another 5 degrees? Would people stop going to work?

Braised Ham Steak; What you’ll need:

  • 1lb Ham Steak (I used a Niman Ranch smoked ham steak)
  • 2 cups Mixed Organic Mushrooms (I used a great bag of frozen mushrooms I picked up at Whole Foods!)
  • Spices: Sea Salt, Pepper, Turmeric, Garlic, etc. Almost any spice combination will be delicious with a braised meat! (mine is smoked, so I used fresh ground pepper only)
  • 6 medium Strawberries (Organic please?)
  • 6 medium Figs (Also Organic!)
  • 2 cups Spinach Leaves (Organic; and I used “baby” spinach)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 70 minutes

1. Put the ham steak in a covered pan on high heat.

2. Cook on high, covered, for about 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium-low and flip the ham-steak.

3. Add just enough water to the pan to reach about half-way up the steak. Make sure to cover the pan while cooking.

4. Keep refreshing the water as it boils off. You will want to check the steak every 10 minutes or so to refresh the water.

5. Add the mushrooms to the pan after 20 minutes of cooking.

6. Spice the ham steak with whichever spices you’re using after about 30 minutes of cooking. I used only fresh ground black pepper, since the ham was smoked and had plenty of flavor!

7. While waiting for the ham steak to cook, prepare the salad.

8. The steak will be ready after a minimum of 60 minutes of cook time. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

If you did this right, there should be a pleasant browning on the top of the steak, which is the hallmark of a braised meat. This caramelized meat is delicious!
This recipe will work just as well with beef or chicken. I used the ham steak because I had one, and I love a good smoked ham!
This can be cooked much longer, up to three times as long (3 hours of cooking) if you have the time and patience for it. But it takes constant maintenance, since you will need to refresh the water regularly.

Questions:

  • Do you hide from the weather?
  • Which kinds of weather do you hide from? Rain? Heat? Snow?
  • Have you ever tried to do “contrarian” activities during extreme weather? For example: I love to run in rainstorms. Have you tried that?
  • What kinds of weather do you like the most for your high-output activities?

Workout and Diet


Day 29 of my 90-day challenge.

Today’s Workout

  • Morning Workout:
  • 1 mile
  • Total Mileage: 1 Mile
  • Weekly Total: 1 Mile

Today’s Diet:

  • Breakfast:
  • Salad with Sweet Potato, Turkey, Ham, Caramelized Onions, Olive Oil
  • Morning Snack:
  • 1 oz Baker’s Chocolate (100%)
  • Lunch: Salad
  • Salad with Sweet Potato, Turkey, Ham, Caramelized Onions, Olive Oil
  • Afternoon Snack:
  • 1 oz Baker’s Chocolate (100%)
  • 2 Honey Ginger candies
  • Dinner:
  • 1/2 lb Coconut Shrimp, 1/2 Avocado, Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions

Off Day