What’s For Dinner? Maduro Beef Picadillo


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UPC’s Maduro Beef Picadillo

This has been a LONG week for me! It has nothing to do with the holiday this weekend, and waiting for the weekend to come. It’s actually been so long partly because of social engagements, and partly because of the race last weekend. I’ve been recovering from the race pretty much the entire week, and it’s been a rough recovery. I’ve only had two runs so far this week, and have had to focus most of my workouts this week on strength training. While that’s not so bad in a general sense, the reason that’s tough right now is that I’m still in training! I have 3.5 weeks to go before the big day, a short-list of pretty serious training gaps that I need to try to fill in, and only about 2 weeks where training will even be valuable for me before I will need to start tapering my speed training. Or, stated a different way: I’m feeling a bit of the pressure of race-day approaching. And it would be easier for me if my training were more normal right now. I know, the race this past weekend was part of training, and so is the recovery I’m going through. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me! But enough about training, on to today’s Maduro Beef Picadillo

I do Picadillo Beef often in my home. It’s a fantastic recipe, easy to make, it’s varied enough in flavor that it goes with any season, and nearly any side dish. It really is one of the most versatile recipes in my arsenal, and my wife and I absolutely love to eat it. The best part about it is: it’s really easy to make extra, and it’s every bit as good the next time you get to it!

UPC’s Maduro Beef Picadillo

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Beef
  • 2 Maduros, sliced and baked, then chopped (See Baked Maduros for directions)
  • 1/2 cup Raisins (I use Organic Thompson Raisins)
  • 1 cup Green Olives (I use Organic Olives)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

Serves: 2 (with a little left over)
Cook and Prep time: 15 minutes

1. In a pan, add the beef and maduros along with the coconut oil and cook on medium heat.

2. Stir regularly until the beef is mostly browned, with only a little bit of redness to it.

3. As soon as the beef is mostly browned, add the olives and raisins, and turn the heat up to medium-high, or about a 7 out of 10.

4. Stir this constantly, cooking for another minute or so, until all the beef has browned.

5. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: This is also delicious when combined with hot or spicy spices, like paprika, or other pepper-based spices. The heat melds quite well with the sweetness of the maduros and raisins.

Questions:

  • How is your training going?
  • Have you had a race recently?
  • How is your recovery generally?
  • Do you do anything to assist your recovery? Ice? Hot compression? Foam-Rolling or massages?

What’s For Lunch? UPC’s Bento-Boxes


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UPC’s Salad Bento Boxes

I’ve shared pictures of my lunch salads before, but today’s post is somewhat special. My wife and I making a concerted effort to remove unnecessary plastic from our lives. There are a couple of reasons for that, but the biggest one is an attempt to reduce our impact on the world. I’m a firm believer in the “Golden Rule” and my wife recently pointed out to me that I really should be working hard to use as much re-usable materials as possible, since that’s ultimately the best application of the “Golden Rule” in regards to my impact on the environment. She’s right, of course, and I didn’t need any convincing. The plastic containers that I had been using previously would often last me months before being replaced. But they’re still plastic. So we made the shift to glass for out refrigerator items, and we just picked up several of the Smart Planet “Meal Kits” that are made entirely from silicone.

These are awesome for a couple of reasons, in my book: they’re durable, they’re light, they’ll last until we don’t like the colors anymore, and they collapse once you’re done with them to take up less space. And, of course, most importantly, they’re not ugly. Which makes it easier for me to share my lunch recipes with you!

I may make this “Bento Box Lunch” a whole separate category, if you all end up think it’s a hit. Be sure to read the “Questions” at the end to help me figure out whether this should be a regular thing, or if I should just keep in in the 3-meal rotation that I have going now.

Today’s UPC Salad Bento Box; What you’ll need:

  • 1 Serving of UPC’s Salad Eggs
  • 1 Serving of Rosemary Carrots and Mushrooms (instructions below)
  • 1 Double-Serving Tossed Salad (any great lunch-salad will do; instructions for pictured salad below)
    UPC’s Salad Eggs:
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Organic Yellow Zucchini, chopped (obviously green zucchinis will work too!)
  • 2 Organic Carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch Organic Basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
    Rosemary Carrots and Mushrooms:
  • 2 medium Organic Carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, quartered (chopped large)
  • 4 sprigs Organic Rosemary, Rosemary pulled off the sprig and chopped
  • Optional: Add copped Celery for additional flavor and green.
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (for extra credit: use bacon grease!)
    Tossed Salad
  • 1 large Organic Avocado, chopped
  • 1 medium Organic Cucumber
  • 2 cups UPC’s Pulled Pork (alternately, sliced ham or bacon)
  • 1 bunch Organic Basil, chopped
  • 3 cups Organic Arugula, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2 (Breakfast and Lunch, depending on your meal sizes)
Cook and Prep time: About 1 hour

1. Start the UPC’s Salad Eggs. I’m going to skip the instructions for this, since they’re well documented in the linked post.

2. In a small pot, add the carrots first, then the mushrooms, rosemary, and coconut oil. Cover, and cook on high for 1 minute. After 1 minute, turn down to medium-low, and leave covered, stirring every 3-4 minutes while you prepare the rest of the Bento-Box.

3. Tend the UPC’s Salad Eggs, continuing to follow the directions in the post.

4. Turn off the carrots and mushrooms after about 12 minutes of cook time.

5. Add the chopped arugula (or your favorite salad greens) and basil to a mixing bowl. On top, add the avocado, cucumber and pulled pork. Then spread the olive oil evenly over the salad and mix carefully (I mix with my bare hands; yes I wash them first).

Serve each meal portion in to a separate section of your Bento Box, and enjoy!

Questions:

  • What are your thoughts on a full-meal post from time to time?
  • Do you like the idea of the lunch Bento-Box format?
  • Would you like to see more hot-meal components, or cold-meal components?
  • What do you bring for your own breakfast and lunch?

Dessert Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding


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UPC’s Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding

It’s been a while since I did a dessert recipe for you. You’ll have to forgive me to for not putting together very many desserts; I think this may only be the third one I’ve posted. The truth is: I really don’t eat a lot of desserts. 95% of the time, if I’m looking for something to round out my relaxation after a meal, I’ll turn to chocolate or dried mango. Obviously those count as a dessert, but there’s just not much to blog about with those, so I usually focus more on my meals. And since I don’t eat desserts often, I don’t have very much material to share! But that doesn’t mean that the few times I am inspired to whip up something special I won’t take pictures of it and let you all know how to make it work, now does it? So today’s recipe: Chocolate raspberry chia pudding!

ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding-Stirring

UPC’s Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding; What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pint Organic Raspberries (preferably fresh; but frozen will work)
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 4 tablespoons Organic Chia Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Raw Honey
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Water

1. Put the raspberries in a large mixing bowl and mash them thoroughly with a potato masher.

2. Add the chia, coconut water, and honey to the bowl, and continue to mix and mash thoroughly.

3. Finally add the cocoa powder, and stir slowly and thoroughly with a spoon for at least 60 seconds, but up to 2 minutes if you can stand it.

4. Let the mush stand on the counter for 20 minutes, stirring thoroughly every 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the mush to a jar of appropriate size, and put it in the refrigerator for a day. For best results, shake the jar vigorously a few times throughout the day.
Serve and enjoy!

ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding-Jar

Possible variations:
This will be quite good if you eat it the same day; but far better after a day of sitting. So if you need to make it before dinner to serve after dinner, it will still be just fine!
If you’re interested, you can put a light coating of coconut oil in a cup, pour some of the pudding in, and freeze it for a frozen dessert or an after-workout treat! The coconut oil will make it really easy to pull out, and won’t make it any less delicious.

Questions:

  • What kinds of desserts do you normally eat?
  • Do you make any of your own desserts? Is there a special recipe?
  • How many of your desserts are “multi-purpose” desserts?
  • Would you like to see more UPC desserts?
  • Do you want more pudding? More like the Coconut Delight that I made months ago? Or maybe like the Chocolate Energy Bar that I made as a guest post?

Percy Sutton Harlem 5K


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UPC at Percy Sutton Harlem 5K

I mentioned in my earlier post today that I really enjoy testing myself. I spent some time talking about testing, and competition, and giving a broad definition for what a test day really is. To sum it all up: a test day happens when you break your normal training regimen long enough to prepare for a significant testing endeavor with the ultimate goal of establishing your maximum capacity for that test. I mentioned that one of the best ways to do test days is in a competition, since much of what makes test days successful is already culturally built into a competition.

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K is the first major test day that I’ve had while I’ve been Urban Paleo Chef. I know, if I really enjoy those test days, why don’t I do them more often? Well, maybe it’s because I spend every waking moment trying to juggle my social life, my job, and my latest and greatest obsession: urbanpaleochef.com! It’s a challenging juggling act, to be sure, but after being reminded how much I love racing this weekend, I think maybe I can fit a few more in than once in 10 months…

The weather was absolutely perfect!

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I have mentioned before that I love running in the rain. It’s a great feeling – to have a cooling soak naturally applied to you while you’re out there sweating out your daily frustrations. Well, while I love to run in the rain, I love to race in the crisp bright summer morning sun! Saturday morning was just as close to a perfect race day as you can ask for. At least, for a 5K. The starting temperature was mid-60’s with a very slight wind, mild humidity, and the gorgeous sunshine keeping my spirits soaring. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day for my first race of the year, and in nearly a full year!

I had a great starting bib

UPC-2PreStart

One of the things that I love the most about NYRR races is that they’re seeded. You earn your starting position with your placements in previous races. What that means is: fast runners don’t have to worry about slower runners in front of them. I am all for sharing the road, and I love training with people of all abilities. There’s little more motivating than seeing someone working their butt off to change their life! But on test day, I am not interested in the least bit of outside influence interfering with my performance. It’s test day, after all. I am there for one reason, and one reason only: to see what the best possible performance I can have is. I’ve trained for this, I’ve changed my training, eating, and sleeping habits (presumably) over the past several (or more) days, and I am focused on my goal of peak performance. There’s no other reason for me to be there, on that day.
So, having seeded races really makes a difference when it comes to managing outside influences on your performance. And that’s even more appropriate for people who are on the faster side. In fact, it’s so important that some people may need to participate in some races before their test day, just to establish an appropriate starting seed for themselves. If you’re a runner, and you have the opportunity to perform your test-days in a seeded race, I highly suggest you approach it with a few other recent races under your belt (but long enough ago not to affect performance) so that your seed is as good as it can be.

This race had almost 3500 people in it, and my starting number was 525. That’s a great starting bib, and put me right in the very first seeded coral! As I discussed above, that’s just one more thing to ensure peak performance!

The race went off without a hitch!

UPC-1LacingVibrams

Now that I’ve discussed all of the “prep” ideas that I have to discuss, I’ll tell you about the race…
I was early to the coral, and had the opportunity to be literally in the line-up at the starting line! I elected not to be the very front-runner for a few reasons. One: I know I’m not the fastest, nor even the 10th fastest person in the race. As it turned out, I wasn’t even in the top 100. So, while it’s really exciting to stand there on that front line, with everyone else behind you, I’m going to hold off on that a little bit until I’m actually a competitor for those coveted spots on the finishing podium. When I get near there, maybe I’ll take a position on the front of the line.
Even from where I was standing, though, I was only a few bodies back from the line, and I had the most exciting starting position I’ve ever had. I was surrounded by people that I knew were every bit as fast as me, and mots of them were probably quite a bit faster! The men’s record for the race was something in the high 13 minutes. That’s blazing fast – and way out of reach for me today! I am still trying to put together a sub-5 mile; to get a sub-14 5K, I would need to be able to string together 3 4:30 miles in a row! Possible? Certainly. Was it going to happen on Saturday? I’m perfectly comfortable being reasonable with my expectations here: that was out of reach for me by a very long shot. A second reason I stepped back is that, knowing I’m not the fastest person there, I didn’t want to be causing anyone else to have to dodge around me as they made their own best attempt at a peak performance. To paraphrase the “Golden Rule”: give the courtesy to others that you would expect to be given to you.

As the starting gun went off, I felt a surge of adrenaline spurring me to leap forward like a prize racehorse, or a cheetah. I’ve been in more races than I want to count, and far more than necessary to know that obeying this urge is counterproductive in any race longer than a mile. I held back a bit, watching the people on the front line surge ahead of me at paces that, at present, I can only dream of. It’s a heady feeling, that adrenaline. It’s more so on such a perfectly beautiful day, when you’re surrounded by some peak athletes who have trained and tapered, like you, to put together a peak performance day on that day. I reveled in the experience while I loped forward at an easy 6:30 pace.
I had told my wife at the starting line that my goal pace was 6:30. This would qualify as “bats in the belfry crazy” under most circumstances, since my seed time was a 6:53, which I had hard-won the year before in another peak-performance day. A 23 second PR is a lot for any runner; and it’s unheard of for a sub-7 mile pace. People never move their pace in leaps and bounds like that.
More importantly, though, putting together a 6:30 pace for this 5K bodes well for my “potential” to pull off the sub-5 mile I’ve been training for in a month. Perhaps it would be possible for me to have done even better on this 5K, if I’d been training for it. But this 5K is intended as a way-point in my 5-minute mile training program, and the results of this 5K are instructive on where my strengths and weaknesses are, and what things I should be trying to address over this final month of training.

It’s a tough course, and an exciting one. The race starts off with a slightly downhill straightaway, just long enough and flat enough to encourage runners to pump their legs and power through their adrenaline surges. It’s a mean way to start a race. At the end of that first straight away is a turn leading in to the first climb of the race. And it’s a long, steep climb. Any runner who let their adrenaline get the best of them will be really hurting through this climb! The climb turns out to be over half-a-mile long, with a short flat section, just long enough for the runners to think it’s over, as a break in the middle. At the end of the climb is another turn, leading to the back stretch of the 5K, right at the 1-mile marker. I finished the first mile in exactly 6:30, right on pace, but feeling the hills. My legs were strong; all the 1/4 mile sprint workouts kept my legs pumping without any burn at this point. But my lungs were pumping hard; my short sprint workouts had not well prepared me for a sustained uphill output. I knew then that my legs would not be my weak point in this race.

The back-stretch is rolling hills, with two short downhills and two short uphills, quite a few turns and some flat stretches. It’s not easy, by any stretch, but compared with the front mile, and the final mile that I knew was coming, the back stretch was unmemorable. I crossed the 2nd mile market at precisely 13 minutes. I was somewhat concerned that I wasn’t a little ahead of the clock, because the final mile is a tough one.

Beginning the final mile shortly after the 13 mile market is a long downhill, very similar in steepness and style to the front hill. It’s not the straight downhills leading to a finish that cross country runners thrive on; there are sharp turns with street corners, very short flat stretches, and more downhills. This is a leg-burning downhill, where you have to decelerate to take a corner every time you get a good rhythm going. It’s almost like a switchback downhill, except on pavement. After the downhill is a half-mile straightaway to the finish. And it felt like the longest half mile ever! My legs were starting to heat up with exertion, and my lungs were burning. I crossed the 3-mile marker at exactly 19:30. It was uncanny that I was on my 6:30 pace to the second, and if I’d had the slightest extra brain power to pay attention, I might have marveled at it.

UPC-3Finishing

My wife was waiting for me shortly after the 3-mile marker, and saw me coming. As you can see in the picture, my form is still somewhat together, but I’m definitely dragging a bit. The other runners around me are pulling their last bit of saved energy for a sprint to the finish; while I’m leaching my last bits of energy just to maintain pace. I saw my wife before she started yelling her encouragement; but I truly didn’t even have the energy to wave to her. I was sapped.
It’s amazing, though, what kind of an energy surge the crowd can give you. Seeing my wife warmed my heart, though I didn’t have any energy left to share that fact. But hearing her screaming “Come on baby! Kick it in! Kick! Kick!” brought to me some of the deep-down reserves that really make or break a race day. She helped me dredge up energy I didn’t even know I had, and I did. I kicked it in to the finish line. Somehow, miraculously, I managed to shave off 3 seconds from my rock-solid 6:30 pace the whole race.

I finished in 20:06. It’s a new personal record for me by 24 seconds per mile!

UPC-AfterFinish

I can honestly say that I gave it my all. I left everything out there on the course, and held absolutely nothing back. I have some great feedback, some things that I can use to shore up those last little bits of my fitness to put together the best 1-mile I possibly can in a month. And I put out a peak performance. I used that test-day to the very best, and I couldn’t be happier with my results!

My Training Feedback:

UPC-AfterFinish2

  1. As I mentioned above: my legs are not the “weak link” in my running-machine. My cardiovascular system took a serious beating on this race, and I definitely need to focus a bit on making sure I can get the oxygen needed to my muscles to hold a 35-second 200 for 8 200s in a row, without resting. It’s not a track mile either; so there is terrain that will further challenge the runners.
    I’ll tackle this with some hill-800 training days. I expect that a few hill-800s will be about the best training I can give my lungs to handle the output I’ll need to maintain.
  2. My form suffered as I lost focus and strength throughout the race. This is to be expected, to some degree. I have not been training for a 5K, at all. And this feedback isn’t really useful for my mile-training plans. It is useful if my wife and I start to pick out some other races this fall that we’ll go to; but that’s another story all together.
    I won’t be prioritizing this as an issue.
  3. That’s it! What else could I possibly find to critique when I put together a 23/mile freakin’ second per mile PR?!?

UPC-AfterFinish3

What’s For Breakfast? Salad Eggs


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UPC’s Salad Eggs

The weather here in the NYC area was idyllic over the weekend. It was stunningly beautiful all day Saturday and all day Sunday! I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better weekend! Not only was the weather excellent, but it couldn’t have possibly been a better test for my first ever New York Road Runners race as UPC. I know, I have done a few posts on working out, and you all know that I love running as a part of my exercise regimen, but most of you didn’t realize that I like to test myself on occasion, to see what is “the best that I can do” at that point in time. You’re all also well aware that I’m training for a 1-mile race in one month; but this is a little bit early for that post, right? Well, as much as I love racing, I haven’t participated in a race in nearly a year now. I’ll write another post today (that’s right, you get two posts today!!) to discuss the race, share some pictures, and give you all a training update on how I’m doing, and what my results from this weekend indicate to me with regards to my training and preparedness for the 1-mile race, which is my ultimate goal. So, since I’m not going to tell you about the race itself, let me spend a few words talking about testing in general.

I am a big fan of testing. Of course, I am not referring to the testing that you go through as a  normal part of training. I don’t mean “can I get an 11th rep?” when I talk about testing. What I’m talking about is the kind of testing that happens best under the umbrella of competition, though it’s possible to host your own version of a testing cycle. This kind of testing is when you save up your energy for a few days, or longer, so that you can push yourself to the absolute maximum of your capacity. You sleep, eat, rest, and train differently leading up to testing day, making sure that your capacity on that day is the absolute best that it can be. What you’re looking for is where the bar is for you, under optimal conditions, at this point in your physical fitness. Again, competition is not the only way to test yourself. But they’re set up specifically for that purpose; there’s usually a monetary cost to participate. While this is ostensibly to cover time and materials to make the testing possible, from my perspective what this is really for is to ensure that the athletes take the competition seriously. There is often a prize associated with success; though some of the time a prize is awarded to all participants (in most cases, I am ok with this). And competition in general always draws crowds. People like to see peak performance; it’s exciting.
All of these factors lead an athlete to build up that day to be different from any other day. As I mentioned above, because of the testing aspect of the day, athletes change their patterns leading up to the day. They reduce their training, otherwise called “tapering”. They eat differently. Some athletes eat more of one food group, and less of another. Sometimes there is more eating. Sometimes there is less eating. Often runners do something called “Carb loading” in the hopes that they’ll increase their total glycogen stores in their muscles and liver. Many wrestlers and boxers reduce their total food and water intake in order to make their weight class goals. They sleep differently. Often athletes operate on a reduced sleep schedule in order to get their training in around their other required daily activities (school/classwork, work, etc). Where the “taper” before the test day, they will emphasize getting enough sleep so their body is fully rested.
All of these things add up to an optimized athlete. And while I don’t necessarily agree with all of these activities, or with the fact that they are needed to begin with, these are a part of the testing cycle for regularly competitive athletes. I do love the testing cycle. I’ve been a competitive athlete for as long as I can remember, and I honestly don’t want to discontinue the testing cycle in my life. As one activity becomes less prevalent in my life, I replace that activity with another; and usually I seek out a way to test myself in that activity. Testing, when done right, is as important to me as the training. And in it’s own way, the testing is every bit as valuable.

But, there are many athletes who don’t do their testing the right way, as defined by me. Sometimes they carry the stress of the testing on their shoulders. Some of the time they like testing too much, and do it too often. Frequently I see athletes who don’t give their testing the kind of respect that it deserves, and they set themselves up for injury.
So here’s my stand on testing / competition: Do your testing infrequently enough, and with enough focus, that you get the best results you possibly can, you enjoy it, and you don’t set yourself up unnecessarily for injury. I know that’s a tall order; testing can be addictive! But it’s important to keep your competition days in perspective. These are intended to be tests of your ability. Make them infrequent enough that you can approach them with optimal performance in mind. And be sure to schedule a reasonable recovery so that any amount of injury that your body sustained during the testing it can heal from properly before you resume your full training regime.

SaladEggs2

UPC’s Salad Eggs; what you’ll need:

  • 4 Top-Quality Eggs (See here for egg recommendations)
  • 2 Organic Carrots, sliced
  • 1 Organic Yellow Squash, sliced (Zucchini works too)
  • 1 bunch Fresh Organic Basil, chopped
  • (Optional) 6 Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep time: 15 minutes

1. Add the vegetables and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a pan and cook on medium heat, covered.
Note: Be sure to allot appropriate time for whatever side dish you’re preparing with the salad eggs. If you’re using bacon, as I did in the picture, it can be prepared in a second pan in the same amount of cook time as listed above by cooking it on medium-high heat, covered.

2. Stir the vegetables once every minute for 5 minutes.

3. After 5 minutes of cook time, shake the pan to make sure the vegetables are evenly spread out on the base of the pan and sprinkle your salt and pepper over the vegetables.

4. Turn the heat up to high. Wait for a moment and then crack the four eggs directly over the vegetables.
Note: Some people prefer to pre-mix the eggs and pour them in to the pan fully mixed. I prefer to mix them in the pan – this is a stylistic choice, and doesn’t appear to make much difference either way for scrambled eggs; though there can be a big difference for omelets or frittatas.

5. Stir the eggs and vegetables vigorously as the pan continues to heat up, making sure the egg yolks and egg whites are mixed thoroughly.

6. Just before the eggs reach your desired consistency, turn the heat off and let the eggs finish cooking using just the heat of the pan.
Now serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you enjoy testing / competition?
  • When is the last time you really tested yourself?
  • What kinds of competitions are the most fun for you?
  • What is your preparation ritual for your testing / competition?
  • Do you make changes in your normal daily rituals when testing / competitions are coming?

What’s For Dinner? Bacon Seared Shrimp


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UPC’s Bacon Seared Shrimp

There are some really interesting things happening these days in the world of “Dietary Media”. I’ve had some close friends and family nervously sending me some major media outlet news stories which would suggest that I’m going to die tomorrow. Or maybe yesterday. I have to admit that I’m constantly amused by the overwhelming attempt by the media to “discredit” the Paleo (and other Ancestral) Diet. There’s been a few new reviews of old data, and papers written about them, some so-called experts have come out and renewed the perspective that eschewing grains “may be” dangerous, and is as yet untested. And every single time a paper is written or an expert makes a statement, the media gets a new opportunity to renew their fervent attempt at derailing my healthy journey through grass-fed pastured beef, pastured pork, and soy-free pastured chickens.

This is, of course, a no-win proposition for me. I can’t respond back to my friends and family who are sending me these unscientific media articles with honest concern in any way other than “Thank you for your concern” or some similar statement. I can’t say “I’ve read the underlying studies, analyzed their assumptions and results, and have come to the conclusion that their conclusions are unfounded based on the science, and must be considered in light of their assumptions.” Well, of course, I could say that, but my family and friends who are sending me these articles are doing so because they wouldn’t understand that statement anyway; even though it’s true. Instead, as I mentioned above, I say “Thank you for your concern.” and often leave it at that. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And while my concerned friends and family are busy attempting to figure out how to make their yellow-brown grain-mash in to something tasty, I am enjoying simple, delicious foods which feed my mind, body, and soul to the fullest extent!

If you’re having trouble sticking to your guns on your dietary program, regardless of what it is, because there are too many nay-sayers who are making it difficult for you to stay the course, take heart. You’re not alone! And now, on to something cooked in bacon grease; a “Diet Sin” that I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I was a perfect practitioner of the SAD diet…

UPC’s Bacon Seared Shrimp; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Shrimp (I used Wild-Caught Frozen Argentinian shrimp from Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tablespoons Bacon Grease (preferably in the pan from your bacon that morning; with the leftover bits still in it!)
  • Fresh Rosemary, diced
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper (about 1 tablespoon)
  • A pinch of Sea Salt (really, just a pinch; not even a teaspoon)

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 15 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in the pan with the bacon oil and turn the pan on high heat.
Note: Be sure to start/prepare your side dish with enough time to complete that before serving your meal.

2. Cook the shrimp in the pan on high until the water starts to sizzle, then add the spices so that they are well distributed by the boiling water.

3. Stirring regularly, continue to cook on high until the water has mostly boiled off.

4. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook the shrimp, covered, for 2 minutes.

5. Stir again, and cook covered for another 2 minutes.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Note: If you’re going to serve this with the Sweet Potato “Fries” that I have in the picture; they’re GREAT if you cook them in a similar amount of bacon grease, following a similar recipe to this one with two exceptions: use “Medium” heat rather than high, and cook them covered the entire time.

Questions:

  • Do you have friends, family, co-workers, or even your trainer trying to tell you that not eating grains or beans is somehow unhealthy?
  • How do you handle your nay-sayers?
  • Do you have a different approach for co-workers versus friends, and another different approach for family?

The Egg Project – Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised


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Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised

In my recent trip to Whole Foods looking for some top-quality pastured soy-free eggs, I stumbled across Handsome Brook Farm Eggs. Handsome Brook Farm only does one kind of eggs, as far as I can tell, and they try to keep them at the highest quality possible. I was quite impressed with their literature, and what they do for their hens while they’re producing. These look like they’ll be about as good as you can get, without growing them yourself! Here is a summary of what I can see, and why I like what I see:

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  1. They only raise these eggs. I like this a lot because I find that quality is often the result of intense focus. The more focused a producer can be, the higher capacity for quality they are liable to have. And, of course, realized quality is bound by capacity, right? In other words, you have to focus on your product to produce something of value!
  2. They are 100% pastured, and their feed is grain-supplemented with organic grains. I am not excited that they’re being given grain supplements for their feed, but I recognize that without any bug-attractions, there is going to be a shortage of bugs pretty quickly when you unleash chickens on a field. Good bug attractions would be: cattle, horses, pigs, etc. to create something that the bugs would want to come to the farm and eat. That, of course, brings tons of bugs around to feed the chickens! Anyway, back from my digression, I recognize that without a mulch-disciplinary farm, there won’t be any cattle to attract bugs, and so the chickens simply won’t have enough bugs to feed on. They’ll need their feed supplemented somehow. And since it’s 100% grain, I know that there’s no soy, which is a huge win! In my egg-book, soy is worse than grains.
  3. They’ve taken the time to earn all of the various certifications that there are for top-quality eggs. Now, if you’re buying from your local farmer, this may be a detractor, since those certifications are expensive, and you can personally inspect the farmer’s operations. But if you’re buying commercial (which is what the Egg Project focuses on), then you’ll need to know that someone is inspecting the farm; even if it’s not actually you. Also, the fact that they have more than one certification means that they’re proud of their work (at least, that’s what I hope it means…) and proud farmers produce better products.

Bright Orange Yolks, Thick Viscous Whites?

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The viscosity of the whites was noticeable. I was quite impressed with how thick and viscous the egg whites were. This indicates that the hens were given an ample source of protein for the egg-production process, and it means that the protein in the whites will be abundant for anyone eating it. This is good.
The egg yolk was not as impressive as the egg whites. It was most certainly better than the “Cage Free Organic” eggs that I occasionally buy from Trader Joe’s, which has a dull yellow egg, the same as most basic commercial egg operations. This egg had a bright yellow color, verging on orange. This indicates that the chickens are eating some grass. Based on the color of the yolk and the viscosity of the egg whites.
My guess is that the “supplementary feed” that the chickens are getting actually turns out to be their primary source of calories, but the feed is scattered in grass, and the hens are hunting it and pecking it up as though it’s bugs. This is why there’s some color in the yolks, because there is some grass in their diets. Unfortunately, as we well know from our own human-food experiments, grains are addictive, so unless the farmer is highly perceptive and is only giving the hens just enough supplemental feed to fill out their dietary needs after they’ve been hunting bugs and grass all day, they’ll just choose all the grains being given to them instead of hunting for bugs. Of course, this is just my guess.

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Strangely, the yolk showed more of the bright orange coloring after being cooked than before. This is a new concept for me, and something I’ll have to begin to research to understand better. I really don’t have enough experience with this in order to be able to render an updated guess on their nutrition based on my thoughts above.
My piqued interest aside: the flavor of the yolk was as exceptional as the cooked coloring would suggest. I was pleased with a well rounded flavor, not the dry, boring flavor that I am more used to from other commercial options. This is a tasty egg, and I enjoyed eating it!

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Further reading:

The critique over with, here is what I use as a base for evaluation of my eggs.

  1. Pastured, Cage-Free hens
  2. No hormones or antibiotics
  3. Certified Organic
  4. Certified Humane
  5. Sustainable farm raised
  6. Soy-Free Feed

This is a striking 6-checks! I don’t really expect to see this, ever. It’s possible that I should add a seventh category, though I honestly don’t expect anyone ever to be able to complete it. If I did, it would either be: “No supplemental feed” or “Grain-free feed”. If I used “Grain-Free Feed” then there is a chance that some farmers out there would qualify, though again that would be a surprise. It’s perfectly possible to supplement chicken feed with alfalfa (particularly because many farmers use alfalfa as a rotation crop for their fields), as well as pea-shoots, and any other rotational nitrogen-producing crop. But since that’s expensive, and few farmers are even aware of the idea of “premium” feed for chickens, I don’t expect to be seeing that any time soon. When I encounter it, I’ll add that category at that time.