What’s For Lunch? Peppered Shrimp Bento Box


ShrimpBentoBox

UPC’s Peppered Shrimp Bento Box

It’s cool and rainy outside. There isn’t a lot of rain, but the rain drops that are coming down are generally bigger ones. I love weather like this for running; there’s really nothing quite as refreshing as the brisk feel of a light wind and some fat cool raindrops falling on my face, head, and shoulders while I pump out a speed workout on the track! Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m doing right now, and may not be something I get a chance to do anytime soon. I say “unfortunately” because I really enjoy speed workouts, and even more when I get to enjoy weather like this!

On the more fortunate side, I have a delicious lunch to look forward to! My morning conversation with my wife, as with most mornings, went about like this:

Me: What do you want for lunch?

Wife: I dunno, whaddya got?

Me: Mmmm…

I peered about in the fridge, knowing that the soup I made last night was unsuitable for lunch today. There wasn’t a convenient Rack of Ribs sitting around for us to eat, like we did on Monday. So I pulled out one of my old-standby meals: Peppered Shrimp. It went over the first time I made it for lunch, shrimp travels well, and it still tastes good after being reheated (at least, the first day). It was just right!

UPC’s Peppered Shrimp Bento Box; What you’ll need:

  • Peppered Shrimp:
  • 1 lb Wild-Caught Shrimp (mine is frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper (more or less)
  • Salad:
  • Mixed Greens (your favorite mix; this is a “Power Greens” mix)
  • 1 medium Cucumber, chopped
  • 1 medium Carrot, chipped
  • 4 White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Celery, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Avocados:
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 3 sprigs Basil, chopped

Serves: 2
Prep time: 25 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in a pan with the coconut oil and cook it on high heat.

2. Cook this for about 5-7 minutes, letting it thaw and cooking off the water from the thawing. Stir regularly while cooking.

3. While the shrimp is cooking, begin preparing your salad.

4. After 5-7 minutes of cook time, when the shrimp is mostly thawed, sprinkle the pepper across the shrimp liberally.

5. Continue preparation of the salad and avocados.

6. Continue to cook and stir the shrimp until the water has all boiled off and the shrimp is sizzling like bacon in the pan.

7. Let the shrimp cool in the pan, stirring occasionally.

8. While the shrimp cools, complete preparation of the salad, pack it in your bento box, and enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you ever have trouble figuring out what to eat for lunch?
  • What do you pull out of the fridge, freezer, or cupboard as a stand-by meal?
  • Do you ever take a shrimp meal to work as your lunch?
  • Do you like running in the rain?
  • If you do workout in the rain, do you prefer running, or another workout?

What’s For Lunch? Smoked Salmon Bento Box


SalmonBentoBox

UPC’s Smoked Salmon Bento Box

Ok, I’ll admit it… I’m an addict! I’m an unmitigated food addict. It’s always been my “drug of choice,” so to speak, and that hasn’t changed one iota over the years. And I love it!!

“I’m UPC, and I’m an addict.”

“Welcome UPC.”

All jokes (mostly) aside, these Bento-Box lunches have been leaving me seriously looking forward to my lunch every day! It’s not like I don’t normally enjoy my food. Of course I do, it’s made by my favorite chef! No, this is another situation entirely. I thoroughly enjoy the idea of being in a position to easily, painlessly carry a full meal, and a full-looking meal, all the way to work with me to eat at my leisure. It’s truly a delight.

Smoked Salmon Bento-Box; What you’ll need:

  • Smoked Salmon:
  • 12 oz Smoked Salmon
  • 2 oz “Glaze” (Apple Cider Vinegar (or any flavor), Olive Oil, Black Peppercorns, Whole Mustard Seeds; mixed together and soaked for a day)
  • Salad Eggs
  • Salad:
  • Favorite Mixed Greens
  • 1 cup Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Green Onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and prep time: 30 minutes

1. Prepare the Salad Eggs. I used ham, basil, and carrots for this Salad Eggs dish.

2. In a pan, sear the smoked salmon on high heat for about 1 minute per side.

3. After turning off the heat, paint the salmon with the glaze, leaving the salmon in the pan so that the glaze can thicken in the heat. Let the salmon sit in the glaze for 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Slice the salmon and put it in the Bento Box.

5. Mix the salad ingredients and add them to the Bento Box.

6. Add the Salad Eggs to the Bento Box. And bring it to work to enjoy!

Questions:

  • What kinds of lunch foods get you excited?
  • Do you ever eat seafood for lunch?
  • Do you prefer smoked salmon, or another preparation method?
  • Do you prefer a different salmon preparation for a different meal? Have you ever thought about it?

Restaurant Review: Saigon Cafe, Jersey City, NJ


wpid-20130920_122006.jpg

http://www.saigoncafejc.com/

Eating out is always an interesting scenario. I know, intellectually, that I can eat a salad almost anywhere. Obviously, there are places that I choose to shy away from intentionally… But for the most part, finding a decent place to eat out, at this point in my diet, is more about whether or not the restaurant is going to serve me anything other than a salad that I’ll want. That’s the big question. There are some issues, that I’ve discussed in previous posts, that need to be carefully considered before eating out. Just keep these in mind when you’re eating out:

  1. All cooking surfaces are almost certainly greased with a soy oil or soy derivative oil.
  2. All dressings, sauces, and other flavorings (except spices, so far) almost certainly have soy and wheat in them.
  3. The meat is almost certainly CAFO meat-factory meat.

So, keeping in mind that I really enjoy cooking, and the fruits of those labors, it turns out to be fairly irregular that I eat out. Mostly, I make all of my own food, and I eat only things that came out of my kitchen. It’s the simple and delicious solution. And when I do go out, I keep notes.

Saigon Cafe, Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ

My first impression of the Saigon Cafe restaurant was a pleasant surprise. This looked like it would count as one of those “Local Hole-In-The-Wall” places, where you encounter some really top quality food. I was hoping that their menu would be packed to the brim with seriously traditional Vietnamese food. We were seated in a small dining area, with about 10 tables. The waiter was ancient, and my guess is that he was the proprietor of the place. I like that about a place. I usually assume that the food is more likely to be lovingly crafted when the proprietor is the person seating me at the tables. It’s a pride thing for them, not just a paycheck.

The menu was a little challenging for me, but that was not surprising. Keeping in mind that soy and rice are deeply ingrained in the various Asian cultures, I didn’t expect the menu to be teeming with meals that were soy free. But I did expect that I would be able to mix-n-match my way to a well conceived soy-free meal.

The waiter came over to take our order. He spoke passably good English, and had no trouble guiding my through my options as soon as I told him that I’m allergic to soy. He stood over my shoulder, pointing at menu items as I flipped the page. “You can eat that one, or that one.” He would say. And “No, no, not that one.” When I tried to order the slow-cooked beef short ribs. Short ribs are very Vietnamese, and I really enjoy the way they cook them. Except for the soy sauce part.

With the proprietor’s help, I settled on a meal in no time. I love seafood, and they were serving something they called Claypot Seafood Curry. I like curry, seafood, and the “Claypot” meals were supposedly slow-cooked stews – and I love things that are slow-cooked!

Claypot Seafood Curry

It was full of flavor! There was clearly some sweetener in the dish, as well as some coconut milk or cream. But the over-all flavor was strong, yet well balanced. The curry was a yellow-curry, as you can see in the picture, and was delightful. The seafood all seemed quite fresh, and was slow-cooked to perfection.

All told, my experience in Saigon Cafe was quite satisfactory! I definitely recommend it for anyone in the Grove Street area of Jersey City, NJ.

What’s For Dinner? Bacon Seared Shrimp


BaconShrimp1

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?

What’s For Lunch? Peppered Shrimp


ShrimpForLunch

UPC’s Peppered Shrimp

The weather has been absolutely ideal lately! The temperature has been comfortable enough that wearing a summer-weight suit isn’t leaving me dripping by the time I walk in to the office. And I have been celebrating by increasing my workouts and my enjoyment of the outdoors! The upside, as I just mentioned, has been more time and appreciation of the outdoors. I could spend all day outside with the way the weather and temperatures have been lately! On the other side of the coin, though, is the increased workouts. On Sunday I did a leg-burner that left me seriously beat up! I ended up taking Monday off entirely, and yesterday I was only able to put together about a 2-mile run before I had to call it quits.

I know I’m not writing my “Workout and Diet” posts anymore, and based on the responses to my “Questions” at the end of my posts, most of you don’t those posts (I only got one response the day I asked that question). So what I did was this: There’s a long staircase going up a fairly large hill near my home. I ran up the hill, down the stairs, then I ran up the stairs stopping to do a set of 10 squats at every platform. I probably ended up doing somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 squats, while doing a stairs workout to boot! Then I ran the hill a couple more times, just for good measure. To say that I’ve been sore would be a misuse of the word!! Obviously, I’m delighted, and can’t wait to be ready for another workout just like it!

 

Peppered Shrimp; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Wild-Caught Shrimp (mine is frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper (more or less)

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep time: About 15 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in a pan with the coconut oil and cook it on high heat.
Notes: I’ve waxed philosophically on frozen seafood before, but if you have access to fresh caught wild shrimp, eat this as fresh as you can get it! If not, probably the frozen stuff is fresher than the unfrozen stuff.

2. Cook this for about 5-7 minutes, letting it thaw and cooking off the water from the thawing. Stir regularly while cooking.

3. Sprinkle the pepper across the shrimp liberally. This is one of those cases where more is likely to be just fine!
Note: You may want to prepare the plates with your side dishes ahead of time. I do it at this point.

4. Continue to cook and stir the shrimp until the water has all boiled off and the shrimp is sizzling like bacon in the pan. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you do a speed workout every week? Like sprinting up a hill, or a 5-10 minute hard rowing session, or maybe a spin class?
  • What kind of speed workout is your favorite?
  • What kind of speed workout have you been meaning to try, but haven’t gotten a chance yet?

What’s For Dinner? Spicy Coconut Shrimp and Stir Fry Vegetables


Shrimp_StirFry

UPC’s Spicy Shrimp is becoming a summer favorite!

The “Super Moon” here in NYC was absolutely amazing over the weekend! I happened to be out for a quick run on Sunday evening as the moon was rising. The path that I run is right by the Hudson River, and has a full view of NYC over the water. It’s an amazing place to run in general, with the water keeping the air cool, and the smells of the river mixing with the manicured grass and trees that people keep as their lawns along the River Walk. On super-moon night, nearly every free space along the railing was taken up by people with tripods and cameras, waiting for that perfect shot. And Sunday night was the night for perfect shots!
Since I was running, I didn’t need to be right on the railing and so I had a fairly unobstructed view. The sight of the moon peaking between the buildings of NYC was stunning. It was so impressive that I actually had to stop and watch – it was a picture that I hope I will never forget! Obviously, the cameras around me were clicking furiously. But while they were cataloging the picture, I was viewing it through my own eyes, enjoying the sight unobstructed. It was amazing.

Spicy Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry; What you’ll need:

  • Spicy Shrimp:
  • 1 lb Wild Caught Shrimp (mine is Argentine Red)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • Spices: Turmeric and Oregano
  • Stir-Fry Vegetables:
  • Carrots, long-cut
  • Mushrooms, quartered (Crimini or Button)
  • Green Olives, hand-broken
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Spices: Fresh black pepper, Thyme, Marjoram
  • Side Salad:
  • Avocado
  • Tomato

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 25 minutes

1. In a pan, combine the shrimp, coconut oil, and coconut butter. Cook on high, covered, until at a rolling boil.

2. In a separate pan, combine the coconut oil and carrots. Cook on medium for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Once the shrimp is at a rolling boil, remove the cover and add the spices; stir the spices in thoroughly. Let this boil down on high heat for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. After 5 minutes of cook time for the carrots, add the mushrooms and olives.

5. Let the vegetables cook for another 3-5 minutes before adding the spices; continuing to stir occasionally.

6. As the water in the shrimp cooks down, start to stir more frequently. This should be after about 15 minutes of cooking, but may be sooner depending on the stove.

7. The shrimp is done when the coconut butter starts to stick to the shrimp, sticking the herbs and spices on to the shrimp for serving.

I really love this recipe, and we eat different variations of the spiced shrimp often. Some of the time we use hot spices, like a chile pepper spice mix or a mustard spice mix, while other times we use more savory flavors as we did in today’s post. No matter how you do it though, the coconut butter will cook up beautifully, grabbing the spices in the pan and sticking to the shrimp. The result is a delicious, savory treat, filled with the flavors of cooked shrimp and spice!

What’s For Dinner? Lemongrass Shrimp


LemongrassShrimp

UPC’s Lemongrass Shrimp

This morning was about as close to the idyllic summer morning as I can imagine. The sun was shining, the birds were out and singing. There were popcorn clouds in the otherwise bright blue sky. The water, and NYC beyond were glittering in the bright morning sun. And I missed my ferry by about 30 seconds. It was just too beautiful to pick up my pace, and I ended up missing my ferry as a result. And it was OK with me. Days like today are my reward for always choosing to be happy.

Lemongrass Shrimp; What you’ll need:

  • 1lb Frozen Wild-Caught Shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Lemongrass stalk, finely sliced
  • Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes on the side

LemongrassShrimpCookingServes: 2
Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in a pan on high, with the coconut oil and coconut butter. Cover and cook.

2. While the shrimp is cooking, slice the lemongrass stalk and add to the pan when ready.

3. After about 3 minutes of cooking, uncover the shrimp and let the liquid boil off completely, stirring regularly.

4. As the shrimp in the pan starts to sizzle, stir constantly until the shrimp starts to brown lightly. Serve immediately.

New Recipe Format:

So, as you may have noticed, I changed the way I am writing my recipes. I will probably continue to mess around a bit with the overall formatting, but I needed to fit my recipe format more to what people traditionally think of when they think of a recipe. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe what you all want to read is the “extra writing” that I normally add in each step of my recipe? Maybe that’s what makes me special? If you have an opinion, let me know! I’ve been blogging for a bit over 6 months now, so it’s a good time for me to take a look at what I am doing, and how I’m doing it to maximize my benefit, and yours.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my rambling! A 750-1000 word blog post is just right for me! What I really need to know is whether or not it’s also just right for you readers. Which leads me to my next topic:

New Format:

Ok, no “Questions” for today. At least, no formally formatted questions. I’m trying to decide if I’ll keep that section, or if I’ll let that go by the wayside as an interesting experiment. I’ve got some great contributors, and some really great comments, and I really want to keep the commentary alive between me and you readers. So I am trying to decide if you readers are just interested in me producing great content, or if part of that great content is a call-to-action in my post, which gives you something to respond to. In that way, I am reconsidering the “Questions” at the end of my post, looking around at what other successful bloggers are doing, and in general reconsidering the format of my posts. I suppose this is a good growth opportunity for me, right? Well, if any of you have any comments on how my posts should be organized, feel free to pipe in! I welcome any and all suggestions!