What’s For Dinner? Maduro Beef Picadillo


MaduroBeefPicadillo

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 Dinner? Clove Steak with Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions


CloveCaramelizedOnionsAndMushroomsOverSteak

UPC’s Clove Steak

My wife asked me recently: “How do you avoid repeating yourself?” I hate to admit it, but the truth is that I really, honestly, don’t know if I do manage to avoid repeating myself! That said, I eat somewhere between 18 and 25 meals each week, most weeks closer to the 25 number… And I get to choose only the 5 best meals that I server each week to share with you all. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that I won’t be repeating myself, there is less of a likelihood of that, considering I can plan ahead pretty easily merely five relatively unique meals each week. That’s not too hard, right?

Planning ahead: That brings me to one of the topics of conversation that held me captive for nearly an hour over the weekend. Planning ahead. It seems so simple, and yet so few of us ever actually do it. It’s a strange concept, and one which is completely central to being a successful Paleo diet follower. And not just Paleo, but any diet anyone chooses to follow! The truth is that in order to successfully follow any diet, Paleo included, you need to make sure that your food choices have been made in advance. You need to carry with you the things that you’ll use when, inevitably, you’re hungry. Some of the time, that’s your willpower. But even your willpower needs to be prepared in advance. Most of the time, willpower alone, even when you’ve prepared in advance, will not be enough to insulate you from making off-diet food choices. You’ll need something more. Context, like knowing that the food choices available will damage you. Or even better, a food choice of your own, prepared and packed by you, with healthy wholesome ingredients. The kind of food that when you pull it out, all of your friends or co-workers are suddenly envious that they are stuck with the “quick and easy” choices available, while you have some delicious and nutritious foods, because you prepared for this very situation.

It is an excellent dilemma to have. It’s historically unprecedented. The idea, even 100 years ago, that we could be surrounded by so many food choices that there was even a possibility of making a “bad choice” is something that we live with every day, and couldn’t even have been fathomed by anyone except born royalty¬† before about 60 years ago. The unfortunate side effect of this situation is that, not only is it possible to make a “bad choice,” it’s actually quite likely! So, with that, I’m going to move on to my “good choice” of the day!

UPC’s Clove Steak; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak
  • 1 large Organic Sweet Onion, chopped
  • 8-10 Cimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Spices: Ground Cloves, Ground Black Pepper
  • Baked Maduros
  • Avocado

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 25 minutes (Plus the Baked Maduros)

1. In a pan heat up the steak until it is sizzling on high heat. This should take about 60 seconds on an electric stove, or 30 seconds on a gas stove.

2. Turn the heat down to medium-low (about 3 out of 10), and wait until the sizzling is nearly done, or another 60 seconds, then flip the steak.

1. Add the mushrooms and onions around the outside of the steak, then drizzle (or spread it, if it’s semi-solid) the coconut oil across the top of the steak and continue to cook on medium-low heat (about 3-4 out of 10).

4. Liberally sprinkle the cloves and fresh ground pepper across the steak and the mushrooms and onions. Cover the pan, and let this cook for 10-12 minutes.

5. After 10-12 minutes, stir the mushrooms and onions thoroughly. Re-cover the pan and let it continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes.
Note: This may be a good time to prepare the plates and side-dishes. If you prepared the Baked Maduros well in advance, and they’re in the fridge; you may want to re-heat them for eating.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • How do you prepare for a day of work, and make sure that you stay on-diet throughout the day?
  • How do you prepare for social engagements?
  • How do you prepare for avoiding soy and/or wheat when you’re eating out?
  • How do you prepare for the social stigma that still goes with a restrictive diet? Think “What? You don’t drink beer? What kind of man are you?!” kinds of questions, which could come from friends, colleagues, and strangers.
  • How do you prepare for holiday meals with your family?

What’s For Lunch? Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad


SteakSalad

UPC’s Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad

This was a looong weekend! There are “Long Weekends” where you have an extra day due to a holiday, or perhaps a carefully chosen vacation day. And then there are looong weekends, like this one was for me, where you are still unpacking, setting up your new apartment, and throwing away old stuff that you haven’t used in the past 5 years. This weekend, since my wife and I moved recently, was the second version. And I’m not sure how many more of these I have in me before I have a breakdown!

On the positive side: we have the kitchen (the most important room in the house!), living/dining room, bedroom, and my closet all set up with well conceived temporarily situated solutions to our needs from the space available in the room. We know how we’ll eventually have the rooms look, what we need to make the space work, and we’ve put together some sort of interim solution, using the furniture and other tools we have available now. That’s an important start! All we have left now are the office, my wife’s closet, and the bathrooms. And I am exhausted from the effort to get us this far this fast! I am so exhausted that I barely managed to put together today’s post. Barely; but still managed. You can thank me after you see what’s in it.

Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak (I used my lately-favorite cut: Rib-Eye)
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup Blueberries (wild if possible, otherwise organic)
  • 1 cup Toasted Coconut Chips
  • 1 medium Cucumber, chopped
  • Mesclun Salad (or your other favorite salad mix)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2, with a little to spare
Cook and prep time: 20 minutes

1. Cook the steak in a pan with your favorite steak seasoning (I used sea salt, fresh ground pepper, anise seed, and thyme) on medium heat, covered. Continue cooking until it is finished to your liking (shorter times for rare, longer times for well-done).
Note: I like my steak on the rare-side when eating it by itself. For some reason, I prefer it well-done in a salad.

2. While the steak is cooking, prepare the salad. In a large mixing bowl, add the salad greens, cucumber, blueberries, avocado, and olive oil. Using a serving spoon, mix the salad thoroughly.

3. When the steak is cooked to your satisfaction, take it out and slice it, no more than 1/2 inch thick slices, on a cutting board.

4. Serve the salad in a salad bowl after sprinkling the coconut chips and the sliced tomatoes liberally across the top of the salad. Carefully lay the sliced steak on the side of the bowl, like shown in my picture.

Questions:

  • How did you spend your weekend?
  • What kinds of things do you prefer to spend your weekend on? Socializing? Traveling?
  • What’s your “ideal” weekend look like, given your normal constraints?
  • How often do you manage to do your “ideal” weekend? Is it a once-per-month thing? Or more or less frequently than that?

What’s For Dinner? Orange Beef and Ripe Plantains


OrangeBeef

UPC’s Orange Beef

It’s time for me to change my workouts. I’ve been doing low-rep, high weight workouts at the gym when I’ve been able to go, and I am LOVING the results I’ve been getting. My body looks excellent! I am getting muscle definition that is exactly what I’m looking for! But with the 1-mile race drawing ever closer, I’ve decided to change up my strength training to match my goals. I am going to do lighter weights (not a lot lighter) and much higher reps. Hopefully this will increase the density of my muscles, and help them to manage the energy requirements of sustained sprinting. Which is what a mile is, optimally. I’ll do 12-15 reps, still to failure. I’ll try to do them at a higher speed too, to mimic the kind of output that a mile race would require. We will see how my body likes that, and don’t be surprised if in 3-4 weeks, I decide that I want to change up again. I really liked what I was doing before, and hopefully I will like this too!

Orange Beef; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef (will also work well with beef strips)
  • 4 ripe Clementines, sectioned and sliced
  • 4 ripe Clementine peels, diced
  • 1 cup Mixed Mushrooms, chopped (any mushroom, or a mix; Organic please!)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Spices: Salt, Pepper, Turmeric (all optional)

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 35 minutes

1. Add the beef to a large pan and spread the mushrooms out around the beef.

2. Heavily cover the ground beef with the orange peels and slices; put the remaining slices and peels in with the mushrooms.

3. Cook on medium-low heat, covered.

4. Stir thoroughly after 10 minutes of cook time, and again after 20 minutes of cook time. Keep the pan covered.

5. Make sure your sides are prepared. (See here for Baked Ripe Plantains; takes 60 minutes, so needs to be started well ahead of time!)

6.  5 minutes before meal time turn up the heat to medium and start to stir the beef and mushrooms regularly; every minute or so. Leave the pan uncovered.

Serve and enjoy!

What’s For Dinner? Bacon Avocado Burger on Caramelized Onions


BaconCaramelizedOnionBurger-Tall

UPC’s Bacon Avocado Burger on a bed of Caramelized Onions

I had a great weekend! Saturday was one of the most lazy days I have ever had. My wife and I woke up well after the sun came up – and closer to noon than dawn. We don’t get to sleep in that late, between errands, traffic, social engagements, and the occasional trip out of town, we are rarely in a position where we can sleep much later than a typical work day. And on occasion, we actually get up earlier than week days!
On Sunday, we headed back to Connecticut to spend time with our friends up there – that’s three weekends in a row now! When we arrived, we engaged in some perfectly-Paleo activities: eating, and playing in the water! My wife and I purchased some inflatable kayaks last summer. They have turned out to be every bit as good a purchase as a good bicycle! We can throw them in the trunk of our Civic coupe (yes, they both fit), take a drive somewhere, and have them both set up and be out on the water in 20 minutes! And best of all: they still fit, without any issues, in our closet at home!

Bacon Avocado Burger; What you’ll need:

  • 4 1/4lb Grass-Fed Burger patties (if you have the inclination to make them yourself, add some spices, olive oil, garlic and onions to the beef before patting out the patties!)
  • 8 slices Bacon (no nitrites/nitrates, low sugar, quality meats!)
  • 1 large ripe Avocado
  • 2 large Yellow Onions, chopped (or, for some color variance, use a yellow and a red onion)
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 1 Beefsteak Tomato

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 25 minutes

1. Chop up 4 of the slices of bacon in to small bits, and start cooking it in a pan on high.

2. Once the chopped bacon is starting to sizzle, add the onions to the pan, stir thoroughly, and turn the heat down to medium-low, covered.

3. Put the remaining 4 slices of bacon in the oven on a baking sheet and turn the oven up to 450.

4. In a second pan (you may need a third pan as well) add the burger patties and cook on medium, covered.

5. Stir the bacon and onion mix every 1-2 minutes.

6. After about 10 minutes of cook time, flip the burgers and the bacon in the oven. Leave the lid off the burger pan.

7. Prepare the avocado, tomato, and the plates. I put the caramelized onion down first, then the avocado on top of that. Alternately, it might be nice to put the lettuce down first, then the avocado, and drizzle the caramelized onion over the burger once you serve it.

8. After another 10 minutes of cook time, for a total of about 20 minutes of cook time, everything should be ready for serving.
20 minutes at medium heat, will cook the burgers to a medium-well; with very little pink left. If you like your burgers more rare than that, cut down the cook times by 2-4 minutes per side, as it suits your tastes.

Questions:

  • Workout and Diet: I’ve stopped doing my Workout and Diet posts. Does anyone wish I continued?
  • I did a full 4-week segment of Workout and Diet – would anyone like me to do a recap of the workout, the diet, and perhaps build it in to a 4-week Paleo Plan? Maybe a diet/workout guide to help people reach their goals?
  • Would you like to see a “Beginner” version, with cooking tips? Maybe an “Expert” version, with workout plans and form tips?
  • I realize that all of the above would entail quite a bit of work for me, but if you readers want to see it, I would be willing to undertake the efforts. Let me know what you think!

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!

What’s For Dinner? Beef Picadillo, Sweet Potato, Roasted Yellow Squash


BeefPicadilloSquashSweetPotato

UPC’s Beef Picadillo

This week has been an “Off Week” in my workout schedule. I guess I shouldn’t quite call it a “schedule,” since I don’t actually schedule any of my workouts. More appropriately, I should say that my body has called for a low-week this week, and I’ve obliged. I’m bringing this up for a couple of reasons. Most of us experience cravings from time to time, and we deal with them in various ways. Interestingly, I think that a lot of us experience non-food cravings, and we don’t manage those as well as we do with our food cravings. So I am going to do my Weekend Food Commentary post this weekend on Cravings. I will discuss several different kinds of cravings, including the ones that I am most interested in: food cravings and workout cravings, and of course the inverse of those: IF cravings, and “no workout” cravings.

UPC’s Beef Picadillo; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Raisin (Organic)
  • 1/2 cup Green Olives, crushed (also Organic!)
  • Turmeric, Salt, Pepper; optional: Ginger, Garlic, Mustard Seed
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Yellow Squash
  • 1/2 Large Sweet Potato

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 25 minutes

1. Put the ground beef in a pan with the raisins, green olives, spices, and cook on medium heat, covered.

2. On the sides of the pan with the ground beef, make some space for the sweet potato and put it in the pan, skin side down. Recover the pan and continue to cook on medium heat.

3. Over the next 10 minutes, stir the beef regularly, making sure that the olives and raisins are well mixed in with the beef as it cooks. Do the best you can to leave the sweet potato undisturbed on the side of that pan.

4. After 10 minutes of cooking, the beef should be fairly well cooked and mixed; turn the heat down to a medium-low, and leave it cooking, covered. Leave the sweet potato in with the beef.

5. 5 minutes after you turn down the beef, add the sliced yellow squash (or any squash) to another pan with the coconut oil.

6. Heat the pan up to high, and cook on high until both sides of the squash are browned, then remove from the heat immediately.

7. As soon as the squash is ready, serve your meal!

Questions:

  • Since I’ll be writing about cravings this weekend, let’s talk about those:
  • What kinds of Cravings do you experience regularly?
  • Keeping in mind that cravings run the gambit of all sorts of physical and mental “periodic needs” – which cravings are you most familiar with dealing with?
  • Which cravings sneak up on you and surprise you?
  • Are there any cravings that you get that you don’t understand, or don’t know how to deal with in a healthy way? Yes, this could include sugar cravings; but there are other kinds of cravings that people aren’t normally aware of too, like sleep cravings (mid-afternoon nap?) or socializing cravings.
  • Let’s hear it on the comments board!