What’s For Dinner? Orange Beef and Ripe Plantains


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? Beef Picadillo, Sweet Potato, Roasted Yellow Squash


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!


  • 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!

What’s For Dinner? Slow-Cooked Beef Picadillo


UPC’s version of Beef Picadillo: Slow-Cooked with Olives and Raisins!

Every once in a while, while my wife and I are playing the “what do you want for dinner?” game, we agree immediately on what we want. That happened last night. I asked, as I so often do, “What do you want for dinner?” and my wife said: “Ground beef?” asking if that was available, and therefore on the menu. “Sure,” I replied, “Would you like Cuban beef?” “Yes!” She jumped at the idea, excited to have it. Beef Picadillo, or as my wife and I call the way that I cook it: “Cuban Beef” is a delicious way to enjoy a ground beef meal.

UPC’s Slow-Cooked Beef Picadillo; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef (Grass-Fed please!)
  • 1 cup Raisins (organic, of course)
  • 1 large can Green Olives (this will work with black – but green looks better)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, Turmeric, Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 medium Sweet Potato, sliced home-fry style
  • Avocado and Tomato for side salad

Serves: 2+
Prep and Cook time: 65 minutes

1. Put the ground beef in a pan on high.

2. Add the sweet potato around the outside of the beef.

3. On top of the beef, spread the raisins out covering the beef entirely.

4. Drain the olives, then crush them by hand, dropping them on top of the raisins and beef.

5. Spice the dish, spicing the beef, raisins, and olives sparsely, while spicing the sweet potatoes heavily. Mix the sweet potatoes up a bit after spicing.

6. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to “Simmer” or about 2 out of 10.

Cook for 30-35 minutes.

7. Stir the beef thoroughly, making sure that the olives and raisins are fully stirred in.

Cook for the remaining 25-30 minutes, until you’re ready to serve.

Slow-Cooked Beef Picadillo with Sweet Potatoes and Avocado and Tomato salad

Beef Picadillo, or “Cuban Beef” is one of my household favorites. It takes a little extra work, since the vegetables and fruit take some time to contribute their flavor to the ground beef, so we don’t have it as often as some of the other quick recipes that I’ve featured recently. But it’s a fantastic way to cook something up while you’re unwinding after work. Just start the meal as soon as you get home, go about your business for 20-30 minutes, stir it once, leave it alone for another 20-30 minutes, then eat. It’s great!

What’s For Dinner? Slow-Cooked Ground Beef with Caramelized Onions and Apples on a Bed of Arugula, with Avocado


I just read Mark’s Daily Apple’s daily post from yesterday on my commute in this morning. It is an amazing article on pork production quality, and how to find your way through the haze of marketing claims made by the various pork producers. I will shortly be updating my Bacon Project page with this article so that it’s available for anyone and everyone to know why I am so meticulous about the source of bacon that I buy for my own consumption. Interestingly, the article specifically discusses Niman Ranch, which is one of the bacons that I bought. It mentions that, while they do a better job than CAFO, they’re not the level of quality that I personally strive for in my pork products, nor what most of their consumers are likely expecting when they buy from Niman Ranch. Similarly, the article discusses a farm in Vermont. As you all know, I am completely enamored with the Vermont Smoke And Cure products, so it was great to see the writer of the article point out another Vermont farm which does a top-quality job with their pork. I will definitely be looking for Sugar Mountain Farm products, as well as Tendergrass Farm products in the future!

Here it is: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-you-should-know-about-pork-production-claims/

Slow Cooked Grass-Fed Ground Beef in Caramelized Apples and Onions, served on a Bed of Arugula, with Avocado on the Side.

My wife and I got home last night at around the same time. The usual “What do you want for dinner?” dance ensued, and we finally settled on ground beef. Since we were heading outside to get in a workout, I put the 1-lb of ground beef in a pan with 1 large red onion and a large apple, and turned it on to “Simmer” or about a 2 out of 10. We headed out for our workout, leaving the ground beef and the “flavorings” to cook slowly, stewing in their own flavors and juices. When we came back we were greeted by the most amazing smell in the apartment! Our appetite, already stoked by the workout, was absolutely roaring by the time we had taken off our shoes!

GroundBeefWithCaramelizedRedOnionsAndApples1What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Frozen Grass-Fed Ground Beef
  • 1 large Organic Red Onion (also called “Spanish Onion”)
  • 1 large Organic Apple (I used Fuji; but most of the “Crisp” varieties will do nicely)
  • Turmeric and Fresh Ground Pepper for spices
  • Arugula
  • 1 large Avocado

Serves: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

Put the frozen ground beef in a pan. Turn the pan on to “high” while you cut up your onion, getting the beef slightly seared on the bottom. Once the onion is sliced up, reduce the heat to “Simmer” and loosely pack that around the beef, making sure that the bottom of the pan is mostly covered by the onion and beef. Now season the beef with turmeric and ground pepper. With the onion in the pan, you can chop the apple up in to approximately 1/2 inch cubes, and sprinkle them around on top of the onions, letting a few apple cubes fall onto the beef as well. Now cover this and leave it for at least 60 minutes.

The slow-cooking process for any meat is a great way to fill the meat with the flavors you’re adding to the cook-pot (or pan). If you want the meat to taste sweet, add sweet things. I often use apples for this since they’ve got a great sweetness without a terribly high sugar content. If you want the meat to taste spicy, add spicy things.
As I discovered last night, using ground beef (this would work just as well with ground pork, chicken or turkey as well) increases the amount of flavor that the meat will absorb tremendously! And the combination of the red onion’s sharp flavor, along with the caramelizing that it did on the bottom of the pan (the bottom of the pan was all onion or beef, the apple was all at the top of the pan), with the sweetness of the apple was an incredible combination! Adding those in with the beef was divine, and a recipe I will certainly be doing again, and often!

When you get back from your workout, or whatever you’ve been doing for the last 60 minutes, take a spatula and break up the ground beef. The slow-cooking process does nothing to separate the beef out in to the small chunks that most people prefer. So if you don’t use your cooking utensils to do this, it will serve more like a steak than ground beef. Which is fine, but not the texture and presentation that my wife and I were looking for in this meal. We wanted something we could “sprinkle” over arugula for a meal; and ground beef was just the thing, this recipe in particular!


  • Do you have any personal favorites that you do with ground beef?
  • What kinds of special, non-standard ingredients do you use?