A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Forget Fad Diets; Be Well in 2015

I've sat down several times this past week to write a typical New Year's blog post. I tried to think of something inspirational but I wasn't feeling inspired. Then I saw several bloggers talking about their "Top 10 Posts of 2014" and thought that might work but couldn't figure out how to figure that out (Blogger only keeps track of the past day, week, month or "all time") so abandoned that idea. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day came and went and I wrote nothing. But I did have several thoughts along the way. So, without further ado, here are my rambling thoughts on New Year's Resolutions, health and wellness, popular topics this time of year.

Weight lose and exercise always top the list of New Year's Resolutions but rarely lead to lasting change. 
I've written several times about New Year's Resolutions. On January 1, 2011, I challenged you to Resolve to BEEFit and get at least 30 minutes of exercise and eat 3 oz. of beef per day. On the first day of 2013, I wrote about avoiding grandiose resolutions and instead setting concrete goals like registering and training for an event such as Ride the Rockies. This year, I encourage you to join me and sign up for the FREE 30-day Self-Care and Wellness Challenge from sport nutritionist Leslie Schilling, a daily e-mail for 30 days designed to challenge your thinking about health and wellness.

Leslie Schilling, MA, RDN, LDN,
Nutrition Expert, Mom, Wife, Cook,
& Creator of YourSupperSolution.com
In full disclosure I have no vested interest in this other than the fact that Leslie is my friend and I loved her "pitch" for the 30-day challenge: "Health and wellness isn't about a number, or feeling guilty, or demonizing food. We don’t get ourselves anywhere positive when we are made to feel guilty or don’t believe we can trust our bodies or food choices. So, if you’re ready for the next big diet, this isn't it. If you’re ready for a journey that increases your awareness, changes your perspective and moves your towards lasting change, THIS is for you!"

To give you an idea what this entails, here is the Day 1 Challenge:
Hi Daren. I'm so glad you're on this journey with me.

Wellness is so much more than a number. And, I believe true health and wellness starts with a change in perspective. We live in a society where it seems "normal" to be at war with who we are and the bodies we live in. It's time for a change. It starts within... 
We'll start by increasing our overall awareness in a variety of areas that impact our health & happiness. AND, we'll build on your observations all month long. It's a process. 
Here's your first challenge. 
Today, I want to you observe obstacles in your day-to-day life that get in the way of doing things that make you feel happy or healthy. They could be external obstacles (like work) and/or internal obstacles (like beliefs).  
Grab a journal, old notebook or a random sheet of paper. Label it Day 1 (that'll make it easier to come back to later). At the end of the day write down your observations. Don't judge. Just write it down.  
Put your observation glasses on and get on it. I'll catch you tomorrow.  
Today is Day 2 of the challenge, so you haven't missed anything yet if you sign up today to join Leslie and me in this challenge!

Which brings me to my thoughts on Health and Wellness. Scrolling through my friends' Facebook posts in the past week I have noticed a lot of wishes for "good health" in the coming year. Many of my peers are either dealing with their own health issues or those of their aging parents (or even their children). We all want to live healthy, happy lives and it seems most are willing to try anything except exercise! Unfortunately far too many people tune in to shows like Dr. Oz and The Doctors for health recommendations, half of which have been found to be baseless or wrong!

My advice is to avoid fad diets and marketing buzzwords like natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, etc., enjoy the food you eat and get some exercise every day. When it comes to food choices, pay attention to calories and eat nutrient rich foods, like beef, that provide the most nutrients per calorie. Nutrient-rich foods provide the fuel your body needs to by physically active. One thing most health experts actually agree on that being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight is the best way to avoid chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Speaking of the Big C, I have a good friend who received a cancer diagnosis over the holidays. The news gave new meaning to those wishes for good health. Barb is in a fight for her life, one she is facing with courage, humor and the support of many family and friends. One immediate silver lining is that Barb has decided to share her experience in a blog and, as it turns out, she is every bit as irreverent in writing as she is in person.

Barb runs the Boston Marathon in 2010.
My introduction to Barb was in 2008 when she was training for her first marathon (actually, it was her first organized race!). Her friend wanted to outfit her with a Team BEEF jersey and contacted me. Debbie told me the story of how Barb was running a marathon after losing 130 lbs. on a personal journey to improve her health. A year later, in her second marathon, she qualified for Boston and in April 2010 she ran the Boston marathon. Who does that?!

Barb does. As I have grown to know Barb over the past 6 years her story makes more sense. She is a tough and determined business woman with a big heart and quick wit that will keep you on your toes! As she heads to Dallas this week to begin treatment I have to chuckle thinking about the doctors, nurses and other patients at MD Anderson who have no idea what is about to hit them! I know Barb will fight this battle with her unique combination of strength, faith and humor and will touch many lives in the process.

If you like to laugh, cry and think I encourage you to follow Barb's blog. As Jimmy Valvano said in his famous ESPY speech while facing his own cancer prognosis: "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

And that, my friends, is my resolution for 2015: To laugh, cry and think and live every day to its fullest. Be well.

Ride on!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's the Ride the Rockies 2015 Route Premiere Party Announcement!

Christmas has past and the New Year is just around the corner. Every year at this time I start thinking about which "big event" I want to tackle in the coming year. For 8 of the past 10 years for me that event has been Ride the Rockies, a week-long road cycling adventure in the Colorado Rockies. RTR combines the physical challenge of cycling 400+ miles over 12,000 ft. mountain passes with the emotional escape from the world of TVs, cars and mobile devices (at least partially!) that makes for what I consider the perfect vacation. Imagine eating (and drinking) all you want for a week and still losing weight!

One of the things I like about RTR is every year the route is different. So over those 8 years I have ridden over most major mountain passes and visited numerous mountain towns in Colorado and yet every year brings something new: new scenery, new experiences and new friends. Each year the route is announced at the official Ride the Rockies Premiere Party in Denver. Riders who are able to attend get the first glimpse at the route midst a preview of the carb-heavy eating and drinking that will take place during the week provided by Maggiano's Little Italy and Odell Brewing Company

In the past two years I attended and posted/tweeted the route as it was announced live. Unfortunately I will be out of town this year and unable to attend. But don't worry, I will try to figure out a way to get the scoop and pass it along that night so stay tuned here or follow me on Twitter (@REAL_BEEFMAN) if you are interested.

Ride on!


Friday, December 26, 2014

BEEFMAN'S Roast Beast

When the young and old sit down to a feast at your house, on what do you feast? Do you feast on Who-pudding? Do you feast on rare Who-roast beast? If you feast on roast beast, on which beast do you feast?

So when it comes to the roast beast feast are are you a turkey, ham, or beef family? As I was watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" this year and heard the familiar lines about the Christmas feast in Whoville, "They would feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast beast," I noticed the animal origin of Dr. Seuss's "roast beast" was left wide open to interpretation.

In some shots it looks something like a cross between a turkey...

...and a large rodent.

...or, somewhat disturbingly, even a dog.

Then there are the shots of the Grinch carving the roast beast and it looks more like a ham... 

...or a beef roast (which brings me to my point). 

Growing up the traditional Christmas dinner at my house was turkey. As if we didn't get enough turkey at Thanksgiving (and probably just threw out the last of the turkey leftovers a week ago), we'd essentially do Thanksgiving Dinner II. I'm not complaining. The food was always good, but everybody knows the sequel is never as good as the first one (as I was reminded last night watching "Night at the Museum" 1 and 2).

And then I learned how to cook a rib roast. To me, a rib roast is the ultimate Roast Beast. Cooked in the oven on Christmas Day it fills the house with the unmistakable aroma of beef and, served medium rare, it delivers the robust flavor and tender, juicy steak eating experience known as Prime Rib.

For the past several years I have done the rib roast in a 350F oven for about 90 minutes (until the internal temp reaches 125F), then let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. The results have been good but not great. And I want great, especially when hosting Christmas dinner! So this year I tried a new method I learned from one of the culinary experts at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Steve Wald (Steve is one of a team of people who develop and test recipes for BeefItsWhatsforDinner.com).

Steve's "restaurant method" combines low and slow cooking with a "blast" of high heat at the finish. The result was a nice, even red color from edge to edge with a crisp, flavorful crust on the outside. It worked so well I have decided to share my version of Steve's restaurant methods rib roast...

BEEFMAN's Roast Beast

1. Coat a 5-10 lb. bone-in Beef Rib Roast with your favorite rub. Return roast to refrigerator until ready to begin roasting.

Notes: The official Roast Beast recipe on the Random House Seussville website calls for a Beef Strip Loin roast, which would also be amazing. I plan on 1/2 lb. per person and then add a pound or two to make sure there is plenty (and hopefully some leftovers!). For the rub I use Safeway Select Mediterranean Roast Rub because I like Mediterranean seasoning, especially rosemary, on beef. Pretty much any meat rub with salt, pepper, and garlic will do. You can also just use some salt and pepper or make your own concoction.

2. Preheat oven to 160F. Place roast bone-side down on a rack on a roasting pan (if you don't have a rack, place bone-side down in a shallow roasting pan -- the bones raise the meat off the surface, forming a rack). Place on bottom rack in oven and roast for 5-6 hrs (I pull it when the internal temp reaches 125F for rare to medium rare). Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour, tenting loosely with aluminum foil.

Notes: At this point the outside of the roast will not look "done." The roast will continue to cook in its own heat/juices, rising another 5-10 degrees F in the first 10-15 minutes while resting then will hold that temp for up to an hour. Allowing the meat to rest at least 15 minutes is a crucial step in the process. This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat, ensuring a juicy, flavorful roast.

Place your meat thermometer in the center of the "eye" of the rib, not resting in fat or touching bone.
3. Approximately thirty minutes prior to serving, heat the oven to 500F then place the roast back in the oven for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the roast to make sure the rub doesn't start to burn. Remove from oven and let rest another 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Blasting the roast with high heat after letting it rest will ensure a nice crisp "crust" on the outside without raising the internal temperature and overcooking the meat.
Notes: The purpose of this step is to "blast" the outside of the roast with high heat. Cooking at this temp for such a short time will not raise the internal temperature, which should be holding around 135F (rare to medium rare).

4. Use a nice sharp butcher knife to slice between the rack (bones) and the meat, running the knife right along the bone (see picture). Slice roast into 1/2-1" thick slices and serve.

Run a sharp knife between the bones and the meat before slicing into 1/2-1" thick "steaks"
Notes: DO NOT throw away the bones! I like to save them then reheat on the grill or in the broiler. That's some good eating! A rib roast consists of two major muscles separated by a chunk of fat. I like to cut this fat off prior to serving to reduce the amount of fat left on everyone's plate at the end of the meal! Also, the two muscles offer two distinct flavor and tenderness levels. The circular "eye" portion of the rib eats a lot like a filet or strip steak. The thinner outer piece called the ribeye "cap" is a tender flavorful delicacy. If you want to get fancy you can remove the cap by simply cutting out the fat between the two muscles. You can then cut the "eye" into 1-2" filets and slice the "cap" into even portions to serve alongside the filet.

The first cut is the true test. Perfect rare to medium rare, no juices running off the cutting board.
And there you have it. A special meal for a special occasion. If you missed out on the real Roast Beast this Christmas, don't worry. A rib roast turns any meal into a feast -- a New Year's Day brunch, anniversary or birthday celebration or a Sunday dinner.