February
08
Posted on 08-02-2015
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

Many of my regular readers will recognize my running fueled love for Mac & Cheese along with a tasty beer. So, on my recent trip to Ulele (Tampa’s hottest new restaurant), my post workday mood was immediately improved by the appetizer.

Yes, Ulele. You had me at “Mac and cheese and beer”.

While I sipped a very tasty Honeymoon beer, brewed with fresh local strawberries, I curiously eyed that Mac and Cheese. Were there really bacon bits? Was the sauce made with beer brewed onsite? Yes and yes! The four cheese light beer sauce poured over seashell pasta and topped with a Parmesan Romano crust was absolutely delicious on its own. Add Ulele’s signature duck bacon and you’ve got yourself some of the best Mac and Cheese in the south!

oysters

Delicious char broiled oysters

Many times in the past, I have made a solid meal out of Mac and Cheese and beer. So, it was difficult to remain disciplined for the feast to come. I ordered a glass of Rusty’s Red lager and settled in as the oysters arrived. I’m not a big fan of oysters so I passed on the beautifully presented raw oysters. I must admit that they were a big hit with the others at the table. The smell of the charbroiled oysters was too hard to resist, though. I’m glad  I tried them. Covered with garlic butter, grated Parmesan and Romano, they were simply delightful.

hushpuppies

The alligator hush puppies. I’m a horrible food photographer. Okay, I’m a horrible photographer in general. All photos are courtesy of my wife, Running Betty

Alligator Hush Puppies? Well that’s interesting. And delicious. Made with alligator, country ham and duck bacon (a theme is developing), these little spheres are full of flavor. I was in the midst of food heaven when our knowledgeable and attentive waiter removed the empty plate.

Then, he brought the filet.

filet

Order this. It’s really, really ,really good.

I enjoy Filet Mignon. I have it maybe 3 times per year. It’s always for a special occasion. Only two months prior, I had the best filet ever at the Envy Steakhouse in the Renaissance Las Vegas while celebrating the finish of the Las Vegas Ragnar Relay. It was tender and juicy with a perfect crust full of flavor. When I went to Ulele for native inspired cuisine, I did not expect to be served Filet Mignon. When I was served this lovely 10 Oz filet, I did not expect it to be as good as the one I had at Envy. It was – maybe even better. It was so tender that I almost didn’t need the knife. The texture was perfect and the flavor was heavenly. Ulele features a lot of unique dishes – all of them delicious, but it would be difficult not to order this filet on a return trip. That’s how good it is.

The Filet Mignon was served with White Chedder popcorn mashed potatoes. Yes. Popcorn. I thought the waiter misspoke at first. You probably expect white cheddar to complement mashed potatoes very well and it does, but the popcorn actually gives the potatoes a unique texture. It sounds crazy and perhaps it is, but it works very well.

How does one follow delicious Filet Mignon? With a relaxing cocktail and dessert of course! I checked out Ulele’s menu of signature cocktails and settled on the Pyrat Old-Fashioned. This Florida twist on the classic old fashioned is made with Pyrat XO Reserve Rum, sugar in the raw and Angostura bitters. It was the perfect compliment to the food coma I was slipping into.

burger

This is one fantastic burger. If you order it for lunch, make sure you schedule time for a nap.

Dessert, however, was a long way off. Instead, how about something from the lunch menu? The Ulele burger arrived smelling irresistible despite my full belly. I sliced off a quarter of the burger and consumed it happily. Made from a blend of ground short rib, brisket and chuck, the term “burger” hardly does this glorious sandwich justice. I was loosening my belt and getting ready to dig in for more when the Florida Pompano arrived.

If you’re looking for something a little lighter than beef, this seafood entree will not disappoint. Served with a sun dried tomato shallot cream and topped with crispy fried carrot ribbons, it’s fun and flavorful.

pompano

The Florida Pompano is a delicious treat.

When our waiter brought the 2.2 lb. Kilo Porterhouse, I threw in the towel. This episode of Man vs Food was over (sort of). Billed as “the best of both worlds”, this filet mignon and New York strip loin is aged 24 days and chef carved off the bone. All of Ulele’s beef is locally sourced from Strickland ranch just 50 miles away. In turn, the cattle at Strickland ranch are fed on the spent grain from Ulele’s onsite brewery. That’s recycling (and just plain cool!) Although the Kilo looked and smelled delicious, I simply could not fit any more in my very happy stomach – or so I thought.

icecream

Best ice cream ever. Save room for this (or don’t save room and eat it anyway).

It turns out there was some room left for the Candied Duck Bacon Maple Fried Ice Cream. I don’t care how much you eat when you go to Ulele. You need to have this ice cream. It’s really, really good. Ulele also featured several other flavors of house made ice cream. Others at the table enjoyed them. I did not try them. I have a hard time believing they could possibly be better than the Candied Duck Bacon Maple Fried Ice Cream. Not only is it one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, it’s just fun to say!

I will certainly be back to Ulele and I’ve been highly recommending this wonderful dining experience to all of my friends. The food is delicious. From the brew master to the head chef to the management and wait staff, everyone is experienced, friendly and knowledgeable. This team takes great pride in delivering an excellent experience to their guests and they succeed on all levels.

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May
02
Posted on 02-05-2012
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

My breakfasts usually consist of standing in the kitchen with a bowl of cheerios and a glass of OJ. Running Betty has been trying to get me to switch to oatmeal, but it’s May in Florida and oatmeal just doesn’t sound very good (especially after a hot run). She convinced me this week that I could make granola, pour some milk over it and call it cereal. I accepted her challenge.

Of course, every good granola starts with rum. So, I poured some Cruzan 9 spiced rum over a few ice cubes and got started with gathering my dry ingredients:

The rum goes into you mouth, not into the granola.

3 cups of rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped Blue Diamond Almonds

1/2 cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon cinnamon

a few shakes of the salt shaker

I wanted clusters of granola that wouldn’t break part in a cereal and I read that an egg white would help hold the clusters together. With that in mind, I mixed together my wet ingredients in a separate bowl:

Dry and wet ingredients warming up to each other

1 egg white

1 cup agave syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

After thoroughly mixing the dry ingredients, I dumped them into a 13 x 9 pan, then poured the wet mixture over the top. Using a fork, I stirred the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until things got a little clumpy. Then, I used my hands to kind of knead things together before flattening everything out in the pan.

I baked the granola at 300 degrees for 1 hour, stirring it every 15 minutes. When it finally came out of the oven, I was a little disappointed with the “clumpiness”, but I let it sit out and cool for about an hour and everything stuck together pretty well. I spooned it into some Tupperware and refrigerated it overnight.

In the morning, I defrosted a handful of frozen blueberries in a bowl, then poured some of my granola over them and added milk. It took me more than 45 seconds to eat, but it was quite delicious! The whole batch was enough for about a week’s worth of breakfasts.

The happy ending

What’s your favorite granola recipe?

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September
26
Posted on 26-09-2011
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

Recently, I had the opportunity to try PR bars, part of the Fastburn nutrition system. The idea behind the Fastburn nutrition program is to enhance your body’s natural ability to burn body fat while maintaining or increasing lean body mass. PR bars contain a special protein blend, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, low glycemic carbohydrate sources and quality essential fatty acids that help you burn fat.

When I first received the PR bars, I was a little dubious. At first glance, they closely resemble a certain energy bar that I’ve always found to be dry and virtually impossible to consume without an extended effort. Despite their appearance, the PR bars have an excellent texture and taste quite good. In fact, the iced brownie flavored bars could pass for a respectable dessert.

I tried the PR bars at various times throughout the day. They’re best used as a quick recovery snack immediately following a run or as a midday snack. The Fastburn nutrition program recommends having one with breakfast and one with lunch or dinner. I preferred to use them as a standalone snack.

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August
03
Posted on 03-08-2011
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

***Editors Note: While I’m busy putting together teams for the the Digital Running Club in the next few weeks, I’ll have a few guest bloggers. Today’s guest is my old college friend, Juan Roberto. ***

When it comes to the diet of a distance runner, carbohydrates are typically the most often mentioned form of fuel. Terms like “carbo-loading” are familiar not only to dedicated runners, but to the general public as well. While carbohydrates are the fuel of choice for a hard workout, most coaches and doctors agree that protein is required to build muscle and recover after that hard workout.

The use of protein supplements by runners is often debated with some claiming that typical runners get all of their required protein simply by eating a normal diet and others saying that runners must focus on taking in enough protein or risk damaging their muscles. In many cases, protein rich foods can be high in fat (or just plain filling), so it’s easiest to get the extra calories and protein by using protein powder.

Most athletes make their protein powder as a shake, but there are other creative ways to work the powder into your diet. Professional marathoner Ryan Hall, for example, uses Muscle Milk in his Pancake Batter. This balances the carbohydrate rich meal both by adding protein and reducing the need to use sugary syrup for flavor.

Runners who specialize in sprint distances can benefit from the fast twitch muscle building power of creatine supplements. These are typically used for building muscle mass and are common among bodybuilders. So, creatine supplements should probably be avoided by most distance runners.

Though most popular protein supplements are synthesized from animal sources, there are some good vegan options as well. You can find vegan protein powders made from hemp, pea, brown rice and flax seed proteins. Vegan protein powders are thought to provide the short term benefits of animal based protein powders without the long term risks of heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.

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January
26
Posted on 26-01-2009
Filed Under (Food, Training) by Brian

Despite the fact that my lungs greatly protested last week’s speedwork, I was actually looking forward to today’s workout.  That may have something to do with a day off yesterday…Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Today’s plan was one of those that takes a little bit of effort just to remember:  4 x 200 m with 200 m jogging recoveries, 2 x 400m with 400 m jogging recoveries, 1 x 800 m with 800 m jogging recovery, 2 x 400m with 400 m jogging recoveries, and 4 x 200m with 200 m jogging recoveries.  So, here’s how it went:

1.16 miles warmup in 10:16

200 m intervals: 0:43,0:41,0:44,0:45

400 m intervals: 1:28,1:31

800 m interval: 3:05

400 m intervals: 1:30, 1:29

200 m intervals: 0:43,0:44,0:43,0:44

1.12 miles cool down in 9:18.

Plan: 200’s at 46 s, 400’s at 92 s, 800 at 3:04, 400’s at 92 s, 200’s at 46 s.

So, I was just below my plan for each set of intervals except the 800 in which I was off by 1 second.  I will admit that I felt like puking during the 800, so I let up a little bit.  Still, only a second off isn’t too shabby.  I’m quite happy with today’s workout.  To be honest, the book has a little dash next to my pace for the 800 m, so I’m not really sure I’m even supposed to be doing that.  I figured one wouldn’t hurt too badly.  In any case, I had scheduled the total workout for 7 miles and I ran 7.5 miles, so that’s a bonus.  My total average pace was 7:47 and I did most of the intervals at sub 6:00 pace.

The lakeside park I run at has a well marked path that is 1.1 miles around with the start, finish and each quarter mile marked with a sign.  Since each set of intervals was 1 mile in total, I took the extra 0.1 miles jogging at the end of each set so that I could use the quarter mile markers as a visual signal during my intervals.  Thus, I didn’t need to constantly glance at my Garmin (except during the 200 m intervals).

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October
02
Posted on 02-10-2007
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

For the past several weeks, I’ve been having the same evening snack.  I really think it plays a big part in the quality of my run the next morning.  I say this because I skipped the ritual several times in the last week, and my runs have been mediocre.  Last night, I returned to this ritual and I had a great run this morning.  Here’s what the ritual entails:

About 1 1/2 hours before I go to bed, I take a small handful of frozen blueberries and place them in a large coffee mug.  A take a large handful of frozen raspberries and place them in a bowl.  I let both defrost for about an hour.  Then, I pour Kashi 7 whole grain nugget cereal (think organic grape nuts) over the blueberries with some milk and eat that.  Once I’m done, I pack the defrosted raspberries in my juicer and juice them on low speed.  I then pour organic apple juice into the juicer.  This cleans the remaining thick raspberry juice from the juicer and thins the juice cocktail.  I consume a glass of this raspberry/apple juice cocktail.

Then, I retire for the evening.  No matter how stressful the day has been, this juice cocktail puts me right to sleep.  It’s usually a very deep, dream filled sleep.  I almost never toss and turn when I’ve had this cocktail before bed.  The cereal gives me the extra calories that I need for a strong performance in the morning.  It may sound crazy, but it works.

Planned workout

8 minutes warmup

4 miles at 9:15 pace

5 minutes cool down

Actual workout

9 minutes warmup

4 miles at 9:06

10 minutes cool down

This morning, it was cool and humid.  There was a breeze and rain was threatening.  I ran the first two miles at about 10:00 minute pace.  The third mile was about 8:45 pace, and the final mile was even faster.  I took no walk breaks and I cruised through the last half mile at almost 7:30 pace.  I felt like I had another mile in me too.  It was a great feeling after Monday’s mediocre run.  I wonder if the difference was the evening ritual.  Sunday night, I didn’t have the cereal or the juice cocktail.  Monday night I had both.

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July
31
Posted on 31-07-2007
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

Flounder and Tilapia are two regular staples of my diet.  I eat one or the other at least once a week.  They are both fairly inexpensive types of fish.  This recipe is quick and easy to make.  It’s fairly healthy and it tastes great too.

Ingredients

Olive Oil

Flounder Fillets (3-4)

Flour

1/2 cup of organic chicken broth

Salt and Pepper

2 TBS lemon juice

Chopped parsley

Chopped chives

Directions

1)  Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat to high

2)  Sprinkle salt and pepper on flounder fillets

3)  Dredge fillets in the flour

4)  Pan fry the flounder fillets in the hot olive oil until golden (about 2 minutes on each side)

5)  Remove fillets from pan and keep warm

6)  Lower heat to low and quickly add chicken broth

7)  Stir broth to release any bits of fish that are stuck to the bottom of the pan

8)  Add lemon juice

9)  Reduce the mixture by about half

10)  Pour sauce over fish fillets

11)  Sprinkle fillets with parsley and chives

12)  Serve

I usually serve this entree with some rice or couscous and perhaps some broccolli. 

Today’s workout was a cycling workout:

Planned workout

10 minutes warmup on stationary bike

40 minutes on stationary bike at level 7

5 minutes cool down

Actual workout

10 minutes warmup

40 minutes on level 7

5 minutes cool down

Total distance travelled: 18.6 miles

I started out fast again, but my legs were killing me.  I thought there was no way I was going to beat last week’s distance.  In the end, however, I did.  I managed 15.1 miles in 40 minutes.  That’s an average rate of 22.8 MPH.

Tomorrow’s tempo run could be tough.  It’s a run 2, walk 1, run 1, walk 1, run 2 format. 

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July
24
Posted on 24-07-2007
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t one of the healthiest recipes, but it’s one of my favorite things to make.  So, if you’re in training, save it for the victory party.

 Ingredients

3-4 tilapia fillets (about a pound total)

1 Cup cornmeal

1 Cup of Flour

1 egg

1 cup raw cane sugar

1/2 cup tequila

2 limes

Olive Oil

Ground Cumin

Instructions

Mix the flour and corn meal together in a bowl.  Beat the egg in a separate bowl.  Coat a skillet large enough to hold the  fish with olive oil and heat to high.  Dip each tilapia fillet in the egg and coat with the corn meal and flour mixture.  Place the fillets in the hot oil until brown (about 2 minutes).  Flip the fillets and repeat.  Remove fish from the skillet.  Remove the skillet from heat.  Juice the two limes and add the juice to the skillet.  Slowly stir in the raw sugar, while heating over low heat.  When the lime and sugar mixture is a carmel colored sludge, add the tequila and stir.  Turn the heat to medium low.  Add the Tilapia to the mixture.  Sprinkle ground cumin on top of tilapia.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium low.  Flip the tilapia.  Sprinkle with cumin again.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  Serve.

It goes quite well with rice and a margarita on the rocks.

Today’s workout was a cycling workout around lunch time.  I had an early morning meeting that threw a little wrench into my plans.

Planned workout

10 minutes warmup stationary bike

40 minutes at level 7 stationary bike

5 minutes cool down

Actual workout

10 minutes warmup on stationary bike

40 minutes at level 7 stationary bike

5 minutes cool down

 Determined to improve on my speed from my last workout, I sped through the first 10 minutes like a bat out of hell.  I did regret that a little in the middle of the workout, but ultimately, it did help somewhat as I cleared 13.1 miles in 35 minutes as opposed to thr 13.0 I did last week.  I did keep riding for a total of 40 minutes and accomplished 14.95 miles in that 40 minutes.  My total distance including warmup and cooldown was about 18 miles.  I haven’t really planned out my rides too much, but they will peak at about 90 minutes at some point.

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July
10
Posted on 10-07-2007
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

Here’s a new recipe I tried last week.  I’ll give it a 3 out of 5 stars.  I’m, not rushing to make it again, but it was fairly tasty.

Ingredients 

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ½ TBS honey
  • 2 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 2 TBS coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 TBS chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Season Chicken Breasts with salt and pepper, bake for 30 minutes or until they’re done.

2)  While the chicken is baking, combine the chicken broth, lemon juice and mustard in a sauce pan.  Whisk them together and bring them to a boil over high heat.  Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half. 

3)  Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with walnuts and parsley and enjoy!

Now, on to today’s workout.  I was glad that it was a cycling day today after yesterday’s depressing workout.  I can usually count on a good ride on the bike to bring me back into focus.  My left shin really started to hurt last night, so I iced it, wrapped it in an Ace bandage and reclined in bed for a few hours watching the extended coverage of the Tour de France.  This also served to alleviate the overuse injury I have in my right wrist from using that little “nubbin” mouse thingy on my laptop.

I wasn’t feeling particularly good this morning and when I did my 10 minute warmup on the bike, I wondered if it was a mistake doing 35 minutes on the bike today.  Even during the first 10 minutes of the ride, my legs started to feel tired.  That’s when the Black Eyed Peas saved me.  There’s something about “Let’s Get it Started” that goes oh so well with cycling.  Listen to it and picture yourself on a bike, you’ll get it.  There’s something about the rhythm that goes from ears to brain to legs.  I fell into a “relatively” fast cadence between 120 and 125 RPMs.  The bike threw some virtual hills at me and I powered up them.  Could I do 13 miles in 35 minutes?  Ultra-competitive Brian kicked in. 

Hunched over the bike with a blank stare right through the butt of the lady on the eliptical machine in front of me, I cruised through the next 25 minutes, sweat dripping down, creating puddles on the floor below me.  At 34 minutes, I was at 12.5 miles.  I knew I needed to kick it up a notch.  I rode the last minute between 135 and 150 RPMS, giving it all I had.  I crossed 13 miles 2 seconds into my warmup.  So close.

Planned workout

10 minute warmup

35 minute ride at level 7

5 minute cool down

Actual workout

10 minute warmup

35 minute ride at level 7

5 minute cool down

Location: Stationary bike

Total Distance: 16 miles

After the ride, I did some planks and a little exercise to strengthen my shins before stretching.  I’m still a little sore in the shins, but I’ll ice it again tonight and see how the tempo run goes tomorrow.

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July
03
Posted on 03-07-2007
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

I’m not a really big fan of Asian food.  I’m the one who groans and says “can’t we just have pizza?” when everyone wants to go out for Chinese.  Lately, though, I’ve actually been making my own beef stir fry and it’s pretty good. 

I should also mention that I really don’t like vegetables.  Last night, I made this stir fry and actually enjoyed the snap peas.  I ate quite a few of them. 

Ingredients

1 lb of beef sliced into 2-3″ pieces

1 Tbs. soy sauce

2 tsp. ground ginger

3 cloves of garlic (minced)

3 Tbs. sherry

1/2  lb sugar snap peas

Peanut oil

1/2 cup beef broth

1 Tbs corn starch

2 Tbs water

Instructions

1)  Combine the soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sherry.  Pour it over the meat and marinate for 10 minutes to 1 hour.

2)  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Toss in the peas and boil for 1 minute.  Drain the peas.

3)  Remove the beef from the marinade and discard the marinade

4)  Coat a wok or skillet in peanut oil and heat over high heat.  Stir-fry the beef for 4-5 minutes.  Add the peas.

5)  Add the beef broth to the mixture and cook for 3 minutes

6)  Mix the cornstarch with the water until smooth.  Add to the beef mixture and simmer 3 minutes.

7)  Cook until the sauce thickens

Nutrition Facts (Guesses)

Serving size (4Oz)

Calories: 211

Fat: 7g

Saturated fat: 2 g

Protein: 27 g

Carbohydrate: 8 g

Dietary fiber: 2 g

For added carbohydrates, I eat this stir fry on a bed of sushi rice.   I also sprinkle fried chow mein noodles on top – that’s not very healthy, but it’s still pretty tasty without them.

Today’s workout was on the stationary bike:

Planned workout

10 minutes warmup

30 minutes cycling at 80-90% max heart rate

5 minutes cool down

Actual workout

10 minutes warmup

30 minutes cycling at 75-90% max heart rate

5 minutes cool down

Location: stationary bike on level 7

I thought that by increasing the resistance, I would be able to get my heart rate into the target zone more quickly.  I never really even hit 80% for any significant length of time.  It was only in the last 10 minutes or so that I was in the 80% to 90% range and even then, I was dipping below 80% on occassion.  It’s not like I was slacking either.  I was hitting 120+ RPMs even on some of the “hills”.

Next week, I think I’ll increase the time I’m on the bike in order to maintain a greater amount of time in my target zone.

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