Slow Cooker Beef Tongue: It’s Really Really Good

Before you scroll down to look at the pics of the two beef tongues that look more like Chestbursters from the Alien movies, PLEASE keep reading. They were absolutely delicious and flavorful, easy to prepare and much leaner than I expected.

With our quarter steer that we ordered several months ago, the butchers from Lodi Sausage Company and Meat Market, threw in two tongues. I guess tongue is not popular. As a matter of fact, we asked them for the liver and a few other “throwaway” parts. The tongues sat in our basement freezer for some time, and then Heather pulled them out the other week and asked what we should do with them. Given that a cow uses its tongue pretty much non-stop, my first thought was to cook it low and slow in the crockpot. This was confirmed when we checked out some recipes online. My initial concern was that it would have an “organy”, “minerally”, “irony” taste. Nothing could be further (or farther) from the truth. The beef tongue was AWESOME! Tender and flavorful like filet mignon. No kidding.

We set the crock pot on Low over night with carrots, onions, celery, salt and pepper and a bay leaf. In the morning after letting it cool Heather sliced a small piece and took a taste. She almost literally ran into the living room and said “Eric, you need to try this. It tastes like filet mignon.” Tender, juicy and for you foodies out there, had a great mouth feel. It had a nice chew to it. Not grainy or slippery. Now, what to do with them? She sliced both tongues — sounds like it would hurt: ) — and put them into two containers. The first was for beef tacos. We coated them with some Mexican seasonings (cumin, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and dried chili powder) and gave them a quick saute in olive oil. We served them in warmed corn tortillas with salsa, avocado and a little cilantro. I must have had five or six. They were awesome!

The remaining beef tongue was for our beef with barley soup. And yes, we used the broth from the crock pot. And no, the broth was not fatty. I had read a few online recipes where fat from the tongue seemed to be an issue. People felt that the beef tongue was fatty and the “juice” was too greasy. Not in our case. Maybe it was the way the butchers cut the meat or that these grass fed cows were just leaner? Either way, we did not have to skim fat off the surface of the broth.

There you have it. An unpopular and unattractive piece of beef that turned out fantastic. It made me realize again that we are so conditioned to purchasing and eating only certain cuts and parts of the cow, chicken, pig, etc. All perfectly cut and individually packaged. In my opinion, that really disconnects us from our food. And that is why the last chicken we culled from our flock was done by yours truly. It was a great experience.

So the next time you go to your butcher, see what “throwaway” pieces they have. You might be pleasantly surprised by what culinary delights you can prepare.

2 uncooked beef tongues
This is not a pretty picture. I was hesitant to include this pic because, let’s be honest, the tongues look frightening.

2 cooked beef tongues
After they were cooked, they didn’t look much better.

tender inside of cooked beef tongue
Now we’re talking. Here’s the payoff.

beef tongue slices
2 containers of beef tongue please. The left became shredded beef tacos and the right became beef with barley soup.

beef tongue crock pot broth
Let’s not forget the broth. That’s where the flavor is. Not some bullion cube. This is the real deal. All the flavor.

Time For a New Pillow?

How was your sleep last night? Not so great? Maybe you were cold. Or your book was at the exciting part? Did you eat supper too late? Maybe the food was too spicy? Exercise later than usual? Work late? Have stuff on your mind? These are a handful of reasons why we may not get as much restful sleep as we’d like. Or it might be as simple as replacing your pillow. Yes, you heard me. It might be time to replace your flattened out ten year old pillow.

Over the last few months I have been hearing that MyPillow advertisement on the radio over and over again. So maybe it’s a bit of brainwashing. But I’ve also seen and heard many mattress ads too. Like most of us, I decided on the cheaper and simpler of the two. Keep reading.

For some time, I had been feeling a lot of pressure on my face when I woke up. My cheek was getting absolutely squished. Was I sleeping on a brick? I also noticed extra tightness in my low back. Just to back track, sleep has been absolutely crucial for me as long as I can remember. Not only have I had a few sports related injuries that required me to rest and get off my feet, but I’d been in a couple car accidents 26 and 22 years ago, respectively. These were good ol’ fender benders where I experienced whiplash. For both I dealt with sciatica issues and some peripheral neuropathy for many years. That is why I consider myself a bit of an expert on shoes, chairs and pillows. So back to present day. After listening to me complain, my thoughtful wife, Heather, suggested that I grab one of the new pillows she bought for our guest room. Ahh, she’s always looking after me. Drum roll please. Problem solved. The moment I laid my head down, I was like “this is how it’s suppose to feel.”

Laying my head on the new pillow was like trying on a new pair of athletic shoes. Can you relate? You slip your old shoes back on after trying new ones and you realize your old shoes offer zero support and are so compressed they feel more like bedroom slippers. You’ve heard me rant in previous posts about wearing comfortable shoes and replacing them sooner rather than later. Some running shoes, for example, say you should replace them after 300, 400 or 500 miles or between 3 to 6 months. I’m on my feet for long stretches, so that is more difficult to calculate. There is little noticeable wear on the outside of the shoes but lots of compression inside. The same is true with your pillow. I’ve read that you should replace your pillow every 2 to 3 years, if not sooner. Personally, I think it’s entirely up to you. If you are uncomfortable laying your head on your pillow, that’s a quick clue.

Remember to take holistic approach. If you are not getting restful sleep you should also look at your workout routine, diet, etc. to see if you’ve made any recent changes. I can tell you that sitting in front of my desktop computer for too long makes my neck and upper back hurt. That’s why I’m going to end this article soon.

Hindsight is 20/20 right? With my old pillow I noticed that I was less settled when I slept. I’d roll from side to side. Getting restful and uninterrupted sleep is a key ingredient to your health and well-being. So before you spend serious bucks on a new mattress or make an appointment with your chiropractor try a new pillow.

Make 2017 The Year You Achieve Your Health & Fitness Goals

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017! If you are you ready to make your fitness resolutions a reality then watch my video below. You’ll learn how to target your goals, stay on track and have fun along the way.

Give the Gift of Health this Holiday Season

Not sure what to get your spouse, relative or friend this holiday season? Give a gift that will make a positive difference in their life. Buy a package of personal training for that special person. Don’t stress out standing in long lines at the store or throw money at another electronic device that will be obsolete in one year or wonder if your on-line order will be delivered in time. Personal training is an experience and not just another thing that you pull off a shelf. A personal training gift certificate shows that you care about a person’s health and well-being. It’s also a great way to help someone achieve their fitness goals faster, stay on track, and have fun along the way. I have four private training packages to choose from. If you are having difficulty choosing, here’s some motivation. From now through the end of the month, you can buy any training package (1, 5, 10 or 20 sessions) at my best session price of $65/session if paid by check or cash. That’s a $15 savings for a single session and a $50 savings for the 5 and 10 session packages. For your convenience, I can attach a gift certificate to print out or email. So don’t wait. The clock is ticking. Happy Holidays! ❄️

Contact me today (608)798-0081 or balancepersonaltraining@tds.net

Happy Holidays from the Foxmans 2016

Happy Holidays 2016
photo by Natalie Senecal of Oh Shoot Photos

A Great Testimonial!!

Twenty-one months ago, I received an email from a prospective client named Nate. He said that he had two fitness goals related to the practice of his martial art, Northern Style Kung Fu. First was to improve flexibility so he could perform front splits (right and left) and possibly side splits. The second was to increase strength to aid in the combat sport of Lei Tai. He described Lei Tai as “the Chinese full contact version of MMA (mixed martial arts).” He felt that his endurance was good but just didn’t have enough upper body strength. Drum roll please . . . Mission accomplished.

I can’t say enough about training with Nate. He is patient, open-minded and hard-working. In addition, he welcomes constructive criticism, arrives early and never misses an appointment. What a winning attitude! Nate continues to make great strides in his fitness and I look forward to his weekly workouts. And without further ado, here’s his testimonial.

Eric is exactly what I needed to take my workouts to the next level. He’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and customize training to increase my strength and flexibility for the martial arts I practice. I have had some lower back problems in the past, and Eric makes sure to put safety first in every session. Furthermore, he’s taken my non-existent bachelor cooking skills and turned me into someone who cooks dinner on a regular basis. Eric doesn’t quit when you leave your training session; he helps you make adjustments and live a healthy lifestyle. I have fun and look forward to seeing Eric each week. -Nate G, Madison WI

Nate G doing splits
Nate performing the splits.

Nate G martial arts demo
Nate leaping in the air at a martial arts demonstration.

Herb Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast

Meat. Do ever just have a craving for meat? Juicy, mouth watering. Just thinking about it brings out the carnivore in me. As I have stated countless times, I literally feel awesome after eating meat. It’s hard to describe, but if you exercise, do sports or lift weights, you know what I mean. In addition to being an excellent source of high quality protein, it is rich in B-6, B-12, Iron and Potassium.

The other day I had a hankering for some meat and took a 3-pound Sirloin Tip Roast out of the freezer. After defrosting it, I checked out a couple recipes online that were easy to prepare and delicious. Thanks to AllRecipes.com the herb rub recipe won out. I didn’t follow it to a T but adjusted the amounts of herbs and spices to suit my taste. The original recipe looked pretty heavy on the paprika and salt. In addition, I didn’t have any thyme but used marjoram instead. So what you see below is my “adjusted” recipe. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (When I opened my herb/spice drawer, the bottle of thyme was empty. So I used dried marjoram instead)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pound sirloin tip roast (you can use any roast you like.)

DIRECTIONS

I started by mixing the dry ingredients in small bowl.

Then I stirred in the olive oil and let the mixture sit for a few minutes.

After preheating the oven to 350 degrees F, I lined a baking sheet with aluminum foil. The roast was placed on the prepared baking sheet and covered on all sides with the spice mixture.

Cook roast for 1 hour in the preheated oven or to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Let roast sit 15 minutes before slicing.

Herb Rubbed Roast on Foil
Roast covered with herb & spice mixture.

Herb Rubbed Roast Cooked
Roast is done. Time to let it rest.

Herb Rubbed Roasted Plated
Two delicious slices ready to eat.

Get Outside: Recharge and Refresh

Over the last couple years, there have been many articles written about spending less time in front of our tablets, phones, TVs and computers and giving more attention to green spaces and parks so we can explore the great outdoors, commune with nature, absorb the sun’s rays, etc. There are many physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health benefits attributed to getting outside. For a wonderfully written article on this subject, read This is Your Brain on Nature from National Geographic’s January 2016 issue. I literally crave the outdoors and will get moody if I don’t get outside (just ask Heather), bask in the sun’s rays (even if it’s cloudy) and do stuff. The only thing that will keep me indoors are mosquitoes.

Recently, we visited Heather’s home town of Traverse City, Michigan, and we have a tradition of climbing Sleeping Bear Dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore covers a 35-mile stretch of eastern Lake Michigan and rises 450 feet above the lake. It truly is something to behold. After driving into the park, having a picnic and stopping at a few scenic overlooks, we arrived at the parking lot of the main Dune Climb. Excitedly, we got out of the car and immediately started to take off our shoes and socks. I have always enjoyed hearing and seeing peoples’ reactions when they look up at the mountain of sand. As we started up the dune, I heard one woman giggle, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Then she took a step forward and started the climb. I saw another couple, who didn’t look like they would be able to climb the dune, steadily make their way to the top of the first rise. They took their time, held hands and took it one step at a time. Very cool.

My boys make it like a workout. I’m not sure where they get that from. Must be a boy thing. They jog their way up and then run, leap, tumble and bound their way down. Repeating over and over again. As always, the experience was invigorating. We were in the moment. Sand between our toes, wind in our hair, sun on our faces.

What always amazes me about climbing the dunes or any other outdoor adventure that is not formalized (you’re NOT thinking about reps, time, number of steps, calories burned, etc) is that you can always do more. You are tapping into something. Fun? Relaxation? Energy reserves? I don’t know what you call it, but we sure earned our ice cream from The Dairy Lodge later that afternoon.

Carrying Bruce up Sleeping Bear Dunes
Climb #3. Kyle, Bruce, Roy and I make the ascent.
Bruce challenged me to carry him up so he could rest a while.

Bruce and I running down the Dunes.
On your mark! Get set!

Picking up speed.
GO!

It’s So Easy Eating Green

Pesto ingredientsSnow PeasKale chips Vegetarian Split Pea SoupHeather's Dill PciklesFarro Salad w/ Asparagus, Almonds and Goat CheeseHeather's Dragon Vegetable PlatterZuccanoes (or, Stuffed Zucchini)Garden Ratatouille

Pop quiz. What food did Popeye eat to get super strength to defeat Bluto and save the day? You know the answer . . . spinach. Like many leafy greens, spinach is rich in vitamins like vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K as well as high in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium. Kale, collards, swiss chard and mustards greens rank among the top most power-packed green leafy veggies. And if you’re wondering about your basic lettuces like Romaine, red leaf and green leaf, they make the list too.

There’s no excuse why we can’t eat our greens all the time. It’s so easy. Every grocery store I shop (Copps, Aldi, Willy Street Co-op and even Target) has fresh green produce on their shelves daily. An easy way to incorporate greens into your diet is with salads. And I don’t mean chopped iceberg lettuce with a few slices of tomato. Thanks to my wife, Heather, our typical salad has numerous ingredients, often including chick peas, sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes, mint, arugula, black beans, cucumbers, beets, snap peas, artichoke hearts, green and black olives, bell peppers and the occasional dollop of cottage cheese. Plus you can try fun dressings too. Although I’m more of a balsamic vinegar guy.

Another idea is to go to the grocery store with meals and recipes already in mind. Instead of shopping the basics, like milk, bananas, apples, yogurt, cereal, boneless skinless chicken breast, bread, coffee, cheese (look familiar?), how about buying foods specific to a recipe that you are going to prepare that week?

Here are 4 more tips to help you eat green.

1. Try new recipes. Dust off an old cookbook, pick up a new one or go to your favorite website. I guarantee you that there’s a recipe just waiting to be tried.

2. Eat produce that’s in season. Even though you can pick up practically any produce at any time of the year, its always better when it’s in season. Especially when it’s fresh and local.

3. Have a potluck. What a great way to share new foods with friends!

4. Learn how to can and jar. I was new to this until I realized that we had enough tomatoes and bell peppers in our garden for an army. Heather had canned before so I used her trusty formula and made a big batch of salsa. Yum!

Above I have included pics from some vegetable-based recipes I’ve shared with you over the years: Pesto, Snow Peas, Seasoned Kale Chips, Split Pea Soup, Dill Pickles, Farro Salad with Asparagus, Heather’s Dragon Vegetable Platter, Zuccanoes and Garden Ratatouille.

Should You Supplement with a Protein Powder?

A question I often get asked is “Should I be drinking a protein shake or taking some kind of protein/amino acids supplement?” You already know my answer. “It depends.” How many meals and snacks are you eating each day? Do you have a balanced diet? Are you a vegetarian? What are your health and fitness goals? How often, how intense and how long are your workouts? You’ve heard this routine of mine before.

Over the years I have seen all sorts of formulas to help people calculate how much protein they need. Anywhere from 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight to over 1 gram per pound of weight. That’s a huge difference. Often these calculations are purely arbitrary. Having done extensive reading and research over my 22 years of personal training, I’ve learned that the average person doesn’t require nearly as much protein as the elite athlete. Someone who is constantly breaking down muscle tissue and needs to repair, recover, grow, prevent/reduce injury and improve his/her performance. That’s an entirely different thing all together. Just remember, though, that protein is just one part of your dietary equation. That’s why it is key for you to keep a journal of your food intake and workouts. The tendency is to focus on the workouts, specific routines, amounts of weights, etc. When in fact, that should be secondary to a diet that complements your exercise program and will lead you to your health and fitness goal(s).

So why do I have a couple pics of a tub of protein powder? To promote it? Partially. To educate you? Yes, that too. It started when I ran into a former client a couple weeks ago. Rob is a 40-ish year old bodybuilder, who is in incredible shape and trains like an absolute beast. I always appreciate his open mindedness and his eagerness to learn. When we chatted I asked about his supplement routine. Among other things, he said he was enjoying Elevation Protein Powder that he bought from Aldi grocery store. Just $15.99 for a 2-pound container, he felt that it’s an excellent value. Compared to other whey protein powders that have a laundry list of extra ingredients, this is made of a protein blend (whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate), cocoa powder, maltodextrin, flavoring, soy lecithin, cellulose gum, acesulfame potassium and sucralose. It also is a good source of potassium and calcium. Best of all, he said that he had no gastrointestinal issues with it. And let me tell you, that is a total plus. Over the years, I have tried many supplements: protein powders, shakes, pills, meal replacement shakes, pre and post workout powders, etc. Many of them would rip my insides apart. So even if they were helpful, they would make me sleep on the couch if you get my drift.

Later that week I picked up a container of the chocolate protein powder. It mixes about the same as other powders. A little gritty and chunky even if you use a shaker cup. I suggest adding it to a smoothie or blending into a shake. After drinking the shake, did I feel a surge of power like when Popeye eats his spinach? Nope. This is not a pre-workout drink loaded with caffeine and other stimulants. I felt satisfied and knew that I was doing something good for myself. And that goes a long way. At 30 grams of protein per serving, it’s a good value. For me it’s an excellent accountability and motivation tool. . . and I get my chocolate fix. Like buying a new pair of athletic shoes or purchasing personal training sessions or picking up a healthy recipe book, they all encourage you to make healthy choices. Each time you look at your shoes, you’ll think of exercising and doing something good for yourself. When you see your PT appointments in the calendar you’ll be motivated to stay on track between workouts. That healthy cookbook sitting on your kitchen counter is begging you to open it and try a new delicious recipe. I’ll continue to supplement with this protein powder on the days I workout and let you know how everything goes.

Elevation Protein Powder

Elevation Protein Powder nutrition info