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The Best Baked Pumpkin Seeds EVAH!!!  Vegans and Vegetarians should Skip this Post… Heh.

Dude, I’d like to thank Granny B for the best damn pumpkin seed recipe ever thought of, bar none.

Clean your pumpkin seeds and place them on a cookie sheet as you normally would.  Then cut pieces of bacon into little chunks and place over the seeds.  Then bake till the bacon is rightly done.

Seriously, dude.  Bacon. Flavored. Pumpkin seeds.

The candy of meat meets the candy of seeds (and Halloween).  And no…. it’s even better than it sounds.  Trust me.

A Typical, Easy Rest Day, Here at Fit Recovery.

Notice, in the title, I used “easy rest day”, not “day off”…

My legs were pretty tired all day.  My feet hurt and I probably needed a day off after riding 86 miles the day before.  I also bowled on the league I belong to after the ride.  Apparently I should ride long before every bowling night because I rolled a 579 (193 average, my average is normally around 185).

Monday started out rainy but cleared up as the day progressed.  The temp also stayed pretty cool, in the low to mid 60’s, but the wind picked up…  Did I mention I could have justified a day off?

So I did what any normal cycling enthusiast would do.  I pack my wife’s and my bikes onto the rack and we went for a ride after dropping the kids off to swimming practice.  It’s supposed to rain on Wednesday anyway, I’ll take my day off then.  

And we didn’t just go for a ride, we did hill repeats.  Bunches of them.  Chuckle.  I justified it by spinning up the grades that were less than 10%…  Brilliant!

See, I was supposed to go over to my best friend’s house to watch the debate last night.  Pizza, popcorn, and a political Battle Royale.  My buddy and I are political junkies, though we care more about why politicians choose the talking points they do than the “issues” they cook up behind them.  I digress.  

Sadly, my friend does not live the same healthy lifestyle I do.  He smokes, is overweight, and his idea of a “bike ride” is taking his Honda motocross bike for a few laps around his back yard.

He had a heart attack yesterday morning.

Yep, I’ll take a few hill repeats over a heart attack any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  It brings new urgency to my philosophy on “tapering”…  I’ll taper when I’m dead.  In the mean time, I’ve got a Specialized Venge and a Trek 5200 that are both itching to be ridden.

You can pay up now or pay later… one way or another, you’re going to pay.  And paying later, for most people, sounds better… until the bus shows up.

Did you say “Gluten Free Hair Care Products”?  Since When Did People Start Eating Their Shampoo? Gluten-free Jumps the Shark

Look, I get it, but this whole vegan/gluten-free thing is getting out of hand.

I read a post last night that turned out to be an advertisement for “the Morrocco Method gluten-free, vegan and paleo friendly shampoo.  Of course, they recommend you alternate between each of their five shampoos and two conditioners for best results…  So I’ll cut right to the chase, because I think it’s absolutely deliciously funny how gullible many in the food-snob crowd can be – and how easily those people are separated from their money…  The shampoo set, five standard-sized 12 oz bottles of shampoo (a can of Coke is 12 oz):  $130.  The conditioner set:  $110.  Two Hundred and Forty f@ckin’ Dollars for shampoo and conditioner.  Oh, I’m sorry.  Gluten-free shampoo and conditioner.  The hair and scalp “recovery package”?  $280!  To break this down further, they sell each 12 oz bottle of shampoo separately for $35 each!

Sorry man, but gluten-free just jumped the shark and if you’re that gullible, well you deserve to spend a quarter of a thousand bucks on shampoo and conditioner.

Now, I know there’s gotta be someone out there who reads this post and is tempted to comment along these lines:  “Oh, but the Morrocco shampoo is the best thing ever…”  I promise, I’ll respond nicely to your comment, but I’ll be laughing at you as I type my reply.  Out loud.  Laughing.  At you.

Unless you actually have been diagnosed with Celiac’s.  Then you get a pass, but only if you regularly ingest the shampoo and conditioner, which can’t be good for you.  So don’t do it.  Really.  It would give new meaning to colon-cleansing though.  Chuckle.  

Oh crap!  Literally.

 

Getting Your Kids Into Fitness – Patience, Persistence and Leading By Example are the Keys to Success.

My wife just completed her first Sprint Triathlon of the season the other day and she’s becoming quite the cyclist.  My cycling exploits are well documented over the last three years of this blog.  I used to run, before cycling, with a friend of mine when our kids were just stroller-bound.  We’d meet every Saturday at a friend’s house and Pete and I would plop our four kids (two each) into their kiddie running strollers and we were off.  It gave Pete and I time with our daughters and more importantly, gave our wives some alone time.  The fella, whose house we ran at, still gets misty when recounting the story of Pete and I passing him on the way out, pushing our daughters in their strollers.

My daughters have never seen the other side of me.  The overweight side.  The guy who stood in front of a mirror and said, “Heck with it, I’m just gonna get fat”.  I buried him when I bought my first pair of running shoes.  He’s got a grave marker that reads, “C’mon man, you’re too old for this…Or somethin’!”

My wife and I have pushed our daughters, well nudged is a better word, toward leading a fit lifestyle ever since they were old enough to understand what the words “fit” and “lifestyle” meant.  We had help too.  Many of our friends lead a fit life.  Grateful Jim, when our kids were too old to push in a stroller, used to take our kids to a pool to swim and then to lunch so I could get my run in.  I always made the mistake of saying he taught my kids how to swim but he corrects me, “I only taught them how to not be afraid of the water”.  Either way, he had a profound influence on both of my daughters who are now on a traveling swim team.  They’re eleven and eight years-old.

A month ago, I purchased a road bike for my eldest daughter.  She had been asking for one for a year but I wasn’t looking at some cheap big-box mountain bike with drop bars version of a road bike.  She was going to end up with the real deal because one of the great aspects of cycling is enjoying what you ride.  We settled on a full-sized 700c Specialized Dolce, with a carbon fork, a triple crank and a decent integrated brake/shifter component set.  Originally I was reluctant to drop almost $800 on a bike for an eleven year-old.  What if she didn’t like it?  My fear was fair but wrong in the end.  She took to that bike like she was meant to ride and she makes her dad proud.  Her younger sister inherited her mountain bike (a 21 sp, front suspension Trek) and loves it…  It couldn’t have turned out any better.  Or so I thought…

Monday, while on a training ride, my wife mentioned that my daughter was interested in doing the Aqua-Bike at next year’s triathlon, with my wife.  I contacted the organizers of the race by email and explained our situation and my daughter’s age – and also her level of proficiency when it comes to swimming and cycling and asked that she be allowed to compete even though she’ll be well under the minimum age requirement.  They responded that a special consideration will be allowed based on her proficiency as explained in my email.  Of course I’ll have her whipped into even better shape for the bike leg by that time and I’ll be riding the course myself, as neutral support for all of the cyclists (it’s a female only race).  She’ll be good to go and based on this year’s results, she’ll even have a very good chance at a podium spot – racing against adults.  In fact, I don’t know who’s more stoked about my baby girl in her first race, my daughter or me or her mom.

Getting to this point has taken patience – if we were to push too hard, we could have turned both of them off from fit sports altogether.  It’s taken persistence – always reminding them that their youthful bodies will get old in a hurry if they’re not moved pushed on a regular and consistent basis.

Most of all, it’s taken my wife and I leading by example…  Physical fitness and a happy, healthy life go hand-in-hand.  There is no cheating it, no miracle pill, no easy way around it.  There are no shortcuts, no days off.  We can pay now or pay later and for those who opt for the latter, “later” is usually way too early.  Living fit doesn’t guarantee a long, happy life.  It just makes that more attainable.  More probable.  My kids see this and now they want to be a part of what makes their parents so happy.

A fit life is not a theory, you have to live it… And that in living it, life is good.

Dropping Weight at Will:  Blessed to Bike.

Fourteen years ago I was maybe six months to a year from becoming fat.  Already overweight, obese was only a couple dozen pizzas and two-liters of Coke away.

Along came an impromptu photo (read that, a photo I didn’t have the wherewithal to pose for) and I saw the double-chin.  I’m 6′ tall and weighed 140 pounds when I sobered up – Pro cyclists would have been jealous of my weight back then!  I pulled out a scale…  195.  I stood in front of the mirror and looked at my gut – and decided to let myself get fat.  Seriously.  

The next day I changed my mind and started running.  Just a touch more than 24 hours later.  A mile and a half that first day, something like a 9:30 min. mile.  Two days later it was two miles, then three.  Over the course of the next year I got down to 170 and there I stayed there.  I didn’t hate running but I only did it because I did hate the idea of getting fat and riding a $160 Sears mountain bike wasn’t all that exciting.  Riding a bike was for kids, I thought…  

Nine years later I bought a bike, a cheap $20 garage sale mountain bike – and I started to ride.  Then I bought another.  And another.  And one more.  I went from 15 mph for just four miles on the mountain bike to 21 for 30 miles on a road bike (solo), in two years.  I was hooked, and I mean hooked on cycling.  I dropped 20 pounds so fast it was scary – and my legs became awesome (I added muscle and lost a BUNCH of fat, in other words).

A couple of months ago, one of the racers in our Tuesday night group decided to get anyone in our group who wanted, hooked up with a club kit.  Our local bike shop is represented on a sleeve, as are a few other companies, and our group along with a small map of our 33 mile route…  Three weeks ago the fit kits came in and we all tried them on.  They’re pro-fit so I figured my normal medium would became a large.  The large was really tight so I decided to go with an XL which fit perfectly.  They came in yesterday and I tried the jersey on.  It’s not nearly as tight as when I tried it on just a few weeks ago.  

Three weeks at between 150 and 190 miles a week and I have to think about ordering a large for later in the summer – and I’m trying to keep my weight where it was.  Let’s just say I’m not exactly pushing myself away from the table.

Besides the obvious, eating to fuel (not just to eat), there are a few tricks to my continued success in dropping weight through cycling.  I ride hard, I ride fast and I ride long.  During the week, work only allows an hour a day (except our Tuesday club ride which is just shy of two, including the warmup).  On Friday and through the weekend though, I’m on the gas for at least seven hours.  

A typical Friday, Saturday, Sunday looks like this:  25-35 fairly easy miles with Mrs. Bgddy, 50-75 hard miles on Saturday and 40 easy with Mrs. Bgddy on Sunday.  Eventually, that Sunday will have to go into the hard column to get ready for DALMAC (4 days, 415 miles) but for now it’s great fun hanging with my wife that extra day.  

This is how my week breaks down:

  • Monday – easy or off
  • Tuesday – HARD
  • Wednesday – medium 18-19 mph
  • Thursday – hard or medium (depends on legs)
  • Friday – easy
  • Saturday – hard
  • Sunday – easy

The simplest way to put the difference between running and riding is that now it’s not about losing weight or maintaining weight (though the maintaining part can get tricky, trying to replace all of those calories spent on the bikes)…  It’s about having a good time.  That’s what cycling did for me and that’s why I’m blessed to bike.  I look forward to putting in the miles – all day long.  It’s my escape.  

I’m not saying my way is the right way but I will say this:  It sure beats eating twigs, leaves and tofurkey.  It beats cutting carbs or counting calories.  It’s macro in lieu of micro-managing.  It works if I work it. 

And it is good.

The smile isn’t cheap, but it’s easy.

Take your pick… Buy a bike and ride it.

How to grill chicken like a pro…

I rarely, if ever, order chicken when we eat out. All too often it comes out dry and, not to put too fine a point on it, I happen to be pretty darned good at it.

How many only barbecue chicken on the grill because the sauce makes the otherwise dry chicken a little juicier?  How many skip chicken altogether because it always comes out tasting gnarly?

Chicken is, without a doubt, one of the toughest meats to get right – on a grill it’s even tougher. This is so for one reason, and one reason only: It is easily overcooked.

The tendency is to overcook chicken because the ramifications for undercooking it are huge. There is nothing worse than bringing in a beautiful plate of chicken, only to cut it open to see the telltale gray-pink center followed by the rush to get the chicken back on the grill to cook it the rest of the way through.

I am, within my family at least, a bit of a Svengali on the grill.  If it used to pump oxygen, I can grill it.  Heck, if it didn’t I can grill it.  My chicken though, is legend, and I’ll lay out my tricks to cooking perfect, juicy chicken on the grill.

Before we get into the steps, grill with the lid down.  Only lift it to flip the chicken or to take care of flare-ups.  Also, I’m assuming that you have a basic knowledge of how to cook food on a grill.  If you’re a straight up grilling noob, there’s too much to pass on for this one post, start with something easy, steak or burgers (both of which simply require “so many minutes per side”).  Finally, NEVER use a fork Using a fork to turn the meat will pierce it and allow the juices to drain out.  This is grillmanship 101…  Use tongs.

#1. Heat the grill up, gas on high (if you’re using charcoal you want the bricks just glowing red – don’t wait too long though).  You’re looking for around 400 degrees F if you have a thermometer in your grill.

#2. Pretty side of the meat goes to the fire first.

#3. Put the chicken right over the hot spots, preferably thick side over the hottest spots. A few minutes so you get the perfect grill marks. Flip and repeat on the other side.  2-3 minutes per side.

#4. For gas, after the initial blast, turn the heat down to medium and cook for a couple of minutes each side over the hot spots, for charcoal, you should have fairly obvious hot spots, move the chicken to the edges of the hot spots with the thick part closest to the heat. 2-3 minutes per side (rotate the chicken 90 degrees – it’ll give you awesome cross-hatched grill marks).

#5.  Finally, turn the heat down to low (or move the chicken away from the hot spots) and give your chicken a few minutes on low heat (ugly side down).  This last part is all timing and unfortunately, visual.  If you cut a piece open to make sure it is indeed done, cut the thickest piece in the thickest part – if that’s done, everything else is.  I did this a few times before I got the timing and the visual cues down right.  Unfortunately, the piece that you hack will have the juices drain a bit – it won’t be ruined, but it won’t be as good as the pieces that aren’t sliced.  What you’re looking for is blackened grill marks and the remainder of the meat to be a golden brown.  Grill time will vary depending on your grill so be very careful that the meat is cooked all the way through – raw meat will have an ugly pink center while perfectly cooked chicken will be white all the way through but drip juices like crazy when you cut into it.

Total cook time should only be 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets…  To practice, butterflying the breast filets at the thickest part doesn’t hurt and you can cut the cook time down to about 10 minutes.  Cutting the filets prior to cooking will not hurt the overall juiciness of the chicken.  We start off with the high heat first to sear the outside of the meat, trapping the juice inside.

Minimalist Eating: Salmon

I thought I didn’t like salmon. I’ve tried it a few times when friends or relatives prepared it… Let’s just say I wasn’t too impressed. I figured it was just the fish because the folks who prepared it were very good cooks.

Imagine my surprise when my wife came home the other day and said she’d picked some up at the store. Skip to last night and we were all in the mood for a decent dinner but I wanted to cook outside rather than needlessly heating up the house (it’s HOT outside as it is) so we were grillin’ baby.

Quick Google search to learn how to grill salmon and we’re rolling… If you’re a minimalist eater, try this:

Brush on olive oil, both sides. Lightly season (we used a Tuscany blend), salt and pepper. That’s it. Now, I want to pause here. I am a huge fan of squeezing a fresh lemon on fish… Not in this case. We were 4 for 4, the salmon was better without the lemon.

Oil the grill surface: drizzle olive oil on a folded (2″x2″ square) paper towel and, with a pair of tongs, rub the oil on the grate.

Place the slab skin down on the grill (medium high) for 10-15 minutes (do not flip or move – watch your hot spots, try to avoid the hottest spot or put the thickest part of the filet over it).

10-15 minutes on medium-high heat and the fish will flake easily – it’s done, serve immediately. Drizzle lemon over the top if you wish

We also had a salad and my famous grilled asparagus (again, minimalist:  Olive oil, garlic, grill then douse with lemon juice (be liberal with the lemon juice, it’s better with a lot – the recipe is here.).

Just so we’re clear, the proper order to cook this out is asparagus first.  When it’s done, transfer to a cookie sheet and place in the oven at 210 degrees (F) to keep warm, then cook the Salmon.  We all agreed (a rarity) that the minimalist salmon was the best we’d had.  Sometimes your just better off letting the food taste good all on its own.