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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Taking Control with the Protein Challenge!

Today I take control of my race-training and overall health by starting the Protein Challenge. The 30-Day Protein Challenge is a fun, step-by-step way to help you get an optimal amount of protein throughout your day. Significant research shows that some people can lose and/or maintain a healthy weight, support a healthy metabolism, and age more vibrantly when they consume more high-quality protein, within calorie goals.

Since I am extremely interested in maintaining a healthy weight and fueling my active lifestyle, I am stoked to be participating. This may surprise you, but even a meatatarian like myself sometimes has a hard time getting enough protein. Which is why I will be utilizing the awesome tools for the Protein Challenge like the food journal, cheat sheet and on-the-go protein snack idea.

For example, I've already got a start on today by having two scrambled eggs with shredded cheese and a yogurt for breakfast. While delicious, that meal only had 23.2 grams of protein and the goal is to get 30 grams of protein at every meal. This is going to be challenging but fun!
Scrambled eggs and yogurt for a protein filled breakfast
Breakfast full o' protein
I will be blogging about my experiences here weekly (maybe twice weekly, who knows) and how I feel, what I'm eating, etc. I fully expect to feel more energized and, hopefully, improve my performance in some upcoming races!
Medaling at a 5K near my hometown
I have full confidence that my increased protein intake
will have me smiling like this a lot more often!
I encourage you to explore the 30-Day Protein Challenge, and if so inclined, sign up and do it yourself!

What do you have to lose? Nothing.

What do you have to gain? Energy. A healthier lifestyle.

Take control!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pounding the Pavement and Inhaling Protein

 10K PR in Manhattan

My feet and legs hurt - I think it's from kicking so much butt by breaking my 10K PR a week and a half ago. Or it could be because I need new running shoes. Either or.

Whatever the reason, I better get them quick, fast and in a hurry since I'm less than a month out from the race Kelly and I are running in Kansas City on April 18. Boy howdy, it's coming up fast!

From last Saturday to this coming Saturday, I'm scheduled to run roughly 35h miles but I'm a horrible traveling runner, meaning I don't do a good job of sticking to my training when I'm out-of-state, so I'll probably be relegated to about 25ish miles. Not bad, but not great.

I'm having trouble deciding/noticing if I'm getting any faster or more resilient during this round of training. I live in a holler among the Flint Hills, so GPS reception is sketchy and at any given time my Nike+ running app could be telling me I've run 1/2 mile farther than I actually have, which [falsely] leads me to believe I'm running 8:15 minute miles for 10 miles straight. Impossible? Absolutely not. Probably inaccurate? Yes.

So while I'm not sure if I'm going to break my PR next month, one thing that I'm certain about is that this girl is getting hangry quite often. Generally after a long run.
Smoked beef brisket
One of my favorite beef meals - smoked beef brisket.
After a long run, which I personally quantify as anything over six miles, I have a noticeable desire for protein, specifically meat. When I say “noticeable,” I mean that I must eat some sort of meat within a half hour or I may chew my arm off to suffice. Sometimes I will eat a few slices of lunch meat to hold me over until I can prepare a full meal or sometimes I will schedule my long runs so that I arrive back at my house roundabout the time my husband has finished grilling lunch or supper, which allows me to dive into a burger, steak or chop almost immediately after my workout. If I don’t get some sort of meat or protein in my system pronto, I feel very sluggish and have a hard time functioning the rest of the day.
Flank steak
Give me all of the flank steak. All. of. it.
Why am I craving protein? Well, that's easy: protein helps support a strong, lean body which is obviously important to me. Furthermore, a high-protein diet helps build and replenish muscles while at the same time providing the "full" feeling meaning if I'm full from steak I'm not chowing down on Cheetos or cupcakes. I get most of my protein from beef and pork but I am also a huge fan of scrambled eggs with ham and cheese and a big glass of milk. I personally believe that breakfast for supper is one of life's underappreciated treats. Actually, I think breakfast food anytime is pretty much the bees knees.

Anyhow, since I have no desire to stop running due to my fondness of my current pant size, I've got to devise a way to get more protein into my system in order to keep the Cheetos and cupcakes out of my system. Those items tend to mysteriously disappear shortly after they are purchased. Weird.

Next week, I'll have a protein update that I'm excited to share, a new meaty recipe and hopefully, some new kicks!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: National Agriculture Day 2015

What does agriculture mean to you? Livestock? Crops? People?
Hopefully all of the above! Below are some of the pictures that comprise my agriculture experience - they vary from sheep to yak to horses to beautiful hay and wheat fields.
Baby lamb in a lambing jug

Checking on a mama cow and her new baby calf

Wind energy on the plains of Kansas

A baby yak

Cattle eating corn in a barn in Ohio

Gathering cattle on horseback in Kansas

A spring wheat field in Kansas

Baby chicks huddled together in the coop during a snowstorm

Also, I am linking to my guest blog over on Food For Thought - hint: it's about agriculture, food and people. You'll LOVE it!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meaty Monday: Smoked Beef Brisket

Hunk of Meat Monday: Smoked Beef Brisket
My Sunday lunch. Sunday supper. And [hopefully] Monday supper.
Holy cow, my Sunday meals were out of this park. Brisket for lunch. Brisket for supper and I will probably have brisket for Monday supper.

I scored a beef brisket at Dillon's on sale - it was originally $8.99/lb but I got it on sale for $5.97/lb so my total 3.4 pound brisket was $20. I'm pretty stoked about the sale on its own but add in the delicious factor of this meal and it's a full on win!

The Ninja is the meat-smoker in the family. I prefer to stick to grilling, frying, baking, broiling but smoking is his major forte. He got a smoker for Christmas in 2013 and hadn't gotten much use of it so it was time to fire that puppy up. But first, let's take a selfie the marinade.

We got this recipe and marinade from the Backyard BBQ: The Art of Smokology cookbook. We used the In Your Mouth recipe, the Brisket Rub II, and the Spiced Brisket Mop. While this recipe is not as simple as many of the others I post, it was scrumptious and juicy and absolutely delectable. I am hoping to have it for supper on Monday night as well. Trust me, take the plunge and do it!

"In Your Mouth" Brisket p. 142
- 1 beef brisket (ours was 3.4 lbs but this recipe will work for a 6-8 lb brisket)
- Brisket Rub II
- Spiced Brisket Mop

Brisket Rub II p. 114
- 3 tbsp. kosher salt
- 3 tbsp. black pepper
- 2 tbsp. paprika
- 1 1/2 tbsp. dry mustard
- 1 tbsp. thyme
- 1 tbsp. celery seed
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 bay leaf

Spiced Brisket Mop p.190
- 3 cup beef stock
- 3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. yellow mustard
- 1 tbsp. Asian chili paste
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. celery seed
- 2 tsp. seasoning salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. onion powder/salt

Combine the ingredients together in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat to cool slight. When using as a mop, keep wamr. Heat flavor can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the chili paste.

Brisket prep instructions
Trim the brisket of any excess fat. Do not remove all the fat since it helps keep the brisket moist during cooking. Once the fat is trimmed, place the brisket in a large Ziploc bag or plastic container and pour Brisket Mop over the meat. Let marinate for six hours.

After the six hours is up, pat dry and put on the brisket rub. Rub well on both sides and then place brisket at room temp while your smoker comes to temperature.

Bring smoker to about 300 degrees. Place brisket in the smoker and smoke at 225F for 3 hours. Once the brisket has smoked for three hours and formed the bark, start to mop with the Spiced Brisket Mop. Mop the brisket every hour. Cook brisket until internal temp is 165F.* Wrap in foil and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 195F.*
*This part didn't take as long for our three-lb brisket. Regardless of the size your brisket, monitor the temp throughout to make sure you are on track.
A smoked beef brisket with a flavorful seasoned crust.
Look at the beautiful crust on this meat masterpiece!
Hunk of Meat Monday: Smoked Beef Brisket
The finished product, hot out of the smoker.
I did a poor job of taking photos during this whole process but all anyone cares about for recipe photos is what the end product looks like, right?! I even included a video of the Ninja cutting the brisket.


It was juicy. Sensational. Delectable. Absolutely amazing.
I hope you have a wonderful Meaty Monday and a great week! This brisket helped fuel my 8 mile run today and will get me through my sore muscles on Monday! If you try it, please let me know if you like/loved it!
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast

When I wasn't huddled around the heater trying to stay warm out here on the arctic plains this past weekend, I was catching up on my Pinterest recipe collection and cooking. I stumbled across what may be my FAVORITE beef roast recipe. Bonus: it called for ingredients I already had on hand and was super easy.

Buzzard's Crockpot Balsamic Beef Roast

2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
~ 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tbsp soy sauce
~ 2 tbsp honey
~ 1 tsp red pepper flakes
~ 4 cloves garlic, chopped

Assemble all of your ingredients, including a beef roast. The amount of marinade will work for a roast up to 3-4 pounds.
Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast
Gather your ingredients

Mix together all of your ingredients. Place beef roast in your Crockpot and pour mixture over the beef. Our roast was about 1.25-1.5 pounds and it was the perfect medium-rare doneness after about 2 hours on high. If you have a larger roast (3-4) pounds, you could do 4 hours on high or probably 6 hours on low.

Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast
Pour the ingredient mixture onto your roast. Look at all that garlic, yum!
When done, place beef roast in a serving dish and spoon gravy and beef bits over the meat to moisten and infuse with deliciousness.

Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast
Robust flavor and so very delicious!
Please, for the sake of all things holy, don't cook your beef to well-done! You only need to cook the roast to 145F!

If you try this one out, let me know how you liked it. We LOVED it - the flavor was robust and the roast stayed very moist. This will definitely be a repeat in our house.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Friday, February 20, 2015

I'm Not a Runner

Snowy road in Kansas
 Kansas is pretty even when it's freezing and snowy!
My running path on Monday - it has since snowed two more inches.
I read a lot of news and while skimming for beef related articles, I come across a lot of health related news as well. And as someone who has initiated a lifestyle change, it's hard not to be drawn to these kinds of articles:
- 7 Things Runners Do On Long Runs (But Probably Won't Admit)
- 10 Running Goals You Should Make for 2015
- Do you give things up during #Lent? As #runners, here are some things we should never sacrifice
- 5 Core Workouts for Runners 

These pieces all have great tips for runners.

Keyword: runners.

Key note: I don't really consider myself a runner.

I feel very cocky when I utter the words "I'm a runner" and I feel super awkward when someone calls me one. This doesn't mean that I think those folks who say, "I'm a runner" are cocky, I'm just describing how I feel.

Cold? Run anyway.
The thing is that I feel like throwing the word "runner" around indicates that I do this for a living. Similar to people who say that they're writers, engineers or teachers. I feel like saying "I'm a runner" elevates me to a new level of professionalism and I definitely don't feel like a professional. Especially when I'm not breaking any speed barriers or winning half-marathons.

However, in the course of a week (2/15-2/21) I will have ran five times for a total of 20 miles and all of it in below-freezing weather. So maybe I am a runner after all, because a big part of running, training and racing is just getting out there and DOING IT. Nike is right, just doing it is a big accomplishment. There is no shortage of runners in the spring, summer and fall when the temperatures are warmer (although I despise hot weather more than freezing) but there are not near as many folks pounding the pavement/gravel when the ground is covered in snow and the wind is howling. So I guess Just Doing It is the qualifier for being a runner.

Just the thoughts of a "runner" who is FREEZING out here on the Kansas tundra prairie and really wishing for the temperature to get above 40°F for several days in a row.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

* If you are wanting to train for a half-marathon and are looking for a training schedule, check out the Hal Higdon's programs. This is the one I'm using for my next race.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'm Pretty Good At This, But I Pretty Much Hate It

Running shoes on gravel road
I'm not one for selfies - I'd rather be in group photos so here are my lovely kicks.
I ran long distances in middle and high school and I was pretty good at it.

Let's not confuse the above statement for "I love running" because that is inaccurate.

Being good at something doesn't necessarily mean you love it, which is why after I graduated high school I stopped running long distances for an entire decade.

Fast-forward to 2014 and a lifestyle that no longer had me riding two horses a day, practicing for basketball/volleyball/track/cheerleading/roping, walking all over campus or working 20 hours a week doing manual labor at a nursery (that's a tree nursery, not a kid one) and Buzzard was looking kind of frumpy. Picture that - a frumpy Buzzard.

I have some really smart, beautiful and talented friends who run and one of them, Kylee, unintentionally motivated me to run a half marathon. I don't think that was her intent but, if so, bravo to her because it got me off the couch, out of my office and onto the [gravel] roads of Kansas. I signed up for my first half marathon, the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo on April 27, 2014, and the next step was to find a training program. I'm a big fan of Hal Higdon's programs - he'll whip you into shape and you won't even realize how hard you're working because it's gradual and planned. There's even an app for that!

Out into the wild I went, pounding the gravel in my Nike Free 5.0 runners.* I ran four times a week and finished well under my goal time of 2:11:00 (10 min/mile). After that emotional high of, "Holy crap I ran a half marathon" I signed up for another and ran the Sioux Falls Half Marathon with my close pal Becca and we both finished under 2:00 (new PR!). I started training for my third race that was to take place two days after Christmas but then I was an idiot and went skiing two weeks before the race. I played softball for 12 years and have bad knees - skiing is not such a great idea for me. My idiocy forced me not to run that race but since I am adamantly opposed to buying larger pants, I have recently started training for another race.

So I told you all of that nonsense to tell you this: I don't like running. What I do like is how I look when I'm in shape (bikini season is coming). Additionally, and probably most importantly, is my extreme love for food and equally as strong lack of moderation. I like ice cream. And donuts. And cookies. And Cheetos (crunchy, of course). And a whole lot of unhealthy fried things. Basically, I love carbs.

In short, I run to look good and eat whatever the hell I want. So if you see me chowing down on a chicken fried steak covered in gravy, it's probably because I ran 7+ miles that day and dammit, I earned it. Also, if I'm being honest, I'm very competitive and running allows me to set a goal and then exceed it. That gives me a "competitor's high."

Over the next ten weeks, I'll be posting my training schedule and, more than likely, food patterns for my next race in April, the Garmin Half Marathon in KC. I'm running it with my good friend Kelly and she too will be blogging about her training. Even though we are training for the same race, the posts will be different because we are different people with different food interests and goals.

The whole point of this post is that people run for different reasons -- their heart health, their body image, to eat what they want, to clear their head, to listen to their favorite tunes for hours on end, etc. Regardless of why people do it, the point is that we are all running the same race but for different reasons. And that's something to be celebrated.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

*Don't run long distances in Nikes. My chiropractor calls them sandals, so that should be your indication of how supportive Nikes are when running more than 10 miles on a regular basis. I was at the point where I could barely walk but for some reason, I kept running. Use your head, people. Invest in good running shoes. The cost of the shoes will be offset by the money you'll save from NOT going to the chiropractor twice a week.