Category Archives: Family

Mind Blowing Barbacoa

BARBACOA

Totally simple to throw together in the morning, this barbacoa recipe is going to transform your Taco Tuesday’s forever. 

TOTAL TIME: 6 HOURS 20 MIN

PREP TIME: 20 MIN

COOK TIME: 6 – 8 HOURs

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs chuck roast (fat trimmed), cut into 2-inch chunks (or you can cheat and use pre-cut stew meat like I do)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped (or more to taste – I highly recommend more)
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup pickled jalapeños chopped with juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup beef stock

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.   When beef is tender and falls apart easily, shred remaining chunks with a fork.

Remove the bay leaves.  Grab your favorite tortillas and load up the barbacoa.  Top with your favorite toppings (like slaw, radish, avocado, fresh jalapeños, cilantro…..I think you feel me).

If not using immediately, refrigerate the barbacoa beef with its juices in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.

“Just tell your story.”

Over the course of the last couple of years, I have had several people tell me that they think Joy and I need to tour the country and speak to people.  Tell our story to the world.  Inspire others.

Well this morning I got the privilege of doing something I have always wanted to do, deliver a motivational speech to a group of folks who have no idea who I am.  Now, I am not in the public speaking business and don’t really have any intention of getting in it but I do know how to speak in front of people.  I do it all the time and I can assure you that unlike the majority of Americans, speaking in front of people is not my greatest fear.  In fact, I might be more comfortable with that type of conversation than a 1 on 1 with a new acquaintance.

So the question you should be asking right now is:

“How did this happen?  How did a group of sane individuals think of you to deliver a motivational message?” 

I know I have asked it a hundred times since I was first asked.

Well, from what I understand, it involved a lot of wine, someone who has an over inflated view of my ability to inspire, a low budget and the need to send some serious love to a group of leasing professional who have been working their tails off for the last year or so.

Enter:  Andrew Bowen – Motivational Speaker

So being dedicated to my craft, I was sure to have a couple of calls with the leaders of this group to find out what message they needed delivered to this team.   Through a lot of dialog that resembled a ping pong match:

Me:  “What message would you like me to deliver?”

Them: “I don’t know, what do you normally deliver?”

Me: “I normally deliver a sales pitch but I doubt that is the message you want.  I can put together anything for you.”

Them: “We just need them to be recharged.   Why don’t you just relate your story?”

And there it was….”your story”.

Those words came up time and time again over the course of the week or so we discussed the message we needed to delivery.  Just tell my story.

Do you have any idea how exposed you feel when the inspirational message is your own story?

What if they are not inspired?  Well it is your story so obviously you are un-inspirational.

What if they find no value in it?  Well obviously you are worthless.

What if they find it a waste of time?  That speaks for itself, you are a waste of time.

So for the last several weeks I have been going through “my story” in my head.  Rehashing it all over and over again so the delivery would be smooth this morning.   Rehashing it until I developed a theme.  “Life on the Line”

This morning came and I drove to the event, ready to share my story.

I shared stories about getting started in student housing

I shared stories about feeling overweight and listless

I shared about a black belt test gone wrong

I shared about breast cancer

I shared about learning from all of it and focusing our efforts on empowering others to live their healthiest lives

Was I inspirational?  I don’t know, you would have to ask the audience but I will say this, it felt great to own my own story.  So go ahead, go tell your story.

My Meal-prep Dirty Little Secret

So I can’t remember the last week that we actually ate all of the food I prepped on Sunday.  Invariably – life happens.

A teen’s event was not planned for.  A worship meeting goes long.  An opportunity to roll presents itself.  Something happens that prevents us from eating what is in the fridge and dictates that we are going to grab something from a restaurant somewhere.

Every.

          Single.

                      Week.

So when for the 3rd week in a row I was about to throw out baked sweet potatoes and chopped peppers, I decided to find a new way to utilize these staples of our week.

Enter:  Sweet Potato Bird’s Nests

These take a bit longer than I would like since the potatoes I use are already baked and take a while to crisp up like I like them but they are awesome.  I will definitely be making these regularly and for sure will do this with a sweet potato hash as well.   Video and the recipe are below.

See the Video Here

Ingredients:

  • Pre-baked sweet potato (each potato yields approximately 4 “nests”)
  • Pre-diced Red Onion
  • Pre-diced Red Pepper
  • Pre-diced Green Pepper
  • Pre-diced Jalepeno Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until onion is translucent but peppers are still crisp.img_3452
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Add salt, pepper and sautéed vegetables and mix well.                                                          img_3450
  5. Transfer a spoonful of sweet potato mixture to each muffin mold. Press the mixture up against the mold until it is approximately ¼ inch thick leaving a cavity for the egg (to be added later).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven.
  7. Adjust the oven to broil (still at 400 degrees)
  8. Crack one egg for every sweet potato being baked. Add egg to the cavity created by the mold.
  9. Place muffin pan back in oven. For soft yolk eggs remove after 6 minutes.  For hard yolk eggs, remove after 12 minutes.

You have probably noticed that I did not give quantities of potatoes and peppers.   Because this recipe was conceived around leftovers, whatever you have left over will determine how much to use.  You can always cut up more peppers to meet your potato supplies (like I did when I created this one).

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Living (socially) Authentically

So as I write this, I am sitting on a plane heading back to Dallas from Sin City.  My company’s annual user conference is complete and it is time to head home.  Just me and about 200 other coworkers and clients on a late American Airlines flight.

As I look back on 6 years of attending this particular conference, I realized that I have both a higher volume of relationships with clients as well as deeper relationships than ever before.  Now, building relationships is actually something I struggle with and have written about before.  I am great when there is a purpose to a conversation or in front of groups of all sizes but when it comes to really developing a relationship, I suffer from a lack of self-confidence/self-worth that can become paralyzing.  (Want to read more on that?  Here is how I cope).

This year felt different though.  I didn’t have that nagging feeling of worry of having to facilitate small talk.  People I have barely met/know were approaching me with comments like:

“Hey RoadWarrior”

“Oh you’re Andrew Bowen!!  You’re the new hotness!!” (seriously, that happened)

“Your posts inspire me”

“Don’t judge my food choices”

“You and your wife are sickening, in a good way”

And my personal favorite……..

“I love your wife!”

So if you were one of the many who shared your opinion with me,

THANK YOU!!!!

It means the world to me to know that the crazy that is me is speaking to people.  I even appreciate the trolls out there that do nothing on social media except consume.  In fact, I think your comments meant the most to me.  Consume away, it is why I post (but the occasional like, comment or share doesn’t hurt either 😉 )

The comments did get me thinking though……

“Why is it that what Joy and I do on/through social media is able to touch so many?”

The answer came to me through a conversation I had at the pool party last night that went something like this:

Co-worker 1:  I think your Facebook feed is my favorite thing on Facebook.  It’s hilarious.

ME:  Really?  How so?

Co-worker 1:  Well, I know you!  So I love that here you are, this straight laced, smart, asset optimization guy at work but on Facebook you put out this alternate persona with the videos, workouts, crazy pants and all that.  I think it is hilarious that you have this alternate persona on social media.

Co-worker 2:  Seriously?  You think the Facebook Andrew is the persona?   That is totally him.  Actually, they both are.

Age gracefully- Nah!!

And that really is it in a nutshell.  What Joy and I both post and share really is us.  We don’t sugar coat it and I think the authenticity is what people resonate with.  And with me being a ‘friend whore’ – not only are coworkers seeing my posts but so are several clients and their friends  (and their friends and their friends, etc…)

  • We really do prioritize our health (4 major medical scares in 4 years will do that to you)
  • We really do want to help others do the same
  • We really do love sweat dates
  • I do really try and make sure her life is as easy as I can before I travel
  • We do really struggle with living a life where I am on the road 60% (ok – 80%) of the time
  • I really do struggle at social interaction until I am comfortable with those I am interacting with…..Joy? Not so much
  • Our kids do really think we are insane

I think the most beneficial aspect for me in dealing with the social anxiety is that when we are recording, or doing FB live, or posting, I am in my absolute comfort zone.  I am with my best friend and not worried about whether the content of my conversation is engaging or if I bring any likable characteristics to the conversation.  I am simply hanging with Joy and in that I am completely comfortable.  It is authentically me.  I just then put it out for the world to see.

Fortunately for me, it seems to be resonating with all of you.  So again, thank you.  So what do you take away from all of this?

Live authentically – even on social media.  People want to know you not the ‘persona’ of what you wish you were.

How does a pescetarian survive a backyard cookout?

This is the question my wife and I have to answer every time we head to a community event.  The most recent example?  UFC 200 watch party at our gym.

Great event.  Great group of people.  Great socializing.  Nothing for someone who is basically a vegetarian to sustain themselves on.  To complicate matters, all of the sides were potluck which invariably ends up producing a smorgasbord of carb laden options such as chips, potato salad, candies of all types and more deserts than my 14 year old could even consume.

We learned a long time ago that if we are going to be able to stick to our dietary guns, we need to bring a couple dishes on the side to sustain us, especially Joy.  Enter…..

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail!!!

Not sure why this was the dish we both had a craving for but we both did.  We get this dish all the time as an appetizer at one of our favorite local restaurants and I have been trying to emulate it for months now.  I think I have finally gotten it where it needs to be!!

It is great because it easily keeps in a cooler, tastes great cold, you can make it ahead of time and you can make it in relative bulk with easy to find and prep ingredients.  In fact, this version is basically no prep at all!!

So the next time you are invited to an event but are not necessarily excited about hot dogs and brats, consider taking this instead.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (serves 4 as an entree, 8 as an appetizer)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Shelled, de-veined, boiled or steamed shrimp (I use 31/40 and previously fozen works just fine)
  • 1/2 of English cucumber (diced)
  • 1/4 cup of diced jicama (don’t skip this one!!!  The crunch it provides is crucial!!)
  • 1 cup pico de gallo (you can either make your own or use store bought)
  • 2 Tbsps cocktail sauce (I prefer the hot cocktail sauce)
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1/2 medium avocado (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro

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Directions:

  1. Place pico, cocktail sauce and tequila in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. To the mixture add the cucumber, jicama and shrimp.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can go longer and the flavors tend to marry more but expect more fluid if longer).
  4. Immediately prior to serving add diced avocado and mix.
  5. Top with cilantro.
  6. Enjoy over chips, tortillas or just out of the bowl!!

Special note for those who are on eating per the 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix Extreme, you can also make this recipe without the tequila and the avocado and it is great.  This brings your container count to 1 red and 1/2 green depending on your serving size.

Happy Freedom Day!! – Time for carb-less chips!!

The Fourth of July!  Independence Day!  (Treason Day if you are from the UK as one of my good who does hail from Britain proclaimed on Facebook this morning).

It is a day for celebrating, fun in the sun, fireworks and backyard BBQs!  A time for  sweet creamy desserts and salty sides.  But as someone who is currently watching and limiting every carb he takes in, how can I partake in the fun and not be a total Debbie Downer to everyone else?  Enter Carb-less Chips!!

So this morning in prep for our family BBQ, I was making Cloud Bread and decided to experiment on a smaller scale – what about chips?  They turned awesome and you are beneficiary.  Seriously, enjoy

Ingredients:

  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1/2 Tbsp of Water
  • 1/2 tsp of Chipotle Pepper
  1. Pre-heat over to 400 degrees.
  2. imageCombine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
    1. Note:  I use Chipotle Pepper for the spice in this because I like it spicy, feel free to play with the spices that speak to you)
  3. imageSpoon mixture into a cupcake pan (I prefer the mini-cupcake pans but whatever will do) until the bottom of each cupcake is just covered by the mixture.
    1. Note:  You are going to be tempted to overfill, don’t!!  They will come out much crispier the thinner you pour your batter.
  4. Bake for 13-15 minutes checking to make sure they do not burn.
  5. Remove and eat immediately.
    1. Note:  You can also immediately spray with coconut oil and salt if desired.

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Now you have a way to battle the bowl of chips on the picnic table that everyone else is diving into.  Enjoy!!

Carrot Tortillas

In my house, tacos are considered a gift from God.  My wife is pretty much convinced that the manna that God provided the Hebrews had to have been collected and then pan baked into nice round shapes.  Seriously….tacos are a big thing in this house.

However, so is the consumption of refined carbs….or better stated, the lack there of.

So what is a family to do?  We love spicy goodness wrapped in an edible delivery system (ponder on the genius of that for a few moments…..pause….pause….pause…..).

Enter:  The Carrot Tortilla!!!

I know what you are thinking.  I was too but trust me on this one, these are the best we have tried yet.  Don’t believe me?  Watch the taste off here:

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So here is how you make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Grated Carrot
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Flower
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Wash, peel & grate carrots – OR – buy the shredded carrots from the grocery store and give them a rough cut like I do.
  2. Place the carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add water (recipe is 1/2 cup but you are really looking to get them covered in the bowl, the amount really doesn’t matter).  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.DSC_0287
  3. Drain and dry the carrots.  Use a dishtowel or cheese cloth to squeeze extra water out.  The drier you can get these the better they will turn out.
  4. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Tip: just use your hands and get dirty.  It is by far the best way to get the ingredients incorporated.DSC_0293
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a backing sheet with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  6. Spread carrot mixture into approximately 6 inch round ‘tortillas’ that are approximately 1/4 inch think (Note: these don’t rise or spread at all during cooking so however you spread them is pretty much how they will come out).
  7. Bake for 12 minutes, flip them once and bake for another 12 minutes.
  8. At this point you can eat them right away, lay them over a rack to allow them cool into the shape of a hard taco or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  If you store in the fridge, I highly suggest heating them up again in a small frying pan to get them warm and a bit crunchy again.

So there you have it, our solution to not being able to eat tacos without all the refined carbs!!