By Jessica Ivey, RDN
During the holidays, we all want to enjoy family, friends and food, but all the get-togethers and events can make it easy to get off track with healthy eating goals. Lucky for you, beef is a nutrient-rich protein source that can be incorporated into appetizers, entrees and even side dishes for festive and nutritious entertaining.
Beef tops the charts of protein-rich foods, providing 25 grams of high-quality protein and just 150 calories in each 3oz. cooked serving of lean beef. To put that into perspective, you’d have to eat three cups of trendy quinoa to get that much protein, which would pack a whopping 666 calories! Research shows that people who eat a higher-protein diet (about 30% of daily calories from protein) feel more satisfied, which may help prevent overeating (1), so if you’re making an effort to maintain your weight this holiday season, lean beef is a smart choice!
In addition to protein, three ounces of cooked beef provides 36% of the daily value of zinc, which helps maintain a strong immune system to keep you from getting sick during the busy holiday season. Feeling exhausted? Each 3oz. serving of lean beef provides 22% and 44% of the daily value of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 respectively, two nutrients that help give you energy. Beef is also a good source of iron, which helps transport oxygen in your blood.
If you’ll be attending or hosting a gathering with mostly appetizers and finger foods, be sure to include a source of protein to help satisfy hunger. These Mini Meatball Appetizers with Apricot Dipping Sauce can be made ahead and kept warm in a small slow cooker for an easy-to-transport option, or you can make these Spicy Steak and Avocado Bruschetta for a filling and flavorful twist on traditional bruschetta. For a foodie crowd, these Tapas-Style Pepper-Steak Parfaits are sure to impress.
We usually think of beef as being the star at the center of the plate, but have you ever thought about including beef in a side dish? This savory, sweet and tart Beef Stuffing with Apples and Cranberries is equally suited as a one-dish meal or a show-stealing side. Beef and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms deliver a punch of flavor in each poppable bite.
An elegant beef roast sets the stage for a special meal, no matter the occasion. Check back in December, when I’ll be sharing some fool-proof tips for the perfect holiday roast. Enjoy a happy and healthy start to your holiday season!
- Leidy HJ, et al. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:677-88.
- Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Luscombe-Marsh N, Lejeune MPGM, Diepvens K, Nieuwenhuizen A, Engelen MPKJ, Deutz NEP, Azzout-Marniche D, Tome D, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein, metabolism, and body-weight regulation: dose–response effects. Int J Obes 2006;30:S16-S23.
- Leidy HJ, Bossingham MJ, Mattes RD, Campbell WW. Increased dietary protein intake consumed at breakfast leads to an initial and sustained feeling of fullness during energy restriction compared to other meal times. Br J Nutr. 2009;101:798-803.
(Photo: Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Funded by Beef Farmers & Ranchers.)