Beef for Heart Health Month

By Elesha Eagle, RDN

 

Beef, beef, good for your heart…the more you eat it, the more you…ok, that’s not how that goes, but the fact is, beef really IS good for your heart!  In 2012, the checkoff-funded Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet Study (BOLD) was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  The study found that participants consuming lean beef daily as a part of their heart-healthy diet experienced a 10% decline in LDL (bad) cholesterol.  So let’s get going with some heart healthy recipes that are great all year long, not just during American Heart Month!

 

The term “lean beef” means that a 3-ounce cooked portion provides less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol.  Look for cuts of beef with the term “round” or “loin” as an indication that the cut of beef is considered lean.  Lean ground beef can be purchased that is 95% lean and 5% fat, and is a tasty and healthy option for all your favorite recipes that call for ground beef.

 

I Heart You

Show your Valentine how much you care by preparing them a tasty, beefy, heart-healthy meal.  Grill up some delicious sirloins such as these Balsamic Marinated Beef Top Sirloin Steaks with Asparagus. If you already have your main dish in mind, spice it up with some Spicy Korean Beef and Cucumber Appetizers.  This recipe is certified by the American Heart Association as a heart healthy recipe.

 

Every Day Lean

Most days are busy and we all need some healthy go-to recipes that will satisfy everyone in the household. Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner has an entire page of American Heart Association-approved recipes that are sure to please any tastes.  These Beefy Sweet and Sloppy Joes are sure to be a new favorite to add to your list, and you will feel good about giving it to your whole family.  Chili is another good option to satisfy everyone in the family and this Beef Chili Recipe will make your evenings healthy and easy.

 

Be sure to check out Beef It’s What’s for Dinner for more recipes, tips, and to learn more about beef from pasture to plate. For more information on heart health and American Heart Month, visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month!

Power Through Your New Year Resolutions With Protein-Packed Beef

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

Well, it’s that time of year again.

 

All of us searching frantically for the magic potion to make us exercise and eat healthier.  I will admit…I did spend January 1 trying to figure out how to get more protein in my kids’ diets and trying to explain to my 10-year-old boy how peanut butter is not the best sole source of protein.  Protein is an essential nutrient that our bodies need retain and build lean body mass (muscle). At only 173 calories per 3 ounce serving, beef has a whopping 25 grams of protein, which is almost half of our daily value in one serving!  To get 25 grams of protein from peanut butter, you would have to eat 6.5 tablespoons that would equal 613 calories. Curious about what 25 grams of protein looks like? Check out this page from Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.

 

Beef Up Your Breakfast

Our grandparents would say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I would agree. Not eating breakfast can cause you to over eat at other meals throughout the day.  Start your day with these Beef and Egg Breakfast Mugs. Quick, easy, and so versatile!  Let the kids decide what they want to add to their creation, and feel confident you’ve started the day with 21 grams of protein and only 181 calories.

 

Snack Attack

It’s 10 a.m. and your lunch break is still a couple of hours away. How can you incorporate beef at snack times?  Try keeping a bag of your favorite flavor beef jerky nearby, or go for these tasty Beef Jerky Granola Bars.

 

Lift Those Leftovers for Lunch

Lunch time can be especially difficult during the work day.  Fast food isn’t always a good option, and often we don’t have time to search out a healthy place to dine.  Make a resolution to pack your lunch with healthy, protein-filled beef options.  Revive your leftovers!  Use steak in Steak and Bleu Cheese Wraps that are tasty and portable or hamburgers in Burger on a Salad. Your coworkers will be jealous of your tasty lunch creations!

 

Dinner…and Dessert! 

Like they say, Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner! Keep your dinnertime routine going with this simple recipe for Tender Juicy Skirt Steak, or try this Low Calorie Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry.  Keep your grill going during the colder months and grill sirloins, filets or lean beef burgers.  Don’t deny yourself a small sweet treat occasionally.  Try these Peanut Butter, Hazelnut Spread and Beef Jerky Cookies for an after-dinner treat that has 5 grams of protein per serving.

 

The key to maintaining your New Year resolutions is planning. Plan and pre-prep meals on the days when you aren’t as busy. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making resolutions that are too difficult to maintain; start slow, and know your schedule and limits. For more lean beef recipes, and more information on beef from pasture to plate, visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.  Happy New Year!

 

 

State Checkoff color_nobackgroundThis article was funded by the Alabama Beef Checkoff Progam. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers. 

Give the Gift of Delicious Family Meals

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

 

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The movies, magic, gifts and the biggest part of it all…the stress.  I love Christmas, but the stress it can bring with cooking, traveling, gift-buying, elf moving and decorating doesn’t seem worth it. We all spend plenty of time in the kitchen during the holidays, so here are some beefy, time-saving and stress-relieving ideas to help you manage your holidays.

 

 

Crowd Pleasers and Stress Relievers

We spend a lot of time in crowds during the holidays. Whether it’s church socials, school parties, work parties or family traditions, there is always some kind of gathering that requires our attendance. I love to take finger foods to parties or have plenty on-hand when hosting a gathering, and beef is the perfect, versatile ingredient that can make it all possible. Make several batches of these Cranberry Meatballs and then you will only need to reheat when you need them.  And who doesn’t love a good dip?  This Slow Cooked Reuben Dip is sure to be a crowd pleaser…and with a prep time of only 10 minutes, it will lighten your cooking load!

 

 

Christmas Morning

The kids are up at the crack of dawn and you’ve been up half the night assembling a trampoline that you wish you had paid the assembly fee. We’ve all  been there. The last thing you want is to spend the following morning cooking breakfast.  Prepare for Christmas morning by prepping ingredients for these Beef Sticky Buns a couple of days in advance. Then, on Christmas morning, all you have to do is assemble the sticky buns and bake. A much easier task than the trampoline, I assure you.

 

 

Traveling Home for the Holidays

So many of us travel to family during the holidays and don’t want to show up empty-handed. It seems like such a chore to get something prepared that we end up volunteering to bring rolls. Make your life easier by choosing dishes that can be prepped ahead of time and then cooked in a slow cooker or an electric pressure cooker (EPC).  If you plan to take something that requires an oven, it will likely be full of other dishes. Carry your EPC or slow cooker with you and impress your family by bringing beef this year!  Make your dish center stage with this amazing roast recipe using an EPC and all your family will want the recipe. No EPC? No problem! Use this recipe for the slow cooker version.

 

 

Visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner for even more recipes, nutrition information and to learn all about beef from pasture to plate.  Here’s to hoping your holidays are filled with love, joy, peace and plenty of beef!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

State Checkoff color_nobackgroundThis article was funded by the Alabama Beef Checkoff Progam. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers. 

Low & Slow: It’s Beef for the Holidays

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

Changing colors. Changing seasons. Changing wardrobes. Hallmark Christmas movies. Pumpkin-spice everything.

 

 

It’s that time of year where we embrace the coming of fall and winter holidays and the going of yet another year.  Most of us cattle farmers in Alabama are done with calving season for the year and are busy preparing our herd to be bred back for fall calving next year while others prepare for spring calves soon to arrive.

 

 

While Thanksgiving may be dubbed “Turkey Day,” as a beef producer and dietitian, I wanted to change it up a bit and highlight some amazing, nutritious ways we can use beef during this holiday season.  Let’s try some new things, bring up some memories and maybe even start some new traditions!

 

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

In Alabama we may or may not experience a cold winter…but when it’s cold, it’s COLD (to us Southerners anyway). When the cold weather starts to come, there’s always the first pot of chili.  Whether it’s stove top, pressure cooker or in a slow cooker, a good, hearty chili is the love language that will warm you up from inside out. Most of us have a chili recipe we love that might spark a childhood memory or two…maybe it’s grandma’s recipe, or maybe you remember it from your first Iron Bowl tailgate.  I love to make chili in an electric pressure cooker (EPC) and keep it warm in a slow cooker as the flavors continue to marry.  If you’re like us and have plenty of frozen ground beef, use you’re EPC to thaw and cook.  Place the frozen meat (approximately one pound) in the EPC along with about one inch of water.  Close the lid and seal, pressure cook on high for 22 minutes.  Quick release the pressure and drain water.  Turn the EPC on sauté, chop the meat into crumbles and continue cooking to 160 degrees.  Now all you have to do is add the other ingredients and your chili will be ready to go!  Don’t have a good chili recipe?  Give this easy Chili Recipe from Beef It’s What’s For Dinner a try!

 

 

Cooking for a Crowd

Before sitting down to celebrate “Turkey Day,” as family starts to pile in, get a hearty pot of beef stew together. Whether you like the ease and quick cooking of the EPC or cooking it low and slow in the slow cooker, greet your family with the smell of a home-cooked beef stew. If you decide to go the EPC route, this recipe from Family Fresh Meals is a great one to try. Taste of Home has a great slow cooker Beef Stew recipe that you will want to use over and over again. I love to serve beef stew with a good crusty bread to top off a quick and easy meal.  Stock your pantry with ingredients for these recipes and maybe even some disposable bowls for easy clean up!  You can grab a quick bowl of stew while you’re still prepping items for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day meal.

 

 

Beefy Sides

It’s Thanksgiving Day. Your mom cooks the turkey, your grandma makes the dressing, Aunt Betty makes the pies. What are YOU bringing to the table?  These easy beef recipes will give you time to sit down and watch the Macy’s parade or check the Black Friday sale papers. Try this easy One-Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes Supreme in your EPC. Put everything in your EPC and let it do all the work. One-pot means little to no mess, which is a win-win if you ask me!  Start a new Thanksgiving mac and cheese tradition with this Slow Cooker Beefy Mac and Cheese that you will want to add to your regular recipe collection or add a Shepherd’s Pie to the Thanksgiving spread that even the pickiest of kids will love!  Set it and forget it in the slow cooker to have an easy, beefy and delicious dish that is sure to please even the biggest turkey lover.

 

 

Lasso Those Leftovers

The day after Thanksgiving is a coveted day for many. I have been Black Friday shopping one time…but never again. I have tons of friends who will deny themselves sleep and maybe even throw a punch to get a hand mixer for $5. Not me. I opt to stay home, watch a Christmas movie, shop online or go hunting. Whether you’re planning your shopping strategy or getting your camouflage ready on Black Friday Eve, look ahead to the morning with this easy slow cooker Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole recipe from Pillsbury, substituting the bacon for a pound of cooked Basic Beef Country Breakfast Sausage.  Using lean beef instead of bacon will lower the fat and calorie content as well as giving it that beefy protein boost.  Loaded with flavor and protein, it will be the perfect fuel after a long morning of power shopping, decorating or hunting.

 

 

War Eagle, Roll Tide

The end of Black Friday marks a State of Alabama tradition in two words…Iron Bowl.  Those words inevitably stir up some sort of memory in all of us. It is said that we Alabamians declare at birth whether we will yell “War Eagle” or “Roll Tide.”  My brother and I grew up in a house divided. As much as my parents loved each other, the Iron Bowl was the time that my dad was on one side of the house and mom on the other. With Eli Gold on the radio and televisions muted, watching the Iron Bowl was always fun no matter what side of the house we were on.  My mom loved to cook, and beef was often a staple of our Iron Bowl gatherings. Beef is the perfect food for the Iron Bowl, providing 12 percent of our daily value of iron per 3-oz serving.

 

What beefy foods do you think about for the Iron Bowl?  How about some beefed up cheese dip?  Give this Slow Cooker Cheese Dip a try at your next tailgate- it is sure to be a keeper.  Beef up your Iron Bowl party with this amazing recipe for Brisket Cowboy Nachos. Cook the brisket in a slow cooker instead of the oven and hold on low.  Set up other toppings and ingredients for a delicious beefy nacho buffet that your friends will want a repeat for the playoffs. Finally, what could be better for the Iron Bowl than using some flat iron steaks!? Flat iron steaks are packed with flavor and plenty of protein to keep you going through the entire game. This recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Flat Iron Steak Sandwiches will be your new Iron Bowl tradition.  Serve as suggested on a hoagie roll, or grab some Hawaiian sweet rolls to serve in smaller portions for your guests to graze during the big game.

 

 

While the holidays are usually a time of indulging and often associated with packing on the pounds, you can cut down on calories and increase your intake of protein, vitamins and minerals by using lean beef. Lean beef is a protein powerhouse that provides 25 grams of protein per 3-oz serving with only 173 calories.

 

 

So let’s get this season started by grabbing some of these great beef recipes or visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner for even more recipes and learn all about beef from pasture to plate.  Happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Iron Bowl and Fall Y’all!

 

 

 

State Checkoff color_nobackgroundThis article was funded by the Alabama Beef Checkoff Progam. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers. 

Fall in Love with Slow Cooker Beef Recipes

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

Flank steak, short ribs, oxtails, oh my!

If you’re like me, this time of year brings about a new schedule, time to start revamping my cooking style (or lack the thereof from the crazy summer months) and get full-swing into fall recipes.  The slow cooker is always at the top of the list to get some cozy meals going for those shorter days and cooler nights.

Here in Alabama, we consider a high of 70ºF as a cold front and start to break out the scarves and sweaters, and of course, make that first pot of chili.  While chili is a longtime fall favorite at my house, in celebration of October Beef Month in Alabama, I wanted to draw some attention to a few lesser-known and used cuts of beef to help diversify our recipe portfolios.

We are cattle farmers, so it goes without saying…we eat a lot of beef.  Steaks, roasts and ground beef make up the majority of our recipe box.  As much as we love beef, though, I rarely stray from my usual routine. We recently took three of our steers to a local processor and were given options of how to have the meat processed. Flank steaks and short ribs would most always make the cut when processing a steer, but we also chose to get the oxtails.  Given that I now have these cuts on hand, I Googled, scoured cookbooks, watched YouTube videos and asked friends how they like to cook different cuts of beef.  I hope my findings inspire you to try something new as well.

Flank steaks, often referred to as jiffy steaks or London Broil, are cut from the abdominal muscles under the loin.  Flank steaks pack a whopping 23g of protein per 3-oz serving with only 6g of total fat and 160 calories. These lean steaks are very flavorful and work well when marinated and grilled or whipped up in a slow cooker to increase tenderness. There is nothing like coming home to the wonderful smell of beef that has been slow cooking all day, and this Taste of Home Slow Cooker Flank Steak recipe works well for those busy days when you need to have your meal ready when you get home from work.

While I do love my slow cooker, I have absolutely fallen in love with the ease and quick use of an electric pressure cooker.  An electric pressure cooker will also increase tenderness while adding flavor and significantly reducing cooking time.  For those days that you didn’t have time to start the slow cooker before work (or didn’t have all your ingredients that morning) the electric pressure cooker can make you look like Betty Crocker in minutes!  If you have an electric pressure cooker and are looking for a great use of flank steak, give this recipe for Asian-inspired Mongolian Beef a try.

Short ribs are often overlooked and underutilized but are very versatile and delicious. They can be purchased boneless or bone-in, and a 3-oz serving of short ribs pack 24g of protein, 12g of fat and just 200 calories. Short ribs have a rich flavor that shines after slow cooking all day. When slow cooking bone-in short ribs, you will find that they have an even richer flavor.  This slow cooker short rib recipe is one you can set and forget until dinnertime.

I have a lot of friends that regularly cook oxtails, and they were excited when we came home with oxtails from the steers we had processed. Due to their cost and where the cut originates, a good friend of ours refers to oxtails as the “swinging sirloin.”  Unlike sirloin, oxtails have a high fat content with approximately 200 calories per 3-oz serving, depending on cooking method. Even with the high fat content, oxtails still pack that awesome beef punch with about 20 grams of protein per serving.  Oxtails are easily prepared and have many different variations on cooking methods.  From baking to boiling and braising to slow cooking, these cuts have so much versatility.  Nothing says “Southern Soul Food” quite like oxtails smothered in gravy. This recipe for Southern Smothered Oxtails is sure to be a keeper! While this is a rather high-fat meal, a splurge of this warming comfort food with some biscuits is just the ticket as the cooler weather starts to approach.

Another way to highlight the “swinging sirloin” is in beloved fall stews! Oxtail stew is in a slow cooker is delicious and filling, and ingredients can vary depending on what you have available at home or what is in season.  This Simply Recipes version of Oxtail Stew is simple and gives great step-by-step instructions.  While this recipe calls for parsnips, you could easily substitute potatoes for a more Southern flare.  I suggest serving oxtail stew by itself, over rice or serve with hot cornbread close by!

Check out BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com where you can find thousands of nutritious, delicious beef recipes and learn about beef from pasture to plate. Happy cooking and Happy October Beef Month!

 
This article is funded by Alabama Beef Checkoff Program. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers. 

Tailgating with Beef

By Jessica Ivey, RDN

 

When I moved to Alabama in 2011, someone asked me on my first day of work, “Auburn or Alabama?” Not being an Alabama girl, I wasn’t really all that concerned about football, but I quickly learned that football is so much more than a sport in this state. During the fall, life revolves around the teams’ schedules, and people even told us we better not plan our wedding on a football Saturday. But as I was introduced to this whole new culture, I realized that football provides a great excuse to get together with people you love and enjoy good food… that’s something I can get behind!

 

 

Few things say football like a juicy burger. But there are so many additional crowd-pleasing, hunger-tackling ways to enjoy beef this fall.

 

 

Whenever you are taking food outside it’s important to remember food safety. Transport raw beef and other perishable foods, like potato salad and cheese, in an insulated cooler with plenty of ice. Store the raw meat in zip-top plastic bags to prevent leakage of juices onto other foods. Keep the meat in the cooler until you’re ready to cook, and be sure to take along a meat thermometer and cook your beef to the safe temperature. Also pack water and soap or sanitizing wipes to keep hands and surfaces clean, and eat cooked foods within 2 hours (or within 1 hour if the outside temperature is above 90°F).   

 

 

If you’re planning to set up a grill, burgers are a budget-friendly option to feed a crowd. I love these Lean Mean Cheeseburgers for a lighter spin on a classic. If you want to spice things up, try these Zesty Barbecue Cheeseburgers with pepper Jack cheese. Want to really step up your game for the big game? Make up these Classic Beef Kabobs with steak before leaving the house and grill on site for a festive option.  

 

 

If you’ll have access to power or a generator, a slow cooker can be the perfect tool for keeping food hot during the festivities. Plus, a slow cooker allows you to do all of the work at home ahead of time, leaving you free to enjoy the party. This Four-Way Slow Cooker Shredded Beef has four flavor variations to suit your tastes, and can be served up with sandwich rolls or tortillas, depending on the flavor. This Chilly Day Beef Chili is sure to warm you through before a cold evening game. For smaller bites, these Beef Pinwheels are will disappear quickly (who doesn’t like beef and puff pastry together?), or try these Easy Mexican Beef Sausage Cornbread Muffins.
For those mid-day games, tailgating starts early, so be ready with some protein-packed beefy breakfast dishes to keep you full and satisfying throughout the game. These Easy Beef Breakfast Rolls could be made in advanced and baked while you get ready and gather your supplies at home. Transport the rolls wrapped in foil in an insulated container to keep warm as you travel to your tailgating site. Or make up these Beef Sausage and Egg Muffin Cups up to three days in advance and reheat just before leaving home. Again, remember to ensure hot food stays hot and eat within 2 hours.

 

 

What are you planning for your first tailgate of the season? I’m excited to try these Mini Meatball Appetizers with Apricot Dipping Sauce! Join me as I take over the @alcattlemen Instagram Story tonight to show you, step-by-step, how to make this beefy game day appetizer.

 

 

State Checkoff color_nobackgroundThis article is funded by Alabama Beef Checkoff Program. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers. 

Healthy Beef for All Stages of Life

By Jessica Ivey, RDN

 

From birth, good nutrition is essential for providing the nutrients needed for normal growth and development and for laying the foundation for optimal health across the lifespan.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months of life, continuing through the first year of life or beyond alongside complementary foods. To determine when your child is ready for you to introduce complementary foods, assess whether they are able to sit up without support and move the food to the back of the mouth and swallow. By the time a child reaches six months of age, breastmilk alone is no longer sufficient to meet their needs for iron, zinc and calcium, and carefully selected complementary foods can help to fill that gap.

 

 

Single grain cereals are a common first food, but the AAP recommends that meats, including lean beef, should be introduced early on. Research shows that beef is well tolerated by infants and can help to improve iron and zinc levels. Lean beef provides heme iron, which is the more readily-absorbed form of iron. Iron plays a vital role in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, and sufficient iron helps promote strong immunity and the growth of good bacteria in the infant’s gut. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in infants worldwide, and it can be prevented by early introduction of lean beef (which contains twice as much iron as chicken and pork) and iron-rich vegetables and cereals.

 

 

Zinc is another essential nutrient for growth and development, immunity and wound healing. Meats contain a higher amount of zinc in a more bioavailable form than cereals, vegetables, and fruits, and lean beef contains twice as much zinc as compared to turkey, chicken or pork.

 

 

If you’re ready to introduce your child to beef, start by offering pureed beef, which you can make yourself in a blender or purchase as prepared baby food. Once your child gets more teeth and is able to chew, try small pieces of tender beef, like ground beef or pot roast.

 

 

As your child continues to grow and develop, a healthy diet provides essential nutrients. Introducing a wide variety of foods will help to ensure that your child is getting everything they need to be as healthy as possible. Lean beef provides protein, iron and zinc, which can all be lacking in kids’ diets. Pair lean beef with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy to create balanced meals. If your child is a picky eater, try incorporating healthy ingredients, like lean beef and vegetables, into dishes they already like, like pasta. This One Pot Lasagna has all the appeal of traditional lasagna and includes a hefty dose of protein from lean ground beef and a serving of vegetables, thanks to the addition of zucchini and tomato sauce. Hoisin BBQ Kabobs with Pineapple Salsa features the fun of kabobs paired with pineapple for a serving of fruit, as well as red bell pepper and cucumber. Try adding chopped vegetables, like bell pepper, onion, carrot or celery to lean ground beef when making tacos, spaghetti sauce, or Sloppy Joes. My Barbecue Sloppy Joe Stuffed Potatoes feature three vegetables – bell pepper, onion, and potatoes, in a kid-friendly and simple dinner recipe.

 

 

Although I’m not a mom yet, I hope to be one day, and as a dietitian, I’ll be looking to do my best to teach my child to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet featuring a variety of foods. I know it’s not always easy, but keep offering healthy choices, realizing that you’re setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy habits.
Looking for quick and easy, crowd-pleasing recipes to make during the busy back-to-school season? Check out the Kid-Friendly Fare  or the Best. School. Lunch. Ever recipe collections at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com, and join me on the @alcattlemen Instagram story on Thursday, August 9 as I share step-by-step instructions for making my Barbecue Sloppy Joe Stuffed Potatoes.

Summertime Veggies & Beef: Enjoying Local, Summertime Flavors

By Jessica Ivey, RDN

 

This time of year backyard gardens, local farmers markets and roadside stands are bursting with fresh summer produce. Savor the flavors of summer by pairing fresh watermelon, tomatoes, peaches, corn and more with lean beef as part of a delicious and nutritious family meal.  

 

Summertime takes me back to visits at my grandparents’ house, where the one-and-a-half-acre garden kept us busy watering, weeding, picking, cleaning and cooking. Today my husband and I love growing our own produce during the summer in several raised beds, with varying degrees of success from year to year. The process of planting, caring for and harvesting the ultra-fresh veggies gives me a deeper appreciation for the hard work farmers put into producing our food.

 

Regardless of whether you have your own garden, visiting a local farmers market can be a fun and educational activity for the whole family. It’s also so much more than a shopping trip—it’s an opportunity to teach your kids to eat healthy vegetables and fruits, learn about where your food comes from and support your local economy. When I meet the farmer who grew my food, I tend to have a greater respect for it. I waste less and savor more. Don’t be afraid to ask farmers questions about how to select or prepare items or about their farming practices. Just like the rest of us, farmers are passionate about what they do and are usually more than happy to share.

 

Pairing lean beef with fresh summer vegetables and fruits makes for a light and well-balanced meal with the right mix of protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates to satisfy hunger while not leaving you feeling overly stuffed. If you’re grilling a top sirloin or flank steak, try throwing some veggies on the grill, like sliced yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant or bell peppers. This Italian Marinated Steak with Grilled Ratatouille combines some of my favorite flavors, featuring fresh basil, lemon and garlic, and could be made ahead for company. Making burgers? Shake things up with these Old South Burgers with Peach Compote. Featuring lean beef patties topped with a mixture of peaches and beer and served up on biscuits, these burgers are anything but ordinary. My ultimate summertime favorite is fresh watermelon, but have you ever tried grilling watermelon? Grilled Steak and Watermelon Salad sounds like a real winner in my book. Lastly, this Sonoma Ranch Steak Salad with a hearty spinach and butter bean puree is a delicious new way to enjoy those creamy fresh beans.

 

On BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com you’ll find plenty of recipes featuring your summertime favorites. I can’t wait to try this Pesto Steak & Arugula Pizza with pesto made from my fresh basil out back. I’ll be serving it up on the @alcattlemen Instagram story on Thursday, July 12. Join me for step-by-step instructions on this fun and flavorful meal!

 

State Checkoff color_nobackgroundThis article is funded by Alabama Beef Checkoff Program. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers. 

Healthier Spins on the South’s Favorite Beef Recipes

 

By Jessica Ivey, RDN

 

Beef is the star of so many of the South’s most popular dishes for good reason. With a little know-how, you can make these favorites into healthy options you can feel good about feeding your family.

 

Country-Fried Steak, or “chicken-fried” steak, as it’s sometimes called, can be high in fat if deep fried and smothered in gravy. Cubed steak itself is generally made from lean, boneless muscles from the chuck, loin, rib or round primal cut with the internal and external fat removed. Mechanical tenderization is then used to make these leaner cuts more tender. To lighten up this down-home favorite, skip the deep frying, and pan-fry the breaded steaks in a heart-healthy oil, like canola or olive oil. Skip the gravy, and enjoy the golden-crisp texture of the steak, or add a lighter sauce, as in this recipe for Country-Fried Steaks with Tomato-Basil Sauce. Serve up your steak alongside a hefty serving of vegetables, rather than a high-fat creamy side dish, like mashed potatoes. Try this recipe for Parmesan-Crusted Cubed Steaks with Zucchini Ribbons for a summery option.

 

Meatloaf is a comforting classic that can be a healthy choice of you remember to choose lean ground beef and practice portion control. Ninety-three percent lean ground beef meets the government guidelines for “lean,” meaning is contains less than 10 grams of total fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per three-ounce cooked serving. When preparing your meatloaf, consider vegetable mix-ins, like sautéed mushrooms, bell pepper, or zucchini or add raw vegetables, like shredded carrots and finely chopped bell pepper, celery or onion. Adding vegetables is a great way to boost the nutrition in any dish. Preparing mini meatloaves can be a helpful tool for practicing portion control. These Five-Way Mini Meatloaves made in a muffin pan are just the right size for little ones, and they cook quickly since the loaves are much smaller.

 

Pot roast is a go-to for Sunday suppers. This hearty, stick-to-your-bones dish can be lightened up by choosing a lean cut. Shoulder roast is an affordable option cut from the chuck primal with good flavor. After browning the meat, pour off the drippings and add a flavorful liquid, like low-sodium beef broth, and cover and simmer until the beef is tender. Try adding vegetables to the meat during braising, as in this recipe for North Woods Hearty Pot Roast, featuring red potatoes, carrots, parsnips and leeks, or serve the roast alongside vegetables and a serving of whole grains, as in this Horseradish-Braised Pot Roast with Barley and Kale. If you’ll be making a pan sauce, skim off the fat from the cooking liquid beforehand.

 

London broil is an American classic made from lean top round steak. This versatile cut benefits from  marinating six hours or even overnight before cooking, which will help to tenderize the beef. Grill or broil the steak, and serve with vegetables for a family-friendly and healthy meal. This Grilled London Broil is marinated in a heart-healthy vinaigrette, and served up with grilled asparagus and red onion for warm-weather cooking.

 

What are some of your family’s favorite beefy dishes? My husband, Nathan, loves country-fried steak, so I can’t wait to try this recipe for Parmesan-Crusted Cubed Steaks with Zucchini Ribbons from BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com. It combines those down-home Southern flavors with a light, summery vibe making it a perfectly-balanced and nutritious meal at our house. 

 

State Checkoff color_nobackgroundThis article is funded by Alabama Beef Checkoff Program. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers. 

Fire Up the Grill… It’s Almost Summer!

By Jessica Ivey, RDN

 

Summertime means grilling time, and I fully embrace this fun method that takes the cooking from the kitchen to the outdoors. While I love the fact that my husband often makes dinner if the grill is involved, we girls can grill too.

 

The first step is to choose the right cut. I like to choose lean cuts, like Strip Steak, Top Sirloin Steak and Flank Steak most often, although a Ribeye is another delicious option. Next, prepare the beef. Start by trimming away all visible fat to help prevent flare-ups on the grill. While most of the cuts are delicious with a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper, dry rubs and marinades can add additional flavor.  If your marinade is meant only to add flavor, then marinade the beef for just 15 minutes or up to 2 hours in a zip-top plastic freezer bag or a glass or plastic container in the refrigerator. For tougher cuts, like flank or skirt steak, marinade for at least six hours but no more than 24 hours. Turn or stir the beef occasionally to ensure an even exposure to the marinade, and be sure to pat the beef dry with paper towels before cooking.

 

Prepare your grill and preheat to medium heat. Place the beef on the grid and cook, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 145°F for medium-rare and 160°F for medium. Covering the grill with the lid will cook the meat all the way through to the center for a more uniform doneness. Let cooked steaks rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

 

Grilling requires several food safety precautions. First of all, keep beef refrigerated until you’re ready to cook. If you’ll be taking the food to another site to grill, place the beef in an insulated cooler on ice to ensure it stays cold. Be sure to wash your hands after handling raw beef, and use a clean plate or platter (not the same one as the raw meat) for cooked beef to prevent cross-contamination.

 

While you’ve got the grill fired up, throw on some veggies as well. I love grilled asparagus, bell peppers, squash, zucchini and eggplant. Or why not skewer beef along with veggies for a fun meal-on-a-stick?! These Classic Beef, Sweet Peppers and Mushroom Kabobs are simple but big on flavor, and for a more adventurous option, try Citrus-Marinated Beef Top Sirloin & Fruit Kabobs. Grilling fruit caramelizes the natural sugars for a flavorful side dish or healthy dessert.

 

Head on over to BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com for more grilling favorites. I can’t get enough of my Grilled Steak and Asparagus Salad with Strawberries, which I’ll be serving up on the @alcattlemen Instagram story on Thursday, May 10. Join me for step-by-step instructions on this summery meal that’s full of flavor and nutrition!

 

This article was funded by Beef Farmers and Ranchers. Brought to you by the Alabama Beef Checkoff Program.