Handheld Meals for Families On the Go

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

It is that time of the year when we aren’t quite ready for summer, although in Alabama it could go either way, and we are tired of the cold. Spring forward into March with some new and exciting beef recipes. Beef is an excellent source of protein and iron and is a versatile staple that can create a wide variety of recipes to satisfy any time of the year. With spring activities beginning, quick and easy recipes are the go-to for a lot of families. If you’re burned out on the same old things, give these tasty ideas a try!

 

Will Travel for Beef

Travel sports parents everywhere know that one of the keys to not losing your mind (or spending all your money) is to be prepared for the weekend’s upcoming events. A tried-and-true staple for our family is all beef hotdogs that we cook ahead and put in a thermos to keep warm. Add buns and condiments and the whole family can eat without breaking the bank. Make up a container of  Roast Beef and Veggie Wraps to add to your cooler and you will have a super satisfying  on-the-go meal. For those cooler times, make some meatballs with sauce such as these Four Way Mini-Meatballs and keep warm in an insulated container, grab some sweet rolls and have mini-meatball sliders to fill you up. Don’t forget about all the delicious flavors of beef jerky and beef sticks that you can always keep handy to grab at any time.

 

Late Night Dinners

Homework, sports, jobs…how do you keep your family fed without running through the drive-thru every night?  Plan ahead for the week by cooking up large batches of easy, reheatable foods such as a roast to make roast beef sliders, tacos, or quesadillas. Cook a large batch of ground beef that can be quickly seasoned for spaghetti or sloppy joes. Take advantage of your slow cooker and have these Tangy BBQ Sandwiches ready when you get home.

 

It is a busy time of the year! Take advantage of beef’s versatility, portability, and great protein to keep your family going. For more great recipes and information on beef from pasture to plate, visit Beef It’s What For Dinner.

 

Happy Spring from all of us at Alabama Cattlemen’s Association!

 

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

Beef for Heart Health

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

It is hard to believe that we are already on the second month of another new year, and February is American Heart Month. Beef is not only a great source of protein, but lean beef can be a part of your heart healthy diet. Beef It’s What’s For Dinner has a library of recipes certified by the American Heart Association, and you can find a recipe to satisfy any taste. If you are searching for the leanest cuts of beef, look for cuts with the term “round” or “loin”, or keep this link handy while you are grocery shopping or surfing the internet for recipes.

 

Steak In
Nothing says “Valentine’s Day” quite like a steak for your sweetheart. If you are looking to stay in and cook up your Valentine’s dinner this year, top sirloin is a great choice for a lean and delicious meal. If you are not sure how to cook the perfect sirloin, here is a great reference guide, complete with YouTube links for further instructions. If you are still looking for more steak cooking tips, or you prefer a different cut of steak, Cowboy Kent Rollins has you covered in this step-by-step video.

 

Beef Snacking
If you are looking for a great way to keep healthy, protein-filled snacks on-hand, look no further than beef. Beef jerky is available in all kinds of flavors and package options, many of which are available at grocery stores and online. If you are a kitchen gadget junkie like myself, knock the dust off your food dehydrator and make a batch of your own beef jerky! This beef jerky recipe is a great option, and suggests using flank steak or eye of round. Most cuts of lean beef will work well for jerky, so buy what is in your budget or on sale. If you find yourself with a thicker cut of meat, try partially freezing to make thin slicing much easier.

 

Make lean beef a part of your heart healthy diet this month, and every month! Try some new recipes, new kitchen techniques and gadgets, and eat more beef. 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 from all of us at Alabama Cattlemen’s Association!

 

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

Beef Up the Holiday Season

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

The holidays are here! It is hard to believe that we are already in preparation for our Thanksgiving feasts. Thanksgiving may lovingly be known as “Turkey Day,” but every holiday spread deserves some beef! Beef is a versatile choice for the holidays providing high quality protein in a low-calorie package. Reach for some of these awesome ideas over the coming days and weeks.

 

 

Beefing Up Breakfasts

Many of us have overnight guests during the holidays, and we want to feed them more than a toaster pastry or bowl of cereal for breakfast. This easy Breakfast Scramble can be made ahead of time and cooked when your guests are ready to eat. If you have a house full of people with a variety of tastes, grab some mugs and a variety of ingredients for Beef and Egg Breakfast Mugs. Your guests can make their own creation to their liking and cook individually in the microwave.

 

 

Hors d’oeuvres

In many families the holiday meal isn’t at a regular “meal time,” and appetizers might be the key to keeping everyone from becoming hangry until the main course is served. Try some Corned Beef and Pickle Dip that’s a cinch to make and serve. Simple, easy, and loaded with flavor, these Flaky Beef Stuffed Pinwheels are a wonderful addition to your holiday appetizer tray. If you’re looking for something tasty and different for a football gathering or a “Friendsgiving” party, try these Cheeseburger Egg Rolls.

 

 

Beef Up Turkey Day

Yes, maybe it’s turkey day…but you can have your turkey and beef too! Bring some beef to the table with some amazing side dishes. Change up your stuffing with Beef Stuffing with Apples and Cranberries. Add new tradition to your table with this Beefed Up Mac and Cheese that will have the kids asking for more. If you really want to change it up this year, make beef the star of your Thanksgiving with this Classic Beef Tenderloin Roast with Cranberry Drizzle. This healthy recipe is certified by the American Heart Association and will bring flavor and nutrition to your table any time of the year.

 

 

The holidays are a great time to try  new recipes and eat more beef with the company of friends and family! While it can be a time of over indulging and putting on added weight, lean beef can play a part in keeping your holidays fit. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 25 grams of protein and only 173 calories! For more information on beef’s nutrition and health benefits, and to find out more about beef from pasture to plate, visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.

 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Alabama Cattlemen’s Association!

 

 

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

Food Safety For the Win!

Be the MVP of Your Tailgate with Unbeatable Food Safety Skills

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

 

College football season is here, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Whether your favorite tailgating memories are from childhood, college, or just last weekend, a few of your memories are sure to include some of your favorite foods. Beef is always a staple in our family football gatherings or for tailgating near campus, and food safety is always a top priority for my team. Safe food handling before, during and after cooking can be the difference between a win or loss at your next gathering. Be the MVP of your party and know proper preparation, cooking and holding techniques for beef to prevent food-borne illnesses.

 

Pre-game Instructions

When purchasing beef, pay attention to the ‘use-by’ or ‘best before’ dates stamped on the packages, and keep beef refrigerated at 40 degrees (or below) until ready to use. Store raw beef on the bottom shelf of refrigerator or place in a shallow pan to prevent package from leaking on to other items.  If purchasing frozen beef, avoid packages with ice crystals, which is an indication of thawing and re-freezing. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw beef, and keep raw foods separate from cooked foods. For more information, Beef It’s What’s For Dinner has an entire page to assist you in safely handling beef from start to finish.

 

Kick-Off

You have safely handled your pre-game warm up, now it’s time to cook some delicious beef recipes for your football party! No tailgate is complete without some sort of nachos or cheese dip. Beef up your regular old queso with this Crock Pot Queso Dip, using the slow cooker to safely hold your dip for up to four hours, so you can graze over it the whole game. Call an audible on your nacho game with some Cowboy Nachos by Ree Drummond, which uses brisket instead of ground beef; or give your fans something to cheer about when they make their own nacho creations with these easy Big Game Fritos Pies.

 

The After Party

Using proper heat sources such as chaffing dishes or slow cookers, beef can be safely held at 135 degrees or higher for up to four hours; foods should then be discarded and not kept for reuse, even if they are to be reheated. Use this USDA guide for safe food handling to help you keep all your foods safe at home and away games.

 

No matter what team you are cheering for, football season is a great time to grab some beef and get your party going! For more recipes, food safety information, and to learn more about beef from pasture to plate, visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.

 

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

Burger Mania for the End of Summer!

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

Hamburgers. 

That one word can get your mouth drooling! From diner smash burgers to gourmet cheeseburgers, burger lovers desire the best of the best.  Cooking the perfect burger at home can be intimidating with so many different methods, but you can find one that suits your taste. Check out this great video from Epicurious that gives different cooking methods and the science behind cooking a great burger. Start perfecting your own recipes or try out some of these great ideas!

 

 

Burgers for Breakfast   

Burger lovers will flock to the idea of having a tasty burger at breakfast.  If you cook hamburgers and have leftovers, try making yourself a burger for breakfast!  Reheat a burger (165 degrees), top with some bacon, fried egg, or cheese on a bun or roll, and you’ve got yourself a high protein breakfast that is quick, delicious and packed with protein!  If you would rather have a recipe, try this Bistro Breakfast Burger.

 

 

Smash burgers

The delicious diner favorite. Ground beef is rolled into a ball, placed on a hot griddle or skillet, smashed thin, and served 1-3 patties thick, usually slathered with cheese and all kinds of delicious toppings. Use a cast iron skillet and make some of these delicious burgers at home. This recipe for smash burgers gives step-by-step instructions if you are a first timer.  Warning: after having these you may never want to cook a burger any other way!

 

 

Grill Masters Unite

If the thoughts of frying a burger in a skillet annoys you, don’t hesitate to craft a delicious, juicy burger on your grill. Whether you’re using charcoal or gas, be sure that you know the safety instructions for both methods, or refer to this video for some great tips. When you are ready to grill, try out this recipe for Classic Beef Cheeseburgers. For those of you who have mastered the art of grilling and are looking for a great new burger recipe, try these Gourmet Grilling Burgers.

 

 

Low-Carb and Gluten-Free

With many people focusing on low carb or gluten free diets, there are ways to enjoy a good burger while sticking to diet restrictions. Try having your favorite burger wrapped with all your favorite toppings inside whole leaf lettuce. You can have all the deliciousness of the burger sans the bun.  This spicy Western Burger is cool with avocado and wrapped in crispy leaf lettuce for a fresh, delicious, summer-worthy burger.

 

Whether you love them grilled, fried, leftover for breakfast…or any way that you can get them…burgers are a great way to pack in beef’s excellent protein in a delicious, affordable way. While burgers may seem like they aren’t the healthiest choice for your dinner plate, there are many methods of cooking and leaner choices available in ground meat to provide numerous options, and don’t forget to top it with fresh veggies such as lettuce, tomato and even avocado for an added boost of nutrition to complement all that delicious protein. For more recipes, cooking methods and to learn more about beef from pasture to plate, visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.

 

Stay cool, and go eat some burgers, ya’ll!

Grab the Garden-Fresh Tastes of Summer

By Elesha Ergle, RDN

 

 

Rocking chairs, shucking corn, the sound of snapping beans and purple-dyed thumbs…anyone else starting to feel like you’re on your grandma’s porch?

 

 

We spent a lot of time during the summers growing and storing our own fresh vegetables straight out of the garden. I do miss those days, and look forward to summer when fresh vegetables are more readily available. While canned and frozen vegetables are fine choices, summer is a perfect time to grab some fresh vegetables and pair them with lean beef for a nutritious meal. Lean beef is a protein power-house that provides 25 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving with only 173 calories!

 

 

Egging You On

Fresh eggplant…I remember getting some from neighbors and trying countless recipes with my mom to decide if we really liked it or not. If only we had internet then…now we can find countless recipes to fit any taste!  This recipe for Ground Beef Eggplant Parmesan will be one that you will want to make all year long.  Simple, delicious and even the kids will love it!

 

 

Burgers+ Fruits & Veggies

Yes, we can have vegetables with a real beef burger!  Grab your veggies and try this Grilled Burger with Fresh Garden Vegetables. If you want to stick to your own favorite burger recipe, add garden-fresh tomato, lettuce and onion slices for a hit of freshness with each savory bite.  If you have fresh peaches and are looking for something new and different, give this Old South Burger with Peach Compote a try!

 

 

Beef on a Stick…With Fruits and Veggies, Of Course

Kabobs are a delicious and exciting way to pair lean beef and fresh garden goodies. Dice up your favorite lean cut of beef and pair it with whatever veggies you have on hand…onions, sweet peppers, squashes, mushrooms, tomatoes…even fruits like pineapple, mango, oranges or peaches are delicious when grilled! Don’t believe me? Try this recipe for Citrus-Marinated Beef Top Sirloin & Fruit Kabobs.

 

 

Summertime Pizza

Any time is pizza time at our house, and I love this recipe for Beef and Garden Vegetable Pizza.  Mix it up different veggies, and let the kids chose their own toppings for a pizza any parent can be proud of.  This is a great recipe to use those leftover vegetables in the fridge and try something new to keep things interesting this summer!

 

 

Try your local farmer’s markets for fresh veggies and local beef, or grocery store shelves will be filling up with in-season produce at lower prices. If you aren’t used to buying fresh vegetables, use this guide to help you make the best choices and know what’s in season. Let’s get started with some of these great beef recipes, or you can check out Beef It’s What’s For Dinner for even more recipes and learn all about beef from pasture to plate. If you have an Amazon or Google Home device, Ask Chuck to help you with all your beef preparation needs.

 

Stay cool and have fun this summer, and EAT MORE BEEF!


 

 

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

Choose Nutrient-Rich Beef for Your Holiday Entertaining

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!

 

 

  1. 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.)