I thought it would be fun if on Fridays I did a series of “Focus On” posts. While today’s post is on red meat, other ideas I have include other food groups, different diets (paleo, Atkins/south beach, vegan/vegetarian, etc.) carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and more. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment or shoot me an email! First, let’s start with a little recap of the morning shall we?
This morning started off with another Creamy Tropical Carrot Protein Smoothie. So cold, creamy, and yummy I’m obsessed. Today I added a little less protein (1/2 scoop) and milk (3/4 cup) since Paul is at work and can’t finish my leftovers. I also added a drop of coconut extract, 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. YUMMY!
Then I was off to my Aunt Suzanne’s house to get pedicures! I got bright blue because I was feeling a little nostalgic that America’s Birthday is over!
After our pedicures we came home and picked some tomatoes out of the garden. I munched on a health cookie and a cup of coffee, while picking my Uncle’s brain for the health cookie recipe to share (coming later this week)! Meanwhile my Aunt made a wonderful salad with black beans, her home grown tomatoes, sweet mini bell peppers, black beans and mexican cheese! We dressed it with balsamic vinegar and oil…mmmmmmmmm… you’ve got to try this combination it’s so yummy!
Now its time for this week’s…..
FOCUS ON: RED MEAT
One of the reason’s I wanted to do this post is to explain why you will probably never find a recipe here at HH that contains red meat, or see me eating it. While I’m pretty “all-inclusive” with my diet (I dabble in all types of eating patterns and cooking) red meat is something I avoid. Okay, so why? Honestly, it started when I was first trying to lose weight. A friend of mine was saying she was avoiding red meat and since alternatives are usually lower in calories I decided to join her. I promised myself that I could have a steak once a year and wouldn’t deny myself anything if I ever REALLY REALLY wanted it.
It’s been almost three years now and giving it up has been much much much easier than I thought. I found the poultry, fish, and veggie substitutes for red meat to be really yummy. Plus, I felt good eating them. One of the hardest things to give up was pepperoni on pizza, and then I found turkey pepperoni from Hormel! It was like I was saved or something, you get 17 slices for around 140 calories. Um… twice as much for half the calories, yes please! (I have been known to put them on a pizza we ordered out.) So, I kind of never looked back… except for maybe one time a year. The first year it was a big mac, last year it was a steak, and this year I guess it was the chorizo under the shrimp I had on my birthday.
The Link Between Red Meat and Disease
So the question is why do I still do it and recommend it? First, substitutes for beef like turkey, chicken, fish and veggie based foods are definitely lower in calories and saturated fat. This makes weight maintenance/loss easier and are more heart healthy options. Researchers haven’t quite nailed down why high red meat consumption seems to be linked with increased risk of heart disease and some cancers. One reason could be the high levels of saturated fat they contain. (Personally, I’d rather cut off my arm then give up cheese or chocolate/pastries, which also contain high amounts of saturated fat.) Recent research also suggests that the disease link may have something to do with the way the microbes in the gut metabolize red meat, increasing risk of heart disease. Whatever the reason is, the link has definitely been established.
However, this isn’t to say that the type of red meat and the way it’s cooked doesn’t play a large role. I would never suggest that KFC’s Fried Chicken is a better option than something homemade baked, broiled, or sautéed in light heart healthy oil from a 99% lean cut of red meat. But in general, lean proteins like poultry or fish are the healthier option. So there you have it.
Not ready to quit cold turkey?
Not everyone can give it up so easily, I totally get that (I did mention I’d cut off an arm to continue to eat cheese and chocolate right?). So what should you do?
Buy the best type and cook it right:
– Pick the leanest cuts of meat you can find, trim the rest of the fat.
– Buy preservative/nitrate free products and use it within 1-2 days max.
– Buy organic if you can. While there is little research to support the actual health benefits of eating organic meat, it’s also hard to study long term.
– Pick grass fed over grain fed can have a higher omega 3 content and lower overall fat percentage.
– Cook it using heart healthy techniques like baking, broiling or grilling.
– If you grill it make sure to marinate it first, try to avoid open flames, and use the lowest heat possible.
Start reducing portion and frequency:
– Try to have no more than 3-4 oz (about a deck of cards) in one sitting.
– Mix meat with lots of veggies to decrease portion size. Check out this recipe from Iowagirleats.com
– Start slowly cutting it your weekly consumption (which means you need to know how much you are eating now) until you are at a max of 1-2 servings per week (including ALL meals.) Don’t do this passively, find out how much you are eating now and make a point to eat two less servings next week
– Try the substitutes with an open mind. No turkey pepperoni is never going to taste EXACTLy like pepperoni, but the flavor you miss will still be there.
– Find new recipes you love and look forward to incorporate into the weekly grind. Try vegetarian recipes, or other poultry and fish recipes!
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!