Beef–an American Staple
I’ve been a die-hard vegetarian for years, and it hasn’t always been easy. Tofu hot dogs and phony burgers just don’t cut it. There’s no dispute: beef is an American staple. Love it or hate it, beef reigns supreme in the U.S. and Europe, and has for centuries. While beef doesn’t grace my plate (I’m accustomed to my vegetarian ways), I do endorse its virtues. Here are my Top Ten Beefs About Beef for your consideration, followed by a luscious and healthy Grilled Flank Steak recipe.
TOP TEN BEEFS ABOUT BEEF
10. People are too quick to dismiss beef.
Beef has been around for ages—why abandon it now? Egyptians worshipped beef. King Tut left beef ribs in tombs to feed his worthy souls.
Europeans valued beef. Christopher Columbus brought the ancestor of today’s beef, the Celtic Shorthorn, to wow America.
U.S. beef is high quality. It’s a crossbreed of Columbus’ Celtic Shorthorn with the Great Ox—that equates to lean beef for your plate.
9. Americans consume a LOT of beef.
The average American eats about 58 pounds of beef annually—which is actually down from the last few years.
Beef with 10 percent fat contains about 800 calories per pound—that’s about 53,600 calories annually. Now that’s a lot of bull!
Here’s how 67 pounds of beef weighs in:
- 28 pounds of ground beef
- 13 pounds of steak
- 9 pounds of processed beef, such as smoked sausage, corned beef, or beef jerky
- 8 pounds of stew beef
- 7 pounds of mixed beef dishes
- 5 pounds of other beef cuts, such as hot dogs.
If I’m not eating all this beef…are YOU???
8. Today’s beef gets a bad rap—but it’s better than the beef of your childhood.
Beef has lost its past luster due to its cost, environment, and health issues.
That’s because beef can be expensive, a drain on our environment, a storehouse of chemicals, and bad for our health—mostly due to fat and cholesterol.
Yet today’s beef is less expensive, more environmental-friendly, and leaner than ever before–thanks to breeding, feeding, regulating, and trimming.
7. Beef is leaner than you think—that’s the real skinny!
Today’s beef has more separable fat than your grandparents’ beef, so you can control the fat that you consume.
If you trim any separable fat before cooking beef, you can reduce total fat up to 50 percent!
Better yet, the average thickness of fat around today’s steaks and roasts is less than 1/8 inch. And, over 40 percent of beef cuts have no exterior fat at all!
Even low-fat ground beef is over 50 percent leaner than ever, with little loss of flavor or texture.
6. Chicken gets all the press, but beef can be leaner.
There are 29 cuts of lean beef with total fat and saturated fat content between a skinless chicken breast and skinless chicken thigh—10 follow.*
So the next time you reach for chicken, consider these lean beef cuts:
|cut of meat||sat. fat (g)||total fat (g)|
|Skinless chicken breast||0.9||3.0|
|1. Eye round||1.4||4.0|
|2. Top round||1.6||4.6|
|3. Top sirloin||1.9||4.9|
|4. Brisket (flat half)||1.9||5.1|
|5. Round tip||1.9||5.3|
|6. Chuck shoulder steak||1.9||6.0|
|7. Bottom round||2.2||6.0|
|8. Top loin||2.3||6.0|
|9. Flank Steak||2.6||6.3|
|Skinless chicken thigh||2.6||9.2|
5. There’s a notion that “tasty” equals “unhealthy,” but beef delivers health AND flavor.
Your body is programmed to seek the delicious taste of beef. That’s because beef is packed with umami, the fifth taste.
We crave protein-rich foods with umami for life. When you eat protein-rich beef, your brain senses you’ve consumed something very necessary, tasty, and satisfying.
4. Beef is thought to be indulgent, but it’s also jam-packed with nutrients—hard to come by and conveniently packaged.
Beef is powered with protein to build you up, maintain what’s there, and fix what’s broken.
- Just one (3-ounce) beef fillet contains about 22 grams of protein—that’s one half the protein a woman needs daily, and one third what a man needs!
Beef is crammed with B vitamins to help energize your body.
- Only three ounces of lean beef contains as much thiamin and niacin—two B-vitamins– as two (3-ounce) chicken breasts!
Beef is loaded with iron to energize your cells for peak performance.
- Merely three ounces of chuck roast contains about three milligrams of iron—that’s more than three times the amount of iron in a three-ounce chicken breast!
Beef is filled with zinc to help your cells reproduce, grow, and heal.
- Hardly three ounces of beef tenderloin contains 12 milligrams of zinc—about three times the amount of zinc found in one cup of fortified breakfast cereal!
3. Too few people prepare beef correctly, without matching cuts and techniques to maximize taste and texture.
Use moist-heat cooking methods, such as braising or stewing, for less tender beef cuts, such as bottom round, eye round roast and steak, or flank steak.
Use low-fat cooking methods, such as broiling, pan-broiling, grilling, rack roasting, or stir-frying for more tender beef cuts such as tenderloin steak, top loin steak, or top sirloin steak. Once marinated, flank steak is great for broiling or grilling.
2. People misunderstand reduction—beef shrinks, so buy large but think small.
Four ounces of raw, boneless beef generally cooks into 3-ounce portions. Both moisture and fat are lost in cooking.
Make sure the drippings can be easily discarded from a drip pan or aluminum foil. Or de-fat the drippings and enrich a tasty sauce.
1. Beef too often gets paired with French fries–not enough attention is given to other parings, such as vegetables, grains, or fruit.
Grilled Flank Steak
Flank steak is a lean beef steak cut from the strong, well-exercise belly muscles of a steer. It’s much tougher (and more economical) than loin and rib steaks. Marinate flank steak in an acidic liquid (such as the seasoned rice vinegar in this recipe) to tenderize it.
Flank steak is best cooked medium-rare and cut across the grain. This Korean-style flank steak can be served in lettuce leaf cups and finished with scallions, sesame seeds, and a savory sauce; or sliced and placed over the sauce, alongside garlic-infused veggie mashed potatoes as in the photo above.
1 spray nonfat cooking spray (such as Pam)
¼ cup soy sauce (such as Kikkoman)*
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar (such as Roland)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons chili sauce (such as LaVictoria)
2 teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons dark sesame oil (such as Dynasty)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 to 1¼ pound flank steak
4 soft leaf lettuce leaves (such as Bibb, Boston, or Butter)
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, thinly sliced vertically
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
- Mix soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, chili sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes together in small bowl.
- Pour mixture into a food storage bag; add flank steak, and seal tightly.
- Refrigerate at least 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
- Prepare grill with nonfat cooking spray; heat to medium-high.
Remove flank steak from marinade; transfer marinade to small pot.
- Grill flank steak about 3 to 4 minutes per side, about 6 to 8 minutes total for medium-rare.
- Transfer flank steak to cutting board; let rest uncovered about 5 minutes.
- Boil marinade over medium-high heat until slightly thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Thinly slice flank steak across grain.
To serve, place sliced flank steak in lettuce leaves; add scallions and sesame seeds, and dribble with marinade. Can also serve sliced flank steak alongside garlic-infused veggie mashed potatoes as pictured.
Serves 4 (4-ounces per serving).
Nutrients: 293 calories, 46% calories from fat, 15g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 58mg cholesterol, 5g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 32g protein, 862 mg sodium*
NOTE*: Looking for less sodium? Use Kikkoman Low Sodium Soy Sauce.
FitFoodWays—Good for You and Delicious Too!
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