I love good-quality beef, particularly grass-fed beef. In fact, when I think of typical American food, I think of steaks, hamburgers, roast beef and more. In the Philippines, where diets consist mostly of fish, pork and chicken, I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where we had access to beef. As a child, hamburgers and steaks were among my favorite foods. As I got older, I began to limit how much and how often I ate beef. Today, I restrict my meat eating to grass-fed, organic beef.
Besides being delicious and versatile, beef is a powerhouse of FoodTrients. It’s a nutrient dense food, which means you don’t have to eat much of it to receive plenty of benefits. Just 3 ounces of lean beef contributes less than 10 percent of calories to a 2,000-calorie diet, yet it supplies ten percent or more of the Daily Value for nine essential nutrients:
Protein 50% Builds muscle and repairs tissues
Zinc 39% Strengthens the immune system and heals wounds
B12 37% Along with niacin, B6 and riboflavin, helps release energy from food
Selenium 24% For thyroid gland function and helps protect against free radical damage and cancer
Phosphorous 20% Vital for strong bones and teeth
Niacin 18% Part of the B complex that helps the body use energy from food
B6 16% Part of the B complex that helps the body use energy from food
Iron 14% Helps carry oxygen in the blood to the cells
Riboflavin 12% Part of the B complex that helps the body use energy from food
Beef has had a little bit of a bad reputation for a few reasons. First, most Americans eat too much of it. On average, American men consume 6.9 oz. of meat and women 4.4 oz. per day—that’s close to 65 pounds per year! Second, most commercial beef is grain fed to develop marbling, which makes it juicy and flavorful. However, the marbling is high in saturated fat, which can raise bad cholesterol levels and clog arteries, leading to heart disease. Finally, the grain-based diet, which most commercially raised beef receives is not natural for cattle and changes the nutritional profile of the meat, reducing the level of important nutrients.
To receive the full benefits of beef, I buy grass fed whenever possible. Pasture raised cattle forage at will in open pastures and eat grasses. Their meat is also free from growth hormones and antibiotics. This type of beef is different nutritionally from conventional beef because of the difference in diet and contains:
Grain fed beef contains one quarter as much vitamin E and a fraction of the beta carotene of grass fed. Cattle fed on pasture grasses contain more omega-3 content by up to 60 percent. Also plentiful in fish like salmon and mackerel, omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and help prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease. A high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to the development of disease. The fat in grass-fed cattle has a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 than that of grain-fed cattle. Switching livestock from their natural diet of grass to large amounts of grain is one of the reasons our modern diet is deficient in these essential fats.
If you think about it, It makes a lot of sense to eat beef raised on what cattle would eat naturally rather than what they’re fed on a factory farm like grain, supplements and other additives. By working with nature and promoting what is biologically and behaviorally right for that animal, it’s better for the animal, better for the environment and better for us.
You can find grass fed beef at most markets including Costco, Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Markets and most any store with an emphasis on natural products. There are also grass fed beef growers from whom you can order online including, Eel River Organic Grass Fed Beef, Adelaida Springs Ranch and Alderspring Ranch.
For a show stopping main course, try this recipe from The Age Beautifully Cookbook.
Beef on a Salt Block
Pink salt blocks from the Himalayas contain minerals that help balance the effects of sodium. You can purchase Himalayan salt blocks from kitchen and specialty food stores, and online.
For this recipe, you heat the salt block and use it as a cooking surface. I like to set the heated block on the table (on top of a trivet or a heat resistant surface) and have everyone cook their own meat the way they like it.
2 lb. thinly sliced London broil or other tender cut of beef
For the sauce:
2 cups Merlot or other red wine
½ cup dried cherries, cranberries raisins or combination