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Beef: a part of a healthy diet

By Staff | Jan 4, 2019

BETH DORAN, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, gave some pointers about cooking with beef and beef products at a seminar held this fall in Estherville. She also touched on beef production and safety from the farm to the packing house to the grocer to the home kitchen.



ESTHERVILLE – Beef and the safety of the product were the topics of a hands-on workshop, Beefing Up Your Diet, that was held this fall in Estherville.

Beth Doran, ISU Extension and Outreach beef specialist, who led the workshop, told the women in attendance that one serving of beef is 3 ounces, about the size of the palm of the hand. A person can consume two servings of beef per day with a 2,000-calorie diet.

She added that lean beef has fewer calories than the average chicken thigh (as cuts of meat go), and provides key vitamins and minerals, including protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. The the fat profile for beef is often misunderstood.

Beefy cream cheese muffins were one of the dishes created at the “Beefing Up Your Diet” workshop held recently in Estherville. Attendees learned about using beef in all of its forms—including dried beef, which is a featured ingredient in this breakfast muffin.

“One-third of saturated fatty acids are stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol,” she said, “but 50.2 percent of the fatty acids are monounsaturated, which is the same as the heart-healthy fatty acids in olive oil.”

There is much conversation regarding the health benefits of grain-fed beef versus grass-fed beef. Research Doran has followed shows that grass-fed beef shows only slightly more health benefits over grain-fed beef, with the only real difference being the feedlot experience for grain-fed beef, where animals are fed a balanced diet of grains such as corn, wheat or soybeans.

According to Doran, there are 38 cuts of beef that meet the USDA’s guidelines to be qualified as “lean.” Those cuts have less than 95 mg of cholesterol and less than 10 grams of fat.

Ground beef is the most popular cut because of its versatility. However, she said it’s most often enjoyed as a burger.

“There 50 billion burgers consumed every year,” she said, adding that there were 14 billion burgers served at the 2015 Super Bowl alone.

Nancy Rosberg of Estherville checks the temperature of a hamburger she made at the “Beefing Up Your Diet” workshop.

Doran said consumer desires are changing to meals that require less time to make. Younger consumers of today are looking for meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare, are easy to make, require minimal clean-up, taste good, are affordable and, above all, they want recipes that take items they have on hand, with no more than 10 ingredients.

With those requirements, she said meal kits are becoming more popular over time, since they include everything needed to make a meal. Pre-packaged heat-and-go meals are also becoming more popular.

Consumers, Doran said, will have the most success cooking beef at home if they follow a few tips. They should know what they want their end product to be, and select the proper cut for that meal. They should choose the grade or form of meat and cook it properly.

Additionally, Doran said meat should not be pierced during cooking, and roasts should set for 15 minutes before serving.

“You should also slice beef across the grain so it isn’t stringy, and serve meat at proper temperatures,” she said, adding that keeping meat at proper temperatures will help keep consumers from becoming ill.

A safe beef supply is the responsibility of many people beginning with the producer. The producer should maintain a formulated diet including clean water, follow a good health program, protect animals from weather, keep pens dry and clean, keep a good hair coat and do accurate recordkeeping, along with becoming certified for Beef Quality Assurance.

Packers can help maintain a safe beef supply by utilizing routine veterinary inspections, washing hides, following careful dressing procedures including vacuum steaming, carcass washes, proper chilling and hygienic fabrication.

The retailer can also help keep a safe beef supply by keeping meat at proper temperatures and clean, wrapping appropriately, keeping the meat stable and keeping accurate labels.

Finally, the consumer has responsibility in a safe beef supply by keeping beef refrigerated or frozen, thawing in the refrigerator, keeping the food preparation area clean, avoiding cross-contamination, cooking ground beef to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerating leftovers immediately.

Beefy cream cheese muffin

2 to 8-ounce containers garden vegetable cream cheese spread

2.5 ounce jar dried beef, chopped

4 green onions (optional)

1 package English muffins

In medium bowl, stir cream cheese until smooth. Mix in dried beef and green onions. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve on toasted English muffins.

BBQ meatballs

1 to 12-ounce package frozen fully-cooked beef meatballs

1 cup apricot preserves

1 cup barbecue sauce

Combine preserves and barbecue sauce. Microwave until heated and smooth. Microwave meatballs according to package directions. Pour sauce over meatballs and re-heat until hot.

Irish-inspired beef pot roast and vegetables

1 beef bottom round rump roast or bottom round roast (3 to 3-1/4 lbs.)

2 to 24-ounce packages fresh pot roast vegetables (potatoes, onions, carrots, celery)

2 packages mushroom gravy mix or brown gravy mix

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup beer

Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Prepare vegetables by cutting to desired sizes. Combine gravy mixes, flour, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add vegetables to bowl and toss to coat. Remove vegetables and place in 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Add beef pot roast to bowl, turning to coat evenly with flour mixture. Remove and place on top of vegetables in slow cooker. Whisk beer into remaining flour mixture until smooth and add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 6-7 hours or on low 9-10 hours, or until beef and vegetables are tender. No stirring necessary during cooking. Serve with parsley if desired.

Roast beef salad

Cubed, cooked roast beef, chilled

Lettuce or spinach mix

Diced/sliced vegetables (radishes, carrots, peppers, etc.)

Fruit (Mandarin oranges, green grapes, dried cranberries, etc.)

Cheese of choice

Slice vegetables and grapes. Place lettuce mix in large bowl. Add beef, vegetables and fruit as desired. Top with favorite dressing and cheese.

Note: recommended dressing is Ken’s Raspberry Pecan, and recommended cheese is Swiss.

Beef jerky trail mix

Bite-sized beef jerky pieces

Peanuts (honey roasted or lightly salted dry roasted)

Pecan pieces

Sunflower seeds

Dried cranberries

Golden raisins

Semi-sweet chocolate pieces

Combine all ingredients and serve. Customize by using various flavored jerkies or variety of nuts and fruits.

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