Healthy diet not reserved for vegetarians

Becky Varner discusses how to get beef into your healthier diet.
BY BECKY VARNER beckyvarner@cox.net Published: May 9, 2012

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends choosing a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Dietary fats are found in protein sources of both animal and plant origin. Fatty acids in fats are categorized as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated and fats contain a mixture of these fatty acids.

Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature and are referred to as solid fats. Those containing more unsaturated fatty acids are usually liquid at room temperature and are referred to as oils.

Solid fats are found mostly in animal foods but can be made from vegetable oils through a process called hydrogenation. Most animal fats tend to have a higher proportion of saturated fatty acids with the major exception being seafood.

Plant foods tend to have a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. A strong body of evidence indicates that a higher intake of most dietary saturated fatty acids is associated with higher levels of blood total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Higher total and LDL cholesterol levels are risk factors for heart disease.

There are many great sources of protein, and they vary considerably in fat content. This is the time of the year that many people start cooking a lot more on the grill and often choose a variety of cuts of beef.

There are many lean cuts of beef with some of the leanest including round steaks and roasts (eye of the round, top round, bottom round and round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.

But what about when you want a nice juicy marbled large steak right off the grill? MyPlate shows how to fit foods from all food groups into a healthful diet. Half of the plate should include vegetables and fruits, the other half of the plate protein and grains and a serving of dairy to complete the meal.

The first thing to think about is portion size. Think petite. Get the flavor you desire but have a smaller portion! Why not share that steak with your spouse or a friend? Here's a hint — cut it in half from side to side to create a thinner but nicely shaped steak, instead of from top to bottom, to create two portions. Plan other foods to add to that steak to make a complete meal.

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Sirloin with sugar Snap Pea and Pasta Salad

Recipe makes 4 servings

1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut ¾ inch thick (about 1 pound)

2 cups fresh sugar snap peas

2 cups cooked gemelli or corkscrew pasta

1 cup grape or teardrop tomatoes, cut in halves

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon black pepper

Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Gremolata Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Bring water to boil in large saucepan. Add peas; cook 2 to 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain; rinse under cold water. Combine peas, pasta and tomatoes in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk gremolata dressing ingredients in small bowl until well blended. Toss 2 tablespoons dressing with pasta mixture. Set aside.

Combine 3 cloves minced garlic and 1 teaspoon pepper; press evenly onto beef steak. Place steak on rack in broiler pan so surface of beef is 2 to 3 inches from heat. Broil 9 to 12 minutes for medium-rare (145 degrees F) to medium (160 degrees F) doneness, turning once.

Carve steak into thin slices; season with salt, as desired. Add steak slices and remaining dressing to pasta mixture; toss to coat evenly. Garnish with lemon peel and parsley if desired.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains approximately 369 calories; 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 7 g monounsaturated fat); 5 mg cholesterol; 216 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrate; 4.2 g fiber; 32 g protein, 1 mg niacin; 0.7 mg vitamin B6; 1.4 mcg vitamin B12; 4.4 mg iron; 46.5 mcg selenium; 5.3 mg zinc.

Source: Becky Varner; ingredients provided by Uptown Grocery Co.

Learn with Lunch

Becky will teach a Learn with Lunch Cooking Class featuring “Summer Salads and Soup” including Cucumber & Tomato Salad with Cilantro, Poppy Seed Fruit Salad and Shrimp Gumbo at noon Tuesday at Buy For Less, 10011 SE 15th in Midwest City. She will also teach a Learn with Brunch Cooking Class at 9:30 a.m. May 16 at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond, and the menu includes Poppy Seed Fruit Salad, Guacamole Pinwheels and Red Pepper Mango Crostini.

Class size is limited, call 302-6273 ext. 332 for reservations.

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