Disclosure: Thank you to the Beef Checkoff for hosting me at their headquarters in Denver, Colorado. I’m proud to say that I’m now more confident cooking with beef! All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Two weeks ago I traveled to Denver, Colorado with a small group of food bloggers, dieticians and nutritionists to learn about all things beef. The trip was hosted by the Beef Checkoff, an organization funded by cattle farmers and ranchers that is aimed at increasing consumer knowledge about beef production and consumption in America. And let me tell you, the folks at the Beef Checkoff did not disappoint. Because holy cow (pun intended), did I learn A TON on this trip.
As a result, I’m feeling much more confident (and more excited!) about incorporating beef into my diet on a regular basis. So I thought I’d share a few tidbits that I picked up. And of course, I’ve got a mouthwatering beef recipe to go along with it. So get ready to commence drooling!
We all know that protein is an important part of our nutrition. And there are a lot of ways in which we can incorporate protein into our diets. But admittedly, I kind of forgot how great beef is as a source of protein. One 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 25 grams (which is about half) of the Daily Value for protein. Do you know how much cooked quinoa you’d have to eat to achieve that level? 3 cups. And peanut butter? How about 6 tablespoons. That’s a lot of eating! And the calories from all those extra servings can add up quickly, which makes a single serving of lean beef look like a pretty smart choice.
I also learned that due to changes in cattle breeding and fat trimming methods over the years, there are now more than 35 cuts of beef that qualify as “lean” (FDA definition of lean = less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5-ounce serving). Which is great news! Because it means that as consumers, we have so many options when it comes to incorporating beef as part of our healthy diets.
But with all the choices of lean beef available, it can be hard to decide which cut(s) to buy when you’re at the grocery store staring face to face with the meat case. The names can be confusing (often one cut of meat can go by multiple names) and the best way to prepare different cuts isn’t always obvious. That’s when the Interactive Butcher Counter comes in handy. You can get names, nutritional information, preferred cooking methods and even links to recipes right from your phone! Make sure to bookmark it and use it next time you’re out shopping. I think you’ll find it really useful!
OK, I know you’re probably all chomping at the bit, so let’s chat briefly about these Grilled Tenderloin and Eggplant Open-Faced Caprese Sandwiches. Which are the epitome of summer right now. Oh and by the way, summer is most certainly NOT over yet. So back away from the pumpkin. Seriously, people. We’ve still got meat to grill, tomatoes to eat and ice cream to churn. Let’s not rush things.
I used tenderloin for this recipe, which is one of my favorite cuts of lean beef. And then I piled it high on top of some grilled bread with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. These babies work great for lunch or dinner. And you can eat them cold or warm. Which makes them kind of a perfect little sandwich, if I do say so myself.
One of the most important things you can do to get a great beef eating experience is to make sure you are cutting the beef against the grain (i.e. cutting perpendicular to the grain, not parallel or with the grain). I know we’ve all heard that a million times. But it’s really important. If you can’t tell which way the grain is running (it can be hard if you’ve got a rub or sauce on the beef), just test a small little corner of the beef before diving right in with your knife!