Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where’s the Beef?

Time for a couple of practical suggestions for living on the plus side of the nutrition continuum. Conventional wisdom would have us eschew bovine products, but some of us need the occasional bite of cow. Here are a couple of ideas for beef that will satisfy the craving without hardening the arteries.

At home, I make a little treat my mother used to make: open-faced cheeseburgers. Now, my mom used to make these because she could feed the whole family with a pound or less of hamburger. Later, she adapted the recipe for dieting by using so-called "diet" bread. (Remember the 40-calorie-a-slice bread that was so thin it turned into a large piece of melba toast after a cycle in the toaster?) Here's what you'll need to make them:

Ground beef (the lower the fat content the better)

Sliced bread (the low carb variety tastes just fine and saves on carbs and calories)

Cheese slices (your choice, but I think the 2% stuff is tasty enough in this recipe)

Garlic salt and pepper to taste

Toast the bread slices. Spread a generous amount of ground beef on each slice of toast (about 2 ounces). Season to taste with garlic salt (or plain salt) and pepper. You can cook the open-faced sandwiches in the broiler or on a table top grill (my favorite) that cooks from the top and the bottom simultaneously. It will only take 2 – 5 minutes to cook the beef, depending on your taste. Top with the cheese and drop the heating element close enough to melt the cheese, but not touch it, for about 30 seconds. Viola! Your open-faced cheeseburgers are ready to eat! At about 200 – 250 calories each, you can eat a couple and be very, very satisfied.

I encourage you to try variations on this idea and tell me what worked for you. I know I'm going to try ground lamb on some thin-sliced, grilled French bread with onions, roasted red peppers and feta or goat's milk cheese. I can also tell you we've done this with ground turkey and we didn't like it much – pretty bland.

Here's an idea for eating out: Vietnamese Noodle Soup (Pho) – Pho (pronounced "fuh") is my idea of a perfect meal. Pho Tai is a beef noodle soup featuring an aromatic broth flavored with a hint of some spice like cinnamon. In addition to the noodles, the bowl has green and white onions floating attractively in the broth. Very rare flank steak is cut in thin slices and added to the hot broth, where it finishes cooking. The pho is served with a side platter of fresh cilantro, basil, bean sprouts (the fat white kind), lime and raw jalapeno pepper slices. Asian hot sauce and garlic chili paste are on the table. Add in whatever and as much as makes you happy. The finished product is hearty and filling. If you don't want beef, there's a chicken version, too (pho ga).

Finally, I've found a packaged product that I'm sure I'll be keeping in the house as the weather gets colder. Imagine (the brand name) makes an organic broccoli soup that has only 60 calories and 11 grams of carbs per cup. My local grocery store (Schnucks) carries this soup, which comes in a 4-cup resealable box.

Thanks again for following. I have been advised that I'm supposed to respond to comments, so I'll be doing a better job with that going forward. More later . . .

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