Lean ground beef: Healthy and hip
January 13, 2000
(CNN) -- Remember Mom's ground beef casseroles made with cream soup, canned vegetables and pasta? Well, ground beef has gotten a makeover in recent years. It's now leaner and cooks are dressing it up with gourmet ingredients.
"Beef for all Seasons," written by Frederick J. Simon and John Harrisson, offers a variety of colorful ideas for lean ground beef. They put a twist on the all-American cheeseburger with their recipe for Grilled Blue Cheese and Mushroom Burgers. In the mood for something exotic? Try their Thai Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce. And how about finessing traditional meatloaf into a Tropical Beef and Banana "Parfait" Meatloaf with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Mango-Black Bean Salsa?
Simon says there is an endless list of spices that can zest up your lean ground beef, which can be drier than fattier cuts. He suggests mixing it with fresh herbs like cilantro and tarragon, or for a clean, zingy flavor trying a little lemon zest. You can make it easy on yourself with bottled sauces like soy sauce or Worsheshire sauce.
Consumers are sending a strong message to the beef industry. The National CattlemanŐs Beef Association found consumers are trading up to leaner cuts of ground beef, as long as the prices aren't too steep.
In fact, the report says lean ground beef was the most popular cut of meat sold in U.S. supermarkets that year, outselling regular ground beef and extra lean ground beef, which can be much more costly.
All the different "lean" labels have left some consumers scratching their heads. According to the American Meat Institute, ground beef labeled "lean" means it's 89 to 90 percent lean and "extra lean is 90 percent or more lean. Less than 80 percent lean is basic ground beef.
Nutritionists say lean ground beef can be part of a healthy diet, as long as it's eaten in moderation ion.
Nancy Anderson, a registered dietician with Emory Health Center in Atlanta, says ground beef shouldn't be eaten more than 2 to 3 times a week. But she adds it's a good source of protein and iron, a nutrient in which some women have a defiency.
Anderson says if your supermarket's meat counter doesn't sell lean ground beef, request that they grind a lean cut such as top sirloin.
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