Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Here’s the Beef

A few months ago I got a call from my neighbor who owns a food cart here in Portland asking if I would like some part time flexible work. Well sure, as any mother knows, "part time" and "flexible" are magical words when it comes to juggling work and children. So I started working for Wiffies Fried Pies in their production kitchen making pies Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. It is now three months later and I just worked two 40 hour weeks in a row and my mom is here helping with my toddler and the upkeep of the house. I am enjoying my job, but missing my family, I want to throw myself into this job as I have in the past, to take over the kitchen and whip it into shape, but at the end of a 10 hour day at work I feel sad that I have missed a day with my son and we are eating Chinese food again. How do I balance my old passion for running the show at work and my new passion for running the show at home? Luckily I have an understanding husband and an understanding boss. I am shifting things around at work and making more time for my family at home. All this is helping me to prepare to one day launch my own business so it is valuable in more ways than just financially.


The reason I have chosen to share this story with you today is because I was at work one early morning thinking of recipes to post for the topic of beef. As I was thinking of this I was taking three large beef briskets out of the oven where they had been cooked low and slow for many hours. I then proceeded to chop the juicy and tender meat up and then douse it with owner's secret recipe BBQ sauce. It dawned on me that instead of posting a recipe this week I will give you Portlanders a dinner suggestion perfect for a busy summer day; head down to Whiffies Fried Pies at SE 12th and Hawthorne and try the BBQ Brisket pie and for dessert I recommend the Mixed Berry pie. The most brilliant thing about eating at a food cart lot is that there is a variety of choices so while one member of the family is eating at Whiffies the other members could be enjoying French fries from the Potato Champion (try their new banana ketchup, crazy I know, but delicious) or Pizza from Pyro pizza.


I look forward to sharing more recipes and my journey with all you readers as I start down this new path in the coming months.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Food Myths Debunked: Beef…It’s What’s For Dinner (All Year at My House!)

So, two days ago we put down a deposit on beef. In a few weeks we'll be getting a whole, grass-fed beef from Soggy Feet Enterprises on Sauvie Island. I am so excited about this amazing, grass-fed beef; a friend of mine let me sample some of their "grass burger" at it was really tasty. What makes me so pleased about this is that I'm getting a wonderful, nutritious, grass-fed, hormone-free, local beef! And because we're buying in bulk, it's really affordable (just under $4.25/lb final cost). Beef seems to have a bad reputation because it's high in saturated fat. If you have been reading our blog from the get-go, you would know that this is a misrepresentation (see my post about coconut oil). Beef can actually be a wonderful source of protein, iron, B vitamins, and even healthy fats if it is raised properly.

It is important to point out the distinction between industrially-raised beef and grass-fed beef. Industrial methods are designed to bring animals to market weight quickly and cheaply; this method involves unnatural, fattening diets, antibiotics, growth hormones (steroids), and over-crowding (less space to move means less calories "wasted" on exercise). Corn-fed beef, with its marbling (30% fat by weight) became regarded as superior to grass-fed beef whose fat content is equivalent to a skinless chicken breast. Feeding cattle grain instead of grass increases the acidity in their guts which in turn increases the risk of E. coli infection in people. Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and beta-carotene than grain-fed. Overcrowding in feed lots leads to increased disease in cattle; antibiotics are fed to cattle with the side effect of increased drug resistance in the bacteria (helping to create "super bugs" that are resistant to common antibiotics). Drug-resistant bacteria are becoming a major health crisis. Industrial cattle are implanted with hormones to help fatten them up quickly; these hormones, when consumed by people eating commercially-raised beef, alter the body's natural hormone balance and contribute to breast, prostate, and testicular cancer. Mad Cow Disease (bovine encephalopathy) becomes a problem when commercially-grown cattle, herbavores, are fed animal byproducts. In short, grass-fed beef is better for the cow, better for the environment, and better for us (and it even can be more profitable for the farmer because grass is cheap)!

So, enjoy your grass-fed hamburger! The protein helps build enzymes and strong muscles, the vitamin E and beta-carotene help boost your immune system, and the saturated fats help fight infection, aid digestion, extend the use of omega-3 fats, improve calcium absorption, and build cell walls. And remember, the fat in grass-fed beef is typically 50-55% saturated fat, 40% monounsaturated oleic acid (the same fatty acid in olive oil), and 5-10 percent omega-3 fat (the same healthy fat found in fish). Oleic acid and stearic acid (which is much of the saturated fat in beef) help lower LDL ("bad cholesterol") while maintaining HDL ("good cholesterol") levels. Grass-fed beef is also a good source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is anti-cancer and builds lean muscle.

I'm really looking forward to having a good supply of grass-fed, local beef at my disposal! I'll be making my fair share of burgers, stews, roasts, steaks and—my favorite—Shepherd's pie! I hope this inspires you to make healthy choices about your diet and bring beef to the table more often.