Beef — It’s What’s for Dinner

Many of us have likely heard or recall the popular phrase, “Beef — It’s What’s for Dinner.” It was the successful campaign slogan for the beef industry back in the 1990s. With Memorial Day right around the corner and the grilling season ready to start in earnest, many of us find beef to be a popular item to prepare on the grill. Maybe that’s why the beef industry designates May as Beef Month.

Oftentimes when we think of beef our concern is for the amount of fat and especially saturated fat that it can contain. But it is actually easier than you think to build a healthful diet with beef as there are many lean cuts of beef that average about 150 calories for a 3 ounce serving. In fact government guidelines recognize 29 cuts of beef that meet the guidelines to be considered lean; that would mean less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol in a cooked 3 oz serving.

Choosing a lean cut of beef and being conscious of the portion size can provide an excellent source of high quality protein in your diet, in addition to essential nutrients like zinc, iron and B vitamins. Lean beef pairs well with vegetables and whole grains which makes it easy to build a colorful and nourishing balanced meal.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Pasture to Plate event in Kansas City with 42 other registered dietitians. We were all invited to bring along and share our favorite beef recipe and they compiled these recipes into recipe books that they gave to each of us at the end of the event. This is still one of my favorite cookbooks — 42 beef recipes from registered dietitians from all across the United States.

One of the recipes in this book is a unique take on meatloaf. Meatloaf is typically prepared and baked in a big loaf pan, but this recipe has it prepared in a muffin tin, so that they are in individual portions, which makes them easy to serve and easy to put in the freezer for a planned leftover. Following is a recipe for Meatloaf Muffins that was submitted by a participant from Kansas:

Meatloaf Muffins

2 pounds 85% lean ground beef

1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed vegetable soup

1/3 cup minced onion

1 cup dry bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

3/4 cup ketchup (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

2. Mix ground beef, soup, onion, bread crumbs, eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Scoop mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees. If desired, remove from oven after 50 minutes, drizzle ketchup on the top of each muffin and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and loosen around edges with a knife. Remove from tin and serve.

(Makes 12 mini-meatloaf portions)

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.