How to be Smart about Meat

Sad for all meat lovers out there, gone are the days of slabs of pork chops, giant chicken drumsticks, and monster beef steaks at every meal.  (Unless you happen to attend a Renaissance Fair or Family Reunion...)  The portion size for meat during a sitting is a deck of cards or palm of your hand, and fish is about the size of your checkbook; both are 2-3 ounces.  Here are some tips* for being smart while indulging in meat:

1.  Buy well.  Read the ingredients on all packaging.  Most chicken is injected with salt and preservatives.  They may increase the shelf-life but they also dry out the meat during cooking.  Buy without added salt, cook it up nice and juicy, and add your own dash of salt (if truly needed) when you are ready to bite into it.  Also look for meat without bones and fat to make preparing easier.  Loin and low fat ground beef, chicken breast or legs with no skin, and low fat ground turkey or whole turkey fillets are great choices.

2.  You are ready to cook it, but is it still edible?  Checking the sell and expiration dates are obviously number one.  Next, color is only a good indicator you see black or green.  The color of beef and chicken can greatly vary based on store lighting, age of the animal, and exposure of the food to air.  Smell it as soon as you can, either before buying or before cooking.  (Some stores use Carbon Monoxide on beef to keep it's red color even after it has spoiled).  The stronger the smell, the less fresh it is.  And last of all, feel it.  Fillets and large cuts should feel fairly clean, but if your hands come away slimy like an oil slick, don't risk it.  Then wash your hands like you are going into surgery... scrub, scrub, scrub!

3.  Dice and slice it after it cooks and cools.  We love to broil loin steaks and roast pork loin and chicken breasts in large batches (email me for the easy recipes).  We slice the steak thin and the chicken and pork get diced up, both into 2 cup freezer portions.  It's easy to pull out a container during the week and use the meat in wraps, tacos, stir fry, salads, soups, casseroles, pizzas, etc.  Now we enjoy our meat in lessened amounts while simultaneously increasing our vegetable intake.

4.  Don't forget about eggs.  They are a quick and delicious morning protein.  Scrambled them for burritos, fry them into your stir fry, cook them up and eat with toast.

5.  As I mentioned my pineapple-phobia yesterday, fish is my protein fear.  It may be because you can't see the ocean from New Mexico, or perhaps it's their eyes watching you from the seafood case at the store, or maybe it's the occasional scale in my canned tuna... you get the idea that I'm not a big fan.  But I would love to hear your suggestions.

We are nearing the end of the week of food tips but still have a few Treats to come!  Then for the remainder of November, I'll chat about changing up your Holiday recipes and different attack plans for grocery shopping. Thank you for reading; please send me any tips, feedback, or things you'd like to hear about in the coming holiday season.

*This is a personal commentary on food from a Fitness Professional, and should not be used as nutritional advice.