Meat is the original health food; it is chock full of vital nutrients, helps you feel full for longer and it is totally delicious. There is evidence that our pre-human ancestors were eating meat 1.5 million years ago. Through evolution, humans gained the valuable ability to digest a wide variety of foods. This ability has been as much a blessing as a curse, going against the adage that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. With the advent of agriculture, grains and other cultivated plants took a primary role in human diets. Food products from these domesticated plants sustain life but do not give the health and vitality that meat provides. The nutrition, satiety and enjoyment we get from eating meat makes it clear that meat is one of the best foods humans can eat.
Animal products, and meat in particular, contain several nutrients that are not available from other sources. Beef and other red meats are very rich in B vitamins (B12, B3, B6), selenium, iron and zinc. Good quality beef from grass-fed animals (and don’t kid yourself – grain fed meat is not good quality) is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
In particular, Creatine, Carnosine, EPA and DHA are essential nutrients that can only be acquired through animal products. Creatine forms an energy reserve in muscles and has a protective effect on the brain. Not eating enough meat can lead to creatine deficiency resulting in lower mental and physical performance. Carnosine is an antioxidant that protects the body against degenerative processes and can only be consumed by eating meat. EPA and DHA are the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that the body is most efficient at absorbing. Humans are bad at converting omega-3 from plants (ALA) to the active form.
Now that you know some of the many reasons why it is a good idea to have meat in your diet, here are a few delicious ways to prepare meat.
Pork Chile Verde
1.2 kg Pork Shoulder
1L stock (chicken, pork or beef)
3 tbsp lard or vegetable oil
4 bay leaves
1 large white onion
600g tomatillos or green tomatoes
4 Jalapeno peppers
4 green bell peppers
Any other green chile peppers you like
1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
½ cup of chopped cilantro
3 tbsp lard or vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
More cilantro and sour cream to garnish
Keeping the pork in large pieces, salt it well and brown it in a saucepan over a medium/high heat. When it’s browned remove it and cook the onions in the pan. When the onions are brown around the edges return the pork to the saucepan, add the bay leaves and enough stock to half cover the meat. Cover and cook on a low heat until the meat is falling apart, this will take approximately 3 hours.
To prepare the salsa verde place the garlic cloves, halved tomatillos or green tomatoes and all the peppers on a foil lined baking sheet. Char them all together under a grill. keep rotating the peppers until their skins are blackened. Once the chiles are blackened place them in a paper bag to let them steam themselves for 20 minutes. Then remove their skins, stems and seeds. Do this wearing rubber gloves and at a sink to avoid mess and burns.
Put the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, oregano and salt in a food processor. Peel the grilled garlic cloves and add them to the processor. Process until everything is combined but still chunky so the sauce will be nicely textured. Once the meat is cooked let it cool on a baking sheet for a few minutes then shred it using forks. remove the bay leaves and leave the braising liquid uncovered to reduce. Finally, once the braising liquid has reduced by ⅔, add the shredded pork and salsa verde. Mix well and serve over white rice with sour cream and cilantro.
1kg shin beef, diced
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 celery sticks, peeled and roughly chopped
100g button mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
3 onions, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
100g bacon lardons
1 large bunch of parsley
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
sprigs of thyme and rosemary
2 tins of tomatoes
1 bottle of red wine
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish. Add 2 of the garlic cloves and the bacon lardons. Cook for 3 minutes on a medium heat then add the chopped onions, leek, carrots and celery and continue cooking on a low heat for another 15 minutes.
In a frying pan gently fry the parsley and remaining garlic clove, which should be sliced thinly. Take care not to burn the garlic letting the two ingredients sweat together. After a few minutes add the mushrooms and cook gently until softened.
Set your oven to 180°C (350°F). Add the diced beef to the casserole dish along with the sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Cook until all the meat is browned all over. Once the meat is browned add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and mushroom mix from the frying pan along with the tinned tomatoes and 400ml of red wine. Bring the dish to the boil then cover and cook in the preheated oven for at least 2 ½ hours. The dish is cooked when the meat can be broken apart easily with spoon. Serve with mashed potatoes and a small glass of the remaining wine.
This is one of my favorite meat dishes. It’s incredibly rich and satisfying, gets me a week of amazing dinners and has never failed to impress guests. Although there are several step involved, each step is relatively easy and a lot of the preparation can be done in advance. I like to make a big batch of this beef bourguignon at the weekend then enjoy it in individual serving for the rest of the week.
Organ meats are definitely the most nutritionally dense and health-giving animal products. The liver concentrates nutrients and deserves its reputation as nature’s multivitamin. One small piece of beef liver contains enough Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and copper to do you for a week! It also contains huge amount of other B vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. If you want the benefits of meat, then you really need to eat some offal!
However, organ meats have become unpopular over recent years as people do not understand how to prepare offal properly. The following are two easy recipes I use regularly to get more organ meats into my diet, these dishes have made believers of people who were initially squeamish about eating organ meats.
Lamb Rump and Liver
Pairing organ meat with a typical muscle meat is a good way to start eating offal. Eating small pieces of liver and rump lets your taste buds adjust to the new flavour gently.
4 lamb rumps (1 per person)
1 lamb liver cleaned and thinly sliced (if you ask nicely your butcher might do this for you)
Salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Season the lamb rumps with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan until hot. Sear the rumps in the hot pan with half the butter for 1-2 minutes until they are browned. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook to taste: 6-8 minutes for rare, 8-10 minutes and longer if you like your lamb well done. Once the rumps are cooked remove from the oven and allow them to rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
To prepare the liver soak it in milk for 20 minutes before cooking. remove from the milk and pat the slices of liver dry then season them with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining butter and the olive oil in a pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes until cooked but still a little pink in the centre. allow to rest a little before serving with the rumps on a mixed salad of green leaves or any other salad you enjoy.
Mexican Liver and Onions (Higado Encebollado)
300g beef liver, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 smaller white onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp lard or fat of your choice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
In a large pan, heat the lard and cook the onion over a medium heat until soft. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the oregano and rosemary. Lay the slices of liver on top of the onions, cover the pot and let them cook for 3 minutes. Then flip the slices, laying them on the bottom of the pan and cover them with the onions. Cover and allow cook for another 3 minutes. Check the liver is cooked by cutting a slice, if there’s no blood it’s cooked through! Serve with lots of fresh cilantro and a side of avocado.
Now you know 4 great recipes to bring the amazing health benefits of meat to dinnertime.
If you know any other great meat recipes please post them in the comments below. Feel free to share these recipes with anyone looking for a healthy new dinner idea this year.