End-of-summer grilling with lean beef

What better way to celebrate our last summer weekend than to gather with family and friends, heat up the grill, and enjoy a tasty and healthy meal. You may be thinking about barbecuing ribs, or if you’re trying to be health conscious, you may be planning to serve chicken or fish. But why not consider lean beef? As co-author of “The Healthy Beef Cookbook,” I try to clear up misinformation about the health attributes of lean beef whenever I get the chance.

Here are just a few facts you should know about lean beef:

  • There are 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for “lean” or extra lean, ranging between 4-8 grams of total fat and 1.4-3 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz. serving. All 29 cuts contain, on average, less than 200 calories per 3 oz. serving. As a rule of thumb, cuts with loin or round in the name are the leanest, such as top round, top sirloin, bottom round, top loin, and tenderloin. Get to know the 29 lean beef cuts.
  • Lean beef compares favorably to chicken and fish when it comes to fat and saturated fat. In fact, one 3 oz. serving of lean beef has just one more gram of saturated fat than a 3 oz. serving of skinless chicken breast, and yet has eight times more vitamin B12, six times more zinc, and three times more iron. Beef is naturally nutrient-rich, providing nine essential nutrients.
  • Eating lean beef can be just as effective in lowering “bad” cholesterol and raising “good” cholesterol as lean white meat (poultry and fish). A common misperception is that beef’s fat is all saturated while in fact, nearly half of the fat in lean beef is monounsaturated, the same type found in olive oil. This form of fat can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Besides, one can get tired of the same old chicken breast. Studies show that it’s easier to follow guidelines for fat and cholesterol when you allow yourself more variety.

Try one of my grilling favorites from “The Healthy Beef Cookbook” (available at local and online bookstores):

Mojo Beef Kabobs
Makes 4 servings

1 pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper
1 large lime, cut into 8 wedges
1 small red onion, cut into 8 thin wedges
1 container grape or cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces)

Mojo Sauce:
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¾ teaspoon salt

1. Whisk Mojo Sauce ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.
2. Cut beef steak into 1-1/4 inch pieces; season with pepper.
3. Alternately thread beef with lime and onion wedges evenly onto four 12-inch metal skewers. Thread tomatoes evenly onto four 12-inch metal skewers.
4. Place kabobs on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill tomato kabobs, uncovered, about 2 to 4 minutes or until slightly softened, turning occasionally. Grill beef kabobs, uncovered, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally.
5. Serve kabobs drizzled with sauce.

Nutrition information per serving: 285 calories; 15 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 10 g monounsaturated fat); 50 mg cholesterol; 500 mg sodium; 10 g carbohydrate; 1.8 g fiber; 27 g protein; 8.2 mg niacin; 0.6 mg vitamin B6; 1.4 mcg vitamin B12; 2.6 mg iron; 31.9 mcg selenium; 5.1 mg zinc

Sample more lean beef recipes.