By Beth Lipton
If you eat meat but feel guilty or uncertain about it, good news: We have some tips to help you enjoy that steak or burger and still feel great afterwards.
1. Choose grass-fed
“If you think, ‘I have an occasional steak, I only have it once a month, it’s not that great for me,’ there’s more to know about it,” says chef Sarah Russo, culinary manager at Pre, a company that sells 100% grass-fed beef. “Commodity beef in the U.S. is raised or finished on grain—or something other than grass, which is what cows are supposed to eat. When that happens, what you’re getting is usually a poor-quality product. But when you get beef the way it was intended to be raised, if it had a good, stress-free environment and was pasture raised, then the nutrition is totally different.”
Grass-fed beef is richer in healthy omega-3 fats, and also conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which boosts muscle growth and bone strength and fights cancer, adds Russo, who studied cooking at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, and has been a personal chef for professional athletes.
2. Combine it with plant protein
Just because grass-fed beef is good for you doesn’t mean it’s all you should eat, Russo notes. “Quinoa, nuts, seeds—get plenty of plant-based proteins, too. Have it with your meat so you get variety in the nutritional profile of your meal,” she says. “For myself, I’m active, I do an hour workout every day, so I try to get 90g total protein per day. I aim for 30g per meal, but no more than half comes from animal protein.”
3. Make it a side dish for salad
“I’m a huge advocate for salad,” Russo says. “ Obviously there are tons of nutrients in salad, plus you get water for hydration. When I have a salad or something light and crunchy in my meal, I feel like I won.”
For Russo, a perfect plate contains “50/50 animal/plant protein, lots of crunchy vegetables, avocado, and zucchini or eggplant. Or a dip, like baba ghanoush. Aim for a very diverse assortment of salad ingredients, and include what I call ‘booster foods,’ like ginger and lime, flavor components that are also really beneficial to our health.”
4. Explore your spice cabinet
Not only are spices super healthy, they also bring tons of flavor. Russo’s advice: “Always use at least 3 spices, plus salt. One is green herb (in the herbs de provence family), one is red (paprika or chili powder), and one is white (onion or garlic powder).” Rather than feeling like you have to have a recipe, “be confident and fearless,” she says. “Open up your cabinet, see what you have and use it.”
In case you do want a recipe, Russo offered the two below.
Ginger Steak Salad with Cold-Brew Vinaigrette
- Serves: 2
- Total Time:45 minutes
- Active Time:30 minutes
- For Steak:
- ½ cup low-sodium tamari
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 lime, juiced
- ½ cup cold-brew concentrate (such as Chameleon)
- 1 8-oz. grass-fed sirloin steak
- For Salad:
- 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 2 limes, juiced (¼ cup)
- ¼ cup cold brew coffee concentrate
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped red kale
- 1 cup chopped purple cabbage
- 1 cup chopped green cabbage
- ¼ cup shredded carrots
- 2 to 3 red radishes, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- Marinate steak: In a large bowl, whisk together tamari, salt, ginger, lime juice and cold brew concentrate. Pat steak dry thoroughly and place in marinade, turning over a few times to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, then let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make dressing: In a bowl, whisk together ginger, lime juice, cold brew concentrate and maple syrup. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil until emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Make salad: In a large bowl, combine kale, both cabbages, carrots and radishes; toss.
- Cook steak: Preheat a large cast-iron (or regular) skillet over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, put marinated steak on the skillet. Cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, flipping only once. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Toss salad with a few tablespoons of dressing, then divide between 2 serving plates. Garnish with almonds. Slice steak against the grain, place on top of salad and serve.
Steak, Apple and Chard Salad with Green Tea Vinaigrette
- Serves: 2
- Total Time:55 minutes
- Active Time:20 minutes
- For Steak:
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried mint
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 10-oz. New York strip steaks (1 ½ to 2 inches thick)
- For Salad:
- 2 teaspoons green tea leaves
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1 cup olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch red chard, thinly sliced and chopped
- ½ apple, thinly sliced
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. In a small bowl, combine all steak seasonings (sea salt through white pepper), then add olive oil to create a paste. Pat steaks dry thoroughly, then rub paste mixture all over steaks. Let stand for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make salad dressing: In a shallow bowl, whisk tea leaves, vinegar, honey, thyme and shallot. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- When pan is hot, add steaks and cook until desired doneness, about 4 to 4 ½ minutes per side for medium (130 to 135ºF on a meat thermometer). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Prepare salad: Toss chard, apple and red onion together in a large bowl. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of green tea vinaigrette and toss, adding more dressing if desired. Divide salad among 4 serving bowls. Slice steak, place on top of salad and serve, passing leftover dressing at the table.