You know what's made the biggest difference in my family's life this year?
Better nutrition. Whole foods and protein rich meals have created a domino effect of healthy changes. Because, when you’re full, you tend to snack less and feel better.
But knowing which foods to incorporate into our diets took some research. Sure eating “whole foods and foods high in protein” sounds easy enough, but what exactly do those foods look like?
And, more importantly, how could I get my family to eat them without having to launch a full out campaign for a better diet!
So, when The Beef Checkoff asked me to work with them to promote their Beef Up Nutrition Month Campaign, I was thrilled. Not only are they a terrific group, they also represent an excellent source of protein that my family loves – beef!
Beef: A Healthy Addition to Your Whole Foods Diet
Beef is filled with amazing minerals and vitamins that nourish your body, help repair muscle after exercise, and support a heart healthy diet.
Did you know that a 3-oz serving of lean beef also provides about half of your daily recommended value of protein?
It packs a whopping 25 grams of protein and is only about 150 calories. To get the same amount of protein from quinoa, you’d have to eat 3 cups of it which would equal about 666 calories!
As part of our studies on nutrition this year, we looked closely at the 10 essential nutrients that are in beef, so that we’d not only know what we were eating, but how it impacts our bodies.
My oldest wants to study Sports Medicine and is already reading up on becoming a personal trainer, so studying this was perfect timing! Here’s what we learned:
THE NUTRIENTS IN BEEF
Protein (48% DV)
Protein is built from amino acids and helps to build and preserve the muscles in the body.
B12 (44% DV)
B12 helps to keep the body’s blood and nerve cells healthy and functioning properly.
Selenium (40% DV)
The body’s reproduction, healthy thyroid, DNA production, and infection protection all rely on selenium.
Zinc (36% DV)
Need to fight off bacteria and viruses? Then zinc should be an essential part of your daily diet.
Niacin (26% DV)
Also known as B3, niacin helps the body change food into fuel to produce energy.
B6 (22% DV)
Maintaining a healthy nervous system is important and B6 helps do just that.
Phosphorous (19% DV)
Phosphorous is the second most abundant mineral in the body and helps build strong bones and teeth.
Choline (16% DV)
Choline helps to support the development of the nervous system.
Iron (12% DV)
Found in hemoglobin, iron helps your body make healthy red blood cells that provide your entire body with oxygen.
Riboflavin (10% DV)
Riboflavin is also known as B2 and helps the body break down proteins, carbs, and fats.
Beef gives your body a powerful punch of nutrients that help support the way you function, look, and feel. The fact that it does it in a low-calorie manner just makes it even better for weight-loss and weight maintenance!
OUR FAVORITE BEEF RECIPES
One of the best things about beef is that it’s so incredibly versatile. There are so many different cuts that the options for cooking it are virtually endless. Over the years we’ve tried a bunch of different ways to prepare it, but here are some of our favorite kid-friendly beef recipes.
Pizza with a Purpose – My favorite part about this recipe is the fact that I can hide an entire bag of frozen vegetables (I use the California blend) in the sauce and no one is the wiser. We recently made this yummy beef pizza (minus the halved-tomatoes) and used this 15-minute recipe for the crust. Delicious!
I pre-baked the crust for about 10 minutes before putting the toppings on, because the ground beef mixture is dense and I wanted to make sure the top of the crust was cooked. Served with a side of salad, we had a quick and delicious meal that was filled with veggies and protein!
Confetti Beef Tacos – We’re huge fans of Mexican food and this taco recipe is one of our favorites. I love that it’s so colorful and has a deep, rich flavor!
Spaghetti and Meatballs – I don’t know about your family, but mine loves homemade meatballs! This simple recipe has flavor and tons of essential nutrients!
Beefy Sweet Potato Hash – When we were doing research on healthy food choices, sweet potatoes were one of the top veggies on our list. Forget about dousing them in heavy syrups and burying them in butter, sweet potatoes are infinitely better when cooked this way!
One Pot Lasagna Pasta – Love lasagna, but hate the seemingly never-ending process to make it? Me too! That’s why this one pot wonder is one of my absolute favorites!
FREE PRINTABLE BEEF ACTIVITY PLACEMAT
Despite loving the beef recipes above for their simplicity and the powerful punch of protein and essential nutrients that they deliver, I have never been a fan of the time right before supper.
I call it “Whine Time”, because it’s when my kids are hungry and need something to distract them for the last few minutes before the food hits the table. One of my best friends calls is "wine time", but that's a totally different story!
I’m guessing that I’m not the only one who isn’t a fan of “Whine Time”, so I created a fun, printable Beef Activity Placemat! My kids loved it and it kept them busy while I was finishing up.
I made the placemat in two versions – color and black and white – to give you options.
It’s geared toward elementary-age kids, because I’ve found that so many printable placemats are for preschoolers and older kids are bored with them much too quickly.
I can’t guarantee it, but the placemat may actually have your kids working together to play Tic-Tac-Toe and the Dot Game! Crazy, I know!
THE FINAL WORD ON BEEF
As we continue meal planning and creating healthy family meals, beef will remain a weekly staple. The versatility of it, combined with its amazing collection of nutrients makes it a must-have.
To find out more about the beef story, the farmers, and get even more delicious recipes, check out Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative’s website. It’s chock-full of resources!