Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

Wow, it's been a whirlwind summer.
I haven't posted since June and for darn good reason!  Here's the latest:
1) Greg and I got married. FINALLY!
2) Greg passed his big test and is now a Journeyman Lineman! YAY!
3) I got a great job at Utah State University. YES!
4) We moved to Logan, Utah. WOW!
5) Greg is working for an awesome crew in Mountain Home, Idaho. $$$$!
6) We rented a house, like a real one, with a foundation.  NO MORE TRAILER TRASH!

All of this happened within a month.  Sometimes life is so crazy, and in my experience, it happens all at once.  When it rains, it pours.  And that's why I haven't been cooking or blogging much.  Oh, and the fact that I lived out of a suitcase the entire summer.  Kind of takes the fun out of cooking.
I seriously doubt that I will be posting much on the ol' blog in the near future,  plus it's no longer the same, because I'm no longer "high class trailer trash!"  What are your thoughts?

 Here's something to keep you happy, until I decide what to do with my blog ...

This is a recipe that I made when strawberries were in their peak.  There's not much better than a fresh, juicy strawberry.  And for those of you who read my blog regularly, you may know that I love to make my own dressing.  This is just a spin on balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

1/4 c. strawberry jam
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. canola oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash
1 tsp dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.  You could also pulse through a blender to get rid of any strawberry chunks, if you are like that!

I loved this dressing on a spinach salad, with goat cheese, peppers and slivered almonds.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Black Bean Tacos

This is a funky, vegetarian taco recipe.  The texture of the bean mixture strongly resembles ground beef, so they are even good for non-vegetarians!
It practically looks like a normal beef fascinating.  If you are a taco lover like myself, feel free to check out my other taco recipe on the blog: Shrimp Tacos with Lime Cilantro Dressing. I'm still considered a Taco Week on my blog, where I feature a taco-a-day.  YUM!
This recipe is super easy. Check it out.

Measure out spices/seasonings/cornmeal.
Make sure you arrange it in the bowl so it looks pretty.  It makes all the difference..... ;)

Add canned black beans (well rinsed/drained).
Smoosh (yes, this is a word!) with potato smasher... or if you are really fancy and sophisticated, you can put all this in a food processor and pulse until you make a crumbly mixture.

Arrange the mixture in a thin layer on a greased baking sheet, like so:

Bake at 375* for 15-20 minutes, then stir to break up the bean mixture.  Return to oven for 5-10 minutes or until crumbly, brown and slightly crisp.  Remove from oven and continue to stir to break up the beans even more.

Place beans among your favorite taco accompaniments and enjoy.  Also, don't tell your meat eater friends that it's 100% vegetarian and see if they notice.  I love playing the trick your meat-head friend game :)  It's the best.

Black Bean Tacos

1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cornmeal
1.5 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili in adobe
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375*. Measure out all seasonings into a large bowl.  Add beans and mash with a potato smasher or fork until you make a crumbly mixture. (You could also pulse in a food processor, if you have one).
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and pour mixture on top, spreading into an even layer. Bake 15-20 minutes.  Break up the bean mixture with a spatula and return to oven for 5-10 minutes until brown and crisp.  Remove from oven and continue to break up bean mixture until it resembles ground meat.  Use as taco filling and top with salsa, cheese, sour cream or your other favorite taco toppings.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Strawberries are in season, so check out this jam recipe.  It's sweet, tangy and delish!

Rinse some lovely, ripe, sweet berries. Preferably local ones, they are always the sweetest! Take a picture because they are seriously gorgeous.

Dump in a large pot with vinegar (I know it's weird, but it's yummy) and sugar.

Stir and bring to a bubble.  Use a potato smasher to smoosh (Yes, this is a word) the berries or leave them chunky.  Your choice.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until jam thickens.  Stir frequently.

Pour into storage container and either freeze or put in the fridge.  This jam is not heavily sweetened, so it may not last as long in the fridge as your usually sugary jams.
Enjoy on pancakes, toast, PB&J's, or stir into plain yogurt or ice cream.  YUMMY.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

2 pounds strawberries, washed & sliced
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a bubble over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 30-45 minutes, until jam begins to thicken.  Stir frequently.  Pour into containers and allow to cool.  Store in freezer or fridge.
This is a syrup/jam, by no means is it a jelly.  It would be so yummy on waffles, pancakes, crepes, ice cream, yogurt, and just eaten by the spoonful out of the jar.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spicy Garbanzo Beans Snackers

I'm currently watching what I eat, AKA trying practice some extra self control on the food situation! Which, it seems like each time I intend to do this, the temptations come in full effect. Ugh.
 See, the thing is, is that I ordered my wedding dress direct from China and it is tini-tiny.  So I am trying to be extra "good" for the 2 months before the big day, so I am able to actually breathe on my wedding day.
All of that nonsense brings me to the recipe today.  These little numbers are oh-so freakin' good and pretty darn healthy for you, too!  Think fiber, b-vitamins, & minerals in the beans, plus a dose of heart heathy fats from the olive oil and a little metabolism boosting cayenne pepper.  A perfect substitute for chips, nuts, and other snack foods.  Wholesome and Mmm-mmm! 

This is super simple.

Drain and rinse a can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) really well.  Pour onto a flat surface and pat dry.

In a medium bowl, combine seasoning & oil well.  Dump the beans into the bowl and toss to coat thoroughly.

Spread beans out on a parchment line baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, then give a good stir and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until golden and crispy.  Keep a watchful eye the last few minutes.  Allow to cool completely and snack away.
Feel free to double the recipe if you really start munching on these little numbers.

Spicy Garbanzo Beans Snackers

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven 400*.  Pat the garbanzo beans dry with paper towels.  In a medium bowl, combine spices & oil.  Add garbanzo beans and toss to coat in spice mixture. Pour into even layer on parchment line baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes; Stir. Replace in oven for 15-20 minutes or until browned and crispy. Keep a watchful eye for the last few minutes, so ensure they don't burn. Cool completely. 
Recipe Adapted from: Our Best Bites

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cucumber Hummus Bites

Do you ever get invited to a BBQ (or something like that) and not know what to bring?  
You want to bring something healthy, but you don't want it to go untouched by guests?  
Maybe you are trying to lose a few and desperately need something at the party that you can eat without overindulging?
Or maybe you simply prefer some healthier items to balance out your typical burger fare?
What ever it may be, these little cucumber appetizer bites are the thing to do.  I'm telling ya, they are the next big thing at your family get-togethers!  
They look like you spent all day making them, when actually it took about 10 minutes.
They are perfect finger food...and who doesn't like finger food?
Look at these Beaut's:

To start, prepare some of my delicious homemade hummus!  Or if you're in a rush, buy some from the super market.  If you haven't made your own before, give it a whirl.  It's easy and you can tweak it to your taste preference. 

Then, Peel an english cucumber like SO:

Slice cucumber into 1-inch rounds.

Spoon hummus into plastic bag and snip off one of the bottom corners for a make-shift pastry bag.

Squeeze hummus through "pastry bag" on top of cuke rounds, sprinkle with sesame seeds (use black sesame seeds for a pretty presentation) and course sea salt.

Serve to your friends for a healthy, pretty and fun appetizer or side dish.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sticky Sweet Drummies

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer.  A special thank you to those who have given their lives.  It doesn't go unappreciated!  It's because of The Brave that we are able to celebrate the way we do. 
Summer means many things, but for many of means grill time.  I love the grill for many reasons:
It's requires few dishes.
It's taste cannot be surpassed.
It's done outside.
It's fast.
It's a rush each time you hold a match to light the bugger. (my arm hair has grown back since last summer!)
It smells delicious! 

There are many more reasons to grill, but those were the ones that popped to my head today.  Why do you like to grill?

Have I ever mentioned that Summer is my favorite time of the year?  I love the heat, the sun, swimming, grilling, EVERYTHING that has to do with summer. I could easily live somewhere with 2 seasons: hot and warm.  Is anyone else with me on this?

Although today's recipe requires some indoor action as well, the resulting glaze is well worth it.  Are you drooling yet over these lovely drummies below?

It's pretty simple, read the recipe below. 
Prepare the marinade/glaze.

Pour over chicken.
Refrigerate and marinate.

Reserve marinade and grill drummies.
Simmer reserved marinade for 15 minutes until thick and gooey.
Glaze the grilled drummies with sweet and sticky goodness.

Grab a roll of paper towels and enjoy.
Wash down with an ice cold beer and tell a story.

Sticky Sweet Drummies*

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 tsp. dried rosemary 

5 garlic cloves, halved

6-8 chicken drumsticks

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

3 tablespoons green onions, chopped

Combine honey, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, rosemary, & garlic.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Place drumsticks in a baking dish and pour marinade over the top.  Swirl around each drummie so it's coated in marinade.  Allow to marinate at least 15 minutes, then flip and marinate another 15 minutes, longer is better.

When it's time to cook, fire up the grill. Remove chicken from marinade and reserve the marinade.  Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until marinade reduces down into a thickened glaze.
Grill drummies until cooked thoroughly.
Drizzle glaze over the top of cooked drummies.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions (if you have them...I didn't)

*Recipe adapted from Giada DeLaurentis "Sweet & Sticky Chicken Drumsticks"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Food Stories Nominee & Catch Up

Two things on the agenda today:  Catch up & Nominate other blogger for Food Stories Award.

First off, the lovely Julia @ The Roasted Root nominated me for a Food Stories Award   ( )and in return, I will nominate a few of my favorite blogs.

1. Annie's Eats -- a great little blog that I've made multiple recipes from.

2. Chocolate Covered Kate -- a "healthy" dessert blog with some wild concoctions.

3. Cookie & Kate -- Celebrates whole foods and vegetarian fare!

4. My Little Celebration -- A super fun blogger that shares my name and my passion for food & fitness.

5. Chef in Training -- You've probably seen her on Pinterest. She takes wonderful photos!

Would you care to know a random thing about me?  
I hate dirty feet.
They make me cringe.
If I'm wearing flip-flops and am not on pavement or indoors, I'm probably thinking about how dirty my feet are.
I religiously clean & moisturize my feet before bed.
Yes, that's very random and a little you know.

Second matter of business, I have been away from blogging for a few weeks and have relocated the "wagon" to Colorado!  We've been here less than a week and I LOVE it!

I have visited an awesome street fair in Boulder, gazed at the Rocky Mountains, seen more bunnies/prairie dogs than I have in my whole life and gambled at my first horse race.  Very cool area with a solid combination of hippy and country...just my style.

I hope to have a couple recipes up this week.  Thanks for all of your support!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Dressing

I seriously love tacos.  They are such a cool meal; one of my favorites.  For starters, they are SO easy to make...just chop some veggies & cilantro, grate some cheese, cook up some filler (meat, fish, beans) and wrap it up in your tortilla of choice.  They are also very pretty and fun to photograph.  And of course, they are so darn tasty and everyone likes them!


I have many versions of tacos that I make: good ol' beef, shredded chicken/pork, shrimp, black bean, and fish.  Maybe I'll have a taco week on the blog sometime!
Here's a couple of my secrets to amaaaaa-zing tacos:
1) You must warm up the shells.  I prefer corn tortillas, but flour is good, too.  The easiest way to warm them up is to wrap a stack in a damp dishcloth and nuke them for 1-2 minutes. (Thanks KayCee for this trick!)
2) If you are a corn tortilla lover, like myself, you must double up the shells!  If you choose not to, your taco will end up on the front of your shirt or in your lap.
3. You must have fresh fixins'... think, pico de gallo, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, tomatoes, onions, etc.
4. You must season appropriately!! And I don't mean that salty "taco seasoning."  That stuff is icky.  I usually use chili powder, cumin(one of my fav spices), cayenne and a smashed up chili in adobo sauce. But for this recipe, I make a special dressing that you cook the shrimp in.  It's good drizzled over the top, or as dressing for a taco salad.  It's a knock off from the Nordstrom Cafe Cilantro Lime Salad.  YUM!
5.  And lastly, you must overfill your taco shell so it's practically impossible to roll up!  Greg and I do this every time, he's worse than me though.  It makes a gloriously delicious mess.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

1/3 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro stems and leaves

1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and rinsed well

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine.  Place shrimp in a shallow dish and pour 1/2 the dressing over the top.  Reserve the remaining dressing to drizzle on the tacos.  Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat; add shrimp (dressing and all) and saute about 5 minutes or just until shrimp is pink throughout.  Shrimp cooks very quickly, so please don't overcook, as they like to get tough and chewy!!
Warm the taco shells and enjoy!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chicken Marsala Skillet

You know chicken marsala?  You know one pot meals?  Well they just got married, made a healthy baby and it's name is Chicken Marsala Skillet.  And I have one word for it, YUM.
I love one-pot meals, not only because there's less dishes to do, but I love how the flavors build on each other.  
You guys are going to love this!  

Cook pasta according to directions, drain.  Reserve pasta water (for later)!
Heat some oil (1-2 Tablespoons) in a large skillet, season chicken with salt/pepper, then brown it thoroughly.  The secret to browning it well, is stirring as little as possible!  Don't disturb the chicken!!  Once it's brown and cooked through, remove from pan and set aside. 
Be sure to leave all the pan drippings in the pan, they provide lots of flavor.

Over medium heat, melt butter in the same pan, then add onions, mushrooms and garlic.  Saute for about a minute, making sure the garlic doesn't burn.

Add marsala wine and broth, stirring to deglaze the pan.
(You could always use another white wine if that's all you have on hand, but it would no longer be chicken marsala! You could also use all broth, if you insist, but that's really no fun.)

Bring this goodness to a steady bubble, and continue to simmer until liquid is reduced by about half.

Once your liquid is reduced, turn off the heat, add tomatoes, spinach, & goat a good sprinkle of salt/pepper.  Give it a good stir, until the spinach begins to wilt.
I think cherry tomatoes may be my favorite subject to photograph....

Then dump the drained pasta on top and toss together.
If it gets too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water until your reach your desired consistency.  The amount you use will depend on how much you reduced the liquids.  I had to add very little, maybe 1/4 cup, or less.

Serve with grated parmesan on top!  Savor a little bit of heaven in this dish.  And be sure to wash down with a hefty glass of vino rosso.  Cheers.

Chicken Marsala Skillet

1 pound whole grain penne pasta (1 box)
2-4 chicken breasts (depending on how much meat you prefer), cut into 1 inch chunks
1-2 TB oil
1-2 TB butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. sweet onion, finely chopped
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 cup marsala cooking wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 bag spinach
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup goat cheese
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan for grating

Cook pasta according to directions, drain.  Reserve pasta water.
Heat oil in a large skillet, season chicken with salt/pepper, then brown it thoroughly (stirring as little as possible).  Once it's brown and cooked through, remove chicken from pan and set aside.  
In the same pan, over medium heat, melt butter, then add onions, mushrooms and garlic.  Saute for about a minute, making sure the garlic doesn't burn.
Add marsala wine and broth, stirring to deglaze the pan. Bring to a steady bubble, and continue to simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
Once liquid is reduced, turn off heat, add tomatoes, spinach, & goat cheese. Season with salt/pepper.  Stir until spinach begins to wilt.
Add the drained pasta on top and toss together.
If it gets too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water until your reach your desired consistency.  Serve with grated parmesan on top.  Enjoy.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Kale Chips

I'm a serious snacker....and usually when I start, I can't stop.  Since I'm such a compulsive snacker, things like potato chips, cheese, etc. are a BAD idea.  Does anyone else have this problem?  
Well, guess what?  I've found a solution!  KALE CHIPS.  They are pretty much like a baked potato chip, but a kale chip, get it?  You can snack away, without the guilt.
Super easy, super quick, super healthy and surprisingly tasty.

Here's what you need:
1 bunch of kale, washed & torn into large chunks (2"x2"ish)
olive oil
sea salt
cayenne pepper (or another seasoning of your choice, I'm all about the spice!)

Preheat oven 375*. Place kale in large bowl....drizzle with oil....sprinkle with seasoning.  I use my hands to mix it all together...but you could also use a utensil, of course.

Dump the mixture out onto a baking sheet and spread out evenly.  Bake 15-25 minutes or until brown and crispy.  Cooking time may vary.  Just start checking around 15 minutes and continue to peak every few minutes until they look like little crisps!

Remove from oven and allow to cool.  They will get crispier upon cooling.  These are so good, you've got to give them a whirl....even if you don't like kale!

I apologize for the pictures.  This was a really hard thing to photograph and my creative juices weren't flowing very well!
Happy Snacking!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Easy Baked Mexi-Chicken

So last week, I was on a major Mexican Food kick.  I made Mexican food 4 out of 5 nights.  
Here's a few reasons why I like Mexican Food:
1. It's spicy.  I LOVE THE HEAT!
2. It's fresh....the way I cook it anyways. Full of vegetables, lime and cilantro.
3. I LOVE cumin.  It's become one of my favorite spices.
4. I LOVE cilantro.  It's such a versatile herb, with many uses.  Not too overpowering.
5. I LOVE beans.
6. I LOVE cheese.
7. It's fun to roll things up in a tortilla
8. Tacos are the coolest meal, you can make them a ba-zillion ways.
9. It's easy to make vegetarian.
10. It's plain easy to prepare.

Today's recipe combines many of my favorite things about Mexican foods.  I got the idea of this recipe from my dear friend, Leslie, back when I was in High School and I dated her sweet son.  It was originally a Weight Watchers recipe, but I spiced it up a bit.  It's so easy, you're going to love it!

The following recipe serves 2-3.  There's really no specific recipe, so play with it until you find personal perfection.

Here's what you need:
Chicken breasts
Refried Beans
Chili Powder
*Optional: Cilantro, Avocado, Lime, Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 350*
Line an 8x8 baking dish with aluminum foil (for easy clean up).  
Open a can of refried bean and spread the beans in your foil lined baking dish.
Place 2-3 chicken breasts on top of the beans.
Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne.  Feel free to leave out the cayenne if you aren't nuts about spicy food.

Bake at 350* for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through or has internal temp of 160*. 
Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes.

To serve, scoop up plenty of beans and plate, top with the chicken.  Top with salsa, avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.....or whatever floats your boat!
Serve with a pile of greens on top for a Mexican Salad
Serve with Spanish Brown Rice.

If you're feeling extra saucy, enjoy with an ice cold Corona.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sexy Beef Stew

To go along with my third installment of "Diary of a Naughty Dietitian," I'm going to post a stellar, delectable, scrumptious and sexy beef dish.  I call this dish sexy because it is rich and satisfying!  Haha!!

I started with some "stew meat" which is basically chunks of not-so-tender/ultra lean beef.  This comes from cuts like chuck, round, shank, which are from heavily exercised parts of the animal, therefore they are lean and tougher.  Now if you want a nice, tender steak....this is NOT the cut you want, but if you want to slow cook a piece of meat to perfection, this is the perfect cut!!  Here's a simple diagram of beef cuts to give you an idea of where the cuts come from.

Ok, on to the stew.  This is the most amazing stew I've ever made or tasted.  It's truly a treat.

I'm convinced that it's a combination of wine and tomato paste that make it so special.  Check it out.

Sexy Beef Stew

1 pound Stew Meat, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 small can tomato paste
1-14oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup broth (any you have on hand)
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash
1/2 tsp. cracked pepper

1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup frozen peas.
*Optional balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients except barley/peas in a large crockpot.  Cook on low for 7-9 hours.  During the last 1-2 hours of cooking, add the barley and peas; continue to cook until barley is tender.  Serve with a splash of balsamic vinegar for a little kick.  Enjoy with a heavy, dry red wine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Diary of a Naughty Dietitian III

I haven't posted anything in awhile and I thought I'd make a come-back with a diary entry.

I have been tracking my blog traffic more closely lately and I've noticed that my "diary" entries are some of my most popular posts!
This month, I am going to discuss one of the foods that I am most passionate and concerned with.

BEEF! Unlike many dietitians, I am pro-beef.....actually I'm pro grassfed beef.  I know this is controversial, but that's what makes me a Naughty Dietitian!  Read on.

OK, let's see if I can articulate my opinion.  
The beef industry is controlled by a small handful of huge corporations that control 80% of beef processing.  Just like any corporation, the main goal is MONEY.  
How do they make more money?  By processing as much beef as possible, as quickly as possibly.  Just like humans, cows fatten up fastest when they don't move around much and they eat a lot.  Fattening up the cows is done by putting cows in feedlots before they are "processed." (I'm going to use the term processed, instead of slaughtered to make myself feel better.)  Most cattle start their lives on a family farm, but are sent to a feedlot to gain weight faster, to be "processed" sooner. When cows are put in feedlots, they are in very close quarters, with no grass, lots of poo and are fed grain (primarily corn).  All of this cow-poo and filth equates to the release of methane gases into the environment, which are often blamed for ozone depleted and serious pollution.

Regardless of pollution, when you put a bunch of living creatures in close quarters, what usually happens?  They get sick.  In order to prevent this, cattle are given plenty of antibiotics and other drugs, in fact, the meat industry uses about 75% of the antibiotics in the U.S.!  But as we all know, medicine can't solve all problems and there is inevitable illness.  Although the USDA has strict food safety practices, beef can be contaminated, as history has shown.  The most commonly contaminated meat is ground meat, not only because it is more exposed, but it often contains meat from multiple animals.  Unless you have your meat ground at the butcher, it would be hard to guarantee that it was only from one animal and even harder to guarantee that all those animal were healthy.  In short, if you wanted to know where your pound of ground beef came from, it possibly came from Colorado, Texas, California, Arkansas, Washington, Oklahoma, Nebraska, etc.......all in one pack of meat.  But it's more economical for the beef industry to process these animals all together, in one huge plant.  It makes them more money. YIKES.

Food safety, however is not my main concern with the beef industry.  When cattle are fed grain (corn-based), they fatten up quickly, but it's not natural or normal for cows to eat corn.  Cows Eat Grass!  It is as simple as that!  Sure in their free range days, they may have ran across the occasional stock of corn, but it definitely wasn't a staple in their diet.  Now they are fed corn because it creates a product that makes the Beef Industry more money faster!  It also ruins the nutritional quality of the meat, promotes GMO crops, and is primarily fed in feedlots.

Let's compare the nutritional quality of grain fed vs grass fed beef.  Grass fed meat is:
  • Lower in fat, therefore, lower in calories (one study I read said by simply switching to grass-fed meat, the average American would lose 6 pounds in a year!)
  • Higher in Omega-3 fatty acids (heart healthy fats), 2-4x as much as grain fed.
  • It's higher in antioxidants, like vitamin E and A
Not only is grass-fed beef nutritionally superior, but it promotes a healthier environment for humans and cattle!  It's truly a win-win situation, unless you are the beef industry, of course.  Grass fed cattle are on pasture or free range, allowing them to move around and breathe the fresh air, these two things alone could help prevent illness, therefore use less medicine.  Secondly, since they are moving, they can poop where ever they want to, instead of piling it up in the close quarters of a feedlot.  When they poop all over God's green earth (instead of in one spot), it is naturally composted back into the soil and doesn't release a fraction of the gases produced in a feedlot.  

Ok, so far grass fed meat equals:
  • Better nutrition for us 
  • Less antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals for everyone
  • Less illness for cows
  • Less pollution for Mother Earth

Now why in the world aren't we switching over to grassfed meat?  Well it's because the beef market is controlled by a handful of very rich corporations that want to make more money.  They don't want anyone else processing beef, so they make it practically impossible for the small-town butcher to commercially and legally sell meat.  So if you can find it, it's usually very expensive.  Most cattle ranchers have one choice and that's to send their cattle to a feedlot.  In general, small, independent slaughterhouses are safer and more direct.  

Grassfed beef could also benefit:
  • The rancher
  • The small businesses
  • The consumer
  • The community, creating jobs

So what's the solution?  We need to take baby steps backward in time...back to a time when we either raised our own meat or bought it from our neighbors.  We need to:
  • Allow small businesses to process, resale and distribute homegrown, grass fed beef.   This would be an alternative for ranchers sending their cattle to feedlots ran by the beef industry. 
  • Allow ranchers to free-range their cattle on public land.  If you haven't been on a road-trip across America lately (I just drove from Savannah, GA --> Scottsdale, AZ), we have lots of land and grass that is just sitting there!  We may as well put it to good use!
  • Quit eating fast food, they are the #1 purchasers of cornfed, feedlot beef. They keep these the large, money-hungry beef corporations in business and in charge of your food supply.
  • Quit buying beef from the grocery store!  If at all possible, buy local/grassfed or at least have the grocery butcher grind your meat for you.
  • Buy meat local and support local farms.  The more you know about your food, the better. If you live in a city, consider buying in bulk from a farmer's market or local butcher shop.  If you live in the country, buy beef from local ranchers and process it at a local butcher.  You can even carefully shop online.
  • Put MORE MONEY in the pockets of farmers and small businesses, not large corporations.

I know this plan is full of flaws, but if everyone did something little, like buy local, it could make a huge difference!  I know there are many other view points on this subject, including becoming vegetarian, but that's just simply not an option for me! :)  I think beef, especially local, grassfed beef, can be a part of every healthy diet and has many powerful nutritional qualities, including zinc, vitamin B12, iron and other vitamins/minerals.  I believe in a diet full of variety and I personally LOVE beef, it's my favorite meat protein source.
Because of monopolizing corporations like the beef industry, there are nearly 5 million fewer farms in the U.S. than there was in the 1930's, with about 330 farmers leaving their land each week.  Family farms are one of the most important things we can support as a culture.  They keep green space in the community and produce healthy foods and other goods without the chemicals or filth of industrial farms.  Start with buying meat local and work up to buying other things like produce, milk, and other items.
It took us 100 years to create the mess we are in with our food system, but with determination maybe we can reverse it in half the time!  What do you think?