Meat: undeniably nutritious, encouragingly delicious, wildly varied. Meat. My success maintaining significant (150+ lbs) weight loss over a decade is due, in part, to my proclivity for meat. Since I’m healthy and thrilled with my body as-is, meat sometimes comprises a smaller portion of my daily food intake than the portion I recommend to folks who want to drop excess stores of fat. But whenever I feel my addictive tendencies around food rearing their ugly heads, whether or not I’ve gained an ounce, I switch back into the meat-based nutrition plan. It’s there I find respite from my cravings and renewed energy.
If you don’t already each much meat, eating a lot of it may sound like a tall order. I hope the following suggestions inspire you to explore, re-invent and reinvigorate your relationship to meat.
As a rule, fish is a nutritional powerhouse. Read up to learn which varieties are best and which should be eaten occasionally. Similarly, free-range and/or grass-fed meats tend to be more nutritious and often more delicious choices, though considerably more expensive than their enclosed, grain-fed counterparts.
If you’re considering shelling out beaucoup bucks to buy organic meat (or milk) because you’re worried about contracting a superbug or ingesting trace antibiotics – don’t – especially if money is tight. If you handle your meat properly, cook it well, and are generally hygienic and conscious, you’re in no more danger of contracting MRSA or salmonella from your meat than you are of sprouting a tail. Regardless of the hype, FDA regulations are so strict that all mass-produced meat (and milk) is free of any trace of antibiotics by the time they reach the store. Go ahead and buy the hell out of that 2-for-1 pork at the supermarket, it’s OK.
If you can afford it, buying meat locally from an established farmer is a good choice, too. Local, organic meat isn’t necessarily better or healthier than mass-produced, warehouse meat from the midwest – there are pros and cons for each – but supporting small, local businesses is a great way to let the love you’re showing yourself by adopting this plan expand out to benefit your community.
On the flip side, if you only buy the cheapest meat you can find, you’ll be eating pepperoni and bologna every day. That kind of stuff will work in a pinch, but this plan is about eating to improve health and overall wellness. We don’t want to eat overly processed crap, even if it’s meatlicious overly processed crap. Speaking of meatlicious…
There are some simple ways to pep up meat on the cheap, and you don’t have to be Martha Stewart to rock them. Boneless pork and chicken can be marinated in endless pre-made seasonings from a shaker, tossed with a little olive oil, refrigerated overnight in a Tupperware and slapped on a screaming hot pan for a few minutes on each side (depending on the thickness, turn down the heat to medium to let it cook through). The same method can be used with teriyaki or soy sauce, vinegar, fresh or powdered garlic, ginger, and any dried or fresh herbs. Get creative. All you need are Ziploc bags or lidded plastic containers and some boneless white meat. Put the meat in a container, pour on a tablespoon or two of healthy oil, toss on a liberal amount of seasoning, close it up, give it a shake, refrigerate. Cook. Eat. Rejoice.
If you’re a master chef or if you fancy that you could be one, there’s this amazing thing called the Internet that has at least 100,000 recipes for every imaginable cut of meat prepared in every imaginable way . If you buy it, the internet can tell you how to cook it, often with video assistance. So go ahead, grow a set and buy the ground turkey. You won’t be disappointed.
If all you ever eat is tuna out of a can, odds are you’re going to burn out on this whole protein thing pretty quickly. Switch it up. One way to do this on a budget it to buy whatever meat is on sale at the supermarket. Be aware – it’s often on sale because it’s nearing the end of its shelf life, so once you’ve bought a pot roast or $1/lb boneless chicken breasts, plan to cook it post-haste. I’ve discovered, under the pressure of “Well, I own it, so I need to figure out how to cook it,” that preparing things like pork tenderloin can be surprisingly simple. A 5-pound roast chicken provides enough meat for several meals and can be cheaper than a dime-store hooker. Ground beef, leg of lamb, even good bacon and sausages have a regular place on our plates and are often sold at a discount. I also turn to sliced, low-sodium deli meats for emergency snackuations.
Don’t forget the eggs!
When we consider nutrition, versatility, simplicity and cost, eggs always come out on top. Any meal, any day of the week, eggs can fit the bill. I limit myself to one or two whole eggs a day, but have, on hungry days, eaten a dozen egg whites or more without batting an eye. Fried, scrambled, with endless veggie add-ins, hard-boiled, hard-baked…the yum goes on and on.
Securing and preparing fresh, nutritious food for yourself is one major, if insanely basic, way to take care of and nurture yourself. Self love, thy name is Meat.
What are your go-to meaty recipes or websites? What are your staples?