Beef can be a healthy part of your diet…if you know how to do it right. First, beef - or any meat or fish - should never be the star of your meal. Many cultures treat meat as a condiment, there to provide protein and added flavor to a meal. Think of beef as a supporting player to your veggies, who are doing the nutritional heavy lifting and should fill most of your plate. Next, choose grass-fed beef whenever possible. Look for the “100% grass-fed” label, or at least “grass-fed,” (which may mean the cows are grass-fed for only part of the year – still better than conventional). Grass-fed beef is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to help you fight disease. Conventionally raised cows are grain-fed, which can contribute to inflammation. Beef in general is a good source of protein, vitamin B12, and minerals like zinc, selenium, and phosphorous. Excessive intake of red meat has been linked to certain cancers, although it’s not necessarily clear whether it’s due to carcinogens in meat, or a lack of protective vegetables and fiber in the diets of meat-eaters. In any case, it’s best to keep your serving of beef to 3-4 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. This Thai beef salad recipe is a great example of how to use meat as a healthy, supportive addition to your meal.
Thai Beef Salad with Chile Lime Dressing
Adapted from epicurious.com
1 pound grass-fed strip steak (about 1 inch thick), trimmed and at room temperature
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 large head of butter lettuce, also known as Boston or Bibb, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
Large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 red or green jalapeño, unseeded and minced, or more to taste
1 packed tablespoon light brown sugar
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Make the chile-lime dressing:
In a small bowl or 12-ounce jar, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeños, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Dip a piece of lettuce in the dressing and check the seasonings; The dressing should have a balance of hot, sweet, sour, and salty, which is typical of Thai foods. Keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Prepare the salad:
Preheat the broiler, with a rack positioned so that the meat will be 3 to 4 inches from the heat. Season the steak with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a broiler pan or cast iron skillet with avocado oil. Broil the meat for 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This can be done a day ahead. Slice the meat just before serving the salad.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, avocado, mint, and cilantro.
Cut the meat against the grain into thin slices and add to the bowl. (If the meat is still hot, wait a few minutes until it is warm or it will wilt the lettuce and herbs.) Drizzle the salad with just enough Chile-Lime Dressing to lightly coat, and gently toss together.
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