Beef. It is loaded with valuable nutrients, too

Published 8:28 am Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Maddy Ruble, Guest Column

Maddy Ruble

What has zinc, iron and protein plus B12 and B6?

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It’s packed with essential nutrients for repairing body tissues, improving cognitive performance, promoting healthy skin, forming blood cells and maintaining brain, body cell and nervous system functions. Zinc is one of the hardest nutrients to obtain without a meat in a diet, and it supports the immune system. With the busyness of summer, a healthy dose of zinc-packed beef would be a great choice.

There are 29 ways to love lean beef. With fat content more than a skinless chicken breast and less than a skinless chicken thigh, the U.S. Department of Agriculture now has 29 options for beef. They range from topsirloin steak to 95 percent lean beef and T-bone steak to tenderloin roast. With so many options, cooking creative suppers for almost the entire month are covered.

When the Hebrew National commercial came on with the slogan, “No ifs, ands or butts,” my brother’s immediate response was, “The back-end cuts are the best! If they don’t want them, that means more for me, I guess.”

Sure, cuts from the brisket and chuck are good, but the loin and round are where it’s at. T-bone steaks come from the loin. Now, Hebrew National can keep its “No Butts” because I will gladly pass up a hot dog for a T-bone any day. Other cuts from the loin and round are top-round steak (which marinated and grilled is excellent) and the tenderloin steak. Delicious recipes can be found at

My pyramid recommends five to seven ounces per day from the meat and beans group. A generally appropriate portion size for a meal is two to three ounces. How much is three ounces? Without a scale it can be tough, so visualize it. For example, a three-ounce portion of steak or hamburger is about the size of a deck of cards or a hockey puck.

That three-ounce portion of beef will supply less than 10 percent of the calories in a 2,000 calorie diet; but at the same time, will contribute more than 10 percent of the daily values for protein, zinc and vitamin B12, vitamin B6, iron and niacin.

Safe handling procedures are always necessary. Keep refrigerated or frozen, thaw in the fridge or microwave, wash separate from other foods to avoid cross contamination and cook all meat thoroughly to 160 degrees. If medium rare is desired for steaks or roasts, 145 degrees and well browned on the surface will cook the bacteria off, but hamburgers or meatballs should be completely cooked through to avoid bacterial poisoning.

Beef is a healthy choice and a great addition to all diets. I’m proud to support local beef producers and would strongly encourage others to do so as well.

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.

Maddy Ruble of Albert Lea is the 2009 Minnesota Shorthorn Lassie queen and a Minnesota Beef Council spokeswoman.