How to Make Low-Glycemic Beef Dishes

Beef has been a little taboo in the dieting and health world because of its higher fat content. Although many cuts of beef are high in fat as well as saturated fat, some cuts are relatively low in fat. The problem with these cuts is that they aren’t always the juiciest due to their lower fat content.

So although recommending these leaner cuts is easy from a health perspective, they may not be what you typically expect out of beef. Yet with a little creativity, you can prepare a lean beef dish that tastes fabulous.

Here are a few simple ways to enhance the flavor and tenderness of lean beef:

  • Marinades: Soaking meats adds flavor and softens meat tissues. Marinades consist of three parts: an acidic source (usually vinegar, citrus juice, or wine), oil (typically olive oil), and seasonings (take your pick of the many different herbs and spices out there).

  • Pounding: Pounding beef with a meat mallet breaks the meat’s fibers and connective tissues, making lean cuts tenderer.

  • Powders: Tenderizing powders contain enzymes that help break down fibers in the beef.

  • Rubs: Rubbing raw beef with a mix of dry herbs and spices and letting the rub permeate overnight can tenderize the meat while adding a spark of taste. Some common rub ingredients include ground black pepper, ground cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, celery seed, garlic powder, fresh minced garlic, salt, and brown sugar.

Most beef has a much higher fat content than poultry, but a few cuts work out to be pretty lean — in many cases even leaner than dark-meat chicken.

Looking at Fat in Beef Cuts Compared to Chicken
Meat (3-oz Portion) Total Fat (In Grams) Saturated Fat (In Grams)
Chicken breast 3.0 0.9
Chicken thigh 9.0 2.6
Eye round 4.2 1.5
Top round 4.2 1.4
Round tip 6.0 2.0
Top sirloin 6.1 2.4
Bottom round 6.3 2.1
Top loin 8.0 3.1
Tenderloin 8.5 3.2

The trick to enjoying beef the low-glycemic way is to make sure you eat only 3 ounces of meat and load the rest of your plate up with veggies. Doing so keeps your calorie level low.

Beef Fajitas

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Refrigeration time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings (2 fajitas per serving)

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 garlic clove, minced

1 pound boneless top sirloin, cut into 1-inch strips

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 corn or whole-wheat tortillas

Salsa, for serving

  1. Mix together the lime juice, coriander, chili powder, and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the meat as a marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  2. After the meat has marinated, add the sliced peppers and onion to it.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the meat and vegetables until the beef is cooked, about 5 minutes.

  4. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 10 seconds.

  5. Fill each tortilla with the fajita mixture and serve with salsa.

Per serving: Calories 297 (From Fat 61); Glycemic Load 13 (Medium); Fat 7g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 64mg; Sodium 137mg; Carbohydrate 34g (Dietary Fiber 5g); Protein 26g.

Beef fajitas are a good, lean substitute for the ol’ steak. They offer a great source of protein and can be loaded with colorful veggies. If you use a whole-wheat tortilla, they also make for a lower-glycemic meal.

Grilled Garlic-Lime Tenderloin

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Refrigeration time: 24 hours

Cooking time: 22 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

4 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons dried ginger

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1-1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, well-trimmed

  1. In a large container, mix all the ingredients, minus the beef, until well blended.

  2. Add the beef tenderloin to the mixture and coat both sides with the marinade.

  3. Refrigerate and marinate for 8 hours. Turn the tenderloin over once while it’s marinating.

  4. After it has marinated, let the tenderloin stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then remove it from the marinade, pat it dry, and grill it to desired doneness (about 22 minutes for medium rare).

  5. Remove the meat from the grill and let it stand for 5 minutes. Then cut the beef crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices and serve.

Per serving: Calories 174 (From Fat 89); Glycemic Load 0 (Low); Fat 10g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 57mg; Sodium 104mg; Carbohydrate 1g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 20g.

Tenderloin isn’t the leanest cut o’ beef out there, but it certainly isn’t the richest either. This beef dish pairs wonderfully with a large mixed greens salad or green beans.

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