even more reasons to eat BEEF

I went on a farm tour!  Each summer, the New York Beef Council sponsors a few farm tours in various areas of the state for those of us in the dietetics profession.  I attended the tour on Saturday, April 29 at Librock Farm in Gasport.  They have about 20 head of cattle on the farm right now.


Did you know 99% of beef farms in New York State are family-owned?  We exceed the average here by 2%.  There are about 13,500 beef and dairy farms in New York, and members of the beef council try to visit a bunch each year.  According to one of the farmers, it takes about .5-1 acre per head of cattle here, while out west (where most of the cattle farming is), it can take upwards of 50 acres per cow, depending on the size of the animal, average rainfall and type of grass.


We each wore tall plastic ‘boots’ over our shoes for ‘bio security,’ which refers to protective measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases or foreign species to crops and livestock.  It’s likely more important for those going from farm to farm, and less-so for us ‘city gals’ not often found on farms.  However, BONUS! No dirty feet!

During the morning, we learned about the lifecycle of a beef cow.  On average, cattle are raised on pasture for most of their lives, then grain-finished for the last two months before slaughter.  Cattle are ready for processing around 16-18 months old. Approximately 75% of a cow’s diet is grass during its life.


This cow, above, weighs about 1275 lbs and will be a youngster’s 4H project this year.  The man in green, another local farmer and educator at Cornell University, discussed the use of antibiotics with us.  He stressed that they are used incredibly sparingly and only for two main infections, one of which is pink eye and the other is similar to a common cold, and that often less than 1% of a herd has received the antibiotic.  Additionally, there are ‘withdrawal’ periods unique to each drug that dictate when it’s safe to slaughter the cow.


A cow on the Librock farm will eat about 20 lbs of grain (a mix of corn and wheat) per day for its last 60 days.  Also, you know those giant white ‘marshmallows’ you see all over farms?  It’s fermenting hay, called ‘silage’ and has increased protein and tastes like candy to cows.

After out tour, a visit to the pasture to see mommas and their babies and our antibiotic discussion, we moved inside for more info and lunch.  We started with a blind taste-test between two pieces of beef: one 100% grass fed and the other grain-finished.  While preference certainly is a personal decision, the grain-finished won for it’s increased flavor, tenderness, juiciness and visible marbling.  I know from personal experience that 100% grass-fed meat tends to be harder to cook, as it has less fat.


After our tastings, we ate beef on weck with beef from the Librock farm.  You know you’re in a group of dietitians when all the plates are piled high with green salad, the macaroni salad and cookies go untouched and everyone is drinking bottled water!

We started with a presentation on the nutritional benefits of beef, given by the lead RD for the beef council, Cindy Chan Phillips. While I’ve always been a big proponent of eating red meat (a good source of protein and many essential vitamins and minerals!) as part of a healthy diet, even I was surprised by some of the figures!

Check out these stats:

  1.  There are multiple cuts of beef (3 oz servings) that have LESS saturated fat than a serving of olive oil (1 T = 2 grams sat fat).  They include: Top Sirloin (1.8 g), Top Round (1.3 g) and Bottom Round (1.9 g).
  2. A 3 ounce serving of beef provides 25 grams of protein in only 154 calories.  To get the same amount of protein, you’d need to eat 3 cups of quinoa (666 cals), 6 T of peanut butter (564 cals), 1 3/4 cups black beans (382 cals) or 1 1/2 cups edamame (284 cals).  Research shows that we should be eating 25-30 grams of protein per meal, which is more than was commonly accepted (15-20 grams).
  3. For equal size and leanness, beef has a better nutritional profile than turkey.  Beef provides 162 cals, 7.5 g total fat, less cholesterol and more protein, iron, zinc and Vitamin B12.


Lastly, we discussed GMO (genetically modified organisms) with a graduate student in the field at Cornell, and some common misconceptions about the beef industry.  I think the biggest thing I learned was that ‘buying local’ can include buying from the supermarket.  Each farmer decides how they want to sell their meat, and often chooses to diversify their avenues, selling some at a local farmer’s market, some at auction and some to a local distributor, who will then sell to your local Wegmans or Tops.  You could be buying beef from down the street at a large chain store!  Additionally, the farmers impressed upon us how skewed and biased cattle farming is often presented in the media.  They really wanted us to know that all farmers truly love what they’re doing (both the Librocks have other jobs, too!!) and care for their animals.

I left the farm tour knowing a whole lot more about cattle farming, having even more reasons to encourage others to eat lean, red meat, and able to feel good about buying meet at my local grocery store…although I don’t remember the last time I did–we’re still eating the beef from the cow we split with friends last year!

Speaking of buying a cow…  Many farmers offer consumers the chance to buy all or a portion of an animal for a very reasonable rate (I think we paid something like $4/lb).  It’s a cost-effective option for those who eat beef and have enough room in a freezer to store the meat.  I love the convenience of simply running down to the basement to grab a pound of ground beef or a roast!

Click here for an easy recipe finder for beef, and for more information about the nutritional profile of beef, including beef and heart health, click here.



winner winner chicken dinner!

Remember when I entered that recipe contest a couple weeks ago and asked for you to vote for me??

Well, I won!  I didn’t win the whole thing, but I did come in second place in the judges category, and received a sweet little gift box in the mail!


How neat is that?!

I’m excited to make my own recipe again, and there are a couple other recipes that sounded interesting, like Ground Beef and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash and the Spicy Beef Burrito Bowl.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me on the http://www.nutritioulicious.com/ website!  I enjoyed tweaking the recipe and hope to do more of this in the future.  Also, thank you to the New York Beef Council for facilitating and judging the contest.  I’m looking forward to going on a farm tour this coming summer (I was supposed to this past summer but had to have minor surgery and wasn’t able to walk around that day).

Perhaps my steak and eggs will be on the menu next week!

Disclaimer: By posting this recipe I was entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and New York Beef Council, and was eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Recipe Contest: Spanish-Style Steak & Eggs

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and New York Beef Council, and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

After reading about an upcoming recipe contest in a monthly New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (NYSAND) email newsletter, I decided to start brainstorming what I might want to submit.  The contest is open to dietitians, diet techs, dietetic student interns and members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Northeast. The parameters were such that the recipe had to include a 4-oz lean cut of beef and 2 servings of fruit or vegetables, either in the dish or on the side. Starting Nov 14, you can vote for my recipe at http://www.nutritioulicious.com/. Voting ends Nov. 20.

Red meat still seems to get a bad wrap in the health arena, and it’s truly unfortunate and not true!  Beef is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin B12 and zinc.  The majority of beef cuts are lean, and a 3-ounce serving provides 25 grams of protein.  As a dietitian, I recommend 20-30 grams protein per meal to help maintain a healthy weight and promote satiety.

I wanted to come up with something truly unique, and reached out to the hubby for help.  He immediately suggested I include a spicy pepper sauce we had on a trip to Spain a few years ago.  I ran with it, incorporating another food item we found all over the place in Spain: the tortilla, which is like an omelet with potatoes.  It’s topped with an incredibly flavorful pepper sauce, called ‘Mojo Picon,’ that goes well with just about anything.  We’ve eaten the tortilla for breakfast and dinner, and liked it equally well.


Spanish-Style Steak and Eggs

Serves 4


Mojo Picon Sauce: 

  • 4 jarred roasted red peppers
  • 1 slice stale bread
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Spanish sherry vinegar

Put all sauce ingredients into a blender or food processor, pulse until smooth. Makes approximately 2 cups; store in the refrigerator in an air-tight glass jar for up to 10 days.


  • 1 lb flank steak, cooked and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 russet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces and roasted or steamed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 4  handfuls spinach leaves
  • 8 eggs, beaten with a whisk

Pre-heat oven broiler.  Heat a large non-stick skillet or cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped peppers and onions, sauté until soft.  Add cut-up potatoes and spinach,sauté until greens are wilted.  Add cooked meat to skillet, and cook just until heated through. Turn heat to medium-low and pour eggs into skillet but do not stir.  Cook until edges begin to solidify; when the middle of the omelet is still runny, place skillet under broiler for 3-5 minutes.  Slide omelet out of pan and onto a plate, cut into four wedges and top with Mojo Picon Sauce.


Check out the other contest entries here!