Chorizo Ground Beef

Ground beef is one of my favorite proteins to use for meal prep as it is convenient and flavorful.  For some, beef may stand out as a high-fat protein, but it does not have to be.

If you look closely at the packaging, you will find some beef is ground to a 90/10 lean to fat ratio, and some even get as lean as 93/7.  You can also tell by the color, as ground beef with a higher fat content will typically be lighter. This is valuable information when it comes to controlling the amount of fat in your diet.  

Lean beef is also a great source of zinc, iron and vitamin B12.  Personally, I like to go for the 90% lean beef as I usually have trouble hitting my daily intake target for fat.

Beef also has a lot more flavor than chicken breast and because it has a little more fat, it readily takes on any spices you choose to cook it with.

I would still recommend rotating your proteins throughout the day and week.  For example, if you have ground beef tacos for lunch, you may want to eat chicken breast or tuna for dinner.  Maintaining a bit of variety will help with adherence to your diet. It will also help to keep saturated fat intake low.  

One of my favorite preparations for ground beef is with a chorizo spice blend.  This is a smokey, savory and slightly spicy flavor profile inspired by Spanish and Mexican cuisines.  You will also find it is very versatile, lending itself to simple preparations with rice or as the base for tacos.

Tacos, like beef, also get a bad rap.  As with most dishes, if you prepare them at home you get to control how they are made.  While restaurant tacos may be laden with fattier cuts of meat and mayonnaise-based sauces, utilizing fresh ingredients at home will yield an even healthier and better-tasting result.  You can even opt for corn tortillas if you are avoiding gluten! I personally like the flavor of corn tortillas better.

While recipes may vary with long lists of ingredients, it is easy enough for the home cook to achieve this flavor with just five or six simple ingredients.  A little garlic, onion, paprika, cumin and cayenne go a long way in this recipe. Your beef chorizo will come together in no time!

Start by sauteing some minced garlic in fat-free oil.  When the garlic begins to brown add diced onion and allow it to cook until it becomes translucent.  

At this stage, I would add a little red wine to deglaze the pan so all the flavor from the cooked garlic and onions is ready to be absorbed by the beef.  The calories added by the wine are negligible as most of the alcohol will be cooked off almost immediately.

Now you can add the beef to the pot straight from the package, stirring to break it up and mixing all of the ingredients together.  I will give rough estimates on how much of each spice to add in the recipe, but I would encourage you to use these only as guidelines, tasting as you go and adding more or less based on your preferences.  

With time, these simple recipes will give you the confidence to season your own dishes.  The more you practice, the better you will be at knowing just what is missing and exactly how much of it to add.

See the full recipe here!

Like our post? Please leave us a comment below!

Follow us on Instagram at @cmpreevents or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CMpreeEvents

Healthy Thai Beef Salad with Rice

One of my favorite Thai Beef Salad recipes

One look in my pantry and you will be able to tell what my favorite type of food is.  My cupboards are full of ingredients that seem foreign and random to most, but to someone familiar with cooking Thai or other southeast Asian cuisines they would be common and familiar.  

Working in a Thai restaurant really changed my outlook on food.  Both in terms of flavor and health. While at first, the cuisine was completely foreign to me, I soon came to respect the use of fresh, bold flavors and the care for balance in bringing out the perfect taste.  

In many dishes, this flavor is achieved without using added sugars, and as fish sauce is relied upon for savoriness, they are typically low in sodium as well.  Many familiar dishes use soy sauce, but this is actually a Chinese influence on Thai cuisine. 

In addition, many dishes come together fairly quickly, making them ideal for a quick meal or snack.  Once you have a few staple items in your pantry, it’s just a matter of knowing how much to add.

The type of dish I am making today is typically referred to as a Thai “salad” and comes together in minutes.  While “salad” might not be the most accurate translation, think of it as seasoned meat that lends a big punch of flavor when served alongside plain rice.

We start by grilling the steak (usually on the rare side, but you are free to cook it however you like).  While grilling, we combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir them together to allow the flavors to combine.  

A few notes on ingredients:  sticky rice powder is a common ingredient in these types of Thai salads.  If you will never use sticky rice for anything else, I would recommend just using plain white or jasmine rice.  Simply toast uncooked rice in a dry pan, tossing frequently, until browned and then give it a few pulses in a coffee grinder or food processor.  A quarter cup at a time will go a long way, and you can store it in an airtight container for a month or so.

The chili flakes are optional depending on your heat tolerance.  A touch of spice will really add to the flavor so I would recommend a pinch to start and then you can add more as you like.

Once the steak is finished cooking, let it rest for about 5 minutes (this allows the proteins to relax and allows the juices to redistribute within the meat), then thinly slice against the grain (perpendicular to the lines/striations you see in the meat, this will help prevent it from getting stuck in your teeth, if you were ever wondering) into bite sized strips.

Now just toss all of the ingredients together in the bowl and spoon over a bowl of rice.  Your taste buds will be grateful, it will taste so good it feels like you’re cheating on your diet!

See the full recipe here!

Like our post? Please leave us a comment below!

Follow us on Instagram at @cmpreevents or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CMpreeEvents

Our Favorite Fall Comfort Food

Since we are well on our way through the fall, and many places are already seeing an inch or two of snow, we are all craving foods that will comfort us and keep us warm

For a lot of people, the first thing to come to mind when thinking of comfort foods is not the most healthy.  Dishes with fattier cuts of meat such as brisket (think a Reuben sandwich) or pork shoulder (think pulled pork) and lots of butter (think mashed potatoes).  Not to mention pizza or mac and cheese, dishes we are tempted by year round. In moderation, these are all ok. Most of these dishes are connected to a memory of childhood or a favorite restaurant or holiday and a single bite can take you right back to that moment.

Soups are a great way to bridge the gap between unhealthy comfort foods and foods that may fit more easily into your personal diet goals. Be warned, however, soups can lie on either end of the spectrum. Clam or corn chowder and broccoli and cheddar soup can be deceiving as a lot of that delicious flavor comes from the use of lots of cream, butter and/or cheese.

This is another instance where homemade is always the way to go.  When you cook something yourself, you can add anything to it you want and cater it to your exact tastes.  This can seem intimidating at first but the payoff, in the long run, is well worth it. The more you cook a particular dish, the more it becomes your own as you are able to add your twist to it, making small changes each time.  Once you become confident cooking for yourself, you can start sharing your food with others. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than sharing food with someone and having them be as excited about it as I am.

Butternut squash is one of my favorites and its arrival just in time for winter could not be better.  This squash is naturally sweet and contains a lot of Vitamin A and potassium. All it takes to draw out the natural flavor is some time roasting in the oven.

By minimizing the use of butter or oil, we can cut down on a lot of the fat that can be found in pre-made or restaurant versions of this soup.  For this reason, I have also made milk or almond milk optional. If you like the added creaminess, you can add as much or as little as you want, or omit it entirely.  The hardest part about this recipe is peeling the squash itself. If you are confident with a knife you can go that route, as in the video below, or to be safe a vegetable peeler will work just fine.  Once peeled you will need to scrape out the seeds with a spoon and cut the remaining squash into roughly 1-inch cubes.

While you are cutting the squash, you can have the oven heating up to around 350ºF.  Once you have the squash cubed throw it in a bowl and spray it down with some nonfat cooking spray (feel free to use olive oil or coconut oil if you would like), just enough to coat the squash.  Toss it around with some salt and pepper and now it is ready for the oven.

To save time while the squash is roasting, you can get your onion and garlic diced up and ready to go.  The size of the cut isn’t incredibly important here, as everything is going to end up in a blender at the end anyway.  After about half an hour you can start cooking the onions, as the squash should only take 30-45 minutes. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot and allow the onions to cook down.  Once the onions are soft add the garlic, I wouldn’t recommend adding the garlic at the same time as the onions, as it will cook faster and burn, adding a bitter flavor.

When the squash is “fork tender” (meaning there is no resistance when pierced with a fork or knife), add it to the pot and stir it around with the onions to combine.  You can now add the stock or water. This will allow the squash to cook down a little more and make it easier to blend in the next step.

Now its time to break out the blender or food processor.  One note on which one you use: there is a trade-off. The food processor will break everything down a lot easier than a blender, but the blender will yield a smoother soup.  Depending on the quality of the blender, you may have to continuously shut it off and stir things around to make sure everything is blending consistently and use smaller batches.  I just set a mixing bowl or another pot on the side to separate the blended from the unblended.

Once blended, you can serve immediately if it is still hot, or allow it to cool down before putting it in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week on those especially cold nights.  I would recommend hiding it in the back where no one else can find it!

See the full recipe here!

Like our post? Please leave us a comment below!

Follow us on Instagram at @cmpreevents or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CMpreeEvents