Idaho Beef Month

hamburgers, hot dogs, and vegetable kabobs on an open BBQ grill
July is Idaho Beef Month!

This special designation recognizes the tremendous impact the Idaho Beef Industry has had on local communities and the economy of Idaho and is a legacy that has been carried forward by ranching families for generations. Idaho beef strengthens communities and contributes to strong bodies as well.

Did you know that beef is not only delicious, it is also a significant source of many important nutrients? Check out these fast facts to learn how beef contributes to a healthy diet.

  • A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 10 essential nutrients in about 170 calories, including high quality protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. No other protein source offers the same nutrient mix.
    • According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, beef contributes approximately 5 percent of total calories to Americans’ diets while contributing more than 5 percent of these essential nutrients: potassium (6.1%), phosphorus (7.3%), iron (8%), vitamin B6 (9.2%), niacin (9.9%), protein (15.2%), zinc (23.1%), and vitamin B12 (25%).
  • Beef is a protein powerhouse.
    • A 3-ounce serving of beef delivers 25 grams of high-quality protein, which is essential for building and maintaining strength, for both your mind and body.
    • You would need to eat 3 cups, or 666 calories, of quinoa, per RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed), which is 140g, to get the same amount of protein (25 grams) as in 3 oz. of cooked beef, which is about 170 calories.
  • The nutrients in beef promote health throughout life.
    • Protein, iron, zinc and B-vitamins in beef help ensure young children start life strong, building healthy bodies and brains.
    • Protein is especially important as we age. After 50 years of age, adults are at risk for losing muscle mass, leading to falls and frailty that affect their ability to age independently.
  • Many cuts of beef qualify as lean.
    • Nearly 40 cuts of beef – including some of the most popular cuts such as sirloin – are lean as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), meaning they contain less than 10 grams total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams (3½ oz), cooked, and per RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed), which is 85 grams (3 oz).
    • Recent research has shown that lean beef, as part of a heart-healthy diet, can support cardiovascular health. 
  • Beef’s high-quality protein, iron, and zinc strengthen a healthy diet and are a nutrient-rich complement to the nutrients found in produce like vegetables and fruits. An approachable way to build a healthy plate that includes beef is to first anchor your plate with protein, fill at least half of the plate with colorful vegetables and fruits and incorporate fiber-rich carbohydrates.
Healthy Beef Recipes

Throughout the month of July, celebrate Idaho’s beef industry and let your taste buds be your guide to a variety of delicious beef creations. Visit IDBeef.org for recipes and tips to make Idaho Beef Month a fabulous and flavorful celebration!

Tips for Delicious Grilled Steaks

So, what better way to celebrate Idaho Beef Month than to fire up the grill and create some summertime magic in your own back yard? Launch your BBQ adventure with a few pointers from the pros at Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. that will help you create grilled steaks that are juicy and delicious.

Select Your Cut. Beef is versatile! You won’t go wrong with all-time favorites such as T-bone, Tenderloin and Top Sirloin. Why not try taking your grilling game up a notch with a cut you might not be as familiar with, like a juicy Flat Iron or a lean, flavorful Flank Steak.

Elevate those flavors. Marinades and rubs are a great way to take beef to the next level with minimal effort. Tender beef cuts can be marinated for as little as 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. For less tender cuts, marinating for at least six hours, but not more than 24 hours, will do the trick.

For inspiration and recipes, peruse the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Flavor Boosting Rubs & Marinades collection.

Fire it Up. Make sure your grill is clean (to prevent flare-ups) and the rack is well-oiled (to prevent sticking). Medium and steady wins the race. When it comes to cooking beef, there is no need to rush the process by using any higher heat than medium. Cooking at a medium heat allows beef to achieve caramelization while still developing rich flavors and avoiding charring.

Grill to perfection. Use an ovenproof or instant-read thermometer to monitor doneness, and let it go – don’t flip the steaks too much. One flip usually does the trick; however, you should take care to avoid charring or burning and be ready to turn down the heat (or move to a cooler spot on the grill) if necessary. Keep in mind the internal temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after coming off the grill.

Rest & Relax. It’s hard to wait but resting the meat before serving prevents all those tasty juices from draining onto your plate. For most cuts, about five minutes will do then it’s time to sit back and enjoy!

Slicing your steak? If you’re slicing the steak before serving, be sure to cut across the grain. For a drool-worthy finish to your steaks, consider topping them off with compound butter or serving with a sauce.


Idaho Beef Council Logo

For more information on Idaho’s beef industry, visit IDBeef.org


Eat Local. Eat Healthy. Eat Beans.

By: Chef Brenda Wattles, RDN and The Idaho Bean Commission

According to the Idaho Bean Commission, the number one reason to eat Idaho’s beans is due to our rich volcanic soil and clean mountain water that produces the “highest quality, disease-free bean seed in the world.”  If that isn’t reason enough, Registered Dietitian and Chef Brenda Wattles adds five more reasons to eat our local, healthy food.

Beans are Versatile
There are ten varieties of beans grown in Idaho. All of which have their own flavor profile and texture that offer numerous ways to prepare them. Beans can be served as a main course or a side dish. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, beans can be considered as a main protein entree or a side vegetable. That is versatility at its best!

Beans are Easy to Prepare
Whether you are cooking them dried or straight from the can, they are easy! Dried takes a little longer, but the process is simple (*see instructions below). Once they are cooked and ready to go, add them to soups, hummus, salads, or even smoothies! Visit the Idaho Bean Commission’s website for recipes ideas.

Beans are Inexpensive
If you are looking to save money on your grocery bill, beans are a great cost-conscious alternative! Adding them to your menu as a main dish protein can cut your budget tremendously. Chef Brenda recommends making homemade black bean burgers, hearty vegetarian chili, or topping entrée size salads with beans as your main protein source.

Beans are a Protein and a Fiber-Rich Superfood
Most Americans are getting enough protein. However, they are often deficient by about 10 grams of fiber a day. By adding one cup of cooked beans to their diet, they will be adding about 12-16 grams of fiber a day. Additionally, beans are high in antioxidants.  They are also low in calories and saturated fat.

Beans are Excellent for Weight Loss
One cup of canned black beans is only 218 calories! Not only are they low in calories, they provide lots of bulk during digestion. So, they will keep you full longer! Adding beans to your diet is one of the best ways to get a variety of nutrients for such a small number of calories.

*How to Prepare Dried Beans
Rinse and drain one pound of dry beans. Discard damaged beans and any foreign material. Place in sauce pan and cover with 6 cups water. Either soak overnight or boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and soak for one to four hours. Discard soaking water. Replace with clean water and cook beans at a low boil for one to two hours, until beans are tender.

Healthy Eating While Vacationing

By: Jackie Amende, MS, RDN, LD, University of Idaho FCS Extension Educator

If you are road tripping or traveling abroad to a new and exciting place, you can still enjoy all the fun foods that come with traveling without compromising your healthful eating plan. Here are some tips for your upcoming summer vacation:

  • Focus on portion sizes. You don’t have to avoid those new and exciting foods that come with traveling. Share large food portions with your travel partner or go with the small size for just yourself.
  • Keep your regular meal times on vacation. It can be easy to graze on food all day while on vacation but try to stick with your usual eating pattern.
  • Watch what you’re drinking. Focus on water or other unsweetened beverages. Skip the sweetened and various adult beverages which are often loaded with unnecessary calories.
  • Pack non-perishable foods with you. Dried fruit, nuts, and pretzels make for relatively healthy snacks that are nutrient-rich. These non-perishable foods are perfect for a quick snack to satisfy you until your next scheduled meal time.
  • If you are road tripping, pack a cooler with fresh pre-cut vegetables and fruits. Try slicing some bell peppers and cutting up some celery sticks. In addition, keep whole fruit or sliced fruit ready to go.
  • Be physically active! Get outside and walk to enjoy the sites where you are vacationing. If you are on a road trip, schedule frequent stops where you can get out, stretch your legs, and take a short walk.

With these healthful eating tips, food safety is still a priority, especially if you’re road tripping. Bringing perishable foods with you like meats and cheeses may cause some unwanted foodborne illnesses if these items are not stored properly. Don’t store perishable foods unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours. If stored in a cooler, make sure coolers are 40 degrees or cooler. In addition, don’t leave your cooler directly in the sun or in the trunk of your car on road trips. Putting the cooler in the backseat of the car will generally be cooler than the trunk. Finally, keep hand sanitizer or moist towelettes with you if you don’t have access to a restroom to wash your hands before and after eating. Now, enjoy your trip!

Want to learn more about healthy eating and/or food safety? University of Idaho Extension teaches many classes and programs in the area, like Eating Healthy on a Budget, Nutrition for Healthy Aging, Diabetes Prevention Program, Dining with Diabetes, and more. Check out the Canyon County UI Extension website at https://www.uidaho.edu/extension/county/canyon/family-consumer or call 208-459-6003 for more information.

Summer Food Safety

These three simple tips for summer food safety apply all year round! However they are especially important to keep in mind during the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish.

Use a Thermometer: A thermometer is the number one way to ensure that foods are cooked to the correct temperature to destroy germs that can cause food poisoning. The color of a food, like the inside of a hamburger, is not a reliable way to check that it has been cooked to the proper temperature.

  • Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time
    • Ground meats: 160 °F
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F

Keep ‘em Separated: …raw foods and cooked foods, that is! To prevent cross-contamination keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods in your refrigerator.  It is a best practice to keep raw foods on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices do not drip on any ready-to-eat food or produce. Never reuse items that have come in contact with raw meat or poultry for cooked food.  Always use clean plates and utensils when serving foods once they’re cooked.

Avoid the Danger Zone: Most bacteria grow rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. This temperature range is known as the “Danger Zone.” If left in the Danger Zone bacteria in food can reach dangerous levels. That is why it is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Never let perishable foods sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.

More information and resources about summer food safety can be found at foodsafety.gov.

Is the kitchen talking?

What is your office kitchen saying about your work group?  Maybe nothing…or maybe your office needs a big infusion of care into your staff and the kitchen! Here are some frightening infractions…
  • Refrigerator science experiments
  • Outdated condiments
  • Smelly dishcloths and dirty towels
  • Dirty cutting boards
  • Lack of hand and dish soap
  • Smelly/dirty sponges and scrubbies
  • Handprints on cupboards
  • Mold in the water spigot
  • Grime in the coffee pot
  • Dirty faucet handles
  • Dirty door handles on fridges and microwaves
  • Exploded food on microwave walls
  • Moldy/dirty drain catchers/plugs
Some suggestions…
  • Put someone in charge of kitchen cleanup
  • Create a roster of revolving care takers
  • Confiscate the offensive “stuff” and throw it
  • Get a dishwasher
  • Call in a professional cleaner
  • More ideas…
Ask yourself…could your kitchen (at home or at work) pass inspection? Makes you think twice about getting that next cup of coffee from the office kitchen! It’s flu season; we don’t need kitchen germs. Keep it clean; soap up! Know the germiest places in your life. Share your ideas on how to keep the office kitchen germ free!

Use your “app-ti-tude”

Dedication, desire, motivation, reward – things you need to make any fitness app work. I know that. But part of me is waiting for an app that “knows” what I have eaten, records it for me, flashes an update on my eye glasses every hour, and physically alerts me with a nudge or a pinch when I stray outside the plan. Probably not gonna happen. In the meantime…here are some fitness apps to try in 2014 (my current fave is Lose It!). Do you have a favorite fitness app that works for you?

Sleep Deprived = Overweight?

Feeling tired, exhausted, and beat before you walk out the bedroom door in the morning? You might be sleep deprived. Take the Sleep Quiz to see what you know; I failed miserably! What I find interesting is the connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain. Research shows that sleep deprived people select greater portion sizes which can affect the potential to become overweight in the long run. The bottom line – if you suffer from a lack of sleep keep away from the buffet! Another study shows that people who eat a varied diet have healthier sleep duration. This fall is a great time to clean up your sleep habits and lose a few pounds. Conquer the Conk Out – make a dedicated effort to clean up your sleep. Pay attention to what and when you are eating; there are Foods that Help or Harm Your Sleep. See additional resources on How’s Your Sleep? Have you noticed a change in your eating habits when you are sleep deprived?

Good Eaten’!

Did you catch the buzz? There was a big state dinner at the White House on Tuesday…and it was planned and prepared by kids! Sometimes kids have the best ideas and when it comes to food, you know it has to be tasty or it’s all over. You can read about the healthy lunchtime challenge online. Check out the entry from Idaho’s winner, Mac Wirth of Boise. His Veggie Barley Salad with Orange Honey Vinaigrette looks yummy! Browse through the 53 other winning recipes from students across the U.S., ages 8 to 12. To name a few… Nummy No Noodle Lasagne, Sweet Potato Turkey Sliders, Sneaky Chili Surprise, Picky Eater Pita Pizza Pockets, Confetti Peanut Ginger Party Pasta, Super Rescue Soup…and more!

Simple Choices

Good health is a journey. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the destination and give up on the journey. The reality is, simple choices make a difference. Changing a single health habit can result in huge wellness payoffs for you. Think about it. Choose any one of the items below and change just that habit this coming year. You will be light years ahead with your health.
  • Go to bed! Get ½ hour to an hour more sleep than you are currently getting
  • Floss your teeth – daily
  • Brush your teeth – twice daily, not once but twice
  • Move it, move it, move it throughout the day. Stand more, walk more, fidget more. Don’t save it for the gym.
  • Wear your seat belt, always.
  • Make an appointment for that one preventive health check you have been avoiding
  • Give up the tobacco
  • Do something every day that brings you pleasure…read, laugh, sing, nap, meditate, relax
  • Buy a good pair of walking shoes and use them
  • Know your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose numbers; write them down
  • We are what we eat. Cut back on one of your less healthy food addictions…sweets, fats, breads…
  • Sugary drinks are just plain bad. Stop it.
At the end of every day think of the simple, good health choices you made and pat yourself on the back, say it out loud…or journal it. It’s a known fact that we get more of what we concentrate our thoughts on. If you focus on the positive choices you made, you will get more positive behaviors. If your focus remains on your negative choices, you may just stay stuck! What simple health choices are you planning for 2013?

“App” this!

Apps are everywhere. There’s an app for anything and everything from aging bodies to talking tom cats. Here’s a few health-related apps to help you make good health choices. Check them out… What’s your favorite health app?

Clean Eating – what’s it all about?

A co-worker came in last week all excited about ‘clean eating’ and asked if I was into it. I said ‘of course’ I always wash my food and clean up my dishes. She grimaced at me. So, I did some homework and here’s what I found. Clean eating is kind of about going back to the basics with food. Clean eating asks you to reduce the processed foods you take in and prepare and eat them in as natural or as whole a state as possible…eat that potato as a potato, not as a French fry with sauce. It takes me back to growing up with a big garden and cooking our own food vs. eating out of a box, restaurant, or microwave. Clean eating is common sense. That being said, I decided this weekend to track things I eat that are more processed than whole. I was amazed! My Dorito chips were virtually unrecognizable as corn, the broccoli was screaming to get out from under the mushroom soup and crunchy fried onion rings, I couldn’t find anything whole or natural about the hot dog, and I guess the peach cobbler was just wrong from every perspective. My point? Stop and think about what you eat. When you can, eat foods that are in their whole or natural state. Skip the sauces, sugars, creams, salts, crunchies, and all the add ons we use to spice things up. Your body will appreciate you! Check this month’s Featured Recipe on Health Matters…it’s pretty ‘clean’. Do you have a favorite recipe you can share that leaves most of the ingredients whole or natural?

About those leftovers…

It was a warm sunny day with highs in the 80’s. Perfect day. The BBQ was great; now it’s over…everyone has left. You’re faced with the leftovers. The green bean salad and chicken have been out on the table for three hours. Do you throw them away, refrigerate them in shallow pans immediately, or just throw some saran wrap on them, shove in the fridge, and quit worrying? Check the guidelines! How about those hamburgers? Can cooked ground beef still be pink inside? Read the answer. Do you wonder about that pink meat on your piece of chicken? Is it safe to eat? I know we’ve all cheated a bit in the area of leftovers and food safety. I think about that every time I attend a potluck… you can drive yourself crazy wondering how safe the food is! For more information on food safety visit the USDA’s Food Safe Families. What tips do you have to make food safety easy during the summer months?