What’s for dinner?

When I’m pressed for time…it’s fermented tomato-ground beef, one of my favorite quick-fix meals. It’s an easy-to-make one-pot dish, wonderfully satisfying and nutrient-dense.

The star ingredient, of course, is grass-fed ground beef.

I buy mine from Whole Foods, which carries a locally raised, grass-fed ground beef from Simply Grazin’ organic farm in Skillman, NJ, an hour south of Manhattan. Even raw, the meat looks enticingly “juicy”. Intensely red with white marbled flecks, it’s typically 90% lean, 10% beef fat, always looks fresh, and, when cooked, has a decidedly “chewy” real beef flavor. Next time, check out the shrink-wrapped “graying” ground beef at the supermarket—it simply can’t compare to grass-fed beef in terms of taste, quality and safety (grain-fed cows also have a higher risk of being infected with e-coli).  No Whole Foods near you? You can order online  from U.S Wellness Meats, an excellent resource for grass-fed meats, including beef.

Yes, it’s pricier than conventional factory-farm ground beef, but the outstanding flavor and many health benefits of organic grass-fed ground beef are well worth the splurge—and a welcome treat on snowy days.
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Until last year, I seldom ate—or had much desire for—red meat.  Maybe once or twice every few months.  Now, I crave red meat, especially grass-fed beef, on a regular basis—sometimes 2-3x a week.

The body is inherently wise.  As detailed in my previous post, I am recovering from Stage 3 adrenal fatigue.  As it turns out, one of the most nourishing foods for the adrenals is grass-fed red meat (beef, lamb, elk, bison, venison), particularly beef.

Historically, red meat has gotten a bad rap.  There’s a distinct difference, however, between cows that graze on grass their entire lives, and cows raised in CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations; in other words, factory farm cows).  Because of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, CAFO cows receive regularly administered “preventative” doses of antibiotics as well as growth hormones; their conventionally grown feed, too, is rife with toxic pesticides as well as genetically modified soy or corn—all of which is passed onto the human consumer.  When cows graze on grass—by nature, they are grass eaters—grass-fed beef offers a host of health benefits.

Chronic exhaustion is one of the prominent symptoms of late-stage adrenal fatigue. Grass-fed beef is chock-full of energy-restoring nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids (usually associated with salmon), B vitamins, especially B6 and B12, and iron. In addition to containing beta-carotene, vitamin K , selenium, zinc and phosphorus, grass-fed beef is also an excellent source of quality protein, which the body requires when healing from adrenal fatigue.

Grass-fed cattle pass along the benefits of their grass-munching to us: 60% of fatty acids in grass are omega-3.  And omega 3-rich diets are rich in Vitamin E, heart friendly, brain friendly (research suggests less incidence of depression, ADD and Alzheimer’s), and linked to a reduced risk of cancer.  Grass-fed beef is also an excellent source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a “good” trans fatty acid, which, in animal studies, has demonstrated anti-cancer properties. It is also been linked to slowing cancer tumor growth.  CLA is virtually non-existent in factory farm-raised cows.
Bionaturae organic strained tomatoes

This is my version of the “Lacto-Fermented Sloppy Joe”, a beloved family meal recipe from health blogger Sarah Pope, a.k.a. The Healthy Home Economist, who artfully sneaks in digestion-enhancing, probiotic-rich fermented foods, like liquid whey and fish sauce, into her homemade “ketchup”.

My lazy girl approach, however, substitutes organic strained tomatoes for homemade ketchup. I use the Bionaturae brand because the quality of the tomatoes is excellent.  And, unlike other brands of canned tomatoes, Bionaturae is pure tomato, bottled in calcium chloride-free and BPA-free glass.  I also use more onions and garlic, two prebiotic foods (consisting of indigestible plant fibers) that help promote the growth of beneficial gut flora.

I add a judicious drizzle of fish sauce to the meat mixture. (I recommend Red Boat fish sauce. Wild black anchovies and sea salt are the only listed ingredients: it is free of MSG, preservatives and sugar).  Word of caution: fish sauce is extremely salty; add to-taste slowly.

Fermented Tomato-Ground Beef

1-1/2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 medium onions; apx. 3 cups finely chopped (by hand or in the food processor)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 to 1-1/2 cups organic strained tomatoes
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce, or to taste

Melt coconut oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  When a drop of water sizzles, the oil is hot enough.

Add finely chopped onions and sauté a minute or two. Reduce heat to low and cook about 6-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent (but not overly browned).  Stir in minced garlic, Celtic sea salt and pepper until well combined, about 1 minute.

Add ground beef, breaking up the meat and stirring frequently until most of meat is browned, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the strained tomatoes.  Depending on how thick you like the ground beef mixture, add in more or less pureed tomatoes.  Cook over medium-low heat, about 1-2 minutes, or until mixture begins to gently bubble.  Lower heat, cover and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat.

Drizzle in fish sauce, combining well with meat mixture.

Let “rest” for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to marry and deepen.

Ladle into bowls and serve with steamed broccoli with coconut oil.