Last Night’s Dinner – Simple Weeknight Fare

Sometimes during the holiday season when your mind is on other things you just need a nice quick meal. Something quick, easy to put together and nutritionally balanced. Something like burgers and fries. At our house that usually means patties made from organic, grassfed beef from our local farms, and oven roasted potatoes that we grew in our garden, served with organic ketchup and homemade pickles.

Since I am always writing about local, grassfed beef, I get a lot of emails, comments and questions from my readers asking me what they should do, if they don’t have a local farm nearby to buy meat? I always point them to Localharvest.org but sometimes even that doesn’t provide an easy answer. Previously I would tell them to look for buffalo meat instead, but it looks like some buffalo farms have gone the way of CAFO. So I have been really stumped.

(Photo courtesy of Laura’s Lean Beef)

Several months ago I was contacted by Laura’s Lean Beef about doing a product tasting. In all my dealings with meat companies, I asked a lot of questions. It was clear from the get go that Laura’s Lean Beef doesn’t use antibiotics or growth hormones. Which are a good things, but I needed more reassurances – are the cattle grassfed? If not entirely, is the grain GMO grain? Things like that.

As I said in last week’s Friday Faves I am not going to sample products unless they fit my criteria and I feel sure about the possibility of recommending the product to my readers. Although I am committed 100% to local, grassfed, pasture raised animals, I know that many of my readers don’t have local farms available to them and so I wanted to see if Laura’s Lean Beef would be a viable option for those readers. A product I could recommend to readers faced with the above dilemma.

So I asked what Laura’s cows eat – and this is the answer I got: “Laura’s cattle are mostly fed grass. They have access at all times to plenty of space. Cattle are never really “indoors”, although they are given access to shelter as necessary from bad weather. Their primary diet is pasture grass. They are given some corn, corn silage, barley, soy products, legumes, etc. to supplement the diet. And of course they are never given growth hormones or antibiotics. Hope this helps.”

It helped, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be advocating beef that eat GMO products. So I asked about GMO and this is what I was told: “The corn and soy products are non-GMO. Below is some background information on how Laura’s fits in to the organic/lean/grass-fed beef picture:

“Organic Beef – Focusing on Production
Today, healthy eating is often associated with the word “organic.” However, certified organic beef is not necessarily lean and may not deliver all of the health benefits of beef that’s low in fat. An organic certification refers only to the philosophy and practices used in beef production. For beef to be certified organic, cattle must be handled and fed in certain specified ways including having access to pastures and being fed 100% organic feed. They must also be processed in certified organic plants. There are no stipulations, however, about fat content. In fact, organic beef is typically no more healthy or nutritious than conventionally produced beef.

Grass-Fed Beef – Return to the Range
Since the late 1990s, there has also been a growing interest in grass-fed beef. This has been driven by
many of the same principles which propelled the organic movement including the return to more natural food production. Grass-fed beef, however, takes things one step further. Livestock are raised only on pasture – not on grain or soy of any kind. As a result, animals produce more “good” fats (including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid or CLA) and fewer “bad” fats (omega-6s).
The drawback to grass-fed beef is its taste and toughness. It is very difficult to raise cattle solely on
pasture that yields the succulent and tender beef which consumers prefer.

Natural and Lean Beef – The Laura’s Difference
While Laura’s Lean Beef is neither certified organic nor exclusively grass-fed, it combines many of the
benefits of both while delivering less fat and great taste. Laura’s cattle are raised on sustainably managed farms, without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics, and fed a diet of natural grasses and grains. This approach yields exceptionally lean beef, which is also full of flavor.”

Then it goes on to discuss that Laura’s Lean Beef is low in fat and saturated fat, which is not something I am too worried about, however the leanness of the beef does seem to prove that the cows are mostly grassfed, since grassfed cows are much leaner than their grain fed counterparts.

In conclusion: “Laura’s Lean Beef accomplishes this while providing conditions that meet the health needs and natural behavior of cattle. This combination – and its great taste – is what differentiates Laura’s Lean Beef from organic and grain-fed options.”

Click here to learn more about Laura’s journey from taking over the family farm, and transitioning to a new way of raising cattle.

So Laura’s started to sound like a good option for those without access to local, grassfed beef – the best part is, you can find Laura’s Lean Beef in many grocery stores across the country. There is even a store search on their website. So for those of you looking for a better quality meat, and have no access to farms or farmers markets, I suggest you try Laura’s! The meat is tender and tasty – and the ground beef is perfect for making mouthwatering burgers.

We used the free coupons they sent us to buy a package of ground beef, which is what they had available at my local grocery store. We used it to make burgers and accompanied the burger with oven roasted potatoes.

(photo courtesy of DITALIA)

Which brings me to my next fave for this week: GLOP. My friend, the owner of DITALIA, Vince sent me a free sample of GLOP when I placed my last order with him. He said “if you blog about it, great, if not, just enjoy it”.  It is really good to have friends like that! He also sent me a free sample of Sicilian Roasting and Grilling Salt.

I love both of these products. The GLOP goes great on pasta, or as a sauce for a white pizza. We enjoyed it on our potatoes with this dinner. I used to buy “Garlic Fries” from Trader Joe’s eons ago. The fries came with this packet of oil, herbs, spices and cheese. You poured it and mixed it on the hot fries, and it was GOOD. So I just chopped up some fresh garlic, added it to the GLOP and mixed it in my oven fries! Just as good as I remembered!

(photo courtesy of D’Italia)

As for the salt – I use it all the time – it is my official go to salt. Not just for meat, it is a great salt to use on veggies, potatoes, even on your morning eggs. There are some wonderful aromatic herbs and spices in there like dried rosemary and peperoncino. I definitely seasoned my Laura’s Lean Beef patties with this salt.

Since the holidays are coming up, I suggest popping on over to DITALIA’s website. They even have fantastic gift ideas for the holiday season already packaged up for you.  I know Vince travels to Italy every year to source out new gourmet products. So you can be sure that anything you get from DITALIA is of the highest quality!