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Beefing Up Your Meal : Healthy Ways to Prepare Red Meat

March 17, 1988|KAREN GILLINGHAM | Gillingham is a Los Angeles-based food writer. and

Oh sure, like everyone else the last few years, I've been talking about how little beef I eat these days. It's true, with respect for my blood vessels and body fat, I eat less red meat than I used to, but I've never said that I don't still like it just as much as I did when I didn't think about my health and weight.

Now advertisements are doing a pretty good job of persuading consumers that beef is as light (and pork is as white) as chicken or fish.

OK, I know some steaks have less fat than others and I know I can buy extra-lean ground beef. But now when I eat a steak or buy a burger, I do it because I want to taste red meat, not because it doesn't always pale in caloric comparison to white meat.

The Healthier Alternatives

Still, gone are the days of charred 12-ounce T-bones served with big baked potatoes under a hill of sour cream. Instead, I slice the beef thinly and stir-fry it after a quick soak in a ginger-and-orange-flavored soy marinade. Slices of carrot, sweet red pepper and Chinese pea pods add low-cal and cholesterol-free color and crunch along with water chestnuts. The mixture comes sizzling hot out of the wok onto cool crisp lettuce leaves for an unusual salad that just wouldn't taste right with chicken or fish.

GINGER-ORANGE BEEF SALAD

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root

1 pound sirloin steak, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon oil

1 carrot, thinly sliced on diagonal

1 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 pound Chinese pea pods, trimmed

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

1 head butter lettuce, rinsed and separated into leaves

In measuring cup or small bowl, mix soy sauce, cornstarch, orange peel and ginger. Place steak in shallow bowl. Pour soy sauce mixture over steak.

Heat wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add oil then beef and stir-fry until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove beef and set aside.

Add carrots, red pepper, pea pods and water chestnuts. Stir-fry until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Return beef to pan and cook and stir 1 minute longer. Divide lettuce leaves among 4 plates. Top with hot beef mixture. Makes 4 servings.

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