The Beauty in the Beef

For the love of South Dakota Beef

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Halloween Family Fun

Autumn leaves are falling and Halloween is just around the corner.  During the fall season, many of us are looking for quick and easy recipes that also provide hearty nutrition to help fuel an active, healthy lifestyle.  

This Halloween try something different.  Instead of focusing on candy corn and sweets, invite family and friends over for a warm evening meal.  Encourage children to help prepare the meal and have some fun while creating it.  Don’t miss out on opportunities to teach children how to cook healthy meals and the importance of incorporating nutrient-rich ingredients in them.  

Did you know that many children may be missing out on key nutrients such as iron and zinc?  In fact, 60 percent of girls aged 12-19 are not meeting the recommended iron needs and 47 percent of boys the same age are not meeting the recommended zinc needs.1  Among healthy school-aged children, increasing zinc intake has been demonstrated to improve cognitive performance, visual memory and word recognition task as well as attention skills.2  Research also shows that iron deficiencies may affect learning abilities in school-aged children.3

Beef is a naturally nutrient-rich powerhouse food. On average, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef is about 150 calories.  It’s an excellent source of six nutrients (protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, and selenium) and a good source of four nutrients (phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin).4 

This Autumn Beef and Cider Stew is one of my favorite fall meals.  It’s easy to prepare, especially if you are expecting company.  It combines savory fall flavors and is full of nutrition for your little trick-or-treaters.  

For more fall beef recipes and nutrition information contact Holly Swee, RD, LN Director of Nutrition & Consumer Information for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council at 605-224-4722 or


1. Updated Analysis of the 1994-96, 1998 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (CSFII), Final report prepared by Bermudez Consultenos International, August, 2002. 

2.Golub, M.S.; Keen, C.L.; Gershwin, M.E.; Hendricks, A.G. Developmental zinc deficiency and behavior. J. Nutr. 125 (supp): 2263s-2271s; 1995.

3. Pollitt, E. Iron deficiency and cognitive function. Ann. Rev. Nutr. 13: 521-537;1993.

4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Available at:


Autumn Beef and Cider Stew

Total recipe time: 2 to 2-1/2 hours

Makes 4 to 6 servings


2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1 to 1-1/2-inch pieces

2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 can (10-1/2 ounces) condensed French onion soup

1 cup apple cider

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

1/3 cup unsweetened dried cranberries


  1. Cook bacon in stockpot over medium heat until crisp; remove with slotted spoon to paper-towel-lined plate. Brown 1/2 of beef in bacon drippings over medium heat; remove from stockpot. Repeat with remaining beef; season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Return beef and bacon to stockpot. Add soup and cider; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer 1-3/4 hours. 
  3. Add sweet potatoes and cranberries to stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; continue simmering, covered, 20 to 30 minutes or until beef and potatoes are fork-tender

*Recipe courtesy of the Beef Checkoff Program

 Guest Blog written by SDBIC Director of Nutrition, Holly Swee RD,LN 

It’s Comfort Food Season!

As the temperature falls outside, fill your home with the warmth and aroma of your favorite comfort food baking in the oven.  Whether it’s your famous hearty chili or your mother’s meatloaf, we all have our go-to recipes that warm our souls on a brisk fall day.

Comfort foods have become a major part of American Cuisine, with many restaurants and Chefs including these feel-good recipes on their menus.  So whether you’re dining out or cuddled up at home, choose a comfort food that contains a lean beef product.  You will love it, AND it will love you back!

Research shows beef’s highly-quality protein and essential nutrients make good diets better, improving overall nutrient intake and diet quality, and contributing to positive health outcomes like weight management.  Many popular beef cuts meet government guidelines for lean, including favorites such as Sirloin, Flank steak, Tenderloin, T-Bone steak and 93 percent lean Ground Beef.  With more than 29 lean beef cuts, it’s easy to build great-tasting and healthful meals that include America’s favorite protein- beef!

Here is a recipe from for you to warm up to and try tonight!

Spicy Roast Beef Chili Over Cornbread

Spicy Roast Beef Chili Over Cornbread Total recipe time: 30 minutesMakes 6 servings


  1. 1 package (1-1/2 to 2 pounds) refrigerated fully-cooked boneless beef pot roast with gravy
  2. 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) Italian-style diced tomatoes
  3. 1 can (15-1/2 ounces) spicy chili beans, undrained
  4. 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  5. 6 medium cornmeal muffins or cornbread squares, warmed
  6. 3/4 cup dairy sour cream
  7. Sliced green onions


  1. Remove pot roast from package; set aside. Transfer gravy to Dutch oven. Stir in tomatoes and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut pot roast into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces. Add beef to tomato mixture; heat through, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup green onions; remove from heat.
  3. Break muffins into halves or quarters; place in shallow bowls. Top evenly with chili, then with sour cream. Garnish with green onions.

Got beef with the new USDA School Lunch and Breakfast Guidelines?

For the first time in more than 15 years, there have been major changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National School Lunch and Breakfast Program standards.  These changes have been a very hott topic as of late, creating an abundance of comments, complaints, discussions and questions proposed.  Like anything and everything else that gets drug into the media, there is a surplus of inaccurate and false accusations regarding the new standards.  It is important that we keep the facts straight and understand the true intentions behind the USDA’s initiative.  

Here are a few common questions that have been answered by Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD, Executive Director, Human Nutrition Research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Contractor to the Beef Checkoff.  

What are the new school breakfast and lunch guidelines?
In January 2012, the USDA updated its meal patterns and nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and expert recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. Many organizations submitted comments on the guidelines in April 2011. The new requirements change standards for the first time in more than 15 years. The lunch standards go into effect this (2012-2013) school year and the breakfast standards will be phased in beginning next (2013-2014) school year.

Is meat, such as beef, still allowed in the school lunch program?
Yes. The amount of meat/meat alternate required as part of the new school lunch plans are almost identical to previous requirements, but there are now maximum limits that did not exist until this school year. Under the previous guidelines, schools were required to provide at least 1.5-2 oz. equivalent of meat/meat alternate daily (or 7.5-10 oz. equivalent meat/meat alternate weekly). The new guidelines are more specific to age/grade with a range of 10-12 oz. equivalent meat/meat alternate weekly for grades 9-12, 8-10 oz. for grades 6-8 and 8-9 oz. for grades K-5.

Depending on which approach schools previously followed in the 2011-2012 school year; kids may actually be offered more meat/meat alternate under the new meal plan guidelines than what they were getting before.

Why does it seem that kids aren’t getting as much food, especially protein, as they were before these guidelines went into effect?
It all depends on the school. Some schools were previously serving more than what the new maximum limits allow. Depending on the individual school district or even the individual school and what they’ve offered in the past, portion sizes or the types of food being served may or may not have changed under these new guidelines. There is a lot of variation and it really depends on the individual school and area. Under the new guidelines, all schools follow a “one-size-fits-all” or single food-based menu planning approach. These are based on the average nutrition needs for Americans. The guidelines outline specific calorie ranges and amounts of foods each age/grade group receives.

 Is meat, such as beef, still allowed in the school breakfast program?
Yes. Meat/meat alternates are allowed, but not required, as part of the new school breakfast guidelines. Schools can choose to substitute a 1 oz. equivalent of meat/meat alternate for 1 oz. of grains after the minimum daily grains requirement of 1 oz. is met. These changes will go into effect in the 2013-2014 school year. 

Do certain kids need more protein?
Yes. These new guidelines are based on nutrition needs for the average student. According to the USDA MyPlate recommendations for protein foods, the daily recommendation is 5 oz. equivalents for girls aged 9-18 and boys aged 9-13 and 6.5 oz. equivalents for boys aged 14-18. However, according to USDA these daily recommendations “are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. Those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs.” So children involved in sports or doing daily chores on the farm may need more protein.

One 3 oz. serving of lean beef provides half of the protein we need every day to meet the basic protein requirements called for by the dietary guidelines. So, if your child is only getting 1-2 oz. of protein foods daily at school, make sure you’re serving protein at every meal when your child is home by serving protein-rich snacks and lean beef at dinner.

Are kids getting enough to eat under these new guidelines?
The new guidelines provide the basic nutritional needs for the average American student. Of course, I’m sure we’d all say our children are anything but average. Similarly, not all Americans have the same nutritional needs. We’ve heard from some kids that they are still hungry after lunch. This could be the result of smaller portion sizes (depending on what their school previously served) but could also simply be because kids are not eating the food options being provided. Schools can continue to serve nutrient- and protein-rich foods, like lean beef and low/non-fat dairy products that are enjoyable and familiar, in order to help kids meet these new guidelines and keep them satisfied throughout the day. Kids may also have the option to purchase a second entrée or meal if they feel they need more to make it through the day.

What can I do if my kids are still hungry after eating breakfast or lunch at school?
If kids, especially those who might be gone from home for a majority of the day or participate in sports after school, are hungry after eating their lunch, then it might be a good idea to pack a protein-rich snack or pack lunches. Talk to your local school and make sure they understand the importance of keeping nutrient-rich foods, like lean beef, on the menu. Some additional suggestions for protein-rich lunches/snacks include:

  • Roast beef sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Ground beef (fully cooked) with whole wheat tortilla
  • Asparagus roll-up with beef
  • Cheese sticks
  • Yogurt

 Is there anything else that I can do if I’m confused about the guidelines or have concerns?
USDA has asked for stakeholder feedback about the guidelines and has also created a website, If you have questions, or concerns, ideas or success stories of ways you’ve helped make delicious and nutritious meals following these new standards, email

Here is a great handout that has been created by the NCBA and the Beef Checkoff:


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