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By: Sandra R. Cain

Sandra CainWhy are protein foods important?
Protein is used for body growth and repair of skin, hair and nails. It also helps heal wounds and fight infection. Protein is important for building muscles. It also keeps us strong and healthy and helps children grow. Many protein foods are good sources of iron which is needed for healthy blood and preventing anemia which causes us to feel tired.

How much protein do we need each day?
Children ages 2-13 need 2-5 ounce equivalents every day. Ages 14 and up need 5-6½ ounce equivalents each day.

What is an ounce equivalent?
An ounce equivalent can be 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked dry beans, ¼ cup tofu, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds.

Choose the leanest cuts of meat:
– The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts, top loin steak, top sirloin, shoulder steak, flank steak and chuck shoulder and arm pot roasts.
– The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin and ham.
– Choose extra lean ground beef. The label should say at least “95% lean.”
– The leanest poultry choice include boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets.
– Choose lean or low-fat luncheon meats.

Be sure to keep it lean
– Trim away all visible fat from meats before cooking.
– Broil, grill or roast meat, poultry or fish instead of frying.
– Drain off any fat that occurs during cooking.
– Prepare dry beans and peas without added fats.
– Choose and prepare foods without high fat sauces or gravies.
Stretching Your Dollar

Meat is one of the most costly food items. Most Americans eat more meat than they need. Extra calories from meat are burned for energy or stored as body fat. The fol­lowing ideas can save money and still provide ample protein:

– Limit serving sizes to 2 to 3 ounces.

– Use leftovers in cas­seroles, soups, stews, salads, or sandwiches.

– Use meat bones and poultry wings and necks to make stock for soup. Add leftover meat, rice, or noodles and vegetables to make a hearty meal.

– Buy whole chickens and large cuts of meat and cut them into pieces for several meals. Freeze any meat that you can’t use within two days. Ground meats lose quality more quickly than larger cuts.

– Compare prices for meat by cost per serving rather than cost per pound. (Estimate servings for meat with bones versus meat without bones. Consider fat content of meat when estimating servings.)

Source: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

Grilled Beef Teriyaki

1 beef flank steak (1 – 1½ pounds)

¾ cup beef broth

½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

2 large onions, cut into ¼ inch slices

Score surface of steak, making shallow diagonal cuts. In a bowl, combine the broth, pineapple juice, soy sauce, lemon juice, honey and ginger.

Pour 1 cup marinade into a resealable plastic bag. Add steak. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, turning once or twice. Add onions to remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours, stirring several times.

Coat grill rack with nonstick spray before starting grill. Drain and discard marinade. Grill steak, covered, over medium heat 8 – 10 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness.

Meanwhile, place onion slices on a vegetable grill rack coated with nonstick spray. Grill for 6 minutes on each side until tender. Thinly slice steak across the grain. Serve with grilled onions.