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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Swiss chard, beet greens and beef: Oh Yum!

After my failure to thrive as a vegetarian experience I am still eating meat a few times a week. Twice a week I eat wild caught Alaskan salmon for its omega fatty acids and twice a week I try to eat 4 ounces of Prather Ranch beef. When I eat beef I do my best to consume it along with a leafy green to aid in my body's ability to metabolize the iron in the leafy greens as I was suffering from an alarmingly low ferritin level (7 instead of 60-70 micrograms per liter) and my naturopath said I was probably 2-3 weeks away from ending up in the hospital with anemia.

Now when they're out of beef cheeks I purchase one pound packages of Prather Ranch ground beef at my local farmers market. I saute it with some chopped onion then split the pound into four containers and pop them into the freezer. When I need a serving I simply move one to the refrigerator the day before to thaw for faster cooking. You could also add the frozen meat directly to a saute pan or pot of soup frozen as it thaws quickly in the presence of heat.

Here's my favorite part though... I walk out to my backyard and pick a few stems of Swiss chard to saute and mix with the meat. Swiss chard has proven to be exceptionally easy to grow. It's more pest resistant than the kale I've grown in the past and I love the bright colors of the stems as I planted white, yellow, and red chard (that I got from Cole Canyon Farm, also at my farmers market) this year.

And a happy accident. Some old beets I threw into my compost pile took off and now I have a steady supply of fresh beet greens to consume! I love beet greens more than the beets themselves so next year I'll plant more for sure.

The beauty of growing your own leafy greens is, if you're like me and cooking for one, you can use what you need and not have a lot of waste leftover or have to eat piles of them every day for a few days to use them up before they go bad.

I rinse them off and chop the stems into bite sized pieces.

I lay the leaves on top of each other and slice them too.

Heat a pan with oil on medium high heat.

Saute the chard and beet stems first because they'll take a little longer to cook than the greens.

Toss in the greens and saute.

What looks like a lot of greens uncooked flatten down once the heat hits and becomes a more manageable amount.

When the greens are almost done I toss in the pre-cooked, frozen ground beef and onions. The heat thaws them quickly. All I have to do is stir and add some salt and pepper to season.

This is what I end up. If I'm in a hurry or not too hungry I might eat it by itself. Or, for dinner I can toss it with some whole wheat spaghetti noodles tossed in a little butter or olive oil. For lunch I'll add it to lentil soup to make a lentil and beef stew. I've even topped it with a fried egg for breakfast. It's an easy, quick, and versatile meal base.

In recent years I've come to appreciate much more simple dishes, not because they're easier to make but because I'm enjoying the true flavors of the ingredients. Here are a few more of my favorite recipes I've created and already posted here on The Flirty Blog:

How to Make Smashed Potato Salmon Hash
A fast and easy, DIY, Baby Artichoke Pasta recipe
Easy Sauteed Kale and Campanelle Pasta with Balsamic Vinegar
• How to make oven roasted root vegetables
Cooking ahead and freezing individual portions of healthy, good for you food
• Oven Roasted Vegetables: Follow up with balsamic vinegar
Breakfast Brown Rice Porridge with kale and beet stems

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