This is a guest post from Catspaw, a Nerd Fitness Rebel who thinks deadlifts should be heavy, and healthy food should be delicious.
“Cooking takes too much time”
“Paleo is so boring!”
New recipes can be intimidating, but that doesn’t mean that you have to live in drudgery of yet-another-night of boiled chicken and microwaved broccoli.
One of the best ways to keep food both interesting and easy is to take a basic foundational food and use it in a huge variety of dishes. By just changing the presentation of a recipe or adding a few ingredients, you can create a whole new dish that’s new, exciting, and involves very little additional work.
Today I hope to definitively prove to you that eating Paleo is delicious, and that “I don’t have time” is a big fat lie.
Ground beef is one of my favorite cuts of meat to work with.
It tends to be cheap, you can find it anywhere, and makes a huge variety of amazingly delicious dishes. Here’s the basic ground beef recipe. It only has a few ingredients, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to throw together:
Basic Seasoned Ground Beef Recipe
- 2 lb (900 g) ground beef (go for grassfed beef if you can afford it!)
- 1 cup (240 ml) chopped onions…red onions, yellow onions, or scallions, all work great!
- ¼ (60 ml) cup chopped fresh basil, cilantro or parsley – not dried!
- 1 tsp salt (5 ml)
- 2 tsp (10 ml) chipotle powder or chili powder (optional, but recommended)
- Chop your onions and herbs.
- Put all your ingredients together in a big bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands — get right in there!
- Heat a pan on medium-high until it gets hot. You shouldn’t need to add any oil.
- Put the meat in the pan. Walk away for a whole 3 minutes to let it brown on the bottom: don’t touch!
- Come back to the stove and continue to let it cook, stirring occasionally (until all the pink is gone).
You now have a bowl of cooked ground beef. In an airtight container, it should last a full week in your fridge.
So, now once you have that bowl of cooked ground beef, what can you do with it?
ALL SORTS OF STUFF!
So now what? Well, I’ve been known to just eat it cold with a spoon, but I’m weird like that.
What’s awesome about this method of cooking is that you can use this basic recipe to create a huge variety of deliciousness throughout the week, without much additional work.
Here are some awesome breakfast ideas:
Breakfast idea #1: Meaty omelet
- Heat a pan over medium heat with a bit of butter or coconut oil.
- Whisk 2-3 eggs together and cook in the pan until firm. Remove onto a plate.
- Fold the omelet around some of the cooked seasoned beef.
Breakfast idea #2: Egg hash
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add some of the cooked seasoned beef and some leftover veggies. I love using greens like kale for this.
- Once hot, break an egg or two right into the pan and cover with a lid until the eggs set to your desired firmness. I like my eggs a little runny, so about 4 minutes is perfect for me.
Breakfast idea #3: Meaty egg muffins
- Grease some muffin tins with a bit of coconut oil or butter.
- Into each muffin tin, put a bit of cooked seasoned beef, and maybe some leftover veggies. Little pieces of broccoli, or red pepper work great here, but use your imagination!
- Into each muffin tin, pour a raw scrambled egg.
- Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until set. These keep very well in the fridge and reheat great.
What about lunch and dinner?
And don’t just think because something is called a ‘breakfast food’ that you can’t eat it whenever you want. But let’s suppose you want some typical lunch and dinner options too, we got you covered! Take a look!
- Put some of the seasoned cooked ground beef into pieces of lettuce.
- I love (optionally) topping these with pine nuts or slivered almonds for a bit of crunch!
- Make some mashed cauliflower, mashed butternut squash, or just cook and mash a sweet potato.
- Put some cooked seasoned ground beef into an oven-safe dish and top with the vegetable mash.
- Cook in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes until the top browns slightly and it’s heated through.
- Put some lettuce and roasted red peppers on a plate. Top with cooked seasoned ground beef.
- Add your favorite salsa and a dollop of guacamole. You can buy some pre-made at the store or make your own.
- Instead of cooking the seasoned ground beef in the pan, roll it into little balls.
- Add them to a pan with your favorite tomato sauce and cook on medium until no longer pink on the inside.
- Make your favorite Paleo pasta. I like zucchini noodles, but spaghetti squash is also very popular. Top your “noodles” with the meatballs and sauce
- Instead of cooking the seasoned ground beef all together in a pan, form into little burger patties.
- Cook on a grill or medium-high pan to your desired level of doneness. I like a little pink in the middle of my burger.
- Wrap in two pieces of lettuce and top with your favourite burger toppings. I love avocado, grilled onions, and a fried egg. Yum!
- Instead of cooking the seasoned ground beef in a pan, form little kebab shapes around wooden skewers.
- Cook on high on a grill pan, under the broiler of your oven, or on your BBQ. The kebabs are done when no longer pink in the center.
- While you’ve got your grill out, I always recommend grilling some vegetables to go with it.
What kind of beef?
I like to use 85% / 15% ground beef for most of my recipes because I find it has the right amount of leanness-to-fat for my taste buds, but your mileage may vary.
Note: 85% / 15% ground beef does not mean 15% fat and 85% protein. It means 15% by weight is fat, but the majority of the weight in the meat is water. 85% ground beef is actually much closer to equal in dietary fat and protein.
If you don’t cook ground beef often, you may be surprised when you get a lot of fat running off.
What should you do about this? If you’re using grass-fed ground beef, that fat contains a lot of healthy nutrients, so just leave it right in there! It may look a little like beef soup at first, but once you refrigerate the meat, the fat will harden into little bits of delicious texture.
If you’re using conventional ground beef, you can pour some of the fat into an old jar and then throw it out (like with bacon)…but don’t obsess about trying to get it all!
Give it a try
Pick up a pound or two of ground beef at your next trip to the store and see where your imagination takes you.
This is just one example of how you can take a basic recipe, in this case seasoned ground beef, and use it to create a huge variety of really tasty foods.
Just because you’re using the same protein doesn’t mean it has to the same meal!
What else do you do with ground beef?
Do you have any other staple foods that you expand in interesting ways? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
photo source: Jump