Grass-Fed Beef Isn’t Always Best

I’ve been a big fan of grass-fed meat since developing multiple food allergies and celiac disease. After all, why would I want to eat meat from an animal that’s grazed on wheat, soy and corn–all three of which I’m allergic to. And with a sensitive stomach, I surely don’t want to eat meat from any animal that’s been given supplements, hormones and antibiotics.

Over the last six years I’ve noticed more and more “grass-fed” beef hitting the supermarket shelves. While almost always more expensive than the grain-fed brands, I figure my health is worth the added cost.

Then this week I was strolling though our local farmer’s market and came across Sangres Best Grass-Finished beef from a Colorado Ranch.

Grass-Fed Beef Isn't Always Best

Notice this beef from a Colorado ranch is “grass-finished”

I wondered what is the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished. Turns out not all grass-fed beef is created equal. If you think about it all cows can be called “grass-fed” as they all start out eating grass on a pasture. That’s how some brands can label their meats “grass-fed” even though they are finished on a diet of grains.  Sneaky, huh?

Grass-finished beef means the cow has never eaten a grain of grain. You can also look for “100 Percent Grass-Fed or “USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef.”  A stamp of approval from a third party, such as the American Grassfed Association, can also guarantee the grass-fed beef you are buying is the real thing. The next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at labels on beef.

Here’s something else I learned this week: Not all bison is grass-fed. Since food allergies, I’ve often chosen bison over beef thinking all bison roam the range freely nibbling on grass. Wrong.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Always Best?

This package of ground bison from Great Range, which I bought this week at Costco, is finished with natural grains and hay. According to their website, “environmental variations on the high plains, coupled with changing market conditions, make supplemental feeding necessary to produce fresh, premium quality Bison year round.”  When in doubt, check the company website.

So where can you find true grass-fed beef?

Much of the 100-percent grass-fed beef in North America is produced on small farms and sold directly to consumers at such places as farmers’ markets, natural food stores, and specialty meat markets. These online directories can also help you locate grass-fed beef in your area:

American Grassfed Organization

Eat Well Guide 

Eat Wild

Local Harvest

U.S. Wellness Meats

Grass-fed Beef Isn’t Always Best first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie

 

Allergy-Friendly Football Chili

Football

Football (Photo credit: The Malones)

Football season is here, which for me means spending Sunday afternoons curled up with magazines and a big bowl of chili and chips while my husband screams at the TV. Now before allergies I was never a big fan of chili mostly because the ones I’d tasted–with names like Burn Your Tongue Beans and Great Bowls of Fire (chili cookoffs are popular in Colorado)–were waaaayyyy too spicy for me.

But then I started reading allergy-friendly cookbooks; chili recipes are a mainstay with these in-the-know authors (see links to some super cookbooks below). When I started making some of these recipes, I quickly realized chili does not have to make you sweat profusely. I now make all types of chili–ground meat, chicken, vegetarian–and not just during the cold months. In the summer I cook chili in the crockpot so it’ll be ready when we get home from the pool or a round of golf.  It’s one of the few allergy-friendly meals my husband and two teenage boys actually ask for–all year round.

For toppings, I use Daiya, avocado, black olives and/or salsa. Since I’m gluten- and corn-free, I can’t dig in with the tortilla chips the guys use, but I’ve recently discovered Plentils (lentil chips), and they are delicious!

The Light Sea Salt Plentils don’t overpower the chili the way some nut chips do, and they are great “scoops” for guacamole and salsa.

Okay, back to my chili.  Here’s what I made this week.

Easy Bison Chili

1 pound grassfed bison (I used Great Range Brand Bison)

1 large organic onion, chopped

1 large organic green pepper, chopped

2 tbsp. and 2 tsp. allergy-free chili powder (I used Penzys Spices Regular Chili Powder; use hotter chili powder, if you like)

2 14-ounce can organic tomatoes with jalapeno peppers (I use Eden Foods)

1 6-oz can V-8 juice

1 can organic chili beans, drained and rinsed (you can use small red beans, or kidney beans, or chili beans)

In a large stockpot, cook onion and green pepper in a little olive oil for about three minutes, then add the bison meat.  Keep stirring until mean is browned and crumbles. Discard any fat, but typically there won’t be much, if any, with bison. Add chili powder and all ingredients except beans. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add drained beans and heat through. Makes enough for six to eight servings.

A Few Food Allergy Cookbooks:

What’s to Eat? and What Else is to Eat?  by Linda Coss

The Whole Foods Cookbook by Cybele Pascal

The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook by Elizabeth Gordon

More about Bison from the USDA

More Chili Recipes:

Gluten Free Cooking at About.com

Go Dairy Free, Turkey and Vegetable Chili

Please share a link to your favorite chili recipe!