Cooking is self-care for me, as I believe it is for many others. Creating new recipes, seeking out existing ones, and putting a twist on those that aren’t always just right is something I enjoy doing. For a time, I relied solely on poultry and fish for my main protein ingredient in the dishes I dressed up. Because of all of the news circulating that red meat would lead me right to the grave, I stopped including red meat as a main dish. Rather, I served it up as an indulgence – something we’d eat only once a month, if that.
The rage against red meat and warnings against its peril was enough for me to basically quit burgers and steaks in all of their delectable glory. I would not go out on the terms of a heart attack. I also thought mixing up “healthier” recipes that catered more toward fish and even vegetarian-type dishes would help me drop some weight. Much to my chagrin, I actually fluffed up a bit – my proteins and carbs were close to even, but of course, I’d dig in on the seconds of whole grain pasta, because how could that do me any harm?
After a lengthy, nearly 3-year absence of red meat from our table, my husband lamented over the too-long departure and also shared with me that, as it turned out, red meat was not all that bad for you. He consulted Google trying to look for ideas to convince me to change up my recipes and get those juicy steaks back on the table. What he found has reintroduced the goodness of red meat back into my favorite recipes. A book by Nina Teicholz, called The Big Fat Surprise, written just three years ago, discusses how research done more than fifty years ago actually shows that diets rich in fat and very low in carbs created healthy, strong, nutritious people.
She authored an article in The Atlantic that speaks all about how America got red meat wrong. It dives into greater detail, but what stood out to me was how skewed data is that tries to blame meat for all of our nation’s health problems. Scary to think about how data and research from “experts” can so strongly shape our perception of what is good and bad in nutrition science.
In an article in Shape, Nina references the “low-fat, near vegetarian diet” that has been societally popular as being an uncontrolled experiment on all of us. With the return of red meat to our family’s collective plate, my husband (and I) would interject that it’s been quite the failed experiment. We actually are learner and feel better on a day-to-day basis with the red meat in our diets than out of it.
I am happy to have the variance back in my recipes, and one of our favorites, Pico de Gallo with Chili-Spiced Grilled Steak, has worked its way back into our regular menu. Once we dug a little deeper and uncovered the misleading data that was leading our perception and beliefs, we knew it was right to make the change and do what’s right for our lifestyle. There are more important and proper things that we can concentrate on eliminating from our lives to improve them – like stress and lack of sleep, but I’ll save those topics for another time.