Apr 062015

One of the coolest things about being a person who has lost a whole bunch of weight during my lifetime [you know, after gaining a whole bunch of weight during my lifetime] is that when friends and friends-of-friends decide they want to make a change in their own life for the healthier, they sometimes come to me to share their goals. I love getting to be a source of encouragement and sharing my favorite resources with a dose of “you can do it!” – it is one of the best opportunities that has come from sharing my story here on the internet.


It’s not uncommon for me to get an email asking for tips or direction from people who want to lose weight or start running. A lot of the time, people want to know where to start from someone who has experienced starting herself.  Sometimes they ask me “Do I need to re-haul my life?” 

I swear by the simplicity in #make1healthydecision living, and it’s true – healthy living doesn’t need to be hard – but seriously committing yourself to weight loss or starting a fitness program of any kind isn’t necessarily easy. Making your goal your priority takes discipline.  Losing weight, becoming a runner – it all takes work. The good news is that the process in itself is good for you, as are the physical health benefit that occur thanks to the healthy changes you are making.  

What happens after the cause and affects of setting and chasing these sorts of goals is the formation of healthy life habits.  Learning to eat intuitively while trying to cut back on overeating is a tool that will be with you long after you’ve lost the 10 pounds you want to drop.  Choosing a more satisfying afternoon snack rather than your normal candy bar won’t simply go away 5 days a week when you’ve hit your goal once you realize how AWESOME a healthy snack makes you feel at 3:30 PM.  Every foot that has ever crossed a finish line is attached to a person who decided to start running one day. 


There may be something in the air, but it seems like everyone – me included – is on a “happier, healthier” kick these days.  Through conversations with coworkers, emails received from internet pals, invitations to fitness challenges or events, and generally just reading the internet it seems to me that a whole bunch of us are hungry for a change in our lives. 

Last fall I gave a test drive to the 30 Day #ProteinChallenge.  I’m stoked to share about this challenge with you because I think it’s a really great fit for everyone, no matter where you are on your health journey. My friend/Protein Partner Melissa and I have been planning so many fun surprises to go along with our doing the Protein Challenge again, this time at the same time as one another for some built in accountability. 

We are starting next week Monday, April 13th and would LOVE to have you join us, too.

Want to know more about the challenge? Here’s a bunch of details to help you realize you should jump on board the #ProteinChallenge train, Protein Partner style! 


What is the 30 Day Protein Challenge? 

· The #ProteinChallenge is an fun, step-by-step 30-day plan that will help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal.

· I personally think this challenge is unique in that it doesn’t ask TOO much from people with busy lives.  Check out the calendar to see what I mean: 30 Day Protein Challenge Calendar  Lots of reflection and rest days, and no expectations of perfection. Woot!

Why should you take the Protein Challenge?

· Protein gives you the control you need to take on the day and make the right food choices – all day.

· A growing body of research shows it may be beneficial to spread out your protein intake over the course of the day.  This challenge helps you do that!

· Consuming the right amount of protein helps with weight loss goals by reducing mindless snacking, building muscles after a workout and protecting muscle mass. Learn more about the Benefits of Protein [infographic].

How does the #ProteinChallenge work?

· Take control of your appetite by working your way up to eating 30 grams of protein at every meal for one month.

· You keep track of your food, hunger and moods to see how simple diet changes can make a difference in your overall health and wellness for 30 days and beyond.

· The resources provided by The Beef Checkoff help keep you organized and on track throughout the challenge.  You can find lots of tools online [Getting Protein While Dining Out and this Protein Pantry Cheat Sheet are both super helpful!] and once you officially sign up to start the challenge, you get daily emails to help you easily stay on track with your challenge progress. 

How do you get started?

· You can start the challenge at ANY time, but if you want to start with us for added group and social media accountability, sign-up on March 13. 

· Sign up for the Protein Challenge at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com to get all the tools you need, plus daily tips to keep you on track. 

· Share your progress and engage with other Protein Challenge participants on social media using #ProteinChallenge.

Why should you take the Protein Challenge along with Melissa and Me, Protein Partner style?

· I’m a firm believer in the power of group accountability and friend challenges. I always do SO MUCH BETTER at keeping with a goal if I have a pal that I’m checking in with through the week, sharing about my progress and my struggles.

· As I mentioned before, we’ve got a bunch of fun Protein-packed surprises for the Protein Partnership that we can’t wait to share with you.  Melissa is the RD behind Sound Bites and I feel extremely lucky to get to benefit from her dietitian expertise while I work my way towards a protein-powered lifestyle shift. 

· Melissa and I will each share a reminder blog post filled with resources on Monday.  The post will remind you that it’s day one of our Protein Partner #ProteinChallenge and that you should sign up for the emails if you want to join us :)  Make sure you are subscribed to our feeds so you don’t miss the reminder!

· Because it’s going to be fun facing the challenge together, of course!  What do you say?  Are you going to be joining us for the #ProteinChallenge starting Monday, March 13?  Please become our Protein Partner!!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.

Apr 032015

In Wednesday’s post, An April Kitchen Challenge: Use a New to You Lean Beef Cut, I touched on why lean beef is a great addition to a healthy diet. [My friend Amee’s post, The Health Benefit’s of Lean Beef, is also filled with helpful info!]


I also introduced you to eleven different roasts/prepared cuts which are waiting to find their way into your kitchen.  Today we’re talking lean steaks! 

Take a look at the list below… what steaks from this list haven’t you tried before?  Are any popping out at you to give a try this month? I hope you’ll join me in this challenge!  Have you decided between a roast or steak or BOTH? 

Coffee Rubbed Flank Steak with Cranberry Salsa from @HealthyDelish

pictured above: coffee rubbed flank steak with cranberry salsa from Healthy Delicious

Flank Steak aka flank steak filet, London broil, jiffy steak, plank steak
// A boneless, flavorful steak often served sliced thin [against the grain.]
// Best when marinated to tenderize, then grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Flank Steak Recipes to Try

Eye of Round Steak
// Cost-friendly and very versatile as long as you let it sit in some liquid first.
// Best when marinated to tenderize, then grilled, broiled, or braised to medium rare.
// Delicious Looking Eye of Round Steak Recipes to Try

  • Bella & Brie Steakhouse Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette from Cupcakes and Kale Chips.  Topped with sliced steak, sautéed mushrooms, Brie, toasted pecans, and a WOOT!-worthy dressing, this is an A+ meal-worthy salad.
  • Tuscan Style Steak from Gourmet Innovations.  Though this recipe calls for a rib-eye, because of the marinating and grilling to medium rare taking place it makes it a great fit for the budget-friendly eye of round. 

Petite Tender aka shoulder petite tender
// Lean but juicy, this is one of the most tender cuts with a beefy flavor and lots of versatility.
// Best when grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Petite Tender Roast Recipes to Try

Petite Tender Medallions
// These medallions are thin slices cut from the petite tender described above; juicy, beefy, pre-portioned goodness!
// Best when skillet cooked.
// Delicious Looking Petite Tender Medallions Recipes to Try

Steak and Heirloom Tomato Salad | Magnolia Days

pictured above: steak and heirloom tomato salad via Magnolia Days and The Beef Checkoff.

Ranch Steak aka shoulder center steak
// Cost-friendly, convenient and versatile.
// Best when grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Ranch Steak Recipes to Try

Sirloin Tip Center Steak aka round sirloin tip center steak
// A popular boneless lean cut.
// Best when skillet cooked, grilled or broiled to medium rare.
// Delicious Looking Sirloin Tip Center Steak Recipes to Try

  • Spicy Beef Stir Fry with Pepper from Omnivore’s Cookbook.  Warm and spicy translates to tasty and comforting with this sweet and savory dish, done in 25 minutes.
  • Steak and Asparagus Stir-Fry from Magnolia Days. The answer to what to make when you have little time and need a nutritious meal in a hurry!

Sirloin Tip Side Steak aka round sirloin tip side steak
// A boneless, cost-friendly steak.
// Best when marinated and cooked to medium rare via grilling or broiling.
// Delicious Looking Sirloin Tip Side Steak Recipes to Try

  • Fajita Kebabs from B.Britnell.  How great would a build your own kebabs bar be at your summer grilling parties this summer? Don’t have a yard or grill to share with friends? Pack it up and head to a park that offers community grill space!
  • Individual Steak Roulade with Pesto from Foraged Dish.  A delicious meal that’s very simple, but also quite impressive and appropriate for special occasions and celebrations.

Sirloin Tip Steak aka ball tip steak, knuckle steak, sandwich steak, breakfast steak, round tip steak, trimmed tip steak
// This economic cut is available both thin-cut and thick-cut.
// Best when marinated to tenderize.  Then cook to medium rare via skillet on the stove-top.
// Delicious Looking Sirloin Tip Steak Recipes to Try

  • Black Pepper Steak from Omnivore’s Cookbook. This stir fry dish works well with a thinly sliced beef, making it perfect for this the thin-cut version of the sirloin tip.
  • Crock Pot Mongolian Beef from Very Culinary. Twenty minutes of prep and then set-it and forget-it.  Four hours later: DINNER! with a boatload of flavor. 

Potato Pancakes with Filet Mignon and Fried Eggs #SundaySupper

pictured above: potato pancakes with filet mignon and fried eggs from Peanut Better & Peppers

Tenderloin Steak aka beef tender steak, filet de boeuf, filet steak, tender steak, chateaubriand, filet mignon, fillet steak
// The most tender choice available [the proof is right there in the name!] and sold boneless.
// Best when skillet cooked, grilled, or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Tenderloin Steak Recipes to Try

Strip Steak [Bone-In] aka club steak, bone-in top loin, shell steak
// A tender and full-flavored family favorite.
// Best when skillet cooked, grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Strip Steak [Bone-In] Recipes to Try

  • Whiskey Steak with Asparagus Puree from The Wholesome Pursuit.  Lots of good beef-cooking tips in this post, too!  And asparagus puree served next to a whiskey soaked steak? Talk about a crowd pleaser!
  • Grilled Strip Steak from The Eat More Food Project. Though this recipe uses boneless strips, bone-in works here, too. I love versatile recipes like this which allow me to buy whichever is priced better at the market.  These lean strip steaks marinated in spicy soy sauce, seared, and finished in the oven with butter and thyme is a beefy dish I’d dream about.

Boneless Strip Steak aka club steak, NY strip steak, Kansas City steak, top loin steak
// A tender and full-flavored family favorite.
// Best when skillet cooked, grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Boneless Strip Steak Recipes to Try

  • Korean-Style Spicy Steak Lettuce Wraps from Veggies by Candlelight. An incredible sauce with full flavored beef wrapped and topped with crispy and crunchy veggies makes a super fun, tasty meal for on your own or with friends.
  • Skillet Pepper Steaks from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.  Totally bookmarking this for when all the neighborhood farmers have peppers for sale!  Fresh local bell peppers seem like the perfect partner for strip steak in this easy skillet recipe.

Bottom Round Steak aka Western griller
// Another new-to-the-scene cut, often served carved into thin slices after braising, grilling or broiling.
// Best when marinated to tenderize and cooked only to medium rare.
// Delicious Looking Bottom Round Steak Recipes to Try

  • Steak and Stout with Potatoes from Noshing with the Nolands via Yummly.  Bookmarkable for next St. Patrick’s Day or the next rainy weekend in need of comfort food.
  • Crying Tiger Steak from The Wanderlust Kitchen.  The marinade takes this simple dinner dish from good to great, and the Thai relish pushes it over into WAMBAM-delicious territory.

Fajita Photos (3)

pictured above: easy, flavorful beef fajitas

Top Sirloin Steak aka sirloin butt steak, top sirloin butt center-cut steak
// Widely considered the most versatile, this steak is lean, juicy, well-flavored and tender.
// Best when grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Top Sirloin Steak Recipes to Try

  • Easy, Flavorful Beef Fajitas from ME! :) This is a great way to put on-sale steak from the butcher counter to use. This marinade is bold, the recipe is easy, and you can bulk it up with veggies to make leftovers for a week of lunches [or brunch! who wants breakfast tacos?] Yum!
  • Lighter Spicy Mongolian Beef from Can You Stay for Dinner.  Soy sauce beefy goodness “meats” [hardy har har] caramelized brown sugar sweetness!  BOOM.  

Top Round Steak aka London broil, top round steak, top round center cut steak
// This is a cost-friendly choice, full of flavor but meeting guidelines for lean. 
// Best when marinated – don’t skip this step, as it will really help tenderize this tougher cut of meat, then grill or broil it.
// Delicious Looking Top Round Steak Recipes to Try

  • Green Curry Beef with Pineapple and Coconut Rice from Healthy Delicious. Curry is a recent favorite, paired with two of my favorite flavors – pineapple and coconut.
  • Sweet Potato Beef Stew from Back to Her Roots. Use top round steak cut into stew meat pieces for this healthy twist on a hearty, classic favorite.  So many flavors and lots of nutritious veggies!

Tri-Tip Steak
// This is a new-on-the-scene cut, popular on the West coast but making it’s way nationwide.  This steak is richly beefy and tender.
// Best when grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking Tri-Tip Steak Recipes to Try

T-Bone Steak
// A T-Bone is actually two lean steaks attached together by the T-bone; a strip connected to a tenderloin.
// Best when skillet cooked, grilled or broiled.
// Delicious Looking T-Bone Steak Recipes to Try

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.

Apr 012015

A new month is here, and I have a little challenge for us both.  Last fall, I talked a bit about stepping outside the ground beef comfort zone and trying other cuts of beef.  In the months since, I’ve cooked a handful of beef dishes of the non-ground variety and have found a few serious favorites  [Easy, Flavorful Beef and Veggie Fajitas, I’m looking at you!] Such serious favorites in fact, that I recently found myself in a “depending on my favorites” rut.


Long time readers may remember my 28th “Golden” year, full of trying new things and completing tasks in 28 different categories in my life. The major take away from that year-long challenge was the desire to continually seek new things.

I love to celebrate my favorites of course, but it took a lot of work for me to become more comfortable stepping away from the familiar and I’d rather not find myself regressed to the days of following the exact same routine every day, ordering the a grilled chicken sandwich no matter the restaurant, making pasta and pizza and breakfast, the end.  I’ve come to love a life full of not only trying new things when they are presented to me, but also seeking the opportunity to try new things, too.

This is why when I noticed that I had been stepping in the same direction whenever I stepped outside the ground beef comfort zone, I gave myself a challenge to try a different cut of meat and/or cooking technique sometime this month.  I’ve heard from a few friends that they also fall into menu patterns in need of a refresh and I’m guessing that this isn’t an uncommon habit a lot of us fall into.  And because nothing does better for me and my goals than old fashion partner challenges and “say it, do it” accountability, I want to invite YOU to join me on this challenge, too!


This month, let’s all use a new-to-us lean Beef cut in our kitchens!

What does lean beef mean?

I’ve talked lots about choosing lean beef in the past when I participated in the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet [BOLD!!] challenge.  You can read more about that challenge and what I learned in the posts I’ve linked to below – but here’s a quick summary:

To qualify as lean, cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3 1/2 ounce cooked serving.

Research shows that eating lean beef can help lower cholesterol levels as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.  Besides the deliciousness, lean beef is filled with protein, iron and B-vitamins to help keep you satisfied, build muscles and fuel an active lifestyle [SCIENCE!].

Lean beef gives you almost half of the Daily Value [per the USDA] of protein in one 150 calorie, 3 ounce serving.  And lean beef variety and cut availability has grown leaps and bounds over the past several decades.

Learn more about lean beef:


I wanted to give you a bit of info on the different kinds of lean beef cuts you can find at your local market.  Today I’ll cover a list of roasts and later this week I’ll be back with a list of steak cuts, too!

Take a look at the list below… what roasts from this list haven’t you tried before?  Are any popping out at you to give a try this month? I hope you’ll join me in this challenge!


Cut I Purchased:
Sirloin Tip Roast // aka ball tip roast, full-trimmed tip roast, round tip roast, crescent roast, knuckle
// An economical choice with a good nutritional profile.  I will admit that the price-point for the roast was what made me choose this cut when I was at the butcher counter.
// Best cooked to medium rare using the oven and is often served carved into thin slices.
// Delicious Looking Sirloin Tip Roast Recipes to Try:

Other Lean Roasts and Prepared Cuts:
Bottom Round Roast // aka bottom round oven roast, bottom round rump roast, bottom round pto roast
// Another cost-friendly option, look for sales in your meat counter.
// Best flavor comes out when braised or pot roasted.
// Delicious Looking Bottom Round Roast Recipes to Try

  • Beef and Mushroom Pot Roast from Natasha’s Kitchen.  This slow cooker recipe is a great “set it and forget it” one pot meal that can be thrown together in the morning and ready for dinner time.
  • Beer Braised Bottom Round Roast from King’s.  Just the title of this recipe makes my mouth water!


pictured above: brisket brie tacos with mango barbecue sauce from Prevention RD

Brisket // brisket will often be listed with a variety of descriptors; front, point, whole, center, flat, nose, etc.
// Ultra flavorful, lean cut.
// Best when pot roasted or braised, when it becomes incredibly tender.
// Delicious Looking Brisket Recipes to Try:

Chuck Roast // aka shoulder pot roast, chuck 7-bone roast, blade pot roast, chuck arm roast
// Strong, beefy flavor.
// Best when braised or pot roasted, becoming moist and tender.
// Delicious Looking Chuck Roast Recipes to Try

Eye of Round Roast // aka round eye pot roast
// Extremely economical and very lean.
// Best when cooked in the oven, only to medium rare and carved into thin slices.
// Delicious Looking Eye of Round Roast Recipes to Try:

  • Perfect Eye of Round Roast from The Domestic Man. Russ admits that this cut can be intimidating, but his broken down, simple steps and basic flavors show this beef who is boss!
  • Balsamic Eye of Round Roast from Edible Harmony. The combination of balsamic and slow caramelized onions gives this recipe a sweetness duo I’d love to bring into my kitchen.


pictured above: beef shank osso buco with lemon-parsley gremolata from serious eats

Shank Cross Cut // aka center beef shanks, fore shank, soup shank,
// Can be very tender and flavorful when handled properly.
// Best when cooked in liquid, either stewing or braising.
// Delicious Looking Shank Cross Cut Recipes to Try

Shoulder Pot Roast // aka boneless English roast, clod roast, shoulder roast, cross rib roast, book roast
// Strong beef flavor.
// Best when pot roasted or braised.
// Delicious Looking Shoulder Pot Roast Recipes to Try

  • Garlic Bacon Pot Roast from Tastes of Lizzy T’s. Another one to let the slow cooker do the work for you, with bold, family-favorite flavors.
  • Chipotle Barbacoa Tacos from Against All Grain. Homemade tortillas make this dish a bit fancier, and the smoky chipotle flavor is a favorite around these parts!

Tenderloin Roast
// This boneless roast is the most tender of all the lean cuts. You can find this as a whole roast or a smaller center-cut roasts in the meat case.
// Best when roasted in the over.
// Delicious Looking Tenderloin Roast Recipes to Try

Grilled Vegetable and Tri-Tip Salad

pictured above: grilled vegetable and tri-tip salad from Peanut Butter & Peppers



Tri-Tip Roast // aka bottom sirloin roast, triangle roast
// This boneless, tender roast is most readily available on the West coast, but is making it’s way across the country.  If you haven’t found it near you yet, ask your butcher!
// Best when grilled, broiled, or oven roasted.
// Delicious Looking Tri-Tip Roast Recipes to Try:

Stew Meat (or Roast, cubed)
// Not all stew meat is guaranteed lean, so be sure to look for package nutrition or ask the meat retailer.  Another option is to choose a roast listed above to cut into stew meat pieces.
// Best when cooked in liquid!
// Delicious Looking Stew Meat Recipes to Try

  • Simple and Tasty Beef Stew from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. Toss it all together, throw it in the oven, keep busy for a couple hours, and before you know, you’ve got dinner ready and on the table!
  • Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Beef from Real Mom Kitchen. Less than 10 ingredients and letting the slow cooker do the work!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.