Tips to Help You Make Wise Choices From The Meat & Beans Group
Go lean with protein:
- Start with a lean choice:
- The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and
roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
- The leanest pork choices include pork loin,
tenderloin, center loin, and ham.
- Choose extra lean ground beef. The label should say
at least "90% lean". You may be able to find ground beef that is 93% or 95% lean.
- Buy skinless chicken parts, or take off the skin
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey
cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.
- Choose lean turkey, roast beef, ham, or low-fat
luncheon meats for sandwiches instead of luncheon meats with more fat, such as
regular bologna or salami.
- Keep it lean:
- Trim away all of the visible fat from meats and
poultry before cooking.
- Broil, grill, roast, poach, or boil meat, poultry,
or fish instead of frying.
- Drain off any fat that appears during cooking.
- Skip or limit the breading on meat, poultry, or
fish. Breading adds fat and calories. It will also cause the food to soak up
more fat during frying.
- Prepare dry beans and peas without added fats.
- Choose and prepare foods without
high fat sauces or gravies.
Vary your protein choices:
- Choose fish more often
for lunch or dinner. Look for fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon,
trout, and herring. Some ideas are:
- Salmon steak or filet
- Salmon loaf
- Grilled or
- Choose dry beans or peas as a main dish or part of a meal often.
Some choices are:
- Chili with kidney or pinto beans
- Stir- fried tofu
- Split pea, lentil, minestrone, or white bean soups
- Baked beans
- Black bean enchiladas
- Garbanzo or kidney beans on a chef's salad
- Rice and beans
- Veggie burgers or garden burgers
- Hummus (chickpeas) spread on pita bread
- Choose nuts as a snack,
on salads, or in main dishes.
- Use nuts to replace meat or poultry, not in
addition to these items: Use pine nuts in pesto sauce for pasta.
- Add slivered almonds to steamed vegetables.
- Add toasted peanuts or cashews to a vegetable stir
fry instead of meat.
- Sprinkle a few nuts on top of low-fat ice cream or
- Add walnuts or pecans to a green salad instead of cheese or meat.
What to look for on the Food Label:
- Check the Nutrition Facts label for the saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium content of packaged foods.
- Processed meats such as hams, sausages,
frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Check the
ingredient and Nutrition Facts label to help limit sodium intake.
- Fresh chicken, turkey, and pork that have been
enhanced with a salt-containing solution also have added sodium. Check the
product label for statements such as "self-basting" or "contains up to __% of __."
- Lower fat
versions of many processed meats are available. Look on the Nutrition Facts
label to choose products with less fat and saturated fat.
Keep it safe to eat:
- Separate raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
- Do not wash or rinse meat or poultry.
- Wash cutting boards, knives, utensils and counter
tops in hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to
the next one.
- Store raw meat, poultry and seafood on the bottom
shelf of the refrigerator so juices don't drip onto other foods.
- Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill
microorganisms. Use a meat thermometer, which measures the internal
temperature of cooked meat and poultry, to make sure that the meat is cooked
all the way through.
- Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and
defrost foods properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and
leftovers within two hours.
- Plan ahead to defrost foods. Never defrost food on
the kitchen counter at room temperature. Thaw food by placing it in the
refrigerator, submerging air-tight packaged food in cold tap water, or
defrosting on a plate in the microwave.
- Avoid raw or partially cooked eggs or foods
containing raw eggs and raw or undercooked meat and poultry.
- Women who may become pregnant, pregnant women,
nursing mothers, and young children should avoid some types of fish and eat types lower in mercury. See w.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg3.html or call 1-888-SAFEFOOD for more information.
Source: USDA, www.MyPyramid.gov
Last Editorial Review: 12/21/2005