Ground Beef: Ingredient of the Week

Kim Conte
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hamburgerEach week in Food and Party, we'll be featuring an "Ingredient of the Week"—paying homage to some of our favorite ingredients all week long with buying and storage tips, recipes, and other useful information.

This week's special ingredient is: Ground beef.

I know, I know ... not the healthiest of ingredients, but with grilling season approaching, there's no point in ignoring the obvious. Plus, I've got some tips on how to buy the healthiest ground beef for your family.

Can we take a timeout for just one second so I can say that touching raw ground beef (and other ground meat, for that matter) truly disgusts me? Alas, the only way to get a decent hamburger or meatball -- two of my favorite foods -- is to get up close and personal with the stuff. And, so I'm used to getting over myself, and digging right in.

And while we're on the subject of recipes, let it not go unsaid that ground beef is one of the most versatile ingredients around. We're not big meat-eaters, but I love to throw a few ounces into whatever we're having -- pizza, baked pasta, chili, tacos, etc. -- to make sure we're getting enough lean protein in our meal.

When buying ground beef, try to choose packages with the highest percentage of lean meat: 90 percent or 93 percent is usually the highest you can buy. Another label to look for? "Choice" or "Select" usually have less fat than "Prime."

If you're concerned about health, another option is to buy organic ground beef. This means it contains no hormones or antibiotics -- plus, it's more eco-friendly because it comes from cattle that eat organic feed, which is grown without chemical pesticides.

True, lean and organic ground beef are more expensive than the regular version -- but, remember, a little bit goes a long, long way.

Does your family eat ground beef? What kind do you buy?


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