Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Quick, Easy and Healthy "Korean Barbecue"

On Friday I took my boys to Florida to visit my parents.  We had a great long weekend.  It was wonderful to see my parents and my kids were so happy to see their grandparents.  There were a few fun adventures this weekend for sure!  We went for a “treetop” trek/zip line at the Brevard Zoo and enjoyed seeing the animals and going on a train ride.  It rained a lot when we were there but mostly at night or late in the afternoon when we were relaxing inside anyway.  We were lucky enough to pick a good morning to go to the beach and had fun digging in the sand and jumping in the waves.  Another highlight of the trip was a visit to Adventure Land in Christmas, Florida.  We were able to see lots of alligators and even took a boat trip in the lagoon that had about 150 alligators!!  My oldest son was even able to hold a baby gator!  I was happy to see they taped his mouth shut while guests were able to hold him. 
We had a great flight home without too much excitement but it is such a long day of travel, especially after all we did this weekend.  My parents live about an hour from Orlando so there is a drive to the airport and then about 2 hours at the airport before the flight and finally almost 3 hours in the plane – alone – with 2 boys – 7 years old and 3 years old!  I am exhausted.
But we still had to eat and we ate out a lot while on vacation so I really just wanted a meal at home.  We got home around 4:30 pm and I wasn’t quite sure what would be in the fridge.  Did my husband get takeout every night or did he actually cook something?  After looking around to see what I could quickly defrost and throw together I decided to make my version of “Korean Barbecue.”  Korean Barbecue is often made with short ribs and has some sort of vegetable dish on the side.  I need quick, easy, inexpensive and of course, healthy, so I used ground bison instead! 
I live near a bison farm so I can easily pick up bison for my family meals.  This is great because I can buy healthy meats and support a local farmer.  I often chose bison even over grass-fed beef (which is the only beef I eat) because it is leaner, offers more protein than beef and I think simply tastes better!  According to an article I read on livestrong.coma 3-oz. serving of ground bison contains about 150 calories and offers 22 g of protein, while a similar portion of 80 percent lean ground beef weighs in 40 percent heavier at 216 calories.”  It goes on to say that a beef burger not only has more calories but it has less protein with 15 g of protein.

Bison is also leaner than beef .  The 3-oz. bison burger has7 g of fat compared to a beef burger with 17 g.  If you are eating commercial beef and not grass fed, the fat in bison will be healthier because grass fed bison (or beef) has higher levels omega-3 fatty acid. Commercial beef raised on corn has higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids.  According to the livestrong article “consuming grass-fed meats can help you lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer by shifting your omega-3 to omega-6 ratios.”
So now back to my version of Korean Barbecue.  It doesn’t really resemble the original because I use the ground bison and instead of serving it with a vegetable side dish, I include vegetables in the dish but it is fun to call it that – my kids get intrigued by interesting names for my dishes.  This recipe is so versatile.  You can use ground beef or turkey instead of the bison.  You can use whatever vegetables you like or have on hand.  I am always changing the vegetables depending upon what I have in the fridge.

1 pound ground bison or lean beef or turkey
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 C broccoli, cut into small florets
1Tbs olive oil
1.5 Tbs toasted sesame oil
¼ C low-sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp fresh grated ginger (or ground)
2 scallions
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
Cooked brown rice
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, 1 Tbs of the sesame oil, ginger and garlic.  I’ve seen many recipes that include sugar but I honestly don’t think it needs it.  If you find you would like it sweeter, you could always add a little honey.  
Here is a little tip about ginger.  I love ginger but I don’t use it every day.  So I buy a piece of ginger root from the supermarket, put it in a freezer safe bag/container without peeling it and throw it in the freezer.  When I need it I pull it out, scrape off some of the peel and use a micro-plane grater to grate the ginger I need for my recipe.  It works perfectly.
At this point, add the ground meat and mix well.  Set aside and let marinade while you are cooking the vegetables.
In a large sauté pan, heat up half of the olive oil and add sweet potatoes and start to cook on medium-high heat.  In a few minutes, add the onion and celery.  In a few minutes add the broccoli and cook some more. After about 8 minutes or when the veggies are to the desired tenderness, take the veggies off the heat and put in another bowl.  Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and add the meat and marinade and cook until it starts browned.  Add the veggies back to the pan and mix well.  Cover and let cook another few minutes until all heated through.  I usually add a half of tablespoon of the sesame oil and mix shortly before serving.  Serve over ½ cup of cooked brown rice and garnish with sliced scallions and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. 
My family liked it – my hubby and older son enjoyed it but my youngest son only had his no thank you bite and then had a leftover peanut butter and jelly sandwich I packed for the plane.  I love this meal because is less than 400 calories, it is delicious, colorful and satisfying.   It serves 4-6 people.  If you want to stretch it to 6 people, serve with a side salad too or an appetizer.  I used myfitnesspal to calculate the nutritional content and it packs a punch with 29 g of protein but only about 7 g of fat.
I hope you give it a try.

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