2014 New Year’s Resolutions

The more I talk to people about their resolutions for 2014, the more I feel that “resolutions” has become a dirty word. Some people react with obvious disdain. They say they don’t set resolutions because they’re unrealistic or they haven’t helped in the past. Others have obviously experienced numerous failures on their resolutions, so they are depressed about the prospect of setting yet another goal that won’t be achieved. That got me to wondering, how can a resolution actually work?

I’m not going to write a step-by-step guide on how to set and follow through on your 2014 resolutions. There are enough articles like that on the internet already. However, I will offer an opinion on how grass fed beef jerky can play a positive part in your New Year’s resolutions (did you expect any different from GrassFedBeefJerky.com?)

Goal: Be more healthy

This could be a weight loss goal or a target cholesterol number, or run a marathon by the end of the year or whatever. The core of the resolution is to be more healthy.

I have a wicked sweet tooth. I love high fructose corn syrup in my Mountain Dew. I love my hot cocoa mix with an extra half spoonful of mix. No artificial, zero-calorie sweeteners for me. This means that a big part of my goal to eat healthy is to limit “bad” snacking in between meals (my wife does a great job of making healthy meals and I’ve been improving my portion control). So how do I reduce “bad” snacking?

You may have read my earlier post about paleo snacking. This strategy of eating nuts & fruits instead of “bad” snacks has been marginally successful for me at work this year. Now that I’ve found a great source of grass fed beef jerky from Brady’s Beef, I plan to add beef jerky to the mix so that I’m getting healthy fats and more protein into my diet.

I’ve found that protein is a big part of the equation for me. If I get some protein in my breakfast, it keeps me from needing “bad” snacks before lunch. Likewise, the protein from beef jerky helps me avoid that desire for the afternoon pick-me-up from a Mt. Dew or candy.

What are you doing to be more healthy in 2014?

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Review: Brady’s Beef Jerky

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve found a partner to offer grass fed beef jerky here on my site. The produce is Brady’s Beef from southeastern Idaho. Check out their full website here if you want to learn more about their farm. But let’s get on to the good stuff.

Brady’s Beef – Grass Fed Beef Jerky

Bradys Beef Original Flavor Beef JerkyProduct – Beef Jerky Strips (4 oz. package)

Jerky Type – Pressed & Formed

Texture – Soft. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to bite through. I would guess it has a little more fat than the natural strips (which I like for flavor) and keeps the jerky nice and tender so I didn’t feel like a caveman biting off a chunk of animal flesh.

Flavor – Original. However, this has a good amount of pepper and tastes a lot more like the peppered flavors you’ll get from other jerky companies. Being grass fed, the “beef” flavor comes out strongly for a delicious taste.

Ingredients – Beef, soy protein, whey, smoke flavoring, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, spices, dextrose, maltodextrin & spice extractives.

Price – $8 for 4 oz.

Rating – Excellent (5-stars)

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New Grass Fed Beef Jerky Supplier

In my search for great grass fed beef jerky I’ve come across a lot of options, but today I want to announce that I have finally found a provider that I will be partnering with to provide 100% grass fed beef jerky for sale:

Brady’s Beef

This is a brand new product from Brady’s Beef and my first sample will arrive this weekend so I can post a full review. However, I can give you some details on availability and pricing:

  • Natural Style Jerky – These are natural strips made from the round. Comes in Original and Teriyaki flavors. 4 oz. package for $12
  • Beef Jerky Strips – Available in Original and Terayaki flavors. 4 oz. package for $8

bradys-beef-logo

I’ll be getting pictures and a full review, but get excited people!

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Why Are Nitrites In Beef Jerky?

Cured Meats

Photo courtesy of Rubber Slippers in Italy

As I began researching grass fed beef jerky I came across lots of articles about nitrites in processed meats. Most of the articles were negative, pointing to increased risks of cancer or other harmful health effects. To understand why nitrites would be used, what they are for, and whether their presence/absence should influence my jerky buying decision, I did some research.

What Are Nitrites?

Nitrite is an ionic molecule consisting of 1 Nitrogen atom and 2 Oxygen atoms. It carries a negative charge and therefore bonds with positive ions, usually to form a salt. These compounds are what is most often referenced when articles discuss “nitrites” and the most common form is sodium nitrite.

What Are Nitrites Used For?

Sodium nitrite is used in curing meats for 3 main purposes:

  • Preventing microbial growth – Specifically the Clostridium botulinum bacteria responsible for botulism (so that’s a plus)
  • Cosmetics – Sodium nitrite is added to meats to give them a healthy red/pink color even though they would naturally have changed to a darker, more brown hue
  • Prevent rancid flavor – Sodium nitrite acts as an antioxidant to prevent the oxidation of lipids (fats) in meat that would make it taste bad

So sodium nitrite is helping prevent botulism (a big positive), keeps meats looking “fresh”, and slows fat oxidation that would make meat taste bad. While the first reason is helpful, the latter two reasons are purely commercial so that meat looks good and tastes good longer. That’s a big thing with our current food system because meat is being shipped great distances and isn’t “fresh” in virtually any sense of the word.

Are Nitrites Dangerous?

There are concerns that large amounts of nitrites (bacon is particularly high in nitrites) can increase the risk of colorectal cancers but the research hasn’t been able to show a strong causal relationship. Here are a couple articles for your reading:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/processedmeat050305.cfm
http://www.livescience.com/36057-truth-nitrites-lunch-meat-preservatives.html
The real concern is when nitrites are converted into nitrosamines, which are most strongly connected to all the bad stuff mentioned above.

Natural Sources of Nitrites

Looking at labels of grass fed beef jerky you’ll often encounter the ingredient celery juice. This is used as a natural source of nitrites and often the packages will use messaging such as “No added nitrites” or “Sodium nitrate free”.

Verdict?

If possible I would recommend avoiding beef jerky with sodium nitrite as an ingredient. It will be very clearly listed on the ingredient label and should be easy to avoid.

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Paleo Snacking

For those of you who’ve read my About page, you’ll realize that I have a major sweet tooth. Sugar is my weakness. So while I’ve been trying to eat healthy for several years, snacking has always been my downfall.

Paleo Snacking

The idea came to me through a co-worker. He was doing the paleo diet hardcore, complete with cross-fit training. He would sit at his desk and snack on a package of lunch meat and a bag of dried bananas. Even when someone brought in a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts he didn’t have one. His self control was admirable. After talking with him I came up with an idea for my own snacking problem – Paleo snacking.

My basic strategy has 3 main components:

  • Nuts – They’re pretty healthy and they’re salty. And the best part is that you don’t need to eat many to get rid of those hunger pangs (or compulsive snacky cravings).
  • Dried fruit – I started with dried apples because I like them. Dried bananas aren’t my thing. I’ve also experimented with dried mango (okay, not great) and dried pineapple (did not like). This is the other half of the “sweet & salty” for me.
  • Grass Fed Beef Jerky – Any old beef jerky won’t do. Grass fed beef is healthier and tastes better. Trust me.

So I’ve been snacking healthy at work for a few weeks now and it helps me avoid the ups and downs in energy that sugary treats gave me. I’ll keep you posted, but so far I’m pleased with the results.

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