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Meat and Beans
By choosing to complete this mail lesson, you have taken the first step in learning more about the importance of nutrition and its relationship to good health. During the MyPyramid lesson you learned about healthy eating using MyPyramid as your guide. You learned which foods to eat and how much of these foods you need to eat each day. This lesson will take a closer look at the meat and beans group.
To complete this lesson:
- Carefully read this lesson. It should take about 15-20 minutes to complete.
- Answer the questions at the end of the lesson.
- When you are finished, place the questions in the prepaid envelope and place the envelope in the mail.
Meat and Beans Group:
- The meat and beans group includes all foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts and seeds.
- Foods from the meat and beans group provide nutrients that are important for growth, strong muscles and organs, fighting infection and preventing anemia.
- Choose meat and poultry that is lean or low-fat by choosing poultry without skin, extra lean ground beef and cuts of beef and pork with “loin” or “round” in the name.
- Choose fish, nuts, seeds, and dry beans or peas 2-3 times a week in place of meat and poultry.
How much do you need to eat?
The exact amount of food that you need to eat from the meat and beans group depends on your age, gender, and how much physical activity you get each day. A typical person should aim to eat about 5½ ounces of foods from the meat and beans group each day.
What counts as 1 ounce of meat or beans?
- 1 ounce cooked meat, poultry or fish
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- ¼ cup (about 2 ounces) tofu
- 1 egg
- ½ ounce of nuts or seeds
- ¼ cup of cooked dry beans, dry peas, or baked beans
- 1 small steak = 3½ to 4 ounces
- 1 small hamburger = 2 to 3 ounces
- 1 small chicken breast = 3 ounces
- 1 can of tuna, drained = 3 to 4 ounces
- 12 almonds, 24 pistachios, 7 walnut halves = 1 ounce
- 1 soy burger = 2 ounces
Consuming foods from the meat and beans group are important.
- Foods in the meat and beans group provide important nutrients such as protein, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, and iron.
- Choose fish, nuts, and seeds a couple of times a week in place of meat. They contain healthy fats, vitamin E and oils that are good for us.
- Choosing foods from the meat and beans group that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol may raise “bad” cholesterol levels. Some food choices in this group that are high in saturated fat include fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, regular (75% to 85% lean) ground beef, regular sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and some luncheon meats such as regular bologna and salami. To help keep blood cholesterol levels healthy, limit the amount of high fat foods that you eat.
Iron and Anemia
It is important to eat foods rich in iron. Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Without enough iron in your blood you may feel tired. Many foods that are high in iron are also high in protein. Include foods that are good sources of vitamin C with your meals to help your body better absorb the iron in foods.
Good sources of iron:
Cooked beans, cooked lentils, tuna, cooked dry peas, meats (beef, pork and chicken), and pumpkin or squash seeds.
Good sources of vitamin C:
Oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, and cabbage.
Tips to help you make wise choices from the meat & beans group
Go lean with protein:
- Start with a lean choice. The leanest cuts of beef include round steaks and roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, and top sirloin.
- 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. Extra lean ground beef is often more expensive than higher fat meats but extra lean ground beef yields more servings of cooked meat per pound than regular fat (75-85%) beef.
- Buy skinless chicken pieces or take off the skin before cooking.
- 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 regular bologna or salami.
Tips on keeping it lean!
- Cut away all 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.
- 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. Choose fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and herring.
- Fish can be a very nutritious part of our daily diet. Fish is low in fat, high in protein, and contains many important vitamins and nutrients. However, fish can also be high in things that are not so good for some people, like mercury.
- Due to the risk of mercury poisoning from eating fish, women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should:
- Avoid eating fish that are high in mercury such as, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish.
- Eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish that are lower in mercury (like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, Pollock, and catfish).
- Check with your doctor about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in local lakes and rivers.
- Choose cooked dry beans or peas as a main dish or part of a meal often. Some choices are:
- Chili with kidney or pinto beans
- Burrito filled with refried beans
- Split pea, lentil, minestrone, or white bean soup
- Baked beans
- Black bean enchiladas
- Garbanzo or kidney beans on a 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. Some examples include:
- Add slivered almonds to steamed vegetables
- Add peanuts or cashews to a vegetable stir-fry instead of meat
- Sprinkle a few nuts on top of low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt
- Add walnuts or pecans to a green salad instead of cheese or meat
- Remember: 12 almonds or 24 pistachios or 7 walnut halves = 1 ounce
$$ Money Saving Tips for Meats $$
1. Buy meat in bulk. Divide into smaller portions and freeze to use later. Remember to date and label packages before you freeze them.
Recommended freezer storage times:
- Frozen ground meat should be used within 3 months of freezing.
- Frozen pork should be used within 6 months of freezing.
- Beef, lamb, veal, and venison should be used within 8-12 months.
- Poultry and other birds should be used within 12 months.
2. Buy a whole chicken and cut it into parts yourself.
3. The less tender cuts of beef (round, chuck, and shoulder) cost less, and are just as nutritious. Marinate, braise, or stew these cuts to make them more tender.
4. Extra lean beef will yield more servings of cooked meat per pound than regular ground beef.
5. Avoid expensive canned and frozen “convenience” meats.
6. For lean cuts of meat, choose those with the word “loin” or “round” in the name.
What to look for on the food label:
Check the Nutrition Facts on the food label for the saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium content.
- Processed meats such as ham, sausage, hotdogs, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Check the ingredients and Nutrition Facts on the food label to help limit sodium intake.
- Fresh chicken, turkey, and pork that have been processed with a salt-containing solution also have added sodium.
- Lower fat versions of many processed meats are available.
- Use the Nutrition Facts on the food label to choose products with less fat
- and saturated fat.
Keep it safe to eat!!
- Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your shopping cart. When shopping for fruits and vegetables, grab a few extra plastic bags to place raw meat in.
- Store raw or thawing meats in sealed containers on a plate or cookie sheet in your refrigerator. Always place them on the bottom shelf so raw juices do not drip onto ready to eat foods.
- Use raw meat, poultry, and seafood within 2 days of buying it at the store.
- Thaw frozen meat, poultry, and seafood in your refrigerator. Use within 2 days of thawing.
- Use one knife and cutting board for fresh fruits and vegetables and a separate knife and cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
- Wash hands and countertops often with hot soapy water as you prepare food.
- Cook foods to a temperature that is high enough to kill bacteria. Use a meat thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat and poultry, to make sure that the meat is cooked to the appropriate internal temperature.
|Safe Cooking Temperatures|
|Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures|
|Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb||160°F|
|Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb|
|Whole Poultry and Poultry Parts||165°F|
|Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)||165°F|
|Eggs and Egg Dishes|
|Eggs||160°F or until yolk and white are firm|
|Fin Fish||145°F or until flesh is white and flakes easily with a fork|
|Leftovers & Casseroles||165°F|
Never defrost food on the kitchen counter or in the sink at room temperature. Thaw meat, poultry, and fish in the refrigerator. If you plan to cook food immediately, there are two safe ways to quickly defrost food. You can either defrost the food in the microwave or enclose the food in an airtight package and place it under cold running water.
Vegetarian choices in the meat and beans group:
- Vegetarians can get enough protein from this group as long as the variety and amounts of foods selected are enough to get 5½ ounces each day.
- Protein sources from the meat and beans group for vegetarians include eggs (for ovo-vegetarians), beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, soy burgers).