Five years ago, my father had an emergency quadruple bypass and my physician did a full cardiac blood workup on me. I was 38, never overweight and an avid CrossFitter. The results showed that I had high inflammation and high cholesterol and my physician recommended baby aspirin and a statin – for the rest of my life. My desire not to be on a drug that could damage my liver led me to learn about how food could help.
Turns out that our U.S. beef supply is pretty bad for our health. Industrial farming ensures fewer people go hungry, which is good, but also has fundamentally changed the nutritional composition of foods – and this is bad. In current New York Times Bestseller, Grain Brain, Dr. David Perlmutter, aggregates extensive, peer reviewed research about how grains and gluten lead to inflammation that is correlated to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, MS, cancer, ADHD, ADD and more. He treats neurological illness and disorder with food. The winning combination is veggies, dietary fats (nuts, avocados, lean meats) and protein – and no grains. In the CrossFit community, it’s called Paleo.
But even if we try to avoid eating grain, we still get it through sources that never were supposed to eat it in the first place. Cows are supposed to eat grass – grains aren’t good for them either. But over 95% of American beef is finished on grain. And grain finishing makes grassfed beef lose all its benefit. Grass is what leads to healthy cows and healthy cows make healthy beef. As Jews, we are expected to prevent Tza’ar ba’alei chayim, the suffering of animals. Feeding animals food they aren’t meant to eat – food that makes them sick, clearly violates this premise. A better choice for the animals and for us is 100% grass fed beef. I recommend checking out the health details on KOL Foods (the only kosher, American raised, 100% grass-fed beef retailer) or EatWild (for non-kosher).
As healthy as wild salmon – but it is beef (and doesn’t have salmon’s mercury problems)! Grass finished beef has a ratio of 2 Omega 6 to 1 Omega 3 (the same as wild salmon) it also has considerably better nutrients. In fact, according to California State University of Chico, grain-fed beef has a ratio of 22 Omega 6 to 1 Omega 3. Optimal heart and brain health is a 1:1 ratio.
Grass finished beef is simply better for you and tastes amazing when cooked properly. As a family cook, I look for recipes that will render this ingredient tender and enhance its natural, meaty flavor. Here’s a favorite for the ski slopes or any time you want to arrive home at night to succulent flavors and a hearty meal.
Red-wine braised short ribs adapted for Kashrut from the Food Network
32 oz English cut grass fed beef short ribs trimmed of extra fat
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons coconut oil or avocado oil (these are healthy fats that retain their nutritional characteristics at high heat. Avocado oil has no flavor while coconut oil adds a slight coconut richness to the dish).
1 bottle full bodied red wine – Cabernet or Zinfindel
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (or kosher chicken stock if you prefer)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
I use a slow cooker for this dish and set it to low to cook all day. Alternatively, you can use a dutch oven and cook in a conventional oven.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Dry ribs with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you are using kosher ribs, be mindful that they were already salted!
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet (if using slow cooker) or the dutch oven.
- Add the ribs and brown on all sides.
- Transfer ribs to a plate or the slow cooker and let stand.
- Add garlic to oil in pan or oven and stir until softened but not browned – about a minute.
- Pour in all the wine and reduce until there is only 1 cup left.
- If you were using a skillet/pan, put the ribs in the slow cooker and pour the wine, garlic and stock into the slow cooker. If you are using a dutch oven, keep the wine in the oven and add the ribs and stock to it. Include any juices from the ribs.
- (slow cooker) cover and go enjoy your day – it’ll be ready 6 hours later.
- (dutch oven) Reduce the heat and bring to simmer. Cover and put in the oven.
- (dutch oven) Cook for three hours.
- Transfer ribs to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Strain the remaining braising liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer the liquid, skimming the fat (won’t be much – these were grass fed ribs) for about 10 minutes until its thick.
- Remove from heat and whisk in remaining tablespoon of oil.
- Season to taste.
- Serve ribs and sauce together for a delicious meal.
I usually slow-bake sweet potatoes and make a mixed green salad with honey/Dijon vinaigrette to go with the short ribs.
Joelle Gropper Kaufman is a technology business executive in Silicon Valley leading marketing and partnerships for BloomReach and the busy mom of three active, healthy kids, one dog and four chickens. She’s often admitting to sounding crazy as she advocates for healthy eating including a diet of 100% grassfed beef.