Er, it’s all up to interpretation….

After espousing the health benefits of a primarily vegetarian (“plant based”) diet and eschewing chicken, beef and other animal flesh beyond fish for well over 7 years, I admittedly had red meat the other day. Egad!!!

Now let me explain myself…although heart disease runs thick through my familial bloodline, I’ve always been a proponent of moderation, so the idea that I had to completely eliminate red meat from my diet in order to have ideal lipids wasn’t an issue. What was (and still is) a huge issue for me is the way we raise, treat, and slaughter animals. My friends, I’m talking about factory farming. In my opinion, there is something inherently wrong with not allowing a living, breathing being to live outside and roam, eat the grass it’s body was designed to eat (surprise! it’s not grainfeed or corn), have ample space to sleep (I’m not talking Holiday Inn here but c’mon, these animals are filled to the brim in stalls and shipped cross country in disgustingly cramped quarters), and live a relatively stress-free life. This is not an isolated thing for beef, unfortunately it’s the same or worse for chickens (and egg laying hens) and pork… Then there’s the pollution issue with factory farms ….a whole other area I will not cover in this post.

The great news is that, thanks to the Slow Foods movement, a growing interest in animal husbandry, as well as the upswing in access to local farms, farming, and produce (refer to my previous CSA posts), for the majority of Americans the ability to purchase beef (my example) that has been raised and ‘finished’ on grass is easier than ever. Lucky for all of you, I found a great site that helps you find grass fed meats in your area. It’s called Eat Wild . If you’re in the Charleston area, try Kitchen Table Cuisine – it’s the same farm that I get my CSA from and they provide weekly “groceries” from local/regional farmers. Products include grass fed beef, sausages, cage free/free range eggs, dairy and cheeses, produce, grains, nuts, dried fruits, and other local/regional foods or meals. For a small fee, they’ll even deliver it to your door weekly. Can’t beat that!

Sidenote: grass-fed beef has been found to be lower in saturated fat, and higher in omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and vitamin E when compared to factory farmed/grain fed beef.

I’ve been training really hard with CrossFit, and I think the biggest impetus for me to give meat a go-ahead (even if just once) is that I felt like there was something lacking for me… it in my head or not. I’ve gotten to my leanest eschewing meat, and have gained in strength….and there are many amazing athletes who are complete vegans (John Salley, Scott Jurek) so it’s not inconceivable to avoid animal products and still perform at your best (and heck, I consume dairy and fish). Maybe I’m making excuses, maybe not. Not for me to worry about, because after the cathartic experience I had eating my father-in-laws amazing Flank Steak Sandwich (recipe below), I think there may be room in my dietary repertoire for the “occasional” beef, maybe even chicken (as long as I purchase them from local/reputable sources).

Without further ado, here is what my husband grew up on. If this tells you anything, our 2 and 4 year olds ate silently at the table (they’re usually fighting or tossing food across it) – devouring EVERY INCH of their plates, and (no joke) asked for more….My husband looked over at me and said, “we’ve been together for 12 years and you’ve waited THIS LONG to make this? Look at your children, clearly we’ve been depriving them!” I laughed and promised them all that mom will try harder to feed my boys the meat they’ve clearly been jonesing for….but don’t fool yourselves, there will be plenty of tofu in their future!

Ed’s Amazing Flank Steak Sandwich

1 lb – 1 1/2 lbs flank steak

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos – it’s a “veg-thing”)
1 Tbsp A-1 steak sauce
1 Tbsp Lee and Perrins
1 Tbsp minced garlic/although he suggests garlic granules as best choice I didn’t have any and am too lazy to seek them out when I have heads of garlic at home!

Score flesh of meat and pour marinade over. Marinate for the day or as I did just 3 hours.

Set oven to Broil and move oven tray to second level from the top. Place meat on a broiler pan and broil on each side for about 5-6 minutes. I did 5 minutes on first side, 6 on the other. My flank was less than a 1/2-inch thick so it cooked quickly….if thicker, adjust cooking time accordingly and to your desired doneness. Ours was medium.

Since the meat cooks so quickly, make all sides and accompaniments beforehand. I made roasted sweet potato wedges (great with just some salt, pepper, xvoo, cumin), and roasted asparagus with kalamata olives (see pictures below) – YUM is the only word I can say about this side dish. Just sprinkle with xvoo on baking sheet lined with foil, toss in some salt and pepper and if you desire some balsamic and in 15-20 have a beautiful asparagus dish. The olives are great roasted!

Right before the flank was put in the oven I sauteed sliced mushrooms, onions and red peppers in olive oil with some worcestershire. I also got ciabatta buns (yes, white enriched, I was going to hell with this dish anyways in my book), brushed them with olive oil and laid a slice of provolone over 1/2 for each person. Once beef was done and set aside, I broiled the buns for a few minutes until crispy and cheese melted.

Assemble the sandwich by placing sliced beef on ciabatta and topping with mushrooms/onions/peppers and if you desire, horseradish sauce (my husband gasps at this but I love it). Serve immediately and savor it!

No picture of the sandwiches, they cooked so fast and had been eaten so fast I missed the opportunity! Here’s the asparagus though.

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