As an engineer, I strive for efficiency and optimization in just about everything I do. I’m obsessed with healthy eating, and I firmly believe that cooking your own food is the only way to truly know what you’re putting into your body. Naturally, I would combine my need for efficiency and optimization with my desire to cook healthy food. This combination has, most recently, led me to create this recipe.
Additionally, as an engineer, I completely lack creativity…hence the oh-so-boring name “Easy Beef & Brussels Sprouts.”
Before we continue, a couple of disclaimers:
- This meal had to be ridiculously healthy. Obviously. But more than just a healthy meal, I wanted each ingredient to stand on its own as a healthy food.
- It had to be ridiculously easy and convenient to cook (e.g. pre-chopped veggies from Trader Joe’s with absolutely no bullshit ingredients thrown in). Open the package and dump it in. Sure you could chop your own stuff, but then you’re eliminating the efficiency component of the recipe.
- It had to produce quite a few servings. As a new dad and a small business owner, time is easily the most valuable (and scarce) resource. For roughly the same amount of time it takes to cook one meal, I can cook a week’s worth of delicious food. That sounds like efficiency and optimization to me.
The final disclaimer is more about you, the reader, than the recipe:
- You have to LOVE leftovers. If you don’t, then you’re probably not gonna find this meal nearly as helpful (it will still be delicious though). I love being able to grab out a dish or two from the fridge, put a Drew-sized helping onto a plate, microwave it for a few minutes, and then sit down to a delectable and nutritious meal. Absolutely no compromise on taste or quality. My only limitation is the size of my stock pot! (If you’re kinda a fan of leftovers, try reducing the numbers below…for instance, instead of 3 packages of everything, go with 2)
INGREDIENTS (all from Trader Joe’s)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – 3 tablespoons
- If you were ever curious what “extra virgin” means, it is the first pressing of the olives without the use of heat, hot water, or solvents…in other words, it is pure, unrefined oil from olives. If it doesn’t say “extra virgin”, you’re likely getting sloppy seconds via various refining methods.
- Mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery; already chopped) – 1 container
- Peeled Garlic cloves – 1 mini-pack
- Grass-Fed Beef – 3 packages, each is 1 lb
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts – 3 packages
- Salt & Pepper – to taste
I think it’s worth noting that every single one of the ingredients in this concoction are found in the book “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” by Dr. Jonny Bowden (my go-to book for superfoods…and by superfoods I’m not referring to the rare substances found in the deepest, darkest corners of the earth. I’m referring to what we would consider “everyday” foods…foods you can find in every grocery store year-round). Also, of the 7 ingredients, 5 of them received a “star”, which means they’re the best of the best. See below for more about each ingredient.
- A large/deep stock pot (to make sure everything fits)
- A regular ol’ spatula or spoon for stirring
- Put your stock pot on medium heat
- Pour 3 TBSP’s of olive oil into the stock pot
- Add Mirepoix and saute for about 5 minutes (Start chopping garlic during this step)
- Add Garlic and saute for an additional minute
- Add all of the beef, mix thoroughly, and cook completely
- Add all of the shaved brussels sprouts, mix thoroughly, and cook until the Brussels sprouts reach your desired tenderness
- Add salt and pepper to taste
3 WAYS TO ENJOY
- With eggs over-easy on top
- After a workout, on top of brown rice or other starchy carbohydrate to stimulate the #gainz
*it’s assumed that copious amounts of Cholula will be used in all 3 preparations
Last time I made this, I decided to turn on the stopwatch to see just how long it took from start to finish. By “from start,” I mean even the time necessary to get the ingredients out of the fridge and the cookware out of the cabinets.
The best part was that most of the 40 minutes wasn’t even “active time” where I was actually doing work. I could fly Claire around like Superwoman, or drink a glass of wine with Lauren, while occasionally checking in on the process.
Now this is the part that I really enjoy. I don’t just derive pleasure from eating delicious foods made with a minimum of time and effort. I truly love to read about all of the great things that these foods do to my body. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know what an “acetylenic” is…all that matters is the feeling I get when I take a bite knowing that I am doing everything in my power to cancer-proof my body and make my heart and cardiovascular system bulletproof.
All of the bullet points below have been taken from Dr. Jonny Bowden’s book “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.”
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- High in phenols, a potent antioxidant
- Primarily comprised of monounsaturated fats, specifically oleic acid, which is heart healthy (Lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol, both good)
- Helps to reduce blood pressure
- Helps to decrease risk of colon and bowel cancer
- High in carotenoids, a potent antioxidant, and has been associated with a decrease of up to 50% in bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophageal cancer
- Great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts
- PRO TIP: cooking carrots, as in this recipe, makes some of the nutrients more bioavailable
- PRO TIP #2: carotenoids such as alpha- and beta-carotene as well as vitamin A are fat soluble, so they should be eaten with a little fat to improve absorption (EVOO and grass-fed beef in this recipe take care of that)
- PRO TIP #3: if you overdo it with carrots, or any other vegetable high in beta-carotene such as pumpkin, you will turn orange like an Oompa Loompa, but don’t worry, beta-carotenosis is pretty harmless.
- High in phytochemicals called phthalides, which can lower blood pressure by relaxing muscle tissues in artery walls and lower levels of stress hormones
- High in silicon, which is an important nutrient for bone and joint health
- Contain compounds such as acetylenics and phenolic acids, which have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells
- High in diallyl sulfide, which increases the body’s production of an important cancer-fighting enzyme (glutathione-S-transferase)
- High in the flavonoid quercetin, which can help relieve asthma, allergies, and hay fever by blocking some of the inflammatory responses in the airways
- Contain powerful antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antiviral
- Contain sulfides, which can lower blood lipids and blood pressure
- Garlic is lipid-lowering, antithrombotic, anti-blood coagulation, antihypertensive, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiparasitic
- A powerful agent for cardiovascular health…can lower LDL levels without lowering HDL levels (and in some cases can raise HDL), while also lowering triglyceride levels, reducing arterial plaque, and lowering blood pressure
- Contains diallyl disulfide, which can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells
- PRO TIP: the preparation of garlic is critical for it to release its health-promoting benefits. Make sure to crush or chop your garlic (as is indicated in the recipe above)
First, a little rant on corn-fed beef. Cows are ruminants, which means their natural diet is grass. When cows are fattened up with corn (a grain), the nutrient content of the meat is reduced by as much as 75%. Additionally, the fat profile of the meat goes from a high, or anti-inflammatory, ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s to a low, or pro-inflammatory, ratio. In other words, omega 3’s go down and omega 6’s go up. That’s bad.
Additionally, eating an unnatural diet makes the cattle sick, which is why they are pumped so full of antibiotics…they are simply being kept alive long enough to get really fat and make it to the slaughterhouse.
- High in omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acis (CLA), both of which are scarce in corn-fed beef, and are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds
- Great source of protein, B-vitamins, zinc, and heme iron (which is the most absorbable)
- Arguably the most important reason for choosing grass-fed beef is what it does NOT contain, and that is a whole shit-ton of chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics (*of course this statement won’t apply to ALL grass-fed beef, so choose your beef wisely)
- A cruciferous vegetable and member of the cabbage family, which contain more cancer-fighting nutrients than any other vegetable family
- High in compounds such as sinigrin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which are know to fight cancer by inhibiting cell proliferation, neutralizing carcinogens, and detoxifying environmental toxins
Bowden, J., Ph.D. (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.