Domini Kemp: Take a gentler approach to red meat
Beef and lamb can be very nutritious but just don’t over-char it as that can produce carcinogens where blackening occurs
Nutrition is a fast-changing science and the information it produces can help to cut through the vast swathes of nonsense that are regularly churned out about food,
what to eat and what not eat. And if you look closely, it’s not hard to see there is some seriously misleading information being peddled out there.
I mean, who really believes there are foods that can actually “melt” fat? (I see ads for this all the time online).
Even worse is the idea (myth!) that there exist some foods that magically melt fat on, say, your stomach, and which by some miracle give excess kilos on your thighs and bum the heave-ho. Sorry, folks, but the only thing that can melt fat is heat – and I am not talking here about sunbathing – and if you lose fat, it comes off everywhere, more’s the pity. Sadly, weight loss is not that choosy about where it targets.
Now I do not claim to be a nutritionist, but after more than 20 years in the food industry, I do know a reasonable amount and in the last few years I have made it my business to learn more, not just about how to cook, but about how to cook in ways that maximise nutritional uptake so our bodies make the most of what we put into them – all those vitamins, minerals and suchlike.
When it comes to meat, I will admit to rabbiting on about both beef and lamb. In Ireland, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to either meat. Most of it is grass-fed, which brings all kinds of nutritional benefits, especially when the meat is organic. It’s less fatty often, for example.
Lamb is also rich in all kinds of nutrients, but especially B12 (which is great for the nervous system), omega-3 fats, zinc and of course protein. And it is easier to digest, too. But in this country, we are rather too fond of over-charring our beef and lamb, which can produce carcinogens where blackening occurs.
So this week’s first recipe, for spiced lamb patties, avoids charring or heavy frying and instead opts for a gentler, oven-cooked approach which still produces some fine flavour. Accompanying it is a cooling, rehydrating relish-cum-salad of cucumber in yoghurt. Lovely as a midweek supper or lunch.