Friday, March 7, 2008

Lean Proteins - Ten Delicious Sources

Eating a sensible, balanced diet means saying no to excessive fats, sugars and empty calories our bodies don't need.

These are the animal proteins I cook with regularly. I define lean as anything with less than 3 grams of saturated fat per 4-ounce serving. I always remove all visible fats (and poultry skin) before cooking. The sources I used were the nutrition labels from Trader Joe’s products and the website All are 4-ounce servings, unless specified otherwise.

Nutrition information is available on most packages. I recommend checking fat content before purchasing - it's such an easy way to be kinder to your arteries.

1. Ham. Aside from the Niman Ranch varieties which are fantastic I wholly recommend the uncured Applewood smoked petite ham from Trader Joe's. We have this frequently for breakfast and use for sandwiches. A 3-ounce serving has 16 grams protein, 1.5 grams of total fat and no saturated fat (and no nitrates or antibiotics).
2. Pork loin. A boneless loin roast has 24 grams protein, 6 grams total fat and 2 grams saturated fat.
3. Fish. The example here is trout. A 3-ounce serving of farmed trout (at Whole Foods) has 21 grams protein, 6 grams total fat and 2 grams saturated fat. Tilapia is another high protein, low fat fish. (There isn't a fish I reject based on fat.) We mostly eat salmon, trout, red snapper and tilapia.
4. Flank steak. I buy the Australian ones at Trader Joe's. 24 grams of protein, 2.5 grams total fat and 1 gram saturated fat.
5. Lean ground beef. Again, TJ. The 96/4 beef has 24 grams of protein, 4.5 grams total fat and 1.5 grams saturated fat.
6. Tri-tip roast. I use this to make Italian beef sandwiches and BBQ beef. The one at TJ has no nitrates or antibiotics and is free-range and veg fed. 24 grams of protein, 5 grams total fat and 2 grams saturated fat.
7. Leg of lamb. Leg is the leanest cut. 20 grams protein, 9 grams total fat and 2.5 grams saturated fat.
8. Chicken breast (boneless, skinless). The individually packed ones at Trader Joe's have 26 grams protein, 1.5 grams total fat and no saturated fat.
9. Turkey Breast. Removing the skin before roasting is the healthiest preparation. It won't dry out if you rub a thin film of olive oil (and I usually shake a blended seasoning on the surface as well). 30 grams of protein, 1 gram total fat and no saturated fat.
10. Buffalo, ground. I like the Maverick label. The lean ground buffalo (97/3) measures in with 25 grams of protein, 3 grams total fat and one gram saturated fat.


kjh said...

Hi Katie! A really lean source of protien that even I, the consumate vegetarian, can stomach is Elk Tenderloin. I get ours from Hi Wire Ranch in Colorado (at the Farmers Market) You need to marinate it all day (I like it in smashed blackberries with tamari and garlic) and grill it quickly. I find it even less gamey than lamb. Can you believe I ate it? Other than that, reduced fat, organic tofu is a staple protien for me - it picks up any flavor you marinate it in quickly, then you can bake or stirfry it easily and quickly. A marinade I like for that (and I use quite often for Salmon as well - ONLY WILD, insist upon it!) is tamari, garlic, olive oil and real, organic maple syrup! Yum!

Katie Fairbank said...

I do so love elk but have never tried it at home. Mmm...smashed blackberries. Elk may be harder to come by out here, though I haven't ever looked. I just got word of a a literal meat market - farmers who - in the winter - meet customers in a parking lot and sell frozen cuts. I also love tamari in marinades - thanks for reminding me! - and look forward to trying your suggestion of maple syrup in there, too.

kate j said...

I like that HAM is at the top of your protein list! Ham, wonderful ham! I agree that the Niman Ranch ham is the best. We bought a spiral cut ham from Costco for Christmas this year that was fantastic (if loaded with nitrates). ;-)