15% of a balanced diet

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, you need to eat a range of foods in the meat and beans group to maintain a balanced nutritional diet.

Whilst the meat and beans food group only accounts for 15% of your diet, there are a broad range of foods to suit any taste.

What food types make up the group?

  • Fish, including crustaceans and mollusks (i.e crab and oysters)
  • Soya substitutes (Tofu, Veggie Mince etc.)
  • Beans and pulses (lentils, chickpeas etc.)
  • Meaty products including offal, liver and tongue)
  • All types of eggs

This is the point where it is easier to balance your diet if you are a vegetarian.

Two of the most fattening food types are dismissed. But even still…

Watch the fat!

If you are obese or overweight this group is probably why. Remember there are two good types of fat and two bad.

  • Good: Mono and Poly-unsaturated
  • Bad: Trans and Saturated

Click here to go back to Fatty Acids for more detail.

Remember follow your doctors advice. Always read the label.

Whether cooking from scratch or buying pre-made/half-cooked meals, check the label.

Cheap foods in the meat and beans group tend to be high in fat. Avoid food with more than 25g of fat per 100g.

Fish is generally an exception if most of it is the good type of fat.

The saturated and trans fats in fish are often the smallest type of fat found in the fish.

Eating fish is a good way to get your GDA/RDA of EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids).

Need some protein in your healthy diet? You’ve come to the right place!

Whilst the meat and beans food group can be high in fats, most of these foods are rich in protein, needed not just for your muscles but also to build and repair your entire body!

We all know that meat, beans, fish and eggs are rich in protein but it’s important to know that you’ll also find proteins in other foods (vegetables, dairy and some grains like quinoa) which usually contain fewer fats than the meat and beans food group.

For a list of high protein foods with a good source of protein, click here.

So What good is all of this protein if it’s just going to get me fat?

Ha Ha Ha. You don’t need to think of the meat and beans food group as if it is evil!

A lot of the fat in these foods can either be reduced with various cooking methods or (especially with regards to fish) contain some of the EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids like Omega 3) that are actually good for you!

Seriously though, if you are worried about the fat content in this food group and or you’d like to lose weight you should eat Thermogenic Protein Foods from the meat and beans food group.

Thermogenic Protein Foods forms one half of the Fat Burning Foods – Foods that accelerate your body’s ability to burn fat.

Eating these types of foods is very good for your appetite and blood sugar levels, nourishes your body with protein and can trim your waistline if you follow a healthy balanced diet!

So to learn more about Thermogenic Protein Foods, head to the Fat Burning Foods page here.

Like Eating Fish? Here are some pointers

Unless you live near a port, With the exception of salmon, it is best to grab fish from your local fishmonger.The fresher, the better as it will be very nutritious.

Some provide special oven proof bags that cookthe fish quickly and keeps in the flavour. Avoid buying this way unless you are going to eat it on the day or day after.

Frozen fish is useful to have as it is cheap and lasts long. Unfortunately when you cook it, it tends to lack flavour.

Vacuum packed fish is very convenient but it can taste plastic. It will also absorb the plastic over time so check the date.

Tinned fish is probably the most convenient to have. It can sometimes be cheaper than frozen and retains more flavour.This is the best way to buy salmon, particularly Red Salmon.

Red Salmon is the healthiest,tastiest type of salmon and is rich in protein and the good fats, especially Omega 3.It also lasts years longer making it great to buy in bulk.

Supermarkets often have SpOffs (Special Offers) on tinned fish.You can make quick balanced foods this way like…

  • Tuna pasta with cheese (uses the Meat and beans, Grains & Milk and dairy groups)
  • Mediterranean style quinoa with salmon (uses the Grains, Vegetables & Meat and beans groups)
  • Crispy tuna salad with hemp and sesame seeds (uses the Meat and beans, Vegetables and Grains groups)
  • Mediterranean style cous cous with mackerel in a tomato sauce (uses the Vegetables, Grains and Meat and beans groups)

Keep an eye out for the recipes page. It will include these meals.

Tips for vegetarians

It is important that you have enough protein in your diet to build and repair your body’s cells.Mixing soya substitutes with grains creates tasty nutritional meals. Whilst mixing beans and pulses with arange of mushrooms provides a strong source of protein. combining veggie meat and beans with a portion of veg is a great way to create balanced meals.

I Heart Mushrooms…

Mushrooms are rich in amino acids (what we need to make protein). They come in a variety of flavours with different textures. This simulates non-veggie foods in the meat and beans group. Freeze driedmushrooms that are slightly boiled will release a burst of flavour. Try combining with a stir fry or with some red kidney beans. You can even use Japanese Adzuki beans which are small and sweet.

Like eggs? Here are some points

Eggs provide a good source of protein but you should watch the fat content. Half of the yolk contains saturated fat. They also have Vitamins A, B (2, 3 & 12), D and folic acid.

Find out the best Vitamins and Minerals for diabetics here.

Here are types of eggs from best (top) to worst (bottom):

  • Organic (always free-range)
  • Free-range
  • Barn eggs (animal moves about in an enclosed barn)
  • Caged eggs

Please try and buy free-range eggs. They are much healthier and tastier than caged eggs. A fair price is #1.25 for 6 (which you can always find in Iceland). They are generally only cheaper if there is a SpOff (Special Offer).

If you like runny eggs put a few drops of vinegar in it before eating. Waiting a minute after will kill the bacteria inside.

I’d recommend malt vinegar but you can also use rice or distilled vinegar depending on your taste.

If you don’t like it, try using Lea and Perrings Worcester sauce as it contains vinegar and gives it a nice kick.

Well-cooked eggs are the best salmonella killers so you won’t need vinegar. But you might like the taste.

How to cook meat: Tips for meat eaters

The quality of the meat you buy often dictates the best way to cook it but there are some useful tips to follow if you want to know how to cook meat:

  • Sausages and mince (particularly the cheaper varieties) are high in fat. Lightly frying them in a pan – with no oil – is a great way to dispose of unwanted fat. Gently piercing the sausages with a fork will get rid of more fat.
  • The skin on poultry is high in saturated fat. If you don’t want to take it off try not to use too much gravy or oil when seasoning. Oven baking is best. Using an oven proof grease sheet will collect a lot of excess oil.
  • If you buy steak-cut meat try and cut off any white pieces as that is mainly fat. Your local butcher can also do this for you.
  • Support your butcher. Generally, pound for pound, they will have better quality meat than your supermarket. They can also cut the meat to your spec, including chopping the fat. This saves on the weight making it even cheaper.

Want to cook meat products to perfection?

Tips are great, but sometimes you need something a little more specific, especially if you’re cooking meat and beans that you rarely cook.

So for some more cutlets of information on how to identify, select and cook meat products to perfection, click here for TheMeatSource.com

So what’s the best way to control the fat in my diet?

The best way to balance your diet, without eating excess fat is by combining the foods in the meat and beans group with other food groups.

This is actually not as hard as you think. Buying processed foods from fast food shops and from the freezers of your supermarkets usually leads to eating that one product on its own!

By simply creating or buying a salad/some rice/naan bread etc to go with your food, you are creating a balanced meal from more than one food group. So even if you do buy fast food (which i don’t recommend) if you turn it into a meal (not a happy meal with fries and a fizzy drink!) you are at least, balancing your meal.

Balancing each meal you eat will help your body digest food better and help you reduce the fat content in your diet.

How else can I combine meaty foods with other food groups?

Here are few simple examples of the types of food that combine well together, in a balanced meal:

1) Meat and beans, Grains & Milk and dairy groups
2) Grains, Vegetables & Meat and beans groups
3) Meat and beans, Vegetables and Grains groups
4) Vegetables, Grains and Meat and beans groups

Ideally you should aim to combine 2-3 food groups per meal and use the percentages of each group to determine the portion size. For example, looking at combo 1) you might have…

Chicken salsa, in a corn tortilla with cheese.

You can generally add vegetables to each meal but don’t focus too much on it if you have already used 3 groups. A bit of lettuce/sweetcorn/baby carrots etc would do.

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