By Cassandra Talmadge
People talk a lot of smack about red meat, but the truth is it can be part of a healthy diet.
Aside from delivering amino acids that increase satiety, speed up metabolism and build lean muscle, beef contains healthy doses of iron, zinc, niacin, selenium, vitamin E and B vitamins — nutrients that support blood formation, as well as brain and nervous system function.
Here’s how to eat it: Limit weekly consumption to roughly 3 ounces. Consuming fat in excess, healthy or not, results in one thing: flab. Ground beef is sold with 5 to 30 percent fat, giving you the option to choose from 80-95 percent lean varieties. However, the leaner the cut, the lower the vitamin and mineral content. We recommend going for 90 percent lean, which yields 182 calories, 9 grams of fat and up to 24 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving. Finally, always go for grass-fed. It’s naturally lower in calories and fat than grain-fed beef. Additionally, it contains more heart-healthy omega-3s, less saturated fat, and as much as four times the vitamin E.
We’ve compiled a list of ground beef recipes that are pretty epic. From breakfast to dinner, we’ve even included healthified dietary sinners. Pick one a week to enjoy without guilt.
1. GROUND BEEF ZUCCHINI ENCHILADA BOATS
Nutrition (per 1.5 zucchini boats): 222 calories, 10 g fat (3.4 g saturated), 491 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 21 g protein
Zucchini boats are a dieter’s dream. Take your favorite indulgent meal, ditch the empty carbs and enjoy all the mouth-watering flavor for a portion of the calories. These boats are topped with lean ground beef, enchilada sauce, diced red onion, avocado, and tomato, cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro — all for just 222 calories.
Get the recipe from Joful Healthy Eats.
2. KOREAN BEEF QUINOA BOWL
Nutrition (per ¾ cup serving): 244 calories, 8.2 g fat (2.2 g saturated), 307 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 21 g protein
Quinoa is all the rage, but how often does it make its way onto your plate? The superfood is a complete protein, contains twice as much fiber as other grains, and is packed with vital nutrients like iron, magnesium, lysine, and vitamin B. An easy way to consume more: These korean quinoa bowls that come together in just 15 minutes.
Get the recipe from Smile Sandwich.
3. CAULIFLOWER GROUND BEEF HASH
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 313 calories, 17.3 g fat (9.7 g saturated), 307 mg sodium, 4.8 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2.1 g sugar, 34 g protein
Cauliflower wears many disguises these days, from pizza crust and rice to potatoes (or in this case, hash). The universal dish typically consists of meat, potatoes, spices and, depending on where it’s served, additions such as onions, fried egg and cream. What better way to start (or end) your day than with this cheesy, low-carb and protein-packed meal?
Get the recipe from Gluesticks Gum Drops.
4. GLUTEN-FREE MEATLOAF MUFFINS
Nutrition (per cupcakes, yields 8): 202 calories, 5.9 g fat (1.8 g saturated), 158 mg sodium, 16.7 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3.2 g sugar, 20.3 g protein
When it comes to rapid weight loss, portion control is everything, so it’s pretty clutch when a meal comes out of the oven already portioned for you.
Get the recipe from Veggie Balance.
5. CHEESY AVOCADO QUESADILLAS
Nutrition (per ½ quesadilla ): 219 calories, 11.5 g fat (4 g saturated), 452 mg sodium, 17.3 g carbs, 3 g fiber, < 1 g sugar, 12 g protein
Avocados are the perfect weight-loss food. According to research published in the journal Diabetes Care, a diet rich in monounsaturated fat can prevent abdominal body fat distribution by actually turning off certain fat genes. And that’s not all — a study published in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased appetite for up to hours afterward. That has us thinking about stuffing less cheese and more avocado into our quesadillas.
Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.
6. SWEET POTATO NOODLE TACO BOWLS
Nutrition (per bowl, yields 4): 411 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated), 316 mg sodium, 45 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 32 g protein
Sweet potato noodles and black beans team up to fuel your body with slow-digesting carbohydrates, knocking out a third of your daily quota of flat-belly fiber. Insufficient fiber intake can cause fatigue, prevent weight loss, and even increase the risk for heart disease. To make sure you’re getting enough, women should aim for 25 grams a day, while men should consume closer to 38 grams. For more ways to hit those digits, check out these 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss.
Get the recipe from Slim Sanity.
7. BEEF AND EGGPLANT CASSEROLE
Nutrition (per slice, yields 8): 247 calories, 13.5 g fat (5.2 g saturated), 332 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 4.6 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 22.5 g protein
With a water content of up to 92 percent, eggplants are one of the most hydrating veggies. Packing with low-calorie fiber and an army of nutrients that support a healthy metabolism, immune system and cardiovascular system, this is one food you want to eat on the reg. Start with this savory casserole.
Get the recipe from Not Enough CInnamon.
8. PALEO BURGERS WITH CARAMELIZED BALSAMIC ONIONS&AVOCADO
Nutrition (per burger): 367 calories, 27 g fat (10 g saturated). 513 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 24 g protein
The Paleo diet (a.k.a. the caveman diet) is based on foods presumed to be available to Paleolithic humans. We're talking humans who roamed the Earth roughly 2.6 million years ago and only consumed nature's bounty. These burgers are made with grass-fed beef, which is void of harmful antibiotics and chemicals and is naturally leaner.
Get the recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats.
9. SHEPHERD'S PIE LOADED BAKED POTATOES
Nutrition (per potato): 392 calories, 11.7 g fat (5.9 g saturated), 533 mg sodium, 38 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 9.3 g sugar, 34.4 g protein
Originally a way to use leftovers, shepherd’s pie has become a menu staple in Irish pubs around the U.S. And considering that Saint Patrick's Day is just around the corner, we can’t think of a more timely recipe. Channel your inner Irishman (or -woman) and whip up this savory meal.
Get the recipe from Cupcakes and Kale Chips.
10. SWEDISH MEATBALLS
Nutrition (per 2 meatball serving): 277 calories, 14.2 g fat (< 1 g saturated), 331 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 1.4 g sugar, 17 g protein
Transport your tastebuds from Ireland to Sweden with these gravy-battered meatballs.
Work them into your weekly cheat meals, or pair two with mashed cauliflower or veggie noodles for a balanced meal.
Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.
11. HEALTHIER SLOPPY JOES
Nutrition (per burger): 313 calories, 11.3 g fat (2.4 g saturated), 654 mg sodium, 34.2 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 23 g protein (calculated with whole wheat buns)
Sloppy joes can’t possibly be healthy, right? Wrong. This recipe combines lean ground beef and garlic with hidden carrots, celery, bell pepper and onion to deliver a leaner take on your secret guilty pleasure.
Get the recipe from Celebrating Sweets.
12. BACON BURGER PALEO BREAKFAST
Nutrition (per serving, yields 4): 301 calories, 15 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 356 mg sodium, 12.3 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 4.8 g sugar, 29 g protein
This recipe is packed with healthy fats, wholesome carbs and metabolism-boosting protein thanks to sweet potatoes, bacon and eggs. But don’t don't just reach for the whites. The yellow part of the egg boasts a fat-fighting nutrient called choline that’ll help whittle your waist, boost your immune system, fight stress and improve your cholesterol profile. And yes, you read that correctly — bacon is a green light as long as you opt for uncured, reduced-sodium, center-cut meat.
Get the recipe from Paleo Running Momma.
13. STUFFED SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH TOMATO AND GROUND BEEF
Nutrition (½ spaghetti squash): 249 calories, 6.4 g fat (2 g saturated), 96 mg sodium, 24.2 g carbs, 2.5 g fiber, 4.8 g sugar, 26 g protein
Spaghetti squash is a low-cal, satiating replacement for pasta that's a total game-changer: You can’t eat 2.5 cups of spaghetti with meat sauce for less than 250 calories and 24 grams of carbs. Traditional spaghetti alone is 552 calories!
Get the recipe from The Cookie Writer.
14. SLOW COOKER BEEF MEATBALLS WITH BROCCOLI RABE
Nutrition (per 3 meatball serving): 295 calories, 11 g fat (3.6 g saturated), 494 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 27 g protein
At ETNT we love healthy crock pot recipes. There's nothing better than tossing ingredients into a slow cooker, turning up the heat and coming back hours later to a perfectly cooked, wholesome meal. This one gives you steaming plates of tender meatballs and fresh tomato sauce over broccoli rabe — not to mention a slimming nutritional profile.
Get the recipe from Skinny Taste.
15. GREEK SPINACH FETA MEATLOAF
Nutrition (per slice, yields 6): 283 calories, 14 g fat (4.7 g saturated), 397 mg sodium, 5.7 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 33 g protein
Feta, garlic, spinach, roasted red peppers, pine nuts and oregano — your tastebuds are in for a serious treat.
Get the recipe from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.
16. LOW CARB MEXICAN STUFFED PEPPERS
Nutrition (per ½ stuffed pepper, yields 6): 247 calories, 15 g fat (8 g saturated), 359 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 4 g fiber, < 1 g sugar, 22 g protein
For these low carb stuffed peppers, red means go. The scarlet hue contains more than double the vitamin C and up to 8 times as much vitamin A as green. Bonus: It can make you happier too. The higher the concentration of vitamins you consume in a meal, the better your mood.
Get the recipe from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.
17. 30 MINUTES THAI BEEF WITH BASIL
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 327 calories, 11 g fat (3.8 g saturated), 272 mg sodium, 7.8 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 4.7 g sugar, 46.7 g protein
Fresh basil is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, immunity-boosting and stress-slashing herb. Combined with julienned carrots, bell peppers, chopped onion, lime juice and lean ground beef, this is one nourishing, tasty, disease-fighting meal.
Get the recipe from Fresh Planet Flavor.
18. BUTTERNUT SQUASH KALE GROUND BEEF BREAKFAST BOWL
Nutrition (per bowl, yields 2): 282 calories, 11.5 g fat (7 g saturated), 101 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 5.5 g fiber, 3.3 g sugar, 22 g protein
Full of hunger-taming fiber, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, butternut squash is a fat-burning, belly-shrinking and nutrient-boasting superfood. What better way to enjoy it than with muscle-building ground beef and bloat-banishing kale?
Get the recipe from The Healthy Foodie.
19. HEALTHY BEEF LASAGNA WITH SPINACH AND BASIL
Nutrition (per slice, yields 12): 259 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated), 369 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 18 g protein
With 259 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein, this is far from your typical slice of lasagna.
Get the recipe from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.
20. SLOW COOKER THREE BEAN CHILI
Nutrition (per1 cup serving): 445 calories, 1.8 g fat (0 g saturated), 83 mg sodium, 82.3 g carbs, 20 g fiber, 5.2 g sugar, 27.9 g protein
Beans are the GOAT of high fiber foods. In fact, one half-cup serving provides your body with eight grams of slimming fiber and about seven grams of satiating protein — roughly the same amount found in one ounce of chicken. These two macronutrients help to slow digestion, stabilize blood sugar and keep you full. This recipe is brimming with pinto, kidney and black beans, making it a triple threat.
Get the recipe from Aberdeen’s Kitchen.