Saturday, February 5, 2011

Low GI Cooking Adventure: Grassfed Beef and Italian Vegetable Skillet with Buttery Herbed Brown Rice

Ever get some news that just throws a big old wrench in your works? Chaps your khakis? And generally just makes your life a big pain in the derriere?  Yeah, 2011's just turning out to be that kind of year so far...


I got the wonderful news this week that my blood sugar is out of whack. Super. Just what I more thing to have to manage. I'm having flashbacks to my pregnancy with my son, where I ended up having to use insulin. By the end of my pregnancy I hated food. If it weren't for the fact that I had a precious Li'l Man depending on me to keep him healthy, I think I would have just quit eating. Every waking moment of every day revolved around what went in my  mouth:  wake up, prick my finger, check my blood, write it down, figure out what I CAN eat, try to find something I WANT to eat out of that, measure this and measure that, write it down,  then two hours later it started all over again, only then I often needed to give myself a shot.  It was horrible. And now...the finger-pricker and glucose meter have returned. At least there's no insulin this time, I guess.


Today, I spent most of the day starving hungry because there's just not much in the house that's low GI...some almonds, celery and frozen veggies. And eggs...but I have to be in the mood to eat eggs. I was so hungry nothing sounded good. I had a headache. I was very crabby. I'm still mad about all of this anyway.

So, I had to go to the grocery store and find something to make for supper that wouldn't send my blood sugar to the moon. It had to have a low Glycemic Index. It had to sound appetizing. It also had to be cheap. And, I went hungry and crabby and with both kids in tow. Not really the best idea, now that I look back on that.


Earlier in the day I had hoofed it down to the best little butcher shop I know and picked up some of that delicious grassfed beef. I know there's venison in the freezer, but I have been craving some of that wonderful beefy goodness for some time...and darn it, if I have to mess around with all this blood sugar nonsense I'm going to eat at least some of the foods I love. That marvelous meat was the basis of the meal I was trying to formulate, and I decided some brown rice would be good as it is full of fiber and doesn't have a huge impact on blood sugar.  But what else? It's hard to think when you're hungry, your head hurts, you're completely irritated, and your kids apparently don't notice that fact...or they do...

I found some red peppers marked down for 50 cents for two, grabbed a cucumber and some frozen veggies and a few other things just to have around. When I got home, this is what I came up with:

Grassfed Beef and Italian Vegetable Skillet
1 lb ground grassfed beef
16 oz package frozen Italian Blend vegetables (zucchini squash, cauliflower, carrots, Italian style green beans, baby lima beans and red bell peppers)
1 c broth (I used organic, free range chicken broth)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed; or garlic powder to taste
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbs cornstarch + a small amount of water for thickening (optional)
Brown ground beef until no pink remains, season with salt and pepper while cooking; about half way through add fresh garlic. Add broth and bring to a low boil, add vegetables, stirring well. Return to a low boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are done to your liking, about 7-10 min. Combine cornstarch and water and stir into mixture to thicken, if desired. Serve with Buttery Herbed Brown Rice (recipe follows)
This is not overly seasoned in order to allow the wonderful flavor of the grassfed beef to take center stage. You could, of course, add whatever seasonings you like to it. I found that the lightly seasoned brown rice complimented this very well without overpowering that lovely meat.

2 c water
1-2 Tb butter, divided
3/4 - 1 c brown rice
sea salt, to taste
1/2 - 1 Tbs Italian Seasoning

In a 2 quart sauce pan, bring water, a pinch of sea salt, and half the butter to a boil. Add rice, stir well, return to boil then reduce heat and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Add the rest of the butter and all of the Italian Seasoning, stirring well. Add more sea salt if desired.
It really turned out to be quite delicious. Our locally-raised (as in just a couple miles away) grassfed beef has the most exquisite flavor...helped also by a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. I almost hate to even put salt on it! But I try to get a little sea salt into everything to increase our mineral intake. If I were to use regular ground beef from the grocery store, I'd have added all kinds of things from my spice cabinet.  Sliced fresh red and green bell peppers and cucumbers were served along with this as well.

As far as the GI of this meal, I don't really know exactly. The lists I've found for foods and their GI values don't say what the serving size is so until I can find that information I'll just have to take a stab at it:
  • meat, of course, has zero carbs...that's a good start
  • green beans, cauliflower, 15
  • carrots, 16
  • red peppers, 10
  • baby lima beans, 32
  • cucumbers, green peppers, 0
  • brown rice, 50
All of these foods are considered "low GI". To me, 50 sounds kind of high, but compared to glutinous rice (my most favorite Asian food ever...Sticky Rice!) that runs from 86-98 depending on the list you look at, well, that's not so bad.  Do I add all these numbers up and average them? What does all this mean? How will this meal impact my blood sugar level? I have no idea! I have a book on the way about low GI dieting so hopefully it will clear up all these nagging little questions.

It's been about half an hour or so since I ate. I feel reasonably satisfied, although there is this underlying, nagging feeling of some little monster wanting to be fed. Sugar withdrawal I's reminiscent of when I did the Atkin's diet years ago. Which, by the way, I hated but lost 40 pounds while doing. I don't eat much sugar anymore...that's the real kicker!  And I use as much whole grains as I possibly can. I hope I don't have to do a "no carb" diet...that would not really work for me. At all.

Thanks, 2011. You stink. 

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