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Are you sick of boosting your protein intake by eating chicken breast at every meal? Tired of turkey burgers and tuna steaks? Why not try eating bison to get your daily intake? Bison packs a powerful nutritional punch and it’s getting easier to find in your local grocery store and even online.
Bison is often compared to beef, with some sources calling it the “healthier” red meat. According to USDA statistics, grass-fed ground bison provides more protein and less fat than beef. A 100-gram serving of grass-fed ground bison provides 20 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat, while the same sized serving of grass-fed ground beef provides 19 grams of protein and only 13 grams of fat.
Although the nutritional profile of beef versus bison depends greatly on the cut of the meat, the farming methods used to raise the animals, and of course, the preparation method you choose. Lean cuts of beef and bison can both be part of a healthy diet, but bison industry experts say that their red meat offers unique advantages.
Sean Lenihan, founder of The Honest Bison, says that when buyers choose 100% grass-fed bison they get a red meat that provides higher amounts of disease preventing fatty acids and higher amounts of iron. He also says that humane ranch conditions and slaughter practices produce meat that is more tender, flavorful and safer to eat. If you can’t find responsibly raised bison meat in your area, The Honest Bison sells directly to consumers and ships nationally.
So how do you choose bison that tastes great and provides all of the best health benefits? Ronny Joseph develops Paleo recipes for foodies at CookPrimalGourmet.com. He recommends that you look for bison labeled 100% grass-fed, rather than “pasture-raised” or “grass-finished.” You’ll pay slightly more for this meat, but it provides a healthier fat profile and less intramuscular marbling. But don’t worry about the lack of fat, he says. “What bison lacks in fat it makes up for in flavor.”
Both Lenihan and Joseph say that getting the right cut of bison for your recipe is important, too. Cuts like chuck, brisket or offal are great for stews, roasts and even outdoor smoking. These cuts are cheaper, says Joseph, but require more cooking time. “If you’re short on time but have a few extra bucks, opt for select-cuts like ribeye steaks and filets, which are perfect for grilling.” He says that ground bison is another great option because it is extremely versatile in the kitchen.
You can substitute bison for beef in many of your favorite recipes. Bison Sliders, Bison Burgers and Bison Stew are easy recipes for a hearty meal. But you don’t need to follow a detailed recipe to enjoy this meat.
Ronald Wesley is a personal trainer and CEO of Mind Body Soul Proactive Health & Wellness. He eats bison 1-2 times per week and recommends the meat to his clients. “I really enjoy ground bison,” he says, “I sauté onions and garlic with grass-fed butter, then brown the bison separately over medium heat. Once all ingredients are cooked, I add them together and mix in raw almonds and fresh avocado.”
When he has more time, he cooks a bison roast or short ribs in a slow cooker with shallots, garlic, mushrooms and rosemary. After about four hours the meat has tender, aromatic and robust flavors.
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The experts suggest a few additional tips for cooking with bison:
Lastly, if you need a great game-day recipe to satisfy a team of die-hard fans, Joseph says that you can smoke bison ribs or brisket in a kettle grill over indirect heat for 6-8 hours. “Sure, you’ll have to wake up early on game day to get things going but the reward of fall-off-the-bone ribs and tender brisket is worth the extra effort.” He suggests that you finish the bison by basting them in some homemade, Paleo Maple-Balsamic BBQ Sauce and finish them over direct heat to caramelize the natural sugars and add a bit of texture.