Shelly’s Cooking Corner – Grilling the Beef

Succulent pieces of juicy, lean beef dripping with muscle-fortifying flavor are a quintessential part of summer grilling and an integral component to a bodybuilder’s diet. With a mouthwatering marinade or a rub of herbs and spices, red meat effortlessly surpasses the bland taste of white-flesh fish, chicken, or cuts of lean pork.

The following recipes transform beef tenderloin, flank steak, and top sirloin into easy to grill dishes you can enjoy throughout the grilling season.

Beef naturally has a higher fat content, which lends to its unbeatable flavor. Very lean cuts of beef can be used but may lack flavor and tenderness. To further reduce the fat in these recipes, cut the amount of olive oil in half.

Recipe 1.  Beef Tenderloin with Shitake Mushrooms and Green Beans (Makes 2 servings)

Saucy shitake mushrooms and tender green beans add earthy flavor and tantalizing texture to the succulent slices of steak. With this dish, getting your protein and vegetable quota is quite the tasty endeavor. Sugar snap peas or hulled edamame (fresh soybeans) can replace the green beans for variety. Regular button mushrooms, sliced portabello, or other wild mushrooms can be substituted for the shitake.


  • 2 (5-ounces each) trimmed beef tenderloin steaks, about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or more to taste
  • Pinch of salt or more to taste
  • Coarse-ground pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • Pinch of salt or more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce or tamari


Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Rub steaks with olive oil and season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, simmer green beans in salted boiling water for five minutes. Drain and hold aside. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over a medium flame and add shallots and garlic to the pan, cooking until soft.

Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Add sherry and soy sauce, cooking to reduce by one third.

Add green beans to pan, tossing to coat with sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.

Wipe the grill grate with oil, using tongs and a paper towel. Place steaks on grill, cook for two minutes on each side to seer the outside.

Reduce heat to medium, if using a gas grill, or move to a cooler part of the charcoal grill and cook for an additional four minutes on both sides.

Remove steaks from grill, allowing them to rest for 5 to 6 minutes and then slice against the grain into one-inch slices.

Top each steak with mushrooms, green beans and sauce and serve.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving)

Calories 490; Protein 40 grams; Carbohydrates 19 grams; Fiber 3 grams; Total Fat 24 grams (Saturated Fat 6 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 13 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 5 grams); Cholesterol 110 milligrams; Sodium 602 milligrams.

Recipe 2.  Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary Garlic Paste (Makes 2 to 4 servings)

Flank steak is a cut gaining in popularity, particularly for fajitas. A simple wet rub of rosemary, garlic, and olive oil infuses the beef with fabulous flavor. Slices of the steak can be paired with steamed quinoa or brown rice and leftovers can be warmed and wrapped in whole wheat tortillas with fresh salsa for next-day meals.


  • 3 medium garlic cloves
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1-pound) flank steak


Chop garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Use the flat edge of the knife and crush garlic and salt into a paste.

Add rosemary and olive oil and continue to mix into a paste. Rub on steak and set aside.

Preheat grill to high. Wipe the grill grate with oil, using tongs and a paper towel.

Grill the steak until the steak is seared and brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Flip the steak using tongs and grill until the interior of the steak is cooked just less of your desired doneness, 2 to 5 minutes for rare or medium-rare depending on thickness of steak and heat of the grill.

Transfer steak to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Let steak rest for 5 minutes. Slice the steak very thinly against the grain and serve.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving, based on 4 servings):

Calories 278; Protein 36 grams; Carbohydrates 1 gram; Fiber less than 1 gram; Total Fat 13.5 grams (Saturated Fat 4 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 7 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5 grams); Cholesterol 108 milligrams; Sodium 159 milligrams.

Recipe 3. Tropical Beef Kebabs (Serves 4 to 6)

Kebabs are a must on the backyard grill. Warm weather cooking wouldn’t be the same without chunks of beef threaded on skewers with juicy fruit and crisp-tender vegetables. The large selection of fruits and vegetables make kebabs a dish with near-infinite variations. For best flavor, allow beef to marinate 6 to 8 hours or overnight. To keep wooden skewers from flaming on the grill, soak them in water for 30 minutes before skewering food. Metal skewers do not need to be soaked.

Marinade – Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

Meat: 1 1/4 pounds top sirloin, trimmed, cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes*

Fruits and Vegetables – Ingredients

  • 3 cups pineapple cubes (1-inch cubes)
  • 3 limes, cut into 1/4-inch slices (do not peel)
  • 1 medium orange or red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 red onion, halved, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Black pepper to taste


To maximize flavor, cut beef into cubes then butterfly each cube by placing the tip of the knife in the center of a cube and slicing down so that only one half of the cube is cut all the way through. This will increase the surface area exposed to the marinade. When skewering, simply hold the cut together and slide on skewer as an intact cube.

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl and add cubes of beef. Toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, preheat grill to high.

Place fruits and vegetables in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients until well-coated.

Thread each skewer with a piece of pineapple, an onion wedge, a slice of lime, a cube of beef, and a square of bell pepper. Repeat sequence two more times, a total of three times per skewer.

Grill kebabs, turning a one-quarter turn every 1 to 2 minutes, or until beef is browned and cooked to medium-rare.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving, based on 6 servings):

Calories 279; Protein 22 grams; Carbohydrates 14 grams; Fiber 2 grams; Total Fat 15 grams (Saturated Fat 5.5 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 7.5 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 2 grams); Cholesterol 68 milligrams; Sodium 49 milligrams.

Written by Shelly Sinton

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Shelly’s Cooking Corner – Grilling the Beef discussion thread.

Sow Your Oats

Does that “eye-opening” bowl of hot cereal actually lull you back to sleep? Does the prospect of eating one more bowl of oatmeal smack of morning torment? Are you trapped in an insipid cycle of breakfast ennui?

Drop the doughnuts and unhand that barely palatable energy bar! Rethink your oats. Not only are whole grains – oats included – one of the most natural, healthiest foods around, they are eager to be transformed into interesting, appetizing, and satisfying meals. Oats and other whole grains are 100% natural with no added sugar, salt, or additives and they are naturally low in calories.

So what does it take to make this stellar whole grain a food of hungry intrigue? A little imagination, a few new techniques, and eating outside the bowl.

The Breakfast Bowl


Oats, like all grains and grain flakes, can be toasted to deliciously boost their flavors. For example, put oats in a dry skillet set over medium heat and stir frequently until they begin to smell toasty and take on a little color. Immediately remove them from the heat so they don’t burn. Cook them as you normally would.

Time Savers

Instant oatmeal and cream of wheat can be cooked in the microwave in a flash but neither are as flavorful or as nutritious as whole grains. However, standing over the stove stirring a pot of whole grain hot cereal is irritating and eats up your morning shower or workout time. Save yourself the hassle and use a slow cooker or even a thermos. For the slow cooker, add oats (other whole grains, if desired), a pinch of salt, and water the night before and cook on LOW until morning. For the thermos, pour boiling water, a pinch of salt, and oats (other whole grains, if desired) and tightly close lid the night before. With either method, you’ll have breakfast waiting for you upon awakening.

Top-rated Toppings

Embellish your cooked cereal with tasty ingredients that tantalize your tastebuds and make your mouth water. After cooking your hot cereal, flavorize it with a medley of textures and flavors. Choose one or two from the following list:

  • Ground flax seeds or other toasted seeds and nuts
  • Raisins, dried cranberries, dried papaya, or chopped dates
  • Apples, pears, peaches, or bananas sautéed in a little butter and lots of spices
  • Butter, yogurt, or sour cream stirred with maple syrup or molasses
  • Fruit juices or milk, cream, half and half, soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk
  • Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, all spice, ginger, and nutmeg
  • Vanilla or almond extracts
  • Crystallized or fresh minced ginger root
  • Honey, sorghum, brown sugar, or sugar substitute
  • Your choice of protein powder

Alternative Grains

Instead of opting only for familiar grains like oats or wheat, give spelt ( Western Asian wheat) , barley, or rye flakes a try. Other great grains are quinoa, amaranth, couscous, millet, wild rice, brown rice, and stone-ground cornmeal. You can find these packaged or in bulk at most natural food stores and increasingly in supermarkets.

For the Health of It

If you still can’t get motivated to eat your oats, think about the proven health benefits this common grain has to offer.

  • Prolonged energy release – The complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber in oats allow a slower digestion, which sustains your blood sugar level to energize your morning activities.
  • Lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease – Though cholesterol is a naturally occurring and essential substance in the body, too much of it can be detrimental. Oats are like tiny sponges that soak up cholesterol and carry it out of the bloodstream.
  • Vitamins, mineral, and fiber – In addition to a bevy of micro nutrients, oats contain folic acid which is essential in healthy fetal development.

Breakfast Rules

Eating breakfast is a smart way to start your day and one of the easiest steps to improving your diet and lifestyle.

Sure, you may faithfully work out and watch what you eat during the rest of the day, but the breakfast meal may be the most important.

  • According to the American Dietetic Association, a healthy breakfast can actually help you lose and/or maintain your weight, compared to breakfast skippers.
  • The National Institute of Health recommends breakfast because it tends to thwart overeating later in the day. Studies have shown that breakfast eaters who have dieted and lost weight, are more successful in keeping their weight off.
  • Include protein in your morning meal. Have a small bowl of hot cereal with a plate of eggs or an omelet. Add a scoop of protein powder or low-fat dairy products like milk or cheese to your oatmeal to further sustain your blood sugar level and energy.
  • Don’t forget fat. The body needs fat to function properly and it will help you feel full longer. Choose primarily unsaturated fats. Drizzle flaxseed oil, walnut oil, or olive oil over your oats and scatter in a handful of chopped toasted nuts or seeds.

A bowl of oatmeal in the morning can help you rev up your metabolism, maintain your cognitive focus, fuel your workouts, and get you through the rest of your day. And oats aren’t just for breakfast…

Think Outside the Bowl

Whole grains, particularly oats, can be used in a near endless array of both sweet and savory dishes – beyond the breakfast bowl. Following are a few dynamite recipes that will give you the food you need to be convinced that oats are well worth eating. Apricot Honey Oatmeal for breakfast. Salmon Cakes and Herbed Yogurt Sauce for lunch or dinner. Crispy Coated Baked Apples for dessert. Rethink your oats and eat well.


Apricot Honey Oatmeal

Serves 4


3 ½ cups water
½ cups chopped dried apricot (or other dried fruit)
2 tablespoons honey (or sweetener of your choice)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups steel cut or old fashioned or rolled oats
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds


In a large saucepan, bring water, apricots, honey, cinnamon, and salt to a boil. Stir in oats and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let oatmeal stand for a few minutes to finish thickening. Embellish with sunflower seeds. Stir in milk or half and half or coconut milk for extra flavor and richness.

**Toast oats in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned for a wonderful toasty flavor.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving):
Calories 202 (23% from fat); Protein 6 grams; Carbohydrates 35 grams; Fiber 3 grams; Total Fat 5 grams (Saturated Fat less than 1 gram; Monounsaturated Fat 1 gram; Polyunsaturated Fat 4 grams); Cholesterol 0 milligrams; Sodium 250 milligrams.

Salmon Cakes and Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4

Sauce Ingredients

½ cup plain lowfat yogurt
1 shallot, finely chopped (or 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion)
Juice of an orange (3 to 4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Pinch of dried dill
Pinch of sugar or sugar substitute
Pinch of white pepper or more to taste


1 pound smoked (or cooked) boneless, skinless salmon (or other fish of your choice), flaked
¾ cup old fashioned or rolled oats (uncooked)
½ cup milk
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon, marjoram, or parsley
White pepper to taste
Pinch of salt or more to taste


Whisk sauce ingredients together and set aside. If making ahead, store covered in the refrigerator.

Combine all ingredients for salmon cakes in a large bowl and mix well. Let stand for 5 minutes. Shape into 4 oval patties about 1 inch thick. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Cook salmon cakes for 3 to 4 minutes then flip. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. Serve with sauce and sprinkle with additional finely chopped herbs.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving):
Calories 327 (37% from fat); Protein 37 grams; Carbohydrates 13 grams; Fiber 1 gram; Total Fat 14 grams (Saturated Fat 3 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 6.5 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 4.5 grams); Cholesterol 108 milligrams; Sodium 251 milligrams.

Crispy Coated Baked Apples

Serves 8


6 medium baking apples, cored, thinly sliced
Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon maple syrup, warmed
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup old fashioned or rolled oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar (or sugar substitute)
¼ cup finely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground nutmeg or mace


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and lightly coat a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss apples with lemon juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, and melted butter until ingredients until apples are well coated. Pour apples into prepared baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a fork until crumbly, evenly distributing butter. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and apples are tender. Serve warm with a dollop of plain whole-milk yogurt or a drizzle of coconut milk.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving):
Calories 280 (37% from fat); Protein 4 grams; Carbohydrates 42 grams; Fiber 6 grams; Total Fat 11.5 grams (Saturated Fat 5.5 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 3 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 3 grams); Cholesterol 23 milligrams; Sodium 118 milligrams.

Written By Shelly Sinton, MS

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Sow Your Oats discussion thread.

Boring Lunches No More!

Just think of the exhilarating jolt that rocks your world when bust out a new workout or the rush you get when you hike or bike unfamiliar trails and vistas. You already know that doing the same exercise routine stales your fitness enthusiasm, so why do you eat the same boring – although healthy – lunch foods day in and day out?

Get out of your uninspired, unfulfilling rut of brown bag boredom and heighten your lunchtime pleasure with the following nutrient-rich, palate-piquing recipes.

These recipes are geared for two servings but can easily be doubled or tripled if feeding a hungry crowd. So, lets get straight to it.


Saffron-Mustard Salmon Sauté
Makes 2 servings

The irreplaceable earthy flavor of saffron blended with piquant lemon, mustard and garlic infuse the nutrient-rich salmon fillets for a sumptuous lunch with deceivingly complex taste. The growing popularity of saffron has landed it on the shelves of most supermarkets and whole foods stores. Though pricey, its bold, unique flavor is well worth the cost – and a little pinch goes a long way.

In a small bowl, whisk together and set aside:

  • Juice of one lemon
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rub salmon fillets with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook salmon for 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Salmon is done when just cooked through and flakes when firmly pressed with the back of a fork – do not overcook, salmon is better slightly undercooked. Transfer to a plate of mixed greens and drizzle with saffron-mustard sauce.

Sauce can be made the day before and refrigerated. Ingredients may separate and will need to be rewhisked before drizzling on salmon. This dish can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Salmon may also be cooked on a grill or broiled, for a change.

Nutritional Analysis (per fillet):

Calories 468 (60% from fat); Protein 38 grams; Carbohydrates 2 grams; Fiber less than 1 gram; Total Fat 32 grams (Saturated Fat 5 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 20 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 6 grams); Cholesterol 124 milligrams; Sodium 645 milligrams.

Moroccan Chicken Salad
Makes about 4 cups

The infamous high-protein stand-by – rotisserie chicken – is great to gnaw on when you have that carnivoristic desire to break bones with your teeth and gnash cooked flesh. But the “tastes like chicken” flavor can get old, too. Good news is that leftover chicken gives you endless opportunities for exciting meals with stimulating new tastes. Mix a hearty shred of chicken with pungent spices, crunchy almonds, and sweet currants for a salad or salad-sandwich that will perk up your lulling senses.

Whisk the following in a large bowl:

  • ½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ an orange (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the following and mix well:

  • 3 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (preferably skinless breast)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 large green onion, finely chopped (white and green parts)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced almonds (toasted, if desired)
  • ¼ cup currants (or raisins)

Adjust spices and other ingredients to your liking. Chicken mixture can be artfully mounded on mixed greens, stuffed in a pita, wrapped in a tortilla, or sandwiched with whole-grain breads or simply eaten alone.

Nutritional Analysis (per 2 cups):

Calories 561 (33% from fat); Protein 57 grams; Carbohydrates 35 grams; Fiber 7 grams; Total Fat 21 grams (Saturated Fat 8 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 8 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 5 grams); Cholesterol 166 milligrams; Sodium 327 milligrams.

Tempeh Simmer
Makes 2 servings

Vegetarian cooking evokes creativity, by default, in that meals have to be carefully planned in order to supply the recommended daily intakes of nutrients. Tempeh is an excellent vegetarian choice. Its nutty flavor and meaty texture make it a hearty, satisfying midday meal. Whether you eat meat or not, this curry-inspired dish is a delicious change from the norm.

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 (8-ounce) package of tempeh, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed, patted dry
  • 1 can lite coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or more to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Wedges of lemon

Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer tempeh for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard bay leaves. Serve immediately and garnish with cilantro leaves and lemon wedges.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving):

Calories 367 (41% from fat); Protein 26 grams; Carbohydrates 32 grams; Fiber 14 grams; Total Fat 17 grams (Saturated Fat 7 grams; Monounsaturated Fat 4 grams; Polyunsaturated Fat 6 grams); Cholesterol 0 milligrams; Sodium 353 milligrams.

Written by Shelly Sinton

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Boring Lunches No More discussion thread.