Calorie Savers: 4 Ways to Stretch the Beef

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Love meat? Read on to learn how to keep the flavor, cut the fat, all while stretching a buck!

Love Italian sausage? Instead of serving up 4 giant links of sausage alongside your pasta meal, why not use one link to flavor 3/4 pound of lean ground turkey? Remove the casing and brown the meats together, making sure to drain and blot the meats when cooked. Add additional Italian seasoning if desired.

Compare the calories:
Italian sausage (4-ounce link):
391 calories, 35.4 g fat, 12.7 g saturated fat
With sausage and lean ground beef (4 ounces):
322 calories, 26.4 g fat, 10.3 g saturated fat
With lean ground turkey and Italian sausage:
242 calories, 16.9 g fat, 5.3 g saturated fat

Serving sausage sandwiches? Try turkey Italian sausage topped with plenty of grilled onions, peppers and tomatoes. And don't forget the whole-wheat buns.

Turkey Italian sausage (4 ounces)
160 calories, 10 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat

Want to keep the beef but make it go a little further? Here are three ways to extend your meat.

1. Finely chop a cup and a half of mushrooms for every four ounces of meat. If you've got one pound of beef and want to double it, add 6 cups of mushrooms. Use the food processor to create a crumbled meat texture. You're still getting protein, along with the valuable minerals contained in mushrooms.
Per serving comparison:
Ground beef (4 ounces):
300 calories, 23.4 g fat, 9.4 saturated fat
Ground turkey (4 ounces):
192 calories, 10.8 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat
Mushrooms and ground beef (4 ounces):
161 calories, 11.9 g fat, 4.7 g saturated fat

Mushrooms and ground turkey (4 ounces):
54 calories, 2.8 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat

2. Add black or pinto beans to beef (equal parts). Brown beef, drain and blot grease, then add beans and seasonings and heat.
Beef and beans (4 ounces):
206 calories, 12 g fat, 4.8 saturated fat
Turkey and beans (4 ounces):
153 calories, 5.6 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat

3. Add soy crumbles to beef or turkey. Brown meat, blot and drain grease, then add seasonings and add soy crumbles to heat through.
Soy crumbles with beef (4 ounces):
206 calories,14.9 g fat, 5.5 g saturated fat
Soy crumbles with turkey (4 ounces):
154 calories, 8.6 g fat, 2.2 g saturated fat

Experiment with ratios to suit your tastes!

Tip: It's also good karma to cut back on beef from time to time: A pound of grain uses less than 1% of the water needed to produce a pound of beef.