Get Beefed Up

Punch up your protein selection with these dietitian-approved strategies.

Despite the myriad protein options available to the physique-minded among us, skinless chicken breasts always seem to end up on the menu. The lean bird is generally affordable, can be prepared a number of ways and stores well, but let’s face it — after a while, you need a change. Steak and fish are generally next on your list of choice meats, but what about ground beef? Sure, some folks will fry some up and serve it with a touch of pepper or other guilt-free seasoning out of fear of wrecking their diets, but believe it or not, ground beef can support your goals with a lot more palate-pleasing diversity than you think. Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, a Food Network contributor, knows how to provide some next-level nutrition with this versatile yet underused protein source.


“Meatballs don’t have to be grease-laden,” White says. “Combine lean beef with some sauteed onions, an egg and a hit of balsamic vinegar. Form the meat into balls and bake at 350 degrees until cooked through, which is about 20 minutes or so depending on the size.” The bonus? The cooked meatballs are a great, portable source of protein for when you’re on the go. 


Taco night does not have to equal “cheat night.” “Just pass on the taco kits that are loaded with preservatives, season the meat with some cumin, chili powder and smoked paprika to taste,” White says. “Serve in warmed corn tortillas topped with lots of chopped tomato and shredded lettuce.” You also can just go the taco-salad route with your prepped meat if you’re eating even lower carb.


Aren’t you happy to see this on the list? Burgers get a bad rap, but the truth is that it’s all in the prep. Starting again with a leaner ground beef, you can add more physique-friendly elements like whole-wheat rolls, gourmet cheeses (White likes Asiago) and smarter toppings like bruschetta to class up your normal greasy “feelings” burger.


“Using ground beef to make chili is a great option because you can easily create a heavy, guilt-free batch that’s loaded with inflammation-fighting antioxidants,” White says. Chili is also easy to pack and reheat.


Out of a lack of ground-beef creativity, you might be tempted to just brown a skillet full of it and put fork to mouth. But with a little more effort, you can dine like a (ripped) king. “For a quick and satisfying meal, saute beef with onion, garlic and curry powder, add some fresh or frozen spinach, and serve over brown rice,” White says.

For Dana Angelo White’sthree-bean chili, taco salad and Asiago burger recipes, visit Dana White Nutrition at