Welcome to Eat Well Every Day

Welcome to Eat Well Every Day!

I've spent years researching nutritional information, food ideas and recipes, because cooking and eating - especially with family & friends - are some of life's great pleasures. And guess what- healthy food doesn't have to be boring! It can be exciting and delicious!


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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In praise of meat – as a treat

My apologies to all vegetarians/vegans and animal welfare people of the PETA persuasion, but in today’s blog, I’m going to sing the praises of including small amounts of meat in the diet.
I will say right up front that I have no objection to the ethical, religious, moral or emotional arguments the no-meat people advance, and I admire them for sticking to their principles (although PETA’s PR approach seriously pees me off!).

No, I’m looking at small amounts of meat in the diet purely from a nutritional point of view, with some caveats as to how that meat is obtained and how frequently it should be eaten.

Meat: a source of quality protein

As an omnivore who still enjoys the taste of certain meats – especially roast lamb – I’ve found trying to become an ovo-lacto-vego almost impossible. Out of concern for impact of meat-eating on the environment, and out of repugnance at the way factory farmed animals are treated, together with the poor flavour of cheap meat, I resolved a year ago to become vegetarian.

Now, I know, intellectually, that it is entirely possible to meet all the human body’s protein needs from a vegan diet, but even for a healthy person with a functioning brain, the balancing act required is relatively hard work. In recent months, when my immune system has become fragile, I’ve realised I need to return to a more omnivorous diet which includes some fish (to be covered in another post) and small amounts of high quality meat.

Lamb: one of the top 20 healthiest foods

Recently researching immune-supporting foods, I was delighted to find that lamb – my favourite meat – is one of the top 20 healthiest foods, high in zinc and B vitamins s well as the full complement of amino acids.

This means that when we lamb-eaters indulge in a little expensive organic, free-range lamb (most lamb in Australia is free range – ie – grazing on pasture, but very little is organic or near-organic), we are getting real nutritional value from our carnivorous urges.

Meat: the organic fair trade 80% cocoa chocolate of protein

At Christmas with friends who have a variety of dietary challenges of their own relating to bowel problems and food allergies, I enjoyed the MOST delicious roast lamb I have tasted in many a year. Marinated overnight in a mixture of mustard, honey, garlic and rosemary, and roasted slowly, it was melt in the mouth tender, with an indescribably voluptuous flavour.

That was when I made the connection between lamb and organic fair trade dark chocolate (OFTDC - another surprisingly healthy food item). Buying OFTDC from the local Oxfam shop costs me double what I could spend on dark chocolate at the supermarket. So I only enjoy it about once a month, picking it up as I get my supply of OFT coffee beans. It’s a special treat - & I also get the good feeling or smug feeling that I’m helping the producers with my tiny dollars.

It’s the same with meat. Where people thinking about lessening their impact on the environment are encouraged to consider one meatless meal a week (‘meatless Mondays’), I aim for one meat-based meal a week. Similarly to the fair trade concept, I spin out my precious dollars on high quality meat from the wonderful farmer’s market. It certainly is not cheap, unlike the factory farmed cuts discounted at the big supermarkets! But I know that most of what I pay for a tiny loin of lamb, or a free-range chicken goes straight to the producer, and they can guarantee not only the quality and flavour of the meat, but also the quality of the life of the animal that died for my need for complete amino acids.

Here I must acknowledge my debt to Hugh Fearnley–Whittingstall, who has helped me clarify my musings on meat over the past 12 months.

So, to the recipe. I don’t have my friend’s recipe for our fabulous Christmas lunch, but here’s something similar (recipe adapted from one on www.taste.com.au in 2004, & I'm using the image that went with it).

Honey, Mint, Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Roast
  • Mini leg Lamb Roast: about 800 grams
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves stripped & chopped fine,
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • garlic – at least 3 cloves, chopped fine
  • red wine or balsamic vinegar, as needed

Chop the herbs and garlic together, using about half the rosemary.

Put in a large bowl or casserole dish, big enough to take the meat, and mix together with the honey, and enough wine or vinegar to make a thick marinade.

Rub the marinade all over the meat, working it in wherever possible, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

To go with the meat:
  • 500 gram baking potatoes
  • 500 gram pumpkin

To Roast:
Preheat oven to 200 C.

Wash baking potatoes (Desirees are good) and cut in half. Pour a good slurp of olive oil in a baking dish, and roll the potatoes round in this. Cut pumpkin into similar chunks, leaving skin on, and toss in with potatoes. If you have room, you could add halved onions to the vegetables.

Take meat from marinade bowl. Cut slits in surface & poke in stems of rosemary. Place meat on a rack over the veggie baking dish, & pour over any remaining marinade.

Put in oven just above centre and cook for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 180C, and cook for about 30 minutes.

Let lamb rest, covered with foil for 5-10 minutes to allow the meat to relax before carving.

Serves 4 (or 1 for several wonderful meals)

Buon Appetito!


  1. I will have to share that lamb recipe with my friend D who loves the lambies.

    My problem with buying and eating meat is that because we do not have it at home, that leaves me eating the majority of my meat from the work cafeteria. And I know full well exactly what it is and isn't. It's factory farmed, shipped to a center somewhere and distributed frozen to the catering company. I'd actually prefer to stop eating meat altogether but the vegetarian options are dire, especially as I do try to avoid eating a lot of dairy. I'd rather have meat as a small, occasional treat, definitely. I like to see it as a condiment, rather than the central feature.

  2. That's difficult, when you're not in charge of the meat in your life! What a terrible choice! I always go for the vegetarian option if I eat fast food, which in my case is usually Indian or Thai food, for the same reasons.

    I was pleased to see, shortly after I posted this, a letter to our local paper suggesting similar thoughts on ethical meat eating.

    I hope D enjoys experimenting with the roast lamb!

  3. Darn it, I made another comment but I think it got eaten. Speaking of experimenting, next month I am going to lead three of my friends (Team Defiance) through cooking duck. It's definitely in the 'meat as a treat' category, but I'm mostly pleased to be taking people who don't have a strong cooking background on an interesting voyage.

    As for my meat problems, the solution is... I should be packing lunch, and only eating meat out when I CAN be picky about the source. That'd require being organized. If you're inclined toward easy vegan-friendly lunch suggestions, I'd be thrilled to read a post on it. (You know what I am like in the morning.)