Slow Cooker Italian Beef slow simmers in a flavorful tomato sauce with peppers, onions, garlic and spices for an easy dinner that is sure to please everyone in your family.
I don’t use beef very often. Even my chilis are mostly vegetarian or made with ground turkey. My least favorite protein to work with is chicken, but, oddly, we eat 80% chicken dishes. I think it’s because it’s so versatile, I know the kids will eat it, and it’s cheap.
Also, when you are trying to make healthy meals, your mind goes to chicken. It’s the healthiest of the animal proteins, right? Well, it depends on how you’re picking your meat.
Discount chicken is not going to be better for you than responsibly raised, hormone free beef in the long run. If you want to eat good for you whole foods and fuel your body with the best ingredients, you need to know what you’re buying and where it’s coming from. So, really, if I’m using excellent meat, this Slow Cooker Italian Beef is going to be better for my body than a cheap chicken salad.
But it feels like you need a special education to buy responsibly raised, junk free meat these days, doesn’t it? There’s all of this trickery happening with words that sound good but don’t mean really anything, and then you have to wonder if what the package says is really what you’re getting. However, there are some tips you can use when purchasing your meat.
Grass-Fed vs. Pasture-Fed
These might sound like to same thing at first. There’s grass in a pasture, so that means they ate grass in a pasture, right? Wrong. Grass-fed simply means they were given grass or hay to eat, most likely in their cramped, confined living quarters. It does, however, mean they were not given grains.
Pasture-fed means the animals had access to grass and hay outside their living spaces, but it means they were also grain fed. And while pasture-fed is better than grass-fed because they have access to the outdoors, it doesn’t mean they were kept in healthy living conditions.
Pork and poultry are never labeled “grass-fed” because they do need some grains in their diets.
Pasture-Fed vs. Pasture-Raised
Pasture-fed, as we just discussed, does not guarantee a happy or healthy living space for the animals. Pasture-raised, however, means just that. The animals live in a pasture and feed from nature just as they were intended to do. They are happy and they are consuming the food that God designed for them to have. This is the BEST choice for your meat source as far as living and eating conditions.
In addition to Pasture-Raised, you will want to look for the labels Hormone-Free and Antibiotic-Free, as well as Organic. All of that stuff that is injected into the animals to make up for their poor health because of the terrible living conditions and to make them unnaturally large ends up in the meat you buy. Just think about that for a second… Gross, right?
Buying responsibly raised meat is not always easy and, yes, it costs more. But I would rather eat meat only once or twice a week and have vegetarian meals the rest of the time than know that I’m putting unnatural and potentially very harmful things into my body and my kids’ bodies through the cheap meat I bought. Plus, the good stuff tastes better! It cooks better! There is a difference, and it’s not just in the price.
So, when you go to the store to buy the beef for this Slow Cooker Italian Beef, get the good stuff. Since it’s a slow cooker recipe you can get the cheaper cuts that need long cooking times to tenderize like skirt or flank steak, top round or even brisket, then you can get the Organic and responsibly raised option without it being crazy expensive.
This Slow Cooker Italian Beef is the perfect dinner to throw together on a lazy Sunday morning and then just let it cook all day. Minimal work gets you fall apart tender meat and a rich and flavorful sauce. Serve it over rice, pasta, roasted spaghetti squash (click it for directions on how to do that) or cauliflower rice.
You can do this! Make your health and the health of your family a priority.
For more slow cooker recipes, try these: