It’s not hard to see why eating a lot of meat will make you put on weight – it’s high in energy and in fat, particularly red and processed meats. Our lifestyles are increasingly sedentary – meaning we sit around too much – and when our typical western dietary pattern sees us eat too much meat, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre, it’s no wonder we’re getting fatter.
We love quick food that’s high in sugar, fat and calories. So many of the modern diets (The Dukan, for example) try to offer a quick fix by limiting or removing carbohydrates altogether and increasing protein via meats, eggs and dairy products like cheese, yoghurt and milk, supposedly making people feel fuller for longer and decreasing the amount of food they consume. This often leads to fairly rapid weight loss, however critics say the weight returns (plus some) when people return to normal patterns of eating. The effect on cholesterol can be devastating, particularly for those predisposed to high cholesterol and heart disease.
A five year study from the UK investigated the association between consumption of meat with weight gain in more than 370,000 men and women. The researchers looked at participants’ diets and measured their weight and height, then looked for links between how much meat they ate and annual weight change. Men consumed more meat than women however excess meat was associated with weight gain in both men and women, for normal weight and overweight participants.
This was the case for red meat (beef, veal, pork and lamb), poultry (chicken, turkey and rabbit were included in this category in some groups) and processed meat (ham, bacon, sausages, and other meat products mainly from beef and pork). An increase in meat intake of 250 grams a day (e.g. a steak at 450 calories) would lead to an additional 2kg after 5 years. Going ‘meatless’ even just a few times a week can help slow or stop weight gain and improve cholesterol and cardiovascular risk factors. It’s worth a try – for the sake of our health and our waistlines.
Good Health on the Menu
Healthy Spinach and Ricotta Rolls
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 large bunches spinach, leaves chopped and thoroughly washed (ends discarded)
250g tub low fat ricotta cheese
1t grated nutmeg
1T dried oregano
8 sheets filo pastry
1T olive oil
1 egg, whisked (for brushing)
Poppy or sesame seeds to top
Preheat oven to 200°C
In a saucepan, heat 2T water and add onion, garlic and spinach – then cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and cool, then strain mixture through a colander to remove excess moisture
In a mixing bowl combine spinach mixture, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, oregano and egg – mix well until all combined
Work with 4 sheets of pastry at a time. Spread out 2 sheets of pastry on the bench and brush lightly with olive oil. Top with another two sheets of pastry and brush lightly with oil again
Spoon spinach mixture along the length of the pastry (all the way to the ends) and roll up tightly to create one long roll. Repeat with remaining pastry so you have 2 long rolls in total
Brush tops lightly with the whisked egg and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds
Cut into desired size rolls and place on a lined baking tray
Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown, then serve with tomato sauce or relish
Sausage rolls are usually high in processed meat, saturated fat and calories. This version has removed the meat and uses filo pastry instead of puff pastry – saving plenty of calories but keeping that crispy texture and great taste we love. Great for the kids or for party food!