Power For The Day

(This post was originally published on the Kansas Beef Council beef blog at http://www.KansasBeefChat.com)

I am a morning runner. There are few other things I look forward to like welcoming the sun, seeing our cows and jogging beside our two farm dogs down our dusty dirt roads. My runs help me clear my head, make my mental to-do list for the day and have a little “me time” before the hustle and bustle of kids, work and life.

But my pre-breakfast calorie burn means I am usually starving by 8 a.m. and often a bowl of cereal just doesn’t do the trick. We all know that protein is an important part of lunch and supper but a protein-packed breakfast can help set your morning on the right path and give you the energy to tackle whatever your day may bring. After my runs, I attempt to eat a protein-based breakfast to keep myself full and active through the morning.

Many nutritional experts recommend you get 25 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast. That may sound like a lot, but there are great beef recipes that can help you pack that protein punch and reach the recommended 46 grams of protein for women and 53 grams of protein for men each day.

Here is a great recipe for Easy Beef Breakfast Rolls. Make these ahead and you can grab one as you walk out the door.

EASY BEEF BREAKFAST ROLLS (From http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com)

INGREDIENTS

  1. Country-Style Beef Breakfast Sausage (recipe follows)
  2. 2 large eggs, scrambled
  3. 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  4. 1 tablespoon water
  5. Fillings (optional): Chopped onions, salsa, chopped cooked vegetables
  6. 12 balls of frozen bread dough, thawed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare Basic Country Beef Breakfast Sausage. Remove from skillet.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine beef crumbles, scrambled eggs, cheese and water. Stir in optional filling ingredients, if desired. Roll out one dough ball at a time on unfloured surface to 4 to 5-inch diameter circle. Place approximately 1/4 cup of beef sausage filling into the center of the circle.  Gather edges of dough and pinch together. With hands roll dough back into ball. Place seam-side down into a muffin cup.
  3. Bake 24 to 27 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

    Country-Style Beef Breakfast Sausage: Combine 1 pound Ground Beef (93% or leaner), 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1 teaspoon garlic power, 1 teaspoon onion power, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly.  Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add beef mixture; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 1/2-inch crumbles, stirring occasionally.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Nutrition information per serving: 409 calories; 16 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 138 mg cholesterol; 617 mg sodium; 35 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 32 g protein; 6.2 mg niacin; 0.4 mg vitamin B6; 2.2 mcg vitamin B12; 4.9 mg iron; 22.2 mcg selenium; 5.7 mg zinc; 119.2 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium, zinc and choline.

Total Recipe Time: 40 to 45 minutes

Makes 12 servings

Energy For The Busy Life

It’s 2016 and our farm suddenly became a little more crowded. We welcomed our second son, Owen, on Jan. 5. That means I have more than a few baby pounds to drop and hope to get back into a running regimen by the spring. That goal should be made easier by our two-year-old son, Evan, who always seems to be running on all cylinders and keeps us on our toes.

Meanwhile, my farmer hubby is working around the clock to help our 300-some mother cows safely and successfully deliver their new calves. That means 12-15 hour workdays and the occasional all-nighters.

One my new years goals is to prepare more meals, not only to save a few bucks, but to provide healthy and hearty meals that my family can enjoy together. Eating healthy is essential to maintaining energy levels and right now, the hubs and I need all of the energy we can get!

Thankfully we always have a great supply of beef cuts on hand that I can turn to for an excellent source of protein. Beef can be part of quick, healthy, family-friendly meals – from pizza to stews to casseroles to pot roasts. This winter, I hope to put my cooking skills to the test and find lots of new recipes to satisfy my family’s nutritional and energy needs.

Here is an example of a great recipe for a family meal that will satisfy appetites of all ages and keep everyone running on all cylinders. For more recipes and meal ideas check out http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

CHUCKWAGON BEEF & PASTA SKILLET (Found on http://www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com)

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 pound Ground Beef
  2. 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 1 can (13-3/4 to 14-1/2 ounces) ready-to-serve beef broth
  5. 1-1/2 cups uncooked wagon wheel pasta
  6. 1 cup prepared hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
  7. 1/2 cup finely shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese

INSTRUCTIONS FOR CHUCKWAGON BEEF & PASTA SKILLET

  1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add Ground Beef, bell pepper and onion; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings.
  2. Stir in broth, pasta, barbecue sauce and 1/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until pasta is almost tender. Uncover; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION FOR CHUCKWAGON BEEF & PASTA SKILLET

Nutrition information per serving: 445 calories; 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 79 mg cholesterol; 1307 mg sodium; 54 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g fiber; 36 g protein; 9.3 mg niacin; 0.5 mg vitamin B6; 2.4 mcg vitamin B12; 6.1 mg iron; 20.9 mcg selenium; 6.6 mg zinc; 86.24 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and selenium; and a good source of choline.

On Being A Farm Wife

I never aspired to be a farm wife. I just wanted to live in the city, raise my 2.5 kids and navigate a successful yet fulfilling career in the public relation industry with a husband that wore a suit and was home at 5:15 every evening. Then I met my farmer — now my husband — and that all went out the window.

I am now a mother of two, a farm wife, a full-time professional and passionate advocate for an industry I knew nothing about a decade ago. I live miles outside of town, have no idea what time my husband will be home from work tonight and have seen a cow give birth.

I was recently asked to speak to a group of livestock owners about the role of women in agriculture and as I pondered what that looked like I realized just how much a farm wife contributes to the success of the industry.

Farm wives must be the cooks (or in my case the fast food picker-up-ers), the laundry attendants, the house cleaners, the nanny, the chauffeur (for the hubby, his farm help and the kids) and the office manager. On top of that, when the hubs is busy — be it a Tuesday evening or a Saturday afternoon — this all must get done with no help or second parent. Farming is more than a full-time job, it’s a full-time lifestyle that doesn’t take weekends, holidays or sick days. That means farm wives must always be at the ready to help out, alter plans and lend a hand on the farm — while taking care of the kids.

For those women, like myself, who work in town, balancing the corporate world with the farm can be a challenge of epic proportions. Schedules clash, the tractor breaks down minutes before a meeting and the hubby might not make it back from the field in time to get the kids from daycare if the wife is away for business. That’s where family and forgiving babysitters come in handy.

Farm wives are strong women, they have to be. They wear a million different hats. They know a paycheck isn’t a guarantee and their date nights, free time and family vacations are at the mercy of mother nature or a few stubborn cows. They might go days without seeing their husbands and can fix a wonderful, wholesome meal only to have to save a plate because her husband can’t make it home in time to eat with her and the kids.

It’s a blessing to be a farm wife but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Sometimes I Forget

It was 8 p.m. last night and I was rocking my newborn back to sleep having reminding my older son, once again, to stay in bed. I had spent close to an hour getting the baby ready for bed and asleep and it was all undone when the toddler made his appearance, causing me to have to get up and walk him back to his room and tuck him back into bed. It was at that moment that I wanted life to be like it was, where bedtimes were non-events and by 7:30 p.m. the evenings were mine and free of children, dirty diapers and nursing. I wanted my husband home so he could help me keep it all together and keep our older son in bed and I wanted company as I rocked and rocked and rocked. But he wasn’t home and I wasn’t happy.

My husband wasn’t home because he was returning from a trip to south-central Kansas where he unloaded 80 cows to spend the winter on new pasture. He was late getting on the road and got caught in his tractor-trailer in icy, hazardous driving conditions. He was supposed to be back to the farm around 6:30 p.m. He walked in the door two hours later.

I didn’t grow up on a farm. I was raised in town by parents with eight-to-five jobs that allowed them to be home on evenings and away from work on the weekends. That’s what I envisioned for myself but it’s not what I married into. Farming doesn’t have closing times and doesn’t know the difference between Tuesday and Saturday. During the winter months the hours are even more unpredictable as my husband and his father help more than 300 mother cows deliver and care for new calves. And the animals, inevitably, pick the coldest nights and wettest weekends to deliver their off spring. It’s out of my husband’s control but all his responsibility.

I always talk and write about understanding and appreciating the hard work and long hours my husband puts into his job. I’m proud of the work he does and the hours upon hours he commits to the farm, but sometimes I forget that his obligations to his job and his animals must supersede his time at home. Last night, I forgot . . . I just wanted him home.

My husband is a successful business owner who is living his dream to carry on the family farm. He grew up watching a father and grandfather who both worked tirelessly to enable their sons to return to the farm and carry on the family business. Now my husband is working toward that same goal. He’s putting food on our table and provide healthy and nutritional products for people near and far. His work is invaluable and his passion undeniable.

But his dream often runs counter to my vision of a happy family of four enjoying a meal together or visiting the zoo on a Saturday morning. And when I forget why my husband isn’t home, I get angry and frustrated and become a person I’m not proud of. Part of marrying into farming is accepting the unknown, unpredictable and uncontrollable hours that come with raising crops and caring for animals.

Understanding all of this is easier said than done and even more so when a newborn is crying, yet again, needing to be nursed and rocked back to sleep while your toddler refuses to stay in bed and go to sleep.

I know my husband wants to be home as much as I want him home. I’m not the only farm wife, or mother who must find a way to juggle it all. As I learn to navigate life with two little boys, a full-time job, graduate school classes and other community obligations, I must remember that when my husband isn’t home, it’s because he is away making all of that possible. I tip my hat to all wives and mothers who must go it alone and while I know that my husband and farmers across the country want nothing more than to spend time with their families, work calls and they must answer. I usually understand, but sometimes, I forget.