Eating the most nutritious meat…but on the smallest budget
This is a fantastic lunch recipe, super nutritious and very tasty. Please see pictured lambs kidneys and lots of green veggies – yum yum! This meal contains 250 grams of lambs kidneys, lots of green veggies – organic broccoli, cabbage, green pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach, and an assortment of spices – coriander, cumin, paprika, black pepper and chilli flakes.
Lean white skinless boneless chicken breasts
For most of the last 40 or 50 years we’ve been told that fat is bad, especially saturated fat from animal sources, and we should all eat a lean low-fat diet. This has resulted (at least here in the UK) in an obsession with skinless lean filleted chicken breast. People have been educated to ‘obsession point’ that fat is bad and even the skin or the ‘brown’ thigh meat is considered too high in fat. This has led to a scenario you are probably familiar with, stories of ‘abused broiler chickens’ – chickens bred for the size of their breasts. I am sure you have heard about the speed of their growth, how they live in cramped smelly barns and their bodies grow so fast their legs can buckle beneath them.
While European countries generally maintain better standards of animal husbandry than in the US, these issues are still a huge concern. They certainly bother me.
But food companies are clever, and driven by profit – not only at the expense of the chicken, but also to take money from YOUR pocket and mine. As lean white breast meat has become the popular meat of choice, so prices have risen. Currently, at time of writing, skinless boneless chicken breasts costs £6.76 per kilo in Tesco, and that’s not the free range product, that’s the “standard” chicken.
Sainsbury’s British chicken breast fillets are currently priced at £9.23 per kilo. Asda organic chicken breast fillets are currently priced at £15.48 per kilo, Morrison’s organic chicken breasts are £16.21 per kilo and Sainsbury’s organic British free range chicken breast is priced at £20 per kilo.
Now I have not completed an exhaustive cost-averaging exercise around British supermarkets, but you get the idea…chicken breasts cost between 6 and 10 pounds per kilo for non-organic/free-range (so barn raised and corn fed), and the top-shelf stuff is twice that price.
Much cheaper than chicken
By comparison, the kidneys I cooked in this lunch, from my favourite local farm shop, Allington Farm Shop, only a mile from my home, cost me just a pound. I can see the sheep grazing in the field next door to the shop, I can see them from my house, so I know they are free range, and they are eating grass, and so I know more about their diet that anything I will ever buy in a supermarket. When I go shopping there, sometimes my young kids come with me and the kids stay outside – while I do the shopping, the kids run around outside collecting dandelion leaves and feeding the sheep through the fence. So I REALLY know what these animals have eaten, my own kids even help to feed them! These delicious and nutritious lambs kidneys cost me £1.98 for half a kilo, and I made a big lunch with that – half of which is shown in the picture, and half will be saved and reheated for lunch another day.
These kidneys are massively cheaper than the prime plump chicken breast meat, yet they are actually more nutritious, and almost certainly from animals treated far more humanely and living a far better quality of life. My £1.98 purchased 500 grams (half a kilo, a little over a pound) and made 2 lunches, so the cost is just £1 per meal. Not only is the kidney cheaper, and better sourced, but it is also far more nutritious. Let’s take a look at what we get for our money.
My 250 grams of lambs kidneys in this lunch deliver 87% of my RDA of iron, but 250 grams of chicken would have only given me 10% of my iron for today. Combined with the lush greens on my plate, this meal delivers way over my RDA for iron in just one meal.
The 250 grams of lambs kidneys gave me almost 50% of my RDA for Vitamin C today, where the chicken would have only delivered 5%. As for the often talked about Vitamin B12 – my lamb lunch gave me a whopping 2185% of my RDA for B12! That’s 3 week’s worth in one meal! By comparison, 250 grams of lean chicken would have given me just 15%. And finally, the lamb delivers huge amounts of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. What’s important with Omega fatty acids is not the total amount, but the ratio between the two. These days, most of us are eating too many omega-6’s and not enough omega-3’s, so when looking at the ratio of omega fatty acids in our diet, we don’t want too many 6’s and too few 3’s, that’s the goal. Ideally, we want a 1:1 ratio. The kidneys deliver a huge load of both, and the ratio is almost 1:1, but in the chicken, the total amounts are lower and crucially the 6’s outweigh the 3’s 4-to-1. So the kidneys deliver a much better balance of Omega fatty acids.
Here is the data for the lambs kidneys:
And then here is the data for the chicken breast:
So what am I saying. Basically, for the sake of giving up a few grams of protein, the kidneys deliver masses more nutrients, and healthy fatty acids, and this blast of nutrients is a tenth the price of the chicken breasts. It’s important to know that as the ‘diet industry’ WRONGLY taught us to cut all the fat from our diet, so the food companies have moved to profit from our fear of fat. They now breed chickens that are living in poor conditions to deliver us meat which is actually nutritionally inferior.
Don’t get me wrong, I eat my fair share of lean chicken breasts, and I know it’s some of the best protein (for amino acid composition) you can buy and it’s very rich protein…but I think it should only be “one type of meat” in a broader diet.
The kidneys make a much more ‘complete’ meat, in terms of delivering a broad base of micronutrients (images show kidneys first (top, or on the left, depending on your browser), and chicken second, bottom or on the right) or see all data in comparison table later at the bottom of this post:
Many farmers and butchers THROW AWAY the kidneys, livers, tongue, heart and other organ meats and fatty meats because there is so little demand for them. You may visit your local butcher to find that organ meats or fatty cuts are not on the counter display – just ask. They don’t give shelf-display-space to cuts that no one wants, but they will have them in the cold rooms out the back. Ask, and they will likely sell them to you for super-low prices. Often, these MORE NUTRITIOUS cuts just end up in the bin.
This handy table summarizes all of the above for you:
I hope you can read the data – click on the image to enlarge it and you should be able to see it all OK.
Make friends with your butcher or farmer and be brave, try new meats and don’t be fooled into thinking lean skinless chicken is all you can eat. People often say to me that MotherNaturesDiet is ‘elite’ and they can’t afford to buy free range and organic produce. People say to me that the diet advice in MND is too expensive for ‘ordinary people’ to eat this way. As this post shows, with a little education and a little effort, you can actually find some fantastic nutrient-dense meat, from quality free-range animals, at a quarter or a fifth the price of ‘supermarket’ meat.
Let me put this in context of YOUR money spent. In the summary table above, the ‘Lambs kidneys’ column shows the nutritional values for 250 grams of meat. In the lunch I made, this amount of kidneys cost approximately £1. The ‘Chicken breast’ column shows 250 grams of product too, which (for ‘supermarket’ free range produce, comparable quality) would cost approximately £4 pounds based on an average price of £16 per kilo. If you invest the time and effort when you shop, you will likely find that the more nutritious meats, taken from free range, outdoor reared stock, animals that are treated well and live a decent life, are actually cheaper that the popular cuts in the supermarket, taken from chickens that have had a miserable time in their short lives.
And one last thing, the kidneys were delicious too. Yummy!