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Seasonal produce and beef: Meet your MyPlate needs

Sonoma Ranch Steak Salad, shown here, combines the perfect pair: Fresh produce and lean beef. (Photo courtesy of the Beef Checkoff)

August is a bountiful month, especially for fresh produce from your garden. If you don't have a garden, a local farmers market is a great alternative. One of the best things about visiting these local markets is seeing the wide assortment of in-season produce. The colors and delicious flavors of this locally grown produce are wonderful, especially since our growing season in South Dakota is so short.

Once you have your fresh produce, you may be wondering how best to utilize it in your meals. Why not pair it with a favorite protein, such as lean beef?

Luckily, lean protein is a perfect partner for the season's abundant fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Pairing lean beef with fresh produce not only helps improves the taste and satisfaction of your meals, but maximizes nutrients to help keep your body healthy. Research shows beef's high-quality protein and essential nutrients make good diets better by improving overall nutrient intake and diet quality, and contributing to positive health outcomes like weight management.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, as a nutrient-rich food, lean meats -- including beef -- make it easier to "enjoy our food, but eat less." MyPlate, the graphic icon of USDA's nutrition guide, gets back to the basics, illustrating how to create a healthful plate by balancing a mix of nutrition from all food groups. You can find the easy-to-use MyPlate graphic at

Build the perfect plate by including nutrient-rich lean beef with fresh produce dishes and salads to help meet dietary guidelines and the MyPlate recommendations. Protein-rich foods like lean beef work well in the protein category of MyPlate. One 3-ounce serving, at approximately 150 calories, provides nearly half of the daily value for protein.

Build a better plate and beef up your high-quality protein needs to get more nutrients per bite.

This Sonoma Ranch Steak Salad recipe is a perfect summertime beef meal. Eat smarter, feel stronger, taste greatness and live better with lean beef.

Sonoma Ranch Steak Salad


3 beef shoulder center (ranch) steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 8 ounces each)

3 cups loosely packed fresh spinach

1-3/4 cups frozen butter beans, thawed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pint red and yellow cherry, grape or teardrop tomatoes, cut in half or quartered, iflarge

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut in half

3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Fresh basil (optional)


1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Combine rub ingredients; press evenly onto beef steaks. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place spinach, beans, lemon juice, garlic and pepper in food processor container. With motor running, slowly add 2 tablespoons oil through opening in cover, processing until combined. Season with salt, as desired. Set aside.

3. Combine tomatoes, cheese, olives and basil in medium bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and vinegar; toss well. Season to taste with pepper; set aside.

4. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 11 to 14 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 12 to 16 minutes) for medium rare (145 degrees F) to medium (160 F) doneness, turning occasionally.

5. Remove; let stand 5 minutes. Carve steaks into slices; season with salt, as desired. Evenly divide spinach mixture among 6 individual plates. Top with beef slices; spoon tomato salad over beef. Garnish with basil, if desired.

Total Recipe Time: 30 to 35 minutes

Makes 6 servings

Recipe courtesy of the Beef Checkoff.