A healthy snack alternative: homemade beef jerky

Two years ago today, I wrote my first ever blog post. At the time I was making a huge move from a relatively unknown blogging platform to WordPress and since then, the support and comments from followers, sponsors and fellow bloggers have been amazing. I’d like to say a big thank you so much for all your support and here’s to many more years of blogging and sharing our common interests!

As part of my goal to kill two proverbial birds with one stone, I’m revisiting my bad habits and trying to make changes that would let me eat better and save money. For 2015, two of my resolutions for the year are to: 1) save money and be more responsible with how I spend it, and 2) eat healthier and remove any ingredients which aren’t beneficial.

In keeping up my fitness through classes and capoeira, I intend to keep myself in good condition and sometimes this means eating foods high in protein. With my higher consumption of water, I’ve felt less urge to munch, but I realise I do stress eat at work and instead of reaching for sugary snacks, chocolate or biscuits, since a friend introduced me to beef jerky I’ve been hooked.

Source: The Healthy Foodie

I’ve been gradually transitioning myself to an elimination diet to help with my healthier eating habits. Some might think that a diet isn’t really going to work, but in my recent post about Gwyneth Paltrow who made this dietary change and published a recipe book to encourage people to eat healthier I’ve shown how it would be beneficial for me.

I’m not talking about a diet for losing weight; the elimination diet only involves you cutting out unhealthy foods or those you don’t have a tolerance for or are sensitive to. I know there are certain foods (like dairy, fruits and vegetables high in natural acids or protein) that don’t agree with me, and there are other ingredients (like sugar and salt) that aren’t good for my healthier eating habits. My goal is simply this: to remove said ingredients from my diet and make a healthier change by drinking more water and snacking on healthier food choices. I realised that in buying commercial beef jerky, I’m spending on average £2.99 on a 80g bag at my local Tesco which I finish between 2 to 3 days.

So what exactly does this mean? I always like to believe that where there’s a will, with a little help from Google and the lovely bloggers around the world, there’s always a way. So to achieve my goals of saving my pennies and eating healthier, I’m going to make my own beef jerky!

Popular flavours of commercially sold beef jerky. Source: Gary West

Any other health or fitness buff could tell you that protein is important for growing and repairing torn muscles during exercise, which is why I’ve occasionally made myself my chocolate peanut butter protein shake. Beef jerky is also a good source of protein – according to AskMen, one ounce (on average) contains about 70 calories and one gram of fat, but delivers 11 grams of protein.

I’ve come to learn that I like my jerky tough; thick strips that I can chew for a while. One the problems I’ve noticed with buying jerky from shops here in Edinburgh is that out of the 3 brands I can buy, the healthier option is too thin and I eat them too quickly and the other two use MSG (also known as monosodium glutamate, a flavour enhancer) which while not scientifically proven to be harmful is an unnecessary additive. Salt is unfortunately needed to preserve the meat, but the other ingredients you use to flavour your jerky can make the world of difference between healthier and lower quality commercial selections.

I’ve found several recipes that I’m looking forward to trying my hand at:

Northwest Edible Life’s classic beef jerky recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s original recipe

Honey and garlic beef jerky from Northwest Edible Life

Five spice teriyaki beef jerky from Northwest Edible Life

Last but not least, if you like your jerky with a bit of a kick (like I’ve been coming to appreciate!):

The Healthy Foodie’s hot and spicy recipe

The most important factors to keep in mind are:

  • choosing a lean cut of meat with as little fat as possible, and
  • making sure you read through the list of ingredients to make sure it’s a healthier option

I’m excited about the bounty of jerky I’ll end up with. Who knew that 2kg of fresh beef can yeild approximately 650g of jerky? It might seem like a huge reduction, but remember that jerky is devoid of all moisture and liquid present in fresh beef so the weight will be significantly reduced. Considering the amount of fresh beef you buy and the amount of jerky you end up with, you’re looking at saving the cost of at least 7 additional store bought packets!

As always, I’ll be posting photos and recipes of the jerky I make once it’s all ready! I would also like to hear your thoughts on favourite recipes for jerky if you make your own at home! Have you got any you’d like to share?


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