Any diet can become unappetizing if it is too limiting or restrictive, and low-carbohydrate diets are no different. Without providing appetizing variations, dieters tend to slip back into old, carbohydrate-rich habits. The key to staying on track with a low-carbohydrate lifestyle is to consume a variety of flavorful proteins cooked to individual tastes.
Steak is a popular meal for people who shun carbohydrates, but many cooks don’t know how to select the proper cut for the meal they want to prepare. This is tragic, because all steaks are definitely not created equal! Although the word is sometimes applied to fish or other meats, steak is generally a flat cut of beef. Often called beefsteaks, they can be enjoyed broiled, pan-fried or grilled over an open flame, and they are cooked to several degrees of completion.
Steak that is seared on the outside and left essentially raw on the inside is said to be prepared blue rare. Steak that is still red in the middle but warmed to a core temperature of 126 degrees Fahrenheit is described as rare. Steak that is cooked to a pink center and a core temperature of 131 is described as medium rare. A core temperature of 145 indicates a medium steak, and 154 is the core temperature for a steak cooked medium well done. Well done beefsteaks have no pink in the center and are cooked to an internal temperature of 163. Most cooks prepare steaks by applying a known amount of heat for a specific time for a specific thickness of meat. The process becomes very easy to judge after a few meals.
Filet Mignons are cut from the tapered end of the tenderloin. They are extremely tender cuts of meat, and are usually also the most expensive cut per pound. Prime rib, which is also a cut from the rib section, includes the bone. It is generally considered to be more flavorful than rib eye cuts, but it often contains gristle and is usually broiled.
T-bone steak is cut from both the tenderloin and strip loin, and it gets the name T-bone from the shape of the bone that connects the two. When the amount of tenderloin is small, the cut is called a T-bone. When the amount of tenderloin is larger, the cut is called a porterhouse. Both cuts are usually large servings. Sirloin beefsteaks are cut from the hip, between the short loin and the rump steaks. Sirloins are tender, but slightly tougher than short loin cuts. They can be purchased with or without the bone. Any of these cuts in a reasonable portion (about the size of a pack of playing cards) is a fine part of any low-carb diet.
The New York strip steak is tender, but the strip loin cut tends to be high in fat. In beefsteaks, this feature is called marbling. Rib eye steak is cut from the rib section and is usually prepared on a grill. This cut does not include the bone. Like strip steak, rib eye is usually heavily marbled. In any dieting excess fats should be avoided, so skip these cuts if you’re watching your waistline.
In restaurants, and on many home dinner menus, steak is often served with carbohydrate sides. Steak and potatoes, steak with grilled onions, steak with fries, and steak with vegetables like corn are very common meals. Instead of these carb-heavy sides, serve a nice steak with steamed vegetables or a light Cesar salad. Grilled or saut? mushrooms are also low-carbohydrate sides that go well with any cut of steak. Although onions are high in carbohydrates, they are very flavorful, and a small serving of grilled or pan-fried mushrooms with a steak can add a lot of flavor without packing a large carbohydrate punch. Many people enjoy horseradish on steak, which is another ingredient with a powerful flavor, and strong cheeses are also excellent toppings for a grilled steak. Gorgonzola cheese or Roquefort blue cheese are excellent additions in small amounts.