Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sesame Soy Venison Meatballs with Crunchy Cabbage Salad and Nutrifact #3

I couldn't help but squeeze in a post before my week started. I hate feeling behind...even in something I do for fun. Call it perfectionism or being OCD if you like...I think of it as simply not being willing to let these recipes fall into the oblivion of the past. I can't risk forgetting about them or not being able to share them with you!

And this recipe especially cannot be forgotten. This is definitely my favorite way to have venison. Yes, I know, I'm talking about deer meat. If my husband wants to kill two or three deer a year, that's fine with me (just as long as I don't have to handle the carcasses!). They may be beautiful animals, but there are a lot of them. And now that I know about these meatballs I might actually be encouraging him to go this year!

So now that I've piqued your appetite...let me give you the recipe! :)

It's from Cooking Light...I just used ground venison instead of ground beef. The marinade is simply gorgeous. This is the second time I've made it...and it will definitely be showing up on the menu again. For the recipe, click here. Sambal oelek is pretty easy to find in the Asian section of the grocery store. And please don't substitute anything for the sesame oil. It makes the dish.

I actually have this thing for sesame oil. It's probably one of my favorite flavors. If you mix up sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a dash of soy sauce, it makes anything anything and everything good.

Also, don't be scared by the idea of making meatballs if you never have. It's actually really easy and fast. At least...this recipe is. I served it with some brown rice and a Crunchy Cabbage Salad that I had been craving. All I did for that was chop up cabbage, red bell pepper, and carrots, then toss them with slivered almonds, sesame seeds, and crumbled uncooked ramen noodles, then mix with a little of the Asian dressing I described above.

Here is my plate:

Here is Ryan's plate:

Don't worry. We both had seconds.

Now on to Nutrifact #3! It will actually be easier for me to keep up with these now, because I signed up to be a student blogger for WebRD. In effect, I have to write the equivalent of a Nutrifact for them weekly. Feel free to go there and check out our posts! There are a bunch of other dietitians-in-training blogging about what they are learning and researching. I, at least, find it fascinating.

Nutrifact #3: Cowsify Your Bones

Do you ever think of osteoporosis as something you won't have to worry about until you are much older? If so, think again. What you do now can greatly affect your chances of suffering from this condition in years down the road. In my Advanced Nutrition class this past week, I developed such a sense of urgency about preventing this debilitating condition that I knew I must share my new-found knowledge of calcium with everyone to convince them to care for their bones.

Calcium is the mineral found in the largest amounts in the body because it is used in the bones and the blood. Our body's calcium priority is to keep blood levels constant, since it is vital for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and calcium-dependent transporters. Thus, when we are not consuming enough calcium, we signal our bones to release their calcium to maintain blood levels. This results in a lower bone density, which eventually turns into osteoporosis.

To prevent this from happening, we must ensure that we are getting enough calcium in our diets or through supplementation. The recommended amounts for calcium are as follows:

Children: 500-800 mg/day (the equivalent of 2 cups milk)
Teenagers: 1300 mg/day (4 cups milk)
Adults: 1000 mg/day (2.5-3 cups milk)
Pregnant women: 1000 mg/day*

*The reason that calcium intake does not need to increase during pregnancy is that the body absorbs a higher percentage than normal of what is consumed during this time.

The bioavailability of calcium, or absorption rate, is an important factor to consider when choosing how to meet your calcium requirements. If the food has a bioavailability of greater than 30%, it is a good source of calcium. Some examples include dairy products, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and calcium-fortified foods or drinks. Sources of calcium with an absorption rate below 30% include almonds, sesame seeds, pinto beans, sweet potatoes, spinach, rhubarb, and swiss chard.

When choosing a calcium supplement, make sure you check what calcium complex it is, as different kinds have different bioavailabilities. The best form to get, and usually the most expensive, is calcium carbonate. This has an absorption rate of 39%, which is higher than dairy. Centrum is an example of a brand that contains this complex. The next best choice is calcium acetate (32%) and then calcium citrate (30%). Try to avoid supplements containing calcium gluconate, which only has a bioavailability of 27%.

Even if you are consuming enough calcium, it is possible that you are not absorbing enough. Some factors that increase calcium absorption are adequate stomach acid levels, adequate vitamin D levels, lactose (which explains why dairy is a good way to get your calcium!), and growth hormones. Calcium absorption is decreased by lack of stomach acid, vitamin D deficiency, high phosphorus intake, high fiber diet (we're talking really high), and phytates and oxalates (found in grains, legumes, spinach, and rhubarb, to name a few).

Now, here's the clincher. You reach peak bone density at age 30. If you're older than that, do everything you can to maintain it, because you can only lose density. If you're younger than 30, I hope this post will convince you to take a closer look at your calcium intake. You are at a higher risk for osteoporosis if you are female, have a family history of the condition, don't consume enough calcium or vitamin D, or don't exercise regularly. So get out there and cowsify your bones! You'll thank me later.


  1. yum, looks great! I am definitely a fan of sesame oil as well :) And I also work with a nutrition program at cooperative extension teaching 8th graders all the importance of good nutrition, especially calcium during their teen years. Awesome info! And thanks for stopping by my blog :)

  2. I love venison, I actually grew up eating it and my dad would make venison meatballs to take to family get togethers. My poor cousin ate them without knowing they were made from deer meat and was horrified! (She was quite young though.) All she kept saying was that she had eaten Bambi and I don't think she ever ate anything my dad brought again.
    Your food looks delicious by the way and I like the nutritional facts that go along with it. I have started to get back into cooking again and just maybe I'll have to try one of your recipes out!

  3. P.s this is Leah Goforth ;)