Good Natured

The Original Red Meat

A bit of bison for the holidays

By Karen Frye

The image of buffalo roaming across the prairie is an iconic symbol of the American landscape in the 1800s before the pioneers moved in. Bison meat was good for people back then, and it is in demand even more in recent years because of its high nutritional value.

Ranchers today are committed to raising their herds naturally and work hard to accommodate the natural behaviors of the bison, allowing them to roam freely. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow bison to be raised using growth hormones. The National Bison Association’s code of ethics prohibits the feeding of antibiotics, crossbreeding, in-vitro fertilization or other artificial practices. This code of ethics requires ranchers to respect and conserve the natural and cultural heritage while striving to improve the quality of the buffalos’ lives.

These naturally raised bison interact with their environment as nature intended — promoting healthy ecosystems and animals. This is a far cry from the standards of the commercial factory farming methods.

Bison meat is naturally flavorful, tender, nutrient dense, high in minerals, and lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, chicken and even salmon. It’s also higher in protein, iron and B12, and a very good source of healthy fatty acids, like omega 3.

Sales of bison meat have steadily increased as people discover that it is not only healthy and delicious, but also environmentally friendly. You can substitute it for beef in recipes, but beware — it is lower in fat, so be careful not to overcook it.

The popularity of Keto and Paleo diets have increased the demand for ways to get the healthy protein people need on these diets. Bison is a great choice when planning the menu for the holidays. There are many recipes available using ground bison, bison steaks and roasts. I have been using bison for years and find it delicious and easy to prepare.

Here is a great recipe that would be perfect for your holiday party:

Oven-Roasted Bison Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 pound ground bison

1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1 egg, beaten

2 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix until well blended. Form into 24 meatballs, about the size of a walnut. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil. Place the meatballs on the pan and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce:

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons chopped green onions

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, stir to blend. Makes 1 cup.

Give it a try this holiday. Surprise your family and friends with this delicious, healthy alternative.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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