Gain Control with Protein Power

It’s a common scenario: no time for breakfast, so you’re snacking on something sweet in the break room at 9 a.m. Two hours later you hit the vending machine for something salty.

The good news is there is an easy, healthy alternative to taking control of your appetite: protein. In fact, a growing body of research shows that spreading protein intake over the course of a day may be the solution to mindless snacking.

Protein helps you avoid feeling hungry, giving you more control over the foods you choose. Eating the right amount of protein at each meal also helps achieve weight loss goals by keeping you fuller longer, building muscles after a workout and protecting the lean muscle you already have.

The 30 Day Protein Challenge, created by the Beef Checkoff, is a fun, step-by-step plan to help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal. The challenge helps you keep track of your food, hunger and moods to see how simple diet changes can make a difference in your overall health and wellness for 30 days and beyond.

Recipes that take less than 30 minutes, such as Szechuan Beef Stir-Fry and Tenderloin, Cranberry and Pear Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing, can make balancing protein simple.

Visit to find everything you need to get started with the Protein Challenge, including tools and daily tips. Share your progress and engage with other participants online using #ProteinChallenge.

Szechuan Beef Stir-Fry

Servings: 4

Total time: 15 minutes

  • 1          package (10 ounces) fresh vegetable stir-fry blend

  • 3          tablespoons water

  • 2          beef ranch steaks (about 8 ounces each), cut 3/4-inch thick

  • 1          clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2       cup prepared sesame-ginger stir-fry sauce

  • 1/4       teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 2          cups hot cooked rice or brown rice, prepared without butter or salt

  • 1/4       cup dry-roasted peanuts

  1. In large, nonstick skillet, combine vegetables and water; cover and cook over medium-high heat 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Remove and drain vegetables. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, cut beef steaks into 1/4-inch thick strips.

  3. Heat same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of beef and half of garlic; stir-fry 1-2 minutes, or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

  4. Repeat with remaining beef and garlic.

  5. Return all beef and vegetables to skillet. Add stir-fry sauce and red pepper; cook and stir 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Spoon over rice. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Nutrition information per serving: 393 calories; 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 5 g monounsaturated fat); 65 mg cholesterol; 969 mg sodium; 41 g carbohydrate; 3.9 g fiber; 28 g protein; 7.3 mg niacin; 0.7 mg vitamin B6; 4.2 mcg vitamin B12; 3.0 mg iron; 45.8 mcg selenium; 6.9 mg zinc; 99.3 mg choline.

Tenderloin, Cranberry and Pear Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Servings: 4

Total time: 25 minutes

  • 4          beef tenderloin steaks (4 ounces each), cut 3/4-inch thick

  • 1/2       teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

  • 1          package (5 ounces) mixed baby salad greens

  • 1          medium red or green pear, cored, cut into 16 wedges

  • 1/4       cup dried cranberries

  • salt, to taste

  • 1/4       cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

  • 1/4       cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1/2       cup prepared honey mustard

  • 2-3       tablespoons water

  • 1 1/2    teaspoons olive oil

  • 1          teaspoon white wine vinegar

  • 1/4       teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

  • 1/8       teaspoon salt

  1. Season beef steaks with pepper. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook 7-10 minutes for medium rare (145° F) to medium (160° F) doneness, turning occasionally.

  2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk Honey Mustard Dressing ingredients until well blended. Set aside.

  3. Divide greens evenly among four plates. Top evenly with pear wedges and dried cranberries.

  4. Carve steaks into thin slices; season with salt, as desired. Divide steak slices evenly over salads. Top each salad evenly with dressing, pecans and goat cheese, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving: 332 calories; 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 6 g monounsaturated fat); 79 mg cholesterol; 256 mg sodium; 22 g carbohydrate; 3.4 g fiber; 27 g protein; 5.5 mg niacin; 0.7 mg vitamin B6; 3.9 mcg vitamin B12; 3.7 mg iron; 24.2 mcg selenium; 4.4 mg zinc; 75.4 mg choline.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

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