Beefing it up
Beefing it up… When you think of meat from Wales you think lamb, right? Well, you may want to think again as we’re ‘beefing it up’ in this issue. Many of us will already know that the prestigious PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status has been awarded to Welsh Lamb, but it’s also worth remembering that Welsh Beef has also been given the highly sought after recognition. When shopping keep an eye out for beef with the PGI Welsh Beef logo on, as this guarantees that the livestock is born and reared in Wales; allowed to roam freely across wholesome natural habitats, and cared for by farmers with centuries of traditional farming practices under their belts – fully traceable, with no compromises on safety or quality, and available all year round. Not only does it have an unique taste, in part thanks to the love and passion put in by countless generations of farmers in rearing as well as cultivating the land they roam, but its high content of protein and nutrients is increasingly seen as an ideal food for those wanting to live out their own passions through a healthy and active lifestyle. To highlight the meat’s versatility, in this issue we interview the 48 times capped Welsh women’s rugby player Elinor Snowsill. She has partnered up with Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales to launch a campaign aimed at showcasing how good quality lean Welsh Beef is a proven source of dietary protein which helps support muscle growth and muscle mass. So if you’re considering your diet and trying to eat healthier and become fitter then, as Elinor explains, Welsh Beef as part of a healthy and balanced diet can provide much of the nutrition you need. Titled ‘Fuel your passion’ the campaign involves a number of healthy and tasty recipes from Elinor, which can be found at eatwelshbeef.com, along with a £1000 giveaway competition for one lucky Welsh women’s rugby team able to carry out her signature trick-shot (take a look at the video online if you think you’re up to the challenge). As Elinor explains, “It’s easy to fall into the trap of eating chicken all the time, but it’s important to get your protein from a variety of sources. Welsh Beef offers that variety, and it’s also a great way to support Welsh farmers and the local economy.”
taste.blas: How’s the season going? Elinor Snowsill: The season is going well so far. I have chosen to focus on playing for my club Bristol Bears who play in the Tyrells Premier 15s. We have a very young team, (which is making me feel very old!) but we are gelling really well and putting in some great performances. t.b: How do you manage to balance working full time for School of Hard Knocks with playing elite level rugby. It must be quite demanding? ES: It is very demanding and you have to be very organised to manage everything. I wouldn’t have it any other way but it can be quite draining both physically and mentally. For example, on a Tuesday and Thursday I leave for work around 8.30am and then go straight to Bristol from work. We finish training around 9.30pm so I often don’t get home until 11pm. The hardest thing with that is making sure I’ve prepared enough food for the day! t.b: Have you always been fond of cooking? ES: No definitely not! My mother, Nerys Howell has worked in the food industry for years and she was very keen for me to get involved in cooking from a young age. But I was far too busy playing football and rugby outside to have time for cooking! It was only when I made the Wales U20 squad and we started being educated on nutrition that I took an interest in it. Once I left home for university, I realised it would be very difficult to perform at a high level if I didn’t learn how to cook! t.b: How has the need to be as fit and healthy as possible on the pitch influenced the type of food you cook and eat? ES: It has massively influenced the type of food I cook and eat. I very rarely eat takeaways, and I like to cook most of my meals from scratch. Obviously it can be hard to find the time to do it, but if I have a few hours spare I will batch cook meals that I can then freeze and save for later. t.b: As a professional athlete, what are the things you have to consider in your diet? ES: As rugby players we do a lot of contact and gym work, so getting enough protein is really important to make sure I re-build and repair muscle. I also try to get a lot of fruit and veg in to make sure I’m getting enough vitamins and minerals in my diet. t.b: How important is a rich source of protein such as Welsh beef? What does it enable the body to do? ES: As athletes we definitely tend to rely a lot on chicken as our main source of protein, but it’s so important to include variation in your diet; Welsh beef provides a welcome change from chicken. Protein is a really important part of your diet as it aids the repair and growth of muscle. t.b: What are the other nutritional benefits of beef? ES: Welsh beef also includes high levels of minerals, in particular iron. Iron helps with the distribution of oxygen around the body, which is very important when you’re exercising a lot. Welsh beef also includes high amounts of vitamin B & E as well as omega 3.
t.b: Between your needs as an athlete and those of working full time, you’ve clearly thought deeply about how to make sure the beef you use and recipes are healthy – what are your ground- rules (cuts to use, do you trim the fat, how do you cook it, where do you buy it etc)? ES: I try to buy it from my local butcher as much as possible, but if I can’t make it to the butcher I make sure that it’s Welsh beef when I buy it from the supermarket. I definitely choose leaner cuts of meat, one of the main types of beef I buy is lean steak mince because it’s so versatile. I use it to make either a Bolognese, my healthy version of a cottage pie, enchiladas and homemade beef burgers. t.b: Increasingly, consumers are much more concerned about where their meat comes from and how it’s farmed. Is this something that is important to you when choosing to buy PGI Welsh Beef? ES: The provenance of the food is so important to me. I keep an eye out for the PGI logo – this means that the produce is of the highest quality and guarantees that the animals were born and reared in Wales. The PGI Welsh Beef is completely traceable with inspections carried out during every step of the process. t.b: What is it about PGI Welsh Beef that makes it your go to (in terms of supporting Welsh farmers, how the beef is farmed, its quality, its nutritional makeup)? ES: It is so important to support our local farmers – not only are you investing back into your local economy, but you are also reducing food miles which is far better for the environment. Our Welsh Beef has been grass fed which means they have higher amounts of omega 3, beta carotene and vitamin E. t.b: And what are your favourite beef dishes? ES: I have quite a few favourite beef dishes including lean beef enchiladas and my version of a healthy cottage pie. However, with winter coming in it’s got to be the one-pot Welsh beef dish. I love tomato- based dishes, and the addition of chestnuts and sweet potato make this a comforting way of enjoying beef in the winter.