Enjoying the Harvest

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

of meat, regardless of how lean it is. Most Americans consume about twice the amount of dietary protein they need. Two to three ounces of meat is a recommended serving size; it's about the size of the palm of your hand, or a deck of cards.

Use low fat cooking methods-broiling, baking, grilling or stewing-instead of frying.

Harvest plenty of fruits and vegetables along with your game. Start looking at meat as a "side dish" with whole grains, fruits and vegetables taking up a larger portion of your dinner plate. Try to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. If hunting season is the only time you enjoy a hike in the woods, see your physician first, and then develop some regular heart-healthy fitness habits.

Nutritional Values of Game Meat

Wild game could be a meat of choice for the health-conscious consumer.

Meats from most wildlife species hunted in Missouri contain concentrations of nutrients, such as protein, iron and lower amounts of total fat, saturated fat and calories. Compared to domestic animals, cholesterol tends to be lower in upland game, such as pheasants and rabbits, and higher in deer, ducks and doves. All in all, wild game contains generous quantities of beneficial nutrients, while being low in total fat.

You might be surprised to learn that the cholesterol content of venison is higher than similar servings of beef and pork. Yet venison contains significantly lower amounts of saturated and total fat.

 Although human blood cholesterol level is useful in assessing heart disease risk, it is not the only risk factor. The American Heart Association has determined smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and overall dietary habits play major roles in heart disease risk. Furthermore, the level of saturated fat in the diet affects blood cholesterol levels to a greater extent than simply the amount of dietary cholesterol consumed.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends choosing a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Keep cholesterol intake below 300 milligrams per day, saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories and total fat to less than 30 percent of total caloric intake. On a 2,000 calorie per-day intake, that would mean keeping total fat to below 65 grams.

Nutrient content of domestic and wild game meats (cooked, 3-ounce serving, unless otherwise indicated)

Food Calories Protein Iron Total Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol
Beef 184 25 3 8 3 73
Pork 180 25 1 8 3 73
Chicken (roasted, skin off) 161 25 1 6 2 76
Chicken (fried, skin on) 229 24 1 13 4 77
Deer (roasted) 134 26 4 3 1 95
Rabbit (roasted) 131 19 2 5 2 54
Squirrel (roasted) 116 21 3 5 less than 1 81
Duck (uncooked) 123 20 5 4 1 140
Pheasant (uncooked) 133 24 1 3 1 52
Quail (uncooked) 123 23 2 3 1 -
Turkey (uncooked) 121 26 - 1 - 55
Dove (uncooked) 145 23 4 2 - 94

1 Average of major cuts

 For more information about cooking wild game, consult Cy Littlebee's Guide to Cooking Fish & Game, which is available for $3 (Missouri residents include 19 cents sales tax) plus $2 for shipping and handling from the Nature Shop, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or telephone order to (573) 751-4115, ext. 325.

 For safe food preparation, contact your local county extension office, or the USDA's Meat and Poultry hotline: (800) 535-4555.

 For heart-healthy lifestyle habits, contact your extension nutrition specialist at your county Extension Office, or the American Heart Association.

Spicy Venison Salad (Serves 4)

 16 ounces venison steak

Meat marinade

 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon peanut oil

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 sweet red and/or yellow peppers, sliced diagonally

1 medium cucumber, seeded and sliced diagonally

3 large carrots, sliced diagonally

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

4 green onions, thinly sliced

2/3 cup coarsely chopped, salted, roasted peanuts

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

4-6 romaine lettuce leaves

 Salad dressing

 2/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 teaspoon hot oil or 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped

8 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

  1. Place steak in a container which has a tight seal. Combine and stir all marinade ingredients together. Pour over steak. Marinate in refrigerator 8 hours, occasionally shaking container.
  2. Remove steak and discard marinade. Grill or broil steak until desired doneness. Remove from heat; let rest 15 minutes. Thinly slice steak across grain into 3- by 1/2-inch strips. Set aside.
  3. Combine and briskly stir salad dressing ingredients in large bowl. Add the venison steak strips, red peppers, cucumber, carrots and bean sprouts. Toss to combine well.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, place salad on large platter lined with romaine leaves. Garnish with onions, peanuts and sesame seeds. Pass remaining salad dressing if desired.

-Bernadette Dryden

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