Last Sunday, March 14, was the

official male version of Valentine’s Day. Because apparently the one we celebrate on Feb. 14 is strictly for the ladies. Hmm, who knew?

I was reminded of this past holiday by Steven Breen, my former mailman and fellow contributing writer to SMDP. Steven writes under the heading, “Going Postal.” He is also the man responsible for getting me this writing gig. Thank you, Steven, you will be missed. Steven is leaving to travel abroad with his wife. We wish them well.

Although Steven has no problem discussing, and laughing about the “male” Valentine’s Day, I simply can’t go into detail except to say, there is steak involved.

So to commemorate Steak and “blank” day and also for you beer swillers who partied on St Patty’s day, I thought I would discuss a little about the health benefits of steak and beer. Kevin Herrera, our editor, was so excited when I told him I would write about steak. I could sense his salivary glands kicking in as he enthusiastically replied, “You writing about steaks? WOW! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that!” And indeed he was correct; except for that one time I wrote about grass-fed beef but then included a vegetarian burger recipe. I have got to lighten up!

For Kevin, Steven and all the manly men out there, here is a toast to your holiday. So, this weekend, eat steak, drink some beer and then perhaps go for a little run on Monday. I just can’t stand the thought of that saturated fat circulating in your blood stream.

I was recently writing an article for Oxygen magazine which will appear in the July issue so please pick up a copy. The article is about the best cooking oils. While researching, I learned that extra virgin olive oil, because of its polyphenol (antioxidant) content, may help reduce the presence of heterocyclic amines (HAs) in cooked red meat. HAs are formed when we brown meat which tastes good but can be cancer causing. The researchers also found that when the olive oil was stored with a sprig of rosemary in it, the olive oil retained more of its disease fighting polyphenols over time. So add some rosemary to your olive oil and coat your meat before your cook it.

Marinades have been shown to exhibit the same protective effects while tenderizing the meat, plus you can add the herbs right to the marinade. Sage, oregano and thyme are also effective but rosemary showed the most benefits.

As for the beer, well, one study read, “Beer consumption increases human attractiveness to malaria carrying mosquitoes.” No kidding, they really did a study on this. And the impetus for the study was that “alcohol consumption and mosquitoes both represent major health problems.” I thought beer consumption increased the attractiveness of people to each other, aka “beer goggles,” and that the potential spread of STD’s is a major health problem? But what do I know? Except that the researchers found that beer consumption does actually increase your attractiveness to mosquitoes and therefore, beer consumption is a risk factor for malaria. How interesting.

As for the other health benefits of beer, there is a phenolic compound (antioxidant) known as xanthohumol that comes from the hops in beer and may offer some protective benefits. But, you knew there would be a “but,” research has “reliably demonstrated” that any “cardioprotective benefits from regular alcohol use are negated by heavy episodic drinking (or what the researchers termed HED).” However, and here’s the good news, “light to moderate amounts of polyphenol-rich alcoholic beverages, such as wine or beer, could have health benefits.”

One study from the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry showed that moderate beer consumption had a positive effect on first-line immunity after 30 days of regular beer intake. The women in the study drank 330 ml or about 11 ounces while the men drank double that. Although both sexes saw improvement in biomarkers for immunity, the response was more enhanced in women. OK, OK, perhaps I will have a beer this weekend.

To really seal the deal on convincing you, and me, about the health benefits of beer, there are several animal studies that have shown that beer may prevent cancer and osteoporosis and may even improve Type 2 Diabetes, lower cholesterol and reduce the incidence of hardening of the arteries. All I want to know is who took those little underage mice to a bar and got them hammered? Animal research can be so unscrupulous!

So now I’ve done my part. The rest is up to you, to drink moderately and marinade your meat before you grill it. To grill safely, always use protection, like the protection you’ll find in my protective marinade recipe. Happy Steak & Beer Day, which is really just any weekend or week day!

Elizabeth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Holistic Chef who despite growing up in a household of beer drinkers, only uses beer in cooking. To learn more, please visit her website: www.TheKitchenVixen.com

Protective Marinade

1 large onion, sliced to use in marinade and then grill with steak

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of beer

Juice of one lemon or 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper or just liberally crank your pepper mill

8 ounces steak of your choice

Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish, big enough to hold the steak. Place the steak in the marinade. Make sure to spoon some on top to cover the steak completely. Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to one day. Cook however you please, but please limit exposure to high heat for extended periods of time.

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