In the thick of the hot summer months, my appetite declines drastically. It’s not just that I don’t eat as much, but what I want to eat changes as well. Unsurprisingly, I don’t crave heavy, hearty foods like slow cooked winter stews, but I do hunger for juicy, ripe fruit and crisp garden produce. Perhaps more surprisingly, my interest in proteins, especially meat (and red meat in particular), slumps immensely.
I try to listen to my body, and so long as I feel vibrant, strong, and healthy, I don’t question these food phases too much. However, because of my active lifestyle, I often wonder whether I give my body enough varied proteins in the summer months to fully support it.
Protein-rich salads with lots of healthy fats are one of my mainstays all year long, but especially when I can get fresh greens from the garden (and the weather is too hot for much else). Give me a big bowl of salad tossed with some grilled chicken, a crumble of cheese, a slice or two of avocado, and a drizzle of my family’s secret dressing recipe—and I’m good to go!
But when I really want to take my salad game up a notch—and make the most out of an expensive ingredient by highlighting and economizing it—I make beef carpaccio. Even when the weather is scorching, this is a protein I can enjoy rather than force myself to eat because I “need” to.
First off, carpaccio is made with thin slices of raw beef. After years of horror stories about factory farms and feedlots, this may understandably create fear and discomfort. However, I urge you not to be discouraged by the prospect of consuming raw meat if you’re confident that your source is providing high-quality beef. There are health benefits to augmenting your diet with raw animal products, and as long as you follow some simple precautions, I believe the advantages far outweigh the risks.
Raw meat may even be more nutritious and easier to digest than cooked meat. Because enzymes are more present in raw meat, the bioavailability of certain vitamins and minerals is also more prevalent. Consequently, your body is able to process more of said nutrients through simplified assimilation.
One of the best reasons to consume raw animal products is vitamin B6. Unfortunately, there’s a widespread deficiency of this extremely important nutrient in our modern Western society, where far too many people are simply surviving rather than thriving on the Standard American Diet (SAD). Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to fertility and hormonal problems, nervous disorders, emotional instability, and fatigue, and also worsen symptoms of anemia. Additionally, a B6 deficiency diminishes the effectiveness of other B vitamins, particularly B1 and B2, which can create a whole host of health issues.
Women of reproductive age, pregnant women, teenagers, and anyone over 65 are particularly prone to B6 deficiency. Even though this could be classified as a health crisis, it’s often overlooked in diagnosing health problems. I’ve witnessed, in both myself and in others, the outright reversal and/or disappearance of symptoms simply by increasing B6.
To rehab from a deficiency state, food might not be enough. Along with dietary adjustments, the right whole food supplementation can help restore balance. Standard Process Cataplex B and B6-Niacinamide are good options. You can read about how these and other whole food supplements support cellular health and maintain an overall healthy state.
Vitamin B6 is heat sensitive, which means the more exposure it receives to heat, the faster its decline. A more traditional source of this crucial vitamin is raw dairy, but thanks to high-heat pasteurization and sterilization, that’s no longer an option for the majority of Americans. With this said, consuming B6 in its purest, raw form is our best bet for getting the most out of this vital nutrient from our food. And outside of raw liver, raw beef is one of the best sources to get it.
There are many renditions of this classic Italian dish, but this version is my favorite. The mildly flavored beef pairs well with the tangy lemon dressing and sharp, peppery arugula, and the briny bite of crispy capers and deep flavor of the cheese adds just enough umami to round the flavors out. The original recipe calls for a small amount of meat, both for flavor balance and economy, but of course you may increase the quantity if you desire.
Beef Carpaccio with Fried Capers, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Parmesan Crisps
—Note: Some recipes call for freezing the meat for 14 days prior to consuming to ensure that any pathogens are killed off. I skip this when I’m positive of the quality of my meat source. But if you’re more squeamish about the prospect of consuming raw meat, it’s an added layer of reassurance. Simply wrap beef tightly and place in freezer. When ready to use, defrost until thawed but still very firm and somewhat icy. Proceed with recipe as stated. Also, for serving, I highly suggest that you chill your plates before arranging the salad.
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus freezing time)
Cook time: 15–20 minutes (for parmesan crisps)
For the Parmesan crisps:
2 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
For the fried capers:
2 tablespoons capers
For the salad:
8 oz. beef filet, trimmed and frozen for at least 30 minutes (to facilitate slicing)
3 tablespoons high-quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
2–3 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 lemon wedges
- Make Parmesan crisps: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread grated Parmesan in a thin layer onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until completely melted and lightly golden, about 15–20 minutes (check at 10 minutes). Transfer sheet to a cooling rack. When at room temperature, break into large pieces. Keep at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.
- Fry the capers: Squeeze capers in paper towel to dry. Heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a small frying pan until very hot. Add capers and fry until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside until ready to use.
- Prepare beef: Wrap beef tightly and freeze for about 30 minutes, until very cold. This will make it easier to slice. Using a very sharp knife, slice beef as thinly as you can. Place slices between 2 pieces of parchment paper, then flatten them with a rolling pin. Place them on a baking sheet or plate, and transfer to freezer to keep very cold while you finish the rest of the dish.
- Arrange salad: Whisk olive oil and lemon juice. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Arrange beef slices among chilled serving plates. Toss arugula leaves with about ⅔ of the dressing, then pile atop or beside beef. Drizzle beef with remaining dressing. Top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and fried capers. Season with additional cracked pepper. Garnish with Parmesan crisps and lemon wedges.
Image from Briana Goodall.