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I was a vegetarian for 13 years. I have many thoughts, both pro and con, on vegetarianism on which I shall elaborate at a later time. In this blog, I have touched on nutritional typing, which means that because we all have different physiological needs, there is no one diet that is right for everyone. Protein types may not do well on a vegetarian diet, and your body’s needs change over time. This was the case for me. I slowly reintroduced meat (organic, of course) and felt better.

Back to the topic at hand: lamb. Lamb was a meat that, during my vegetarian days, I found abhorrent. Along with veal, which I would still never consume. But lamb has some very beneficial properties, and if you research the farm it came from and ensure it’s organic/grass fed, or even buy your meat from a CSA, it’s a way better choice than conventional.

Lamb is really in season during the spring, but last night I had a hankering. And here in the Bay Area we get great quality local beef and lamb from up in Sonoma County; it also commonly comes from New Zealand (buy whatever is close to your area!). I bought a couple pounds and chucked it in the crockpot with lentils and chard (recipe below). Delicious. Lamb really is best slow-cooked so it becomes super tender.

Lamb has a superior nutritional profile: high in protein, B vitamins, zinc, and tryptophan, an essential amino acid (meaning your body cannot produce it; you must get it from diet) that fosters calm and good sleep. B vitamins are critical for cardio and nerve function and help the body handle stress. Lamb is a good source for B12 in particular, a B that many folks (esp vegetarians, as it is only available in meat) don’t get enough of. Same with zinc, an antioxidant needed for immune health and for fighting free radical damage. If one mineral were singled out for its beneficial effects on the immune system, zinc would lead the pack. Zinc is an especially important nutrient for men. In addition to maintaining prostate health, another reason for older men to make zinc-rich foods a regular part of their diet is bone mineral density. Although osteoporosis is often thought to be a disease for which postmenopausal women are at highest risk, it is also a potential problem for older men.

Lamb is delicious in stews due to its hearty flavor; ground lamb makes delicious burgers served with tsatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce); lamb chops medium-rare, braised in red wine and served with a spicy zinfandel = delicious. And of course slow cooked lamb, morrocan style with cinnamon, cumin, prunes, and dried apricots. Or in the crock pot with lentils and chard. Yum. Enjoy.

Lamb w Lentils and Chard (can be halved)
2 tbsp olive or coconut oil
2 lbs stewing lamb, cut into 1″ cubes
2 onions, finely chopped
8 carrots, sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes (and juice), chopped
2 cups lentils
2 bunches swiss chard, stemmed and chopped

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil and add lamb. Brown for about 4 minutes (may need to do in batches) over med-high heat. Put in crockpot. Reduce heat to medium and add onions, carrots, celery. Cook for about 5 minutes, til soft. Add garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, bay leaves, stock, and tomatoes. When mixture boils, transfer to crockpot and stir in lentils. Cover and cook on low for about 5-6 hours or until mixture is bubbly and lentils are tender. Add chard in batches, stir and cook on high til chard is tender, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves an serve.

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