When selecting meat for my meals, I typically choose wild-caught fish and game, or pasture-raised beef, pork, and chicken. Why? Three reasons: animal health and quality of life, nutritional advantage, and environmental sustainability! It’s best to avoid industrial meat and source your animal protein from producers that understand and respect the importance of these three principles. I used Belcampo beef in these Easy Grain-Free BBQ Beef Nachos, for exactly those reasons.
Belcampo is a farm, butcher shop, and restaurant. They raise their animals on a farm at the base of Mt. Shasta in California and the farm and its processes are designed with sustainability at their core. Let’s talk about the advantages of Belcampo pasture-raised beef from the angles of nutrition, environmental sustainability, and animal health and quality of life. Note: if you’d rather go straight to Easy Grain-Free BBQ Beef Nachos recipe at the end of this post, click here.
Animal Health & Quality of Life
One of the top reasons I devote considerable time, thought, and financial resources to accessing the best meat I can is animal health and quality of life! I always look for the “pastured” or “pasture-raised” label (note that this is not independently reviewed and certified and more research into the specific brand’s practices is necessary).
Belcampo’s animals have room to live and exhibit their natural herd ruminant tendencies on their farm, and are grass-fed and grass-finished. Their health and nutrition rely on the quality of the pasture they graze, which translates directly into their growth, reproductive performance, and the flavor and texture of meat.
This is in contrast to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, or industrialized factory farming), in which animals live in extremely crowded facilities, standing in their own manure and urine, while consuming a diet of primarily grain and soy. In these conditions and due to overcrowding, antibiotics are administered both as a preventative measure and as a treatment for infections.
If you don’t believe there’s any nutritional difference between pastured or grass-fed meat and factory-farmed meat, please do your research! Belcampo’s organic, grass-fed and grass-finished beef contributes to a diet rich in essential vitamins (C, B, and E), minerals (calcium, magnesium, and potassium), and a healthy ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Their beef is also high in conjugated linoleic acid, which has showed some promise in studies as a cancer fighter (1) and fat loss aid (2).
Another important reason that I make an effort to source my meat from producers that are raising animals in healthy, humane conditions is the beneficial effect on the environment. Meat is very commonly vilified from an environmental impact perspective, but Belcampo uses regenerative agriculture practices on their farm, which means they use management-intensive rotational grazing, moving the cattle intentionally across the pasture to make the best use of forage (you can read more about the soil health and carbon sequestration metrics they track in relation to this here)! By rotating the animals regularly on the land, Belcampo maintains healthy plant and soil life in their pastures. For a quick intro to the concept of regenerative agriculture, watch below.
Okay, so: I’m super excited for these nachos because not only do they feature this amazing beef that I am super grateful I have access to, but they’re also made with Siete grain-free tortilla chips! Delicious (I used chips in Siete’s Sea Salt flavor). In addition to being tasty, there are some other reasons to be excited about them: the ingredients are cassava flour, avocado oil, coconut flour, ground chia seed, and sea salt.
The avocado oil in these chips is a particularly healthy ingredient. Almost all tortilla chips are fried in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) such as canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, etc. The primary issue with PUFAs is that they are highly unstable. All fats have a temperature with which they oxidize (i.e. become unstable, go rancid, become toxic).
For PUFAs, that temperature is very low. Unstable fats are prone to oxidation. Oxidation lead to free radicals. Free radicals lead to cellular damage in your body that may manifest both internally in the form of damaged organs/glands and externally in the form of rapidly-aging skin. The more you know!
Lastly, I used a special barbecue sauce in this recipe for the first time: The New Primal’s Classic BBQ Sauce. I wasn’t sure if I’d be a fan of barbecue sauce that doesn’t have any sugar in it, but it worked so well! Be sure to reduce the cup of it that the recipe calls for by cooking it for the full 10 to 15 minutes, since that intensifies the flavors and makes the nacho toppings less runny.
1 lb ground beef (I used Belcampo’s organic, pasture-raised beef)
1 cup barbecue sauce (I used The New Primal’s Classic BBQ Sauce)
1 bag tortilla chips, approximately 5 oz (I used Siete Sea Salt Grain-Free Tortilla Chips)
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated (I used Rumiano Organic Monterey Jack cheese, grass-fed)
1 avocado, diced
1 jalapeño, sliced
Heat oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, combine red onion, vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and let stand.
Heat fat in a large skillet on medium. Add the chopped yellow onion, and black pepper, and the rest of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in pressed garlic and cook 1 minute.
Add beef and cook, breaking up into small pieces, 5 minutes. Stir in the barbecue sauce and simmer until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss chips and half of the cheese. Top with the beef mixture and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake until cheese has melted, 3 to 4 minutes.
Top the nachos with cilantro, diced avocado, sliced jalapeño, and the quick-pickled red onion.