Fast games

What protein foods have you tried?

Lamb, like other meats, is a rich source of protein and minerals such as zinc, iron, and selenium.

Do they really expect me to eat this? I said to myself.

My father and my grandfather on my mother’s side from time to time tasted delicacies from the “old country”.

“Do you want some blood sausage?” We asked with a small laugh.

“How about a head cheese?” The other asked, adding vinegar and pepper.

I’m surprised one of them didn’t hand me a plate of lutefisk.

They knew my answer. I was not an adventurous eater at that time. I left the kitchen.

With a few notable exceptions, I grew up eating all kinds of protein, both domestic and wild game. I happily ate pheasant, grouse, goose and game during the hunting season and freshly caught fish.

Beef, chicken, turkey, pork and other meats, poultry and eggs were regularly on the menu. We also had a wide variety of vegetable proteins, including all types of beans.

By the way, according to recent recommendations, on average, adults need around 6-7 ounces of protein per day. One ounce of protein is equivalent to one egg, 1 ounce of domestic or wild game meat or fish, 1/4 cup of cooked beans, 6 tablespoons of hummus, or 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds.

However, I had never tasted lamb growing up. Lamb, like other meats, is a rich source of protein and minerals such as zinc, iron, and selenium.

I later developed a taste for a wider range of protein foods, including lamb. When I ate at a Mediterranean restaurant as a teenager, I discovered gyro (pronounced “ye-row”) sandwiches.

Gyroscopes can be made from a variety of meats, often lamb, pork, beef, or chicken. I remember seeing lamb meat roasted on a rotating tower.

The word “gyroscope” means “to turn” in Greek.

Food historians report that the gyroscope originated with Alexander the Great, when soldiers roasted meat on their swords over a fire.

Before writing this column, I checked with our sheep specialist at NDSU, Travis Hoffman. He helped me acquire some information, including the recipe and the photo for this week’s column.

Ground lamb is probably the most common item a consumer can find this fall in many local grocery stores. A majority of lamb is sold in the northeastern region of the United States, so availability is sometimes the most limiting factor in our region.

The COVID-19 pandemic has positively impacted US lamb retail sales. Lamb volume increased from 20% to 30% per year and captured the biggest demand gains in the protein sector.

Consumers haven’t frequented restaurants as frequently from 2020 to 2021, and cooking at home is a lot more fun with innovative recipes. Make lamb tacos, create your own lamb burger, or add lamb to your favorite pasta dish.

Hoffman’s must-have lamb flavor pairings are traditional with garlic, rosemary, and feta cheese, all of which are featured in this week’s recipe.

This recipe is courtesy of the American Lamb Board. Olives and feta cheese are tasty but particularly high in sodium. To reduce sodium, use fewer olives and less feta (or rinse it) and omit the salt.

See for more delicious lamb recipes. Pitas can be “grilled” on the stovetop in a pan or with a panini press.

If you’d like to make your own tzatziki dressing, check out the NDSU Extension publication at to see “Field to Fork Cucumbers”.

To make your own hummus, check out the NDSU Extension publication at how to use chickpeas in your recipes to see ‘pinchin’ pennies in the kitchen: hummus, roasted chickpeas and more! “

Grilled American Lamb Greek Pita Pizzas

1 pound of ground American lamb

6 pitas

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 1/2 cup hummus

1 cucumber, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved

1/2 cup banana peppers, sliced

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 bottle of tzatziki dressing (about 6 ounces)

2 teaspoons of oregano

4 sprigs of rosemary, chopped

1 to 2 tablespoons of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (or use the grill). Brush each side of the pita with olive oil, then season lightly with salt and garlic powder. Place directly on the grill grates. Grill 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes. Put aside. Otherwise, broil in the oven. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the ground lamb and a pinch of salt. Cook until lamb is no longer pink, breaking it into pieces with a spoon as it cooks. Drain and rinse (under hot water in a colander) any excess fat. Add the garlic powder, rosemary, oregano and pepper to the lamb. Sauté until fragrant. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the pitas hot with the toppings on the side. Layer the pitas, hummus and ground lamb, then top each pizza with cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, olives, banana peppers and feta. Drizzle the top with the tzatziki vinaigrette.

Make six sandwiches. With no added salt, each serving contains 320 calories, 17 grams (g) of fat, 19g of protein, 25g of carbohydrates, 2g of fiber, and 740 milligrams of sodium.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., RD, LRD, is Food and Nutrition Specialist at North Dakota State University and Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, Nutrition and exercise. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson

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