Grilled Lamb Loin Chops With Cilantro-Mint Paste
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
A few months ago, I pondered whether I was getting enough of the right nutrients on a restricted diet in My Nutritional Census. Regretfully, after getting some lab work back from my acupuncturist last week, I discovered that I was not. Turns out I am really low in iron, have low white blood cell count, and suspected B vitamin deficiency as well.
While I had increased my meat intake earlier this year, for many years before that I did not eat very much meat, and I completely avoided red meat for about 5 years. At the same time, I was eating much more raw vegetables, nuts, and unsoaked/unsprouted grains (before I realized the importance of doing that step), which contain antinutrients like oxalic acid and phytic acid that block nutrient absorption. (Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are usually also a culprit interfering with nutrient absorption.) Now I am seeing the result of all of it (though I am going back for further testing to rule out more serious problems).
Iron from animal sources (heme iron) is truly the most easily absorbable form, and if you are getting it mostly from plant foods, chances are you are only absorbing a small amount of it. So I am currently on a quest to increase my iron and B-vitamin intake (in addition to taking numerous supplements). I have been eating large quantities of liver, oysters, clams, beef, and lamb – which I learned has a surprisingly high amount of iron, even more than beef, and is also rich in zinc and B vitamins. I am fortunate that my local grocer carries locally-raised, grass-fed beef and lamb. This is the first of many iron-rich recipes I hope to post.
This was also my first time cooking lamb, and it was a happy discovery. Naturally I did a search on the internet for some ideas. I came upon some delicious recipes and ended up combining a few & adapting them to go with what I had on hand in my pantry & garden. The decision to cook them over the grill was mostly due to a suffocating heat wave on the west coast this week, but turned out to be the most savory way to prepare them as well.
First, the Marinade:
2 lamb loin chops per person, 1-1/4 inch thick
Leaves from 1 long sprig fresh rosemary
10-12 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp wheat-free tamari sauce
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Place the lamb chops on a plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small food processor or mortar & pestle and grind into a paste. Rub the paste onto each side of the lamb chops. If there is any remaining, spoon it on top and set the chops aside in the fridge until your grill is ready. When the coals are hot (I use Mesquite charcoal, it is better for the environment), place the chops over the heat for 6-8 minutes on each side, depending on your desired temperature. I prefer mine medium-to-rare (the iron and other nutrients are more available for absorption) so I grilled them for 6 minutes each and it was perfect.
While the chops are on the grill, prepare this easy and zesty paste to dress them with. Combine the following ingredients in a food processor:
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup sprouted/soaked pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh-squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp sea salt
Whatever you don’t use on the lamb chops, you can get creative with later on. I ended up tossing some on a salmon salad I had for lunch today, and it was delicious.
A few final words – while it is crucial to avoid foods that you are allergic and/or sensitive to, if you are cutting out whole food groups (such as dairy or meat), you are at risk of having a nutrient deficiency. You can usually find ways to get what you are missing (though most people have an extremely difficult time replacing the various nutrients you can only get from meat – complete protein, heme iron, vitamin B12, DHA, etc.), but the important thing is to get your blood tested from time to time to make sure you are getting what you need, and if not, then you can figure out exactly what to do about it.