If you're a meat-lover you can't do much better than venison. It contains more protein than any other red meat; essential for us endurance athletes for maintenance, repair and growth of lean muscle. Insufficient protein intake leads to prolonged recovery time and muscle weakness, counteracting the benefits of training. It also reduces immune function, meaning increased risk of infection (and winter lurgies!)
Venison is a rich source of iron (more so than beef, interestingly), especially useful for female runners where iron-deficiency anaemia is a common concern. It's packed full of energy-releasing B vits, zinc and phosphorus which helps strengthen bones. Vitamin E levels are also four times higher in grass-fed animals, an important antioxidant in combating oxidation caused by high volume training.
Venison is an extremely lean meat (due to the 'wild' nature of the beast!) and the fat contained within the meat contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid which has been shown in numerous studies to reduce fat mass whilst maintaining or improving lean mass (hence it is popularly taken in capsule form as a weight loss supplement).
Being sure you're eating top quality, well-sourced meat is a key consideration. I partner with a fantastic company called Field & Flower, to ensure my clients are eating the highest quality meat. For more on this and to receive a free month-long nutrition guide, visit www.sarahoneill.co.uk/field-flower
Click Next Page for some delicious venison recipes.
Braised venison stew (serves 2)
Stews are a delicious winter warmer, and venison is a top meat choice to create the leanest pot, with the most delicious taste. Experiment with additional vegetables - stew is a great way to use up leftovers and pack in your 5 a day.
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 70g turnips or swede, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- olive oil and butter, for frying
- 1 garlic clove , crushed
- 400g diced wild venison (such as Field & Flower venison - delicious)
- 2.5 tbsp plain flour , seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly (or rowan or hawthorn jelly)
- 225ml dry red wine (Rioja is good)
- 225ml beef stock
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Fry the vegetables in a little oil and butter in a heavy-based casserole for 4-5 mins until golden. Tip in the garlic and fry for a further min, then set aside.
- Put the venison into a plastic bag with seasoned flour and shake to coat. Add a little more oil and butter to the pan, then fry the venison over a high heat, stirring now and then, until well browned. Don't crowd the pan - cook in batches if necessary. Set aside with the vegetables.
- Add the redcurrant jelly and wine to the pan, and bring to the boil, scraping up all the bits that have stuck to the bottom. Pour in the stock, then add the thyme, bay leaf, meat and vegetables. Season if you like and bring to the boil. Cover and transfer to the oven for about 1½ hrs or until tender. Remove from the oven and check the seasoning.
Nutritional information: 277 kcalories, protein 30.0g, carbohydrate 18.0g, fat 10.0 g, saturated fat 2.0g, fibre 2.0g, sugar 2.0g, salt 0.7 g
Click Next Page for a Venison haunch steaks with rosemary root vegetables recipe.
Venison haunch steaks with rosemary root vegetables
These are extremely lean, delicious cuts of venison. As venison is such a low fat meat you have to be a little careful not to overcook it otherwise it will dry out. A marinade such as the one suggested in this dish is a great way to keep the meat moist.
- 2 venison haunch steaks
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon juice, with grated rind
- 2 tbsp chopped rosemary
- 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 pinches black pepper
- 2 carrots, diced into large pieces
- 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
- 2 large red onions, peeled and diced
- 2 potatoes, diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, diced
- 1/4 butternut squash, peeled and diced into large pieces (optional)
- A few sprigs rosemary
- Place the venison in a non-metallic dish. Stab the meat in several places with a small sharp knife. Mix the olive oil, lemon rind and juice, rosemary, salt and pepper together, then pour over steaks and rub in. Leave in cool place to marinate overnight (or for a couple of hours).
- Preheat the oven to a moderate heat - 180/160/gas mark 4.
- Scatter the carrots, parsnips and potatoes with a few sprigs of rosemary over the base of a large roasting tin. Pour off some of the marinade and mix in well with your hands, then roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes (according to how al dente you like them.)
- When the vegetables are almost done, pan fry the venison on a griddle pan, using the oil from the marinade. A few minutes each side should suffice for a medium-rare steak. Pour any remaining marinade on the steak at the end and then top the roasted vegetables with the steak.
- Serve with a glass of red!