For people on a high protein diet, such as weight loss surgery patients, grilled lamb is an excellent source of protein that is low in fat and rich in minerals and nutrients. Marinating lamb early in the day before roasting produces a tasty, flavorful protein that the whole family can enjoy.
Lamb is the most consumed animal protein in the world. In fact, humans have spent the last 1,000 years getting the seasonings and cooking technique right. Lamb is a staple food in the southern hemisphere, especially in New Zealand. Africa, India, and Mediterranean countries have unique methods of preparing and enjoying lamb. According to George Mateljan of The World’s Healthiest Food, “Americans eat a fraction of the amount of lamb consumed in many other countries around the world. And that’s a shame, as this red meat is so healthy and extremely delicious, it has a very tender flavor and buttery quality.
Boneless leg of lamb is widely available today at a reasonable price. It can be simply prepared in the Mediterranean tradition with a marinade of Provencal herbs and olive oil. This sodium-free herb blend contains rosemary, thyme, savory, lavender and other seasonings. I combine 2 tablespoons herbes de provence with 1/4 cup olive oil and rub the lamb with the mixture early in the day, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to roast. I also toss pieces of onion and summer squash (zucchini) with the same olive oil and Herbes de Provence mixture to grill after the lamb is done and resting to allow the proteins to loosen and fill with natural juices. Lamb and vegetables make a complete meal, although some may enjoy grilled toasted pita bread on the side.
A 4-ounce serving of lamb and 3-4 bites of grilled vegetables will be more than enough to satisfy most weight-loss surgery patients. A 4-ounce (114-gram) serving of lamb contains 229 calories and 30 grams of protein. Lamb is a rich source of tryptophan, a valuable amino acid known to induce sleep. More importantly, lamb is an excellent source of selenium, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc, and phosphorous.
The USDA recommends for safety reasons that lamb be cooked until medium rare as indicated by an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Old-school cooks often overcook lamb, which is often called “grey lamb.” Lamb tastes best when hot, as this overpowers the “mutton” or fatty flavor that is often off-putting to the palate. A sweet fruit chutney or sauce or the classic mint jelly are a welcome accompaniment to the lamb.
To determine your dietary protein needs, a person should multiply their body weight in pounds by 0.36, which adds up to the number of grams of protein needed per day. Most bariatric nutritionists recommend between 60 and 105 grams per day of protein intake for their patients. Always consult your surgical center for specific recommendations.