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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
What’s the go-to Jamaican “snack”? Beef patties, of course, at least in my opinion it is. We have it quite often, but I am sure most of us have never stopped to ask, “Are these even healthy?”
I can speak from personal experience, that in all the countless patties I have had in my life. I have never stopped to question its nutritional benefits, especially after that first delicious, steamy bite. But, now that it's being asked; let's answer.
Beef patties come in various sizes and brands, but on average, they range from 300 to 340 calories per patty. While this might seem high, it's important to note that although classed as a snack, they are often had on their own for lunch or breakfast. It is most often paired with a coco bread but this is not a must.
A patty typically contains a mix of ground beef, spices, and a pastry crust. It provides a decent amount of protein, around 11 grams per serving, but it's also accompanied by a notable fat content, varying from 14 to 15 grams per patty. Let's talk about the good stuff.
Our beef patties usually contain a decent amount of protein. Beef is a good source of protein, which is crucial for muscle repair, immune function, and keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Plus, the patties often come with some veggies and spices in the mix, adding a bit of nutritional flair.
But, and there's always a but, the crust is where things can get a bit dicey. Traditional Jamaican beef patty crusts are made with flour, butter, or margarine (and a whole lot of it), and let's face it, they're not exactly winning any health awards.
They're loaded with carbs and fats that can tip the scales on the not-so-healthy side. The carbohydrate content in these beef patties is around 37 to 48 grams per serving, depending on the brand and recipe. Additionally, patties may contain essential nutrients such as iron, B vitamins, and other minerals from the beef filling.
Now, if you're looking to make them a tad healthier, you could explore some alternatives. Some recipes use whole wheat flour for the crust, giving it a bit of a nutritional upgrade. You could also try using leaner cuts of beef or even swapping it out for a plant-based protein like lentils or chickpeas. It won't be the same as the classic, but it can still be delicious.
The healthiness of Jamaican beef patties also hinges on the quality of ingredients. Homemade patties from reputable brands may use leaner beef, whole-grain flour for the crust, and minimal additives. Conversely, some commercial options might have higher levels of sodium and unhealthy fats.
Another thing to consider is the portion size. It's easy to inhale two or three patties without even thinking, but moderation is key. Pair it with a side of veggies or a salad to balance things out.
Would this be the traditional route to go? Uh absolutely not, we usually have ours with a warm buttery coco-bread. Is it a healthy choice, no, but it’s a delicious one and we all deserve a treat now and then. So hey, maybe don't make it a daily habit – save those patties for a special treat.
Now, let's talk about the elephant in the room – the whole "spicy" thing. Jamaican beef patties often come with a kick, thanks to the scotch bonnet pepper and other spices. The good news? Spices can add flavour without extra calories.
Plus, some studies suggest that spicy foods might have a few health benefits, like boosting metabolism and reducing appetite. So, the spice factor? Thumbs up!
But, and here's the last bit, the sodium content can be a bit high. Commercially made patties might have more salt than you'd like, and we all know too much sodium isn't great for our blood pressure. If you're whipping up your batch, try to go easy on the salt or experiment with herbs and other seasonings to keep things tasty without the sodium overload.
In a nutshell, Jamaican beef patties can be a part of a balanced diet if you're mindful of what's going into them. They're not a health food per se, but they don't have to be a guilty pleasure either. So, go ahead, enjoy them – just don't make them a daily affair. After all, life's too short to skip out on the good stuff!
And just in case, you'd like to try the traditional recipe or a modern healthy alternative, here are two recipes you can use to guide you. After that, you can also grab a copy of our ebook, Jamaican Sweet Treats, for some more Jamaican snacks and desserts.
While your patties bake, here is a fun video to keep you from checking the oven every second.
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Are Jamaican Beef Patties Healthy? | Written: November 14, 2023