Jerky. It’s not just for cowboys anymore. This convenient cured meat snack food has a long-standing tradition on the open range, but jerky has recently gained favor in the nutrition world as well.
Jerky was invented by Native Americans who relied on the method during harsh winters and other times when fresh meat was in short supply. It was once thought to be “junk food,” loaded with sodium and preservatives. But all that has changed.
Meat snacks have come a long way in recent years as manufacturers are turning to hormone-free animals, cutting back on salt, saying “so long” to artificial additives and experimenting with upscale seasonings. Consider that jerky is lean (excess fat is typically trimmed prior to drying), rich in zinc, packed with protein (an upwards of 10 generous grams per serving) and requires no refrigeration, and you’ve got the perfect portable healthy snack!
Chew on this
Those looking to sample the savory snack food will be pleased to discover the wide variety of meats and flavors currently available. Today’s new –and-improved jerky is made from beef, buffalo, bison, elk, chicken, turkey, pork and even vegetarian and vegan sources, such as seitan! And don’t even get us started on the fabulous flavor profiles! Following are some of our favorite traditional and jazzed-up jerkies.
For the traditionalist
- Golden Valley Natural Organic Beef Jerky, Original. This low-fat, original-flavored jerky is made from hormone-free, organic beef, and doesn't contain any gluten, preservatives, added monosodium glutamate (MSG) or artificial ingredients. In other words, it’s a satisfying snack you can feel good about eating!
- Shelton's Smoked Turkey Snack Sticks Gluten Free, Original. If you’re on the hunt for pure, tasty turkey jerky, look no further! This satisfying snack stick contains antibiotic- and gluten-free turkey and a deep, delicious smoky flavor to boot!
For the flavor seeker
- Krave Turkey Jerky, Basil Citrus. Indulge in “succulent all-natural turkey with tangy citrus and robust basil, for a jerky that's soft, subtly seasoned and simply bursting with flavor.” This nourishing nosh has “foodie” written all over it!
- Epic Nutrition Jerky Bites, Beef Cranberry Sriracha. Calling all Sriracha fans! You have simply got to try this meaty, mouthwatering jerky. They “balanced semisweet notes of cranberry with… red chili pepper to produce a flavor forward sensory experience” that they have deemed epic. And we completely agree!
- Krave Pork Jerky, Black Cherry Barbecue. Craving pork minus the fork? Enjoy “tender slices of pork infused with the sweet and peppery, Sonoma-style, black cherry barbecue sauce.” This filling, flavorful jerky is sure to become a staple!
- Vermont Smoke and Cure Real Sticks™ Honey Mustard Stick, Turkey. Real honey powder and ground mustard merge in this sweet yet tangy turkey jerky that is free of gluten and preservatives. Pop it into your purse or pocket, and you’re good to go!
- Primal Spirit Foods Primal® Strips, Meatless Vegan Jerky in Thai Peanut. Who said that jerky has to contain meat? Check out this scrumptious seitan variety, which boasts bold Asian flavors, a gram of fiber and 10 whopping grams of protein!
- Primal Spirit Foods Primal® Strips Meatless Vegan Jerky Hot & Spicy. This one goes out to all the vegetarians and vegans who like it hot! This spicy, satiating shitake mushroom jerky packs a powerful punch as well as six grams of protein.