The continued cold weather here in Southern California prompted me to make a warming stew for dinner recently. My husband and I, as a rule, try to stay away from starchy root vegetables like potatoes which are a traditional base in stews, so for this dish, I modified a recipe from my Mayo Clinic Cookbook to fit our needs. The results were delicious, and oh, so warm! You can find the original recipe here.
- 1/4 c almond meal, for dredging
- 1 pound boneless lean beef stew meat, trimmed of visible fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced vertically
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1/2 large onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 bunch swiss chard, stalk removed, leaves torn
- 1 container crimini mushrooms, quartered
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- Place the almond meal on a plate. Dredge the beef cubes in the almond meal. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the beef and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. If using almond meal instead of flour, you’ll want to scrape the almond meal from the bottom of the pan before proceeding or it will burn (absolute blasphemy to throw away the browned bits, I know! To avoid this, just use flour).
- Add the fennel, onion and shallots to the pan over medium heat and saute until softened and lightly golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.
Saute for 1 minute. Return the beef to the pan and add the vegetable stock and the wine, if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the meat is tender, ~45 minutes.
- Add the carrots and mushrooms. The liquid will not cover the vegetables completely, but more liquid will accumulate as the mushrooms soften. Simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes longer. Add the swiss chard and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until wilted. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in the parsley and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Ladle into warmed individual bowls and serve immediately.
A few years back, I purchased a copy of The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook and have had great success with many of the recipes. One of my absolute favorites and go-to meals for midweek is the Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Cucumber Salsa. The addition of red pepper flakes and a hint of sweetener to the bright and crunchy vegetable salsa gives this dish a sultry heat that marries well with the rich, velvety salmon. As we all know, salmon is full of those fabulous omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are so important in helping to reduce inflammation throughout the body and lowering our risk for heart disease. So eat up!
While this recipe is perfection in its unaltered form, my husband and I recently embarked on a new way of eating, which incorporates leans meats, lots of veggies and other foods and ingredients that have a low glycemic index. In order to adapt this recipe to our new diet, I replaced the honey with raw agave syrup (easily found at Trader Joe’s), used red bell peppers instead of tomatoes, as tomatoes are technically a fruit, which we limit our intake of, and increased the proportion of “salsa” as it counts as our veggies.
For more information on our diet, please visit Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution and also my girlfriend’s excellent blog with loads of information and recipe ideas. And, no, this doesn’t mean I’m never making or eating cupcakes and treats again….just not as frequently!
Ingredients (original recipe found here):
- 1/2 english cucumber, quartered lengthwise, then cut into a small dice
- 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into a small dice
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into a small dice
- 2 Tablespoons chopped shallot or red onion
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro,plus sprigs for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 salmon fillets
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Lime wedges for garnish
- In a bowl, combine the cucumber, bell peppers, shallot, and chopped cilantro. Toss gently to mix.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 1 teaspoon of the canola oil, the agave syrup, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Pour the lime mixture over the cucumber mixture and toss gently to mix and coat evenly. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the salmon fillets on both sides with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining ½ teaspoon canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the fish to the pan and cook, turning once, until opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife, 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the salmon fillets to individual plates and top each with the salsa. Garnish the plates with the cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Serve immediately with another veggie, like sauteed green beans.
Cost & Time-Saving tip: My husband and I do bulk protein runs at Costco, then cut everything up into portions and freeze them for later use.