Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just Sitting and Stewing

The pleasure of eating comfort food has been tainted by diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name a few. There is nothing more pleasurable than eating a good meal after a long day.  A roast or a stew fills the air with a unique aroma that immediately sends a message to our brains. Our senses let us believe that we are in for a treat when we all get a chance to sit down at the dinner table. Meat and potatoes have been portrayed as a man’s meal. The truth is, it appeals to and is equally enjoyed by all genders and ages. As with all comfort foods, meat and potatoes give us a sense of joy.  We feel well-taken care of and if nothing else, we forget our troubles with each bite we take. 

Keep in mind that we still need to keep an eye on what we eat. Making smart decisions in the ingredients and the way we prepare our meals can make us healthier. Please remember that eating healthier doesn't have to mean taking away the pleasure of eating meat and potatoes; however, you need to eat them in moderation rather than making them the keystone of your diet.

How to give in to the “meat and potatoes” pleasure without all the guilt?  Try adding more vegetables in with the potatoes.  I enjoy using chunks of celery, onions and carrots to begin with.  You might also try more unusual vegetables for a different take on stew such as turnips, yucca, fennel, leeks, capers and green olives. 
Experiment with different seasonings like bay leaves, celery seed, rosemary, thyme and paprika.  Check out unique herbal blends such as Herbes de Provence that can be found online and that can be purchased at your local supermarket or gourmet store.  Depending on the medical issues that you face, choose your vegetables accordingly and weigh your options when it comes to starch vs. fiber.  Try not to overcook vegetables to maintain their nutrient content.  Vegetables can be added near the end of the cooking process so they can still absorb the flavors without taking away their health benefits.

I am sure you have a favorite recipe for a roast or stew that has been in your family and ties you to your family gathering. If you don't, try Ina Garten " barefoot contesa" recipe Parker's beef stew. It is one of my favorite stews. 

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