Growing up in Northeast (New York to be exact), I have to admit I love winter. While I know the weather is something we usually complain about, a good snow storm can be so beautiful. The blanket of white snow that leaves the world in a quiet stillness is a great way to quiet our own lives, even if only for a moment.
While I have a deep love for the colder months, they don't always love my body back. The decreased sunlight (hello, Vitamin D!) and biting temperatures often lead to some additional aches and pains. I've found the best way to combat this is to double up on my self-care routine including both healing, comforting foods as well as taking the time to relax and slow down.
Soups and stews are some of the healing foods I like to add on repeat this time of year. Not only do they make me feel good but my body literally craves them. Also, there's something about a homemade bowl of soup or stew that just screams "love", whether that's love towards yourself or someone else.
While store bought soups are convenient, they lack the truly nourishing benefits of the homemade version. Plus, by making it yourself you can tweak the amount and types of ingredients you use to make it suitable just for you.
Most people wouldn't think of a hearty beef stew as "healthy" but when made with the right ingredients, it can be a wonderful addition to your weeknight meal rotation. My trick is to always add at least double the amount of vegetables I put into my soup or stew compared to how much meat I include. For instance, the mushrooms in this stew lend a nice "meatiness" but also add nutrients such as B vitamins and minerals such as copper, selenium and potassium.
For this recipe I also included turnips in place of traditional white potatoes. While white potatoes are fine in moderation, I wanted to bring down the carbohydrate content of this dish and provide an easy option for those following AIP or a nightshade free diet. Don't be scared to try turnips, either! I know they look a little rough on the outside but they are incredibly delicious and lend an earthy sweetness to any dish.
Lastly, I used fresh beef bone broth for extra gut-healing properties. If you opt to use a store bought broth, just be sure it is unsalted and does not contain any "natural flavors" or added ingredients.
Hearty Beef Stew (Gluten-Free, AIP Friendly)
Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
1 pound grass-fed stew beef, cubed (ours is from U.S. Wellness Meats but feel free to use your favorite - chuck or round roasts work best)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow or Vidalia onion, diced (I like Vidalia because they give this dish a bit more sweetness)
1 teaspoons plus 1 small bunch fresh thyme, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups carrots, cubed (about 3 large carrots)
1 cup celery, diced (about 4-5 stalks)
2 cups turnips, peeled and cubed (about 1 large turnip)
1 cup mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper, crushed (omit for strict AIP)
4 cups beef broth or stock (or 3 cups broth and 1 cup dry red wine)
2 teaspoons tomato paste (omit and substitute 1 tablespoon coconut aminos for AIP)
2 teaspoons oregano, chopped (1 teaspoon if using dried)
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour, divided
1. Sprinkle the beef stew with a salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven pot or stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in beef stew in a single layer. Let cook until browned (about 5 minutes) and then flip to the other side. Continue doing this until all of the sides are browned, about 10 - 12 minutes (this helps keep juices in the meat).
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef and place on a plate. Drain all of the liquid from the pot and wipe dry (don't worry about any bits stuck to the bottom - they are the good part).
3. Place pot back over medium-high heat and heat the remaining oil. Once melted, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, making sure they are well coated with the oil. After 5 minutes, add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of thyme. Stir frequently and cook another 3 minutes.
4. Add the carrots, celery, turnips and mushrooms. Stir well to coat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. After 10 minutes, add drained beef back and then add oregano, tomato paste (or coconut aminos) and beef stock, scraping any bit stuck on the bottom of the pan.
6. Toss in the small bunch of thyme and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for at least 3 hours (or longer for deeper flavors). About 15 minutes before serving, remove thyme bunch and mix the remaining arrowroot in 2 tablespoons of warm water until there are no lumps. Add arrowroot mixture to the pot and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.