When I think of winter, I think of hot comfort foods. And when I think of this newsletter, I think of healthy, hot winter foods. So after spending years trying to pronounce the word “bourguignon” the same way Julia Child does, I settled for sounding like Amy Adams doing her best Julia Child impression.
Who am I kidding? I sounded more like Dan Ackroyd imitating Julia Child. But I digress. This recipe appealed to me for its use of hearty portobello mushrooms in a rich sauce, including tomato paste and red wine. After I eat this, I will feel full and comforted but also less scared of the scale because I opted for a lower-fat and calorie substitute to the beef.
The recipe suggests serving over egg noodles, so if you prefer gluten-free noodles, you have a gluten-free vegetarian option as well. Thanks to the folks at Newark Natural Foods and Smittenkitchen.com. Enjoy!
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional, but use vegetable to make it vegetarian)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
Egg noodles, for serving
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid—about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five more minutes.
Combine remaining butter and flour with a fork; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the correct consistency. Season to taste.
To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.
While many newsletters around the holidays are focused on resolutions, I decided to go in a different direction. That’s right, I’ve gone rogue. I am going with another important health and wellness issue. I am going with the dreaded plateau.
In the last edition of Get Healthy, Delaware!, we spoke to Gaby Wilson about her challenges and successes keeping healthy and fit in 2013. The plateau challenge was critical to her journey, so I decided to give it the spotlight and seek some guidance for Wilson and all GHD readers.
“I’ve actually hit an incredibly tough plateau right now,” says Wilson. “I’ve been stuck at 30 pounds lost for about four months now. I haven’t gained weight, but I’ve got 10 more pounds to go, and I haven’t lost in four months. It’s been incredibly discouraging.”
I was impressed by Wilson’s determination to move through her plateau. I spoke with Dawn Filandro, a YMCA fitness instructor, to learn more about what we can all do to conquer the plateau and not give up.
“The only cure for a plateau is change,” says Filandro. “Change it up. If you hit a plateau, your body is telling you it is accustomed to what you are eating and what you are doing for activity and, most importantly, it’s time to work a little harder. It’s easy to get complacent after you experience a certain level of success with weight or fitness levels, but you won’t continue to see results unless you change it up.”
Filandro recommends the following tips for busting through plateaus:
• Change the intensity of your workout. If you are on the treadmill, do some hills or intervals.
• Duration: Add some time to your workouts. It may be the extra five to 10 minutes of exertion to challenge your body along.
• Weights: Increase the weight or do more reps.
• Take a new class: If you have been doing classes like Body Pump, change it up with Zumba. You will use different muscles and keep your body guessing!
• Add some protein: It doesn’t have to be meat. A handful of nuts as a snack can go a long way.
• Be careful about elimination: Although it may be tempting to eliminate a food group in hopes of weight loss, the sheer restriction could make you crave those foods even more.
• Combine: For those who follow Weight Watchers, look at how you are using your points allowance. There are many different healthy options that can add up to your daily points allowance.
Wilson’s strategy for busting through her plateau was joining the YMCA and doing a variety of classes, as well as purchasing a share in her local Community Supported Agriculture to introduce new healthy foods into her diet. For some people, their resolution is to start working out in 2014. But for many people, like Wilson, changing it up is the new resolution.
Many people are exploring the world of whole grains. Credit the rise in gluten-free diners, who’re looking for such alternatives as amaranth and quinoa. “Just about one out of two tables has a diner who is either gluten-free or they have wheat sensitivities,” says Roger Surpin, executive chef at Domaine Hudson Wine Bar & Eatery in Wilmington, who also cooks with bulgur, barley, quinoa and farro. Whole grains also appeal to carb-counters, he says. That’s because they’re more nutritious alternatives. (more)
Thursday, Dec. 19
Location Bayhealth Kent General BETT Center—Education Dept. Conference Room, 208 W. Water St., Dover
Time 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
More info. 744-6227 or 744-7135.
Monday, Dec. 23
Bayhealth’s Blood Pressure Clinic
Location Bayhealth Neurosurgery, Suite 100A, 540 S. Governors Ave., Dover
Time 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
More info. 744-7135 or (877) 453-7107