Sunday, February 24, 2013

Healthier Crockpot Beef Stew with Mashed Cauliflower

This is a pretty classic stew, bumped up with some extra veggies to healthify it. It is quite richly flavored from the wine and herbs. This is another one of my ideal-for-the-Crockpot meals. The secret ingredient in this stew is canned pumpkin. Yes, that's right. It is a great substitute for a roux to thicken the stew.  I promise it doesn't taste or look like you used pumpkin. I don't think my husband even knows it's in there. The pumpkin makes it velvety and thick, without excess carbs, no gluten, while adding an extra dose of veggies!

I used to serve stew with rice or mashed potatoes to sop up all the delicious gravy. Now that we're on the diet, we can't let the gravy go to waste! Mashed cauliflower turns out to be a great accouterment  It hits all the same creamy, comforting notes as mashed potatoes, but in veggie form.

As always with my low-carb recipes, this is not just for people watching their carbs-it's just a healthy stew with extra veggies!

Healthier Crockpot Beef Stew
1 lb carrots, sliced
1 lb quartered mushrooms
1 T minced garlic
3.5 lbs lean stew beef
3 T tomato paste
2 T Worchestershire
2 1/2 t seasoning salt or plain salt (I like Season All here)
Black pepper to taste
2 1/2 t McCormick Italian seasoning (I love this stuff, but it has never tasted very "Italian" to me. It tastes strongly of Rosemary, with notes of Marjoram and Sage. It adds a great, robust herbal flavor.)
1 bay leaf
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup dry red wine
1 can (about 10-15 oz, depending on brand) French Onion soup (I know, I'm a cheater. It adds fantastic depth of flavor without having to caramelize onions. You can substitute one onion, chopped, plus 1 cup of beef or chicken broth instead.)
1 lb peas, optional (not for induction phase of low carb diet)

Dump everything in Crockpot except peas and stir together. Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4. Stir in peas, if using, immediately before serving. (They will warm through.)

Mashed Cauliflower
2 lbs cauliflower florets (I use frozen)
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, to taste, optional

Steam or microwave cauliflower until very tender. Drain any liquid. Add remaining ingredients. Puree with stick blender or food processor.