Sunday, September 13, 2009

Autumnal Eating Doesn't Have to Sink You

Now that the temperature in Austin has dived down past the 100 degree mark and we are soaking up the first weekend of rain in months, I have developed a hankering for stews, stocks and soups. Autumn is a slippery slope for eating well, as our bodies revert back to preparation for a long winter, we tend to crave rich foods more frequently. Understanding your body's cravings is the first step to successfully staying healthy during seasonal changes.

I don't need to cite large studies and reports to tell you eating habits take a nose dive as the temperature falls. There is a reason why we crave fats, sugars and hearty meals during this time and it correlates directly to thousands of years of living off the land, not the grocery store. Our bodies need sugar and fat to keep going and unfortunately, due to processed fats and sugars being readily available in large quantities only in the last 60 years or so our internal primal clock hasn't been reset. Therein lies the problem. We have thousands of years of biology telling us to eat eat eat, because food becomes scarcer as the temperature falls, and yet thanks to the modernized food industry nothing ever really becomes scarce...just terribly expensive.

How is a person supposed to handle this maddening conundrum? My strategy is careful planning, and adjustments to comfort foods so they remain healthy and within my nutrition structure, but taste damn near scandalous.

This morning I discovered this Beef Burgundy recipe, sure to quell the most vocal of tastebuds, from Mark's Daily Apple. Please check out the link and see the pictures of this dish being created. The mushrooms are to die for.


1/4 pound bacon
4 tablespoons butter (or lard)
2 1/2 – 3 pounds of beef cut into 2-inch cubes. Rump roast, chuck roast, sirloin tip, and top or bottom round are all options.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons almond flour
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cups full-bodied red wine such Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 pound white or brown crimini mushrooms


Preheat oven to 425.

Cut the bacon into short strips. In a deep saucepan, saute the bacon in 1 tablespoon of butter until bacon is cooked but not crispy.

Pat beef dry with a paper towel and add it to the bacon in 3-4 batches. Brown each batch of meat then remove from pan.

Set bacon and meat aside in the casserole baking dish you will use in the oven. Sprinkle salt, pepper and almond flour evenly over the meat. Bake meat in the oven without a cover for 10 minutes so the flour is absorbed into the meat and hopefully creates a slight crust on the outside. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 325.

In the saucepan on the stove, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the remaining fat from the bacon and meat and sauté the carrots and onion until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Stir in the wine and beef broth and bring to a gentle boil. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, then pour over the meat in the casserole pan. Cover the dish and cook in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours. The liquid should be gently bubbling the whole time. You’ll know it’s done when the meat is so tender that it easily pulls apart with a fork.

While the meat is cooking, slice the mushrooms and sauté in the remaining tablespoons of butter.

Here is a tip directly from Julie Child: Don’t crowd the mushrooms. If you cook too many at once the pan will fill with liquid and they won’t brown. Saute them in 3-4 batches, adding butter as needed. Set the mushrooms aside.

When the meat is done, remove the casserole pan from the oven.

Put a bowl under a colander and pour the meat and liquid into the colander so the liquid drains out. Bring the liquid to a gentle boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Pour over meat and mushrooms. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Almond Flour Biscuits via Healthy Indulgences

1 and 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted organic butter or non-hydrogenated shortening
1 cup plus two tablespoons of finely ground almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Cut cold fat (butter or shortening) into dry ingredients with the tines of your fork, rotating the bowl around with your other hand until the mixture has pea-sized chunks throughout. You could also use a pastry blender, in which case you probably don't need to read these instructions.

2. Chill mixture in the fridge for 5-10 minutes or as long as you can stand it. The longer the better. The more the fat can get cold and hard, the puffier your biscuits will be. Remember that!

3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites (using the shell halves to tip the yolk back and forth a few times). Reserve yolks (save all that creamy goodness for ice cream or homemade mayo!) and whisk egg whites with a fork in a bowl for 20 seconds, until no longer stringy and gloopy. You just want 'em a little foamy.

4. Remove mixture from fridge and whisk in the egg whites for a couple of seconds, breaking up any massive chunks in the dough with your whisk or fork. It'll be an extremely runny dough with chunks of the almond mixture. Pour it into greased foil-lined ramekins/nonstick muffin cups/a muffin top pan and get that sucker in the hot oven before the fat can even THINK about softening!

1 comment:

  1. Yummm ~ I do love to make soups and stew during the winter. This recipe will be the first of the season.