Winter Warmers

Winter has definitely hit where Shaun and I live and that generally means more comfort foods on the plate. Food that warms your bones and puts a smile on your face after a long cold day at work. But it doesn’t have to be bad food. Comfort food can be very nutritious if done right.

My favorite winter food would have to be stews. You know, food that has been left to cook for 8 hours or so, that fill the house with that lovely smell you love to come home to and is just ready to stick in a bowl as soon as you walk in after a run. This is winter food at its best.

The slow cooker in our house gets a huge workout through winter. We cook anything from lamb legs, beef, whole chickens, game meats, anything you can think of and the longer it’s on the better. Throw a few vegetables in with it, switch it on before work, and by the time I get home, it’s done.

But I always make sure that the bones and joints are included in it. As the meat is cooking, the minerals and marrow from the bones are leaching out into the stock, not only making it taste great, but adding more nutrients to the meal. Just some of the minerals in there are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and even chondroitin and glucosamine get leached out of the joints. You know those expensive supplements you are always buying. Same thing here.

I know some people who throw most of the stock away! It’s just madness. The way I eat it is more like a soup than anything. I pick out the meat and vegetables and put them into a big bowl, pour the stock over the top, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, maybe add some butter to fatten things up a bit, you can’t argue with that.

Of course you will always have some stock left over at the end of the day. What do you do with it? Easy. Stick some more vegetables in it, you probably still have little bits of meat left in, heat it all up again and you have a very hearty, healthy soup. Any leftovers, just throw it in the fridge for the next day or freeze if there is too much. Have you ever noticed how these things taste better the next day?

Another great reason to eat slow cooked stews is that you can use the tough, but tasty, cuts of meat you would normally avoid. A day in the slow cooker will have it melting in your mouth like a good piece of eye fillet.

So get into the broths, put any bones or joints you find at your butcher into it. Maybe even add a bit of liver or kidneys in. After stewing for a day, the taste isn’t as overpowering as normal.

If you have a good recipe for a broth, stew or casserole, please feel free to post it here and share with the community.

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

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