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09 December 2015

Stew-Roids- Wintertime Is Not The Time To Eat Lean

Jack was nimble, Jack was quick
Jack gouged eyes with candle sticks
And smashed in skulls with sticks and stones
Used iron bars to crush their bones so he could hide his kills in tiny places and he wouldn't have to see their faces
He'd stick knives in their faces and cut out their tummies
And stamp on their heads 'till their brains got all runny

Old Man Winter has shown up to jam his fist violently up our collective asses, and no matter how much you love the season, it can fuck you harder than a riled up donkey in Tijuana.  Protest all you like about how much you love snow and skiing and ice and frostbite and all of that bullshit, but no one is getting S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the summer, nor do you really stand all that much chance of catching the flu in the summer.  Nope, those are just a couple of ways that Old Man Winter can just up and fuck ya, and the best way to combat hat dirty son of a bitch is... you guessed it- STEW-ROIDS.


I didn't feel like putting a picture of a saddie in here, so I chose Vision of Disorder instead.

During the winter, nearly 14 million Americans get kicked in the head by Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition characterized primarily by being a horrible saddie, sleeping all the time, and craving carbohydrates like skinny, toothless hillbillies crave methamphetamines.  The reason behind this is a lack of seratonin, a hormone that's produced by exposure to sunlight.  Weirdly, this condition makes people incorrectly crave carbohydrates, in spite of the fact that the body needs tryptophan to create seratonin, and carbohydrates are low in tryptophan.  Instead, they should be consuming "seafood, poultry, grass-fed meats, leafy greens, and green vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli" (Karlstrom).  Additionally, they should be eating foods high in fats, as that provides long-term, steady energy, rather than a high carbohydrate diet, which has them crashing constantly.  This is why the comfort foods often eaten in the winter are much heavier- some people seem to instinctively know that wintertime means delicious, delicious, fatty foods.


Krampus comes for those who don't eat their stew-roids.

Due to the cold, eating hot food is essential to maintaining a feeling of warmth.  That should go without saying, but it's just as much mental as it is a physical sensation.  Eating cold foods in the winter can exacerbate that deep chill and lead to illness.  Cold air is also incredibly dry, so maintaining a hydrated state is essential.  The obvious solution to both of these conditions?  Soups and stews, obviously.  Warm liquids also enhance digestion, so you'll get more of the nutrition you're consuming if it's in a soup or stew.



While the aforementioned suggestions cover most of the issues that afflict people during the winter months, we still haven't covered the fact that people get ill in the winter months.  That's probably the biggest pain in the ass of the entire season- getting sicker than an Ethiopian during a famine for no fucking reason whatsoever.  One of the best immunoprotectants is garlic, and including garlic in your diet during the winter months is not just ideal- it's essential.  Garlic has been used in medicine for centuries to beat disease like Ray Rice beats his wife, and it works.  In one study conducted in 2014, people who consumed a garlic supplement got sick about as third as often as the people taking a placebo (Lissiman), so including garlic in your diet is essential if you don't want to be your office's patient zero.



So, where's that leave us?  Eating a shitload of stew with garlic in it.  Given that it's winter and we all might as well bulk, I highly recommend eating your stew over noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice.  In the last installment, I gave my badass recipe for herbed, buttered egg noodles, and at the end of this one I'll drop my recipe for garlic mashed potatoes.  I'll generally eat my stews these days with buttered rolls or sourdough bread, because I'm just trying to smash as many calories into my diet as I can fit.  If you're trying to trim your waistline this winter, you'll probably want to avoid that.



Chili Colorado

Chili colorado is different than typical chili in that it uses chunks of beef, rather than ground beef.  It gives the whole thing an entirely different feel, and is frankly a nice change of pace from typical chili because you actually have to chew, haha.  This recipe is cool because it is not your typical chili flaor- you'll notice there's no chili powder used.  I like to use habeneros in place of either the pasillas or guajillos, and generally end up using Hungarian Wax Peppers because I can't anything but the anchos.  You can (and I usually do) use canned peppers in place of fresh ones.

Ingredients
5 Ancho Peppers
2 Pasilla Peppers
2 Guajillo Peppers
8 Cups Chicken Stock
2 lbs Stew Beef
6 Cloves Garlic
Salt and Pepper
2 Bay Leaves
1 TBSP Cumin
2 TSP Sage
2 TSP Oregano

Directions
Remove the stems and seeds from chilies- don't use dry and brittle chilies, but rather chiles that are soft and pliable.  Cover chiles with 3 cups of boiling chicken stock and let them steam, covered with plastic wrap, for about 30 minutes until they are plump and tender, then bend until smooth.

Throw some salt and pepper on the beef, then brown it in a big pot over medium-high heat with some vegetable oil at the bottom to keep it from sticking. Dice the garlic and toss it in the pot along with the bay leaves, ground cumin, sage and  oregano. Stir that around for about a minute, or until very fragrant. Add in 5 cups of chicken stock and simmer uncovered for about an hour. Then, stir in the chile purée and simmer for another 45 minutes until the meat is very tender and the sauce is a thick, mahogany-red color. Season with additional salt and pepper.



Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew

Rosemary is a badass herb.  Not only does it taste awesome, but it "has been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth" in addition to aiding digestion and vision (Nordqvist).

Ingredients
½ lb. (4 medium) Carrots
½ sleeve Celery
1 medium Onion
2 lbs. Red Potatoes
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1½ lbs. Beef Stew Meat
Salt and Pepper
¼ cup All-purpose Flour
2 cups Beef Broth
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
½ Tbsp Brown Sugar
½ Tbsp Rosemary
½ tsp Thyme

Instructions
Dice the onion and slice the carrots and celery. Wash the potatoes well and cut them into one inch cubes. Place the onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes into a large slow cooker.  Place the stew meat in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and toss the meat until it is coated. Set the floured meat aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic in the hot oil for about one minute, or until soft and fragrant. Add the floured meat and all the flour from the bottom of the bowl to the skillet. Let the beef cook without stirring for a few minutes to allow it to brown on one side. Stir and repeat until most or all sides of the beef pieces are browned. Add the browned beef to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the vegetables.

Return the skillet to the burner and turn the heat down to low. Add the beef broth, Dijon,  Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rosemary, and thyme to the skillet. Stir to combine the ingredients and dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Once everything is dissolved off the bottom of the skillet, pour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker. The sauce will not cover the contents of the slow cooker, but it's okay. More moisture will be released as it cooks.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours. After four hours, remove the lid and stir the stew, breaking the beef into smaller pieces as you stir. Taste the stew and adjust the salt if needed. Serve hot as is, or over a bowl of rice or pasta.



Mexican Lentil Stew

Lentils are insanely good for you- they're high in protein, fiber, B-vitamins, and zinc, and the Romans practically jacked off to them as a result.  Though the recipe I have here doesn't call for it, I use choriso in this stew- I just slice up a package of chorizo and throw it in the stew while it's simmering.  It adds a ton of flavor and calories, which is what we're after anyway.  MOAR PROTONZ=MOAR GAINZ.

Ingredients
2 cups dry Red Lentils
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium Onion
3-4 stalks Celery
4 cloves Garlic
2 (14.5oz.) cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
½ Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Cumin
½ tsp Turmeric
4 cups Chicken Broth
10-15 dashes Hot Sauce (I use Dave's Insanity Sauce or Ghost Pepper Sauce)
1 Lime
½ bunch Cilantro

Instructions
Add the dry lentils to a medium pot. Cover with water, swish to rinse, then drain off as much water as possible. Repeat this process until the water remains mostly clear. After draining off the last rinse, add four cups of water, place a lid on top, and bring the lentils to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and let sit with a lid on for about 20 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, begin the rest of the stew. Dice the onion and mince the garlic and sauté them in a large pot with olive oil over medium-low heat until soft and transparent.

While that's cooking, rinse and dice the celery. Throw the celery into the pot and continue to sauté for a few minutes more, or just until the celery begins to soften.  Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and hot sauce to the pot. Stir to combine.

The lentils should be finished cooking by now. Drain off as much of the cooking water as possible, then add the lentils to the pot along with the vegetable broth. Stir simmer it medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. e lentils will soften and break down further as they simmer, helping to thicken the stew.

Pull the cilantro leaves from the stems, give them a rough chop, then stir them into the stew. Squeeze the juice of the lime into the broth and stir to combine. Taste the stew and adjust the salt or hot sauce if desired.




Korean Beef Stew

I don't know about you guys, but I love the shit out of Korean food.  Usually, it's a pain in the ass to make and requires a ton of marinading, but this recipe is easy as all hell and tasty as fuck.

Ingredients
2 lb Beef Stew Meat, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 bag (16 oz) Baby Carrots 
6 Green Onions, cut into 1-inch pieces 
6 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Tomato Juice
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
2 TBSP Red Pepper Flakes
1 TBSP Sriracha
3 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
4 teaspoons Cold Water
3 cups hot cooked Rice

Directions

Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker, mix beef, carrots, onions, garlic, tomato juice, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper, Sriracha, oil and pepper.  Cook on low heat setting 9 to 11 hours or on high 4 and a half to 5 and half hours.  Then, mix cornstarch and cold water until blended and stir into the stew. Crank the temperature to high for about 20 minutes and then throw it on the rice.


Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Frankly, I prefer to put my stews on rice and mix the rice into the stew, but mashed potatoes can add a hell of a lot of bulk to your stews if that's what you're looking for, plus you'll get more calories and more garlic.  

Ingredients
5 pounds Potatoes ; peeled
Salt to taste
1/4 cup Butter, softened
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Green Onions, chopped
Black Pepper
6 cloves Garlic, minced

Directions
Slice mostly peeled potatoes into quarters (I like some peel in my mashed potatoes, and it improves the nutritional. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a dash of salt. Boil potatoes until easily pierced with a fork, about 20-35 minutes. Drain potatoes, and return to the pot. Add garlic, milk and butter to the potatoes. Use a masher to combine everything together, until your desired consiten. Add additional milk or butter if necessary to reach desired consistency. While mashing, add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped green onion.



Armed with those recipes, you should be able to make it through the winter, provided you don't get eaten by Krampus or run over by a snow plow.  A pro tip for you- to get the smell of garlic off your hands, just rub them on your faucet.  I've no idea why that works, but it does.  To get the smell of garlic off your breath, eat some parsley.  Now, go eat your stew-roids and get fucking jacked.

Sources:
Garlic.  University of Maryland Medical Center.  Web.  7 Dec 2015.  https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/garlic

Garlic for the common cold.  PubMed Health.  Web.  8 Dec 2015.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0013804/

Hauser, Annie.  Why Do We Eat More in Winter?  Everyday Health.  2 Feb 2012.  Web.  7 Dec 2015.  http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/why-do-we-eat-more-in-winter.aspx

Karlstrom, Solvie.  Why You Need To Eat More Fat (In the Winter)Warding off the winter blues could be as simple as loading up on Thanksgiving turkey—in the middle of January.  Rodale's Organic Life.   25 Jan 2012.  Web.  7 Dec 2015.  http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/winter-blues

Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, Cohen M.Garlic for the common cold.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Nov 11;11:CD006206.

Nordqvist, Joseph.  Rosemary: Health Benefits, Precautions, Drug Interactions.  Medical News Today.  15 Sp 2015.  Web.  9 Dec 2015.  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266370.php

Styles, Serena.  Foods to Eat in Cold Temperatures.  SFGate.  Web.  7 Dec 2015.  http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/foods-eat-cold-temperatures-2240.html

Which is better: Drinking cold or warm water.  Healthy and Natural World.  20 Nov 2014.  Web.  7 Dec 2015.  http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/drinking-cold-or-warm-water/