Beef Stew, Lightened Up

by in Meal Makeovers, December 28, 2009

Beef Stew
Love the stick-to-your-ribs goodness of a hearty beef stew, but want to cut back on the fat and sodium? Pass on the salty canned stuff and try these tips and recipes.

Nutrition Facts
A typical serving of beef stew has anywhere from 200 to 1,000 calories depending on the portion size (restaurants usually go overboard) and the meat used (some cuts have more fat than others). A measly single-cup serving of the canned stuff has almost 1,000 milligrams of sodium, which is more than 40% of your recommended sodium for an entire day.

The Lighter Dish
The essential ingredients for stew — meat, vegetables and broth — are healthy stuff. The problem is that traditional recipes call for massive portions of fatty meats paired with super-salty canned broths. Don’t be turned off by recipes that use wine; a large portion of the alcohol and calories cook away.

Opting for a chicken or veggie stew will cut back on calories and fat, but if you’re looking for the real thing, here are six easy steps:

  1. Keep portions sensible – If the recipe makes four to six servings, definitely make it for six.
  2. Start with lean cuts of meat – Try London broil, brisket, top round and chuck roast.
  3. Add lots of vegetables – More carrots, peas, potatoes, celery, broccoli or even turnips helps bulk up portions while using less meat.
  4. Slash the salt – Use low sodium beef broth.
  5. Skim off excess fat – Fat will rises to the top as the stew simmers.
  6. Add some hunger-fighting fiber – Serve the stew over whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous or barley.

Cooking Tip: Long and slow simmering will concentrate the flavors, which makes meat tender and your stew more flavorful. To save time, prep and chop all your ingredients the night before or prepare the dish in your slow cooker.

Stews are satisfying and affordable meals that are great for feeding a crowd — even if you’re only cooking for a small group, make extra and freeze the rest for later.

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