In my last post , I talked about 4 criteria I use for deciding whether or not to post a recipe. Although those criteria apply to every recipe, there is an additional one that I adhere to for posting a Crock Pot/slow cooker recipe; it must not require any more than throwing ingredients into the pot and turning it on. I can handle some vegetable prep like peeling and cutting, but if the recipe requires me to pre-cook meat first, I skip it. The whole point of using a slow cooker, in my opinion, is because I don’t want to cook. If I wanted to cook meat on the stove first I wouldn’t be using my Crock Pot.
This beef stew recipe is easy. You literally dump all the ingredients in and go. The last step where you add tapioca flour is actually optional. If you don’t mind your beef stew actually resembling beef soup then skip it. I like mine a little thick so I usually take a few minutes to mash-up some of the potatoes & turnips and add the tapioca. Mashing up the “white carrots” is how I got my kids to eat turnips. But if you don’t like them just leave them out. I think they give the stew a nice flavor.
If you are ready to call the paleo police on me because this recipe uses potatoes, (gasp!) I urge you to do some reading. Potatoes are considered to be a safe starch (source 1) and a wonderful source of dense/quality carbohydrate as long as you can tolerate them. By tolerate them I mean you are not following a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), you are not trying to lose weight, you are not trying to manage your blood sugar, or have metabolic syndrome. (source 2) Does that sound like a lot? Well, it kind of is. While I may not be following a “special” version of paleo, I don’t eat potatoes (sweet or white) all the time due to my goals. While I am not trying to lose weight, I would like to lean out a bit more to see an increase in muscle definition. For me, eating starchy vegetable while trying to lean out is counterproductive. I will eat small amounts of potato in soups. Have a few fries cooked in coconut oil, and occasionally have half a sweet potato after a hard workout, but it’s not the norm for me and I view it as a treat. According to Robb Wolf: (source3)
“Should everyone out there be chowing down on potatoes? Unfortunately, no. Not because there is anything unhealthy about potatoes, but a lot of people cannot process dense carb sources in a healthy way. It ultimately depends on your activity level and metabolic status. Basically those carbs fuel your activity level. If you’re living a desk to couch lifestyle then either up your activity level or keep the intake low. You have to earn your carbs. If you have metabolic issues (read: abdominal fat) then you need to get that sorted out first since you are not processing carbs correctly. It ends up being shuttled to the fat tissue instead of being available as energy.”
Now my husband and children can handle potatoes every day. Brent is 6’1” and weighs about 175 pounds. He is tall and lean and actually has to work to keep weight on (jerk). Both my kids (thankfully) take after their 6’1” dad (not their 4’11” mom) and are very lean and very active. It all just depends on where you are health-wise and what your goals are. I bring up my family being lean to prove the point that just because someone follows a paleo-type diet doesn’t mean they are trying to lose weight. There is no way I would limit the whole food, nutrient dense, and unprocessed potato from my family’s diet.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
2.5-3 lbs. stew meat (trimmed of excess fat)
4 potatoes, peeled & chopped
2 medium onions, chopped (I use my food processor for the onions so my kids won’t see them)
4-5 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb. bag parsnips (about 4)
1 batch of home-made beef bone broth (or enough stock to fill your slow cooker about 2 quarts)
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2-3 Tbsp tapioca flour
½ cup cold water
Combine stew meat through pepper into slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours.
When the stew is done, whisk the tapioca flour into the cold water. Pour this mixture into your stew to thicken it. If you prefer your stew extra thick, remove some of the potatoes & turnips, fork mash them, and mix back into stew.
Garnish with parsley if desired. Add any extra salt and pepper if needed. Mine definitely needed additional salt & pepper as homemade stock is generally not as salty as commercial.
This recipe was enough for my family to have 2 meals and still have extra to freeze for my lunch. If you refrigerate or freeze leftovers don’t be surprised if you see some fat floating on top. I would skim it off if you buy conventional meat, but if you buy grass-fed meat then leave it in because this is healthy fat ( source ) and when you reheat the stew it melts and gives the stew a lot of flavor. Remember that protein & fat are the 2 macro-nutrients that increase satiety-they keep you feeling full longer. Don’t be afraid of quality fat.