Conscious Cook: Slow and steady

“January is here, with eyes that keenly glow, A frost-mailed warrior Striding a shadowy steed of snow.” — Edgar Fawcett

The New Year is here, and with it, a desire to detox and decompress from the mega merrymaking of the holidays. Refreshing, restoring and rejuvenating the body and mind becomes of paramount importance with the beginning of a new year. Deeply warming and nourishing foods will help reset your system and return your focus to a welcome state of wellness.

Satisfying soups and stews, nutty grains, healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and naturally sweet citrus fruits will please the palate while helping to pare down the excess salt and sugar content of holiday-fatigued bodies.

January is a perfect month to enjoy the steady rhythms of slow cooking, whether it be a long-simmering tomato sauce, a bubbling pot of beef bourguignon, multi-colored vegetable stew ladled over tiny kernels of couscous, beautiful butternut squash soup, a steamy, spicy chili, or a captivating kettle of chicken broth, brimming with antioxidant-rich ingredients such as garlic, onion, fresh herbs, and a bevy of root vegetables. These dishes restore a sense of balance to the body and mind, while applying a sense of peace and patience.

Conscious cooks often call winter their favorite kitchen time, as there are few greater pleasures than filling the house with the fragrant scent of spices and scintillating ingredients. Slow cooking brings wonderful warmth and luscious light to frigid, dark days. Frigid temperatures and swirling snow only serve to heighten the pleasure of simple, slow-cooked recipes.

After the frenetic pace of the holiday season, make January your personal gift of slowdown time. Be gentle with yourself and with your cooking. And always make natural, organic, fresh and lively ingredients an integral part of preparing a delicious life.

Slow and Steady Vegetable Stew

Serves 6

2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil

2 cups thinly sliced sweet onions (or a mix of sweet and red onions)

3 fat garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

1 cup organic carrots (multi-colored are fun), washed and cut into ½-inch chunks

1 cup organic celery, washed and cut into ½-inch chunks

4 cups white or brown mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

3 large peeled potatoes, washed and cut into ½- to 1-inch chunks (use any kind your prefer, or a mixture, including sweet potato)

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained, coarsely chopped

1 can drained and rinsed cannellini beans

2 cups water or organic vegetable broth

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cook until onions and garlic are becoming golden, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients, cover pot, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender, but not overcooked, stirring occasionally. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf before serving. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with a grinding of fresh black pepper. A bit of parmesan cheese would also be pleasant. (If you have bits and pieces of leftover veggies in the fridge, such as green beans, peas, etc., add them to the stew for even more color and variety. Leftover rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, or farro can also be added).

For more on Robin Glowa HHC, AADP, go to www.theconsciouscook.net.

About author
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing fresh, natural ingredients and super simple, extra delicious recipes. She also conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net.

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