Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's official. Winter is here.

I realized today that the weather we've experienced so far up here in the corners of Massachusetts has not really been winter. Winter is what we had today and yesterday. It's not the throw on a coat and hat and a pair of flats type weather we've been lucky enough to have the past few weeks. 

Winter up here is a wear all your layers, slushy-muck on the streets, dry skin,  windshield scraping, cold catching time of the year. There are positives too of course, but since I don't ski, I don't count them.

That said, I'm trying to get into the spirit.  Which basically means getting out the slow cooker, UGGS and NorthFace gear and putting away all my pretty shoes and hats.

Luckily I love the slow cooker in the winter so I spent some time today researching some new recipes to try. The recipe I posted below happens to be from a great Gluten Free Blog. Doesn't it look delicious? I love the combo of garlic, tomatoes and pomegranate (I know what you're thinking, pomegranate and beef???). I'm going to try this one as soon as I can locate a large chunk of grass-fed beef. Karina also references the slow cooker book, Make it Fast, Cook it Slow in her blog.  I think this book was written specifically for me to help me through these tough winter months. Fast, easy, fresh, natural, and slow to cook in the slow-cooker. Perfect.

Slow Cooker Grass Fed Beef in Pomegranate Sauce Recipe

1 1/2 to 2 pounds grass fed beef or buffalo roast or steak, fat trimmed if necessary
Sea salt
Light olive oil, as needed
1 onion, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1 14-oz can Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar- omit for yeast-free
1/8 cup pure maple syrup- or use agave to keep it lower glycemic
1/2 cup fresh cranberries or golden raisins
1 teaspoon dried French herb mix or Bouquet Garni
A small pinch of cinnamon

Salt the beef on all sides. Wait a few minutes. Get your slow cooker situated and turned on to High.
Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides to sear in the flavor, using long tongs to turn the pieces. This doesn't take but maybe five minutes, or so. Remove the beef and set aside.
Add a small dash of olive oil to the crock. Add in sliced onion and garlic. Stir to coat with the olive oil. Place the beef on top. Pour in the pomegranate juice, crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Stir to combine. Add the cranberries or raisins, dried herbs, a pinch of cinnamon, sea salt and ground pepper. Stir a little bit to co-mingle ingredients. Cover and let the magic happen- about 4 to 5 hours.

By the way, you may be wondering - why am I posting recipes about beef when I started off this blog talking about veganism? I'm not alienating the vegan diet. I do hope to evolve more towards a vegan diet in the summer months, but in the winter time when it's cold, I decided that I need warming foods. My acupuncturist talks alot about this.  There are people who have warm body types (Chinese medicine talk) that can handle lighter fare and colder foods all year round, and then there are bodies that are cooler and need the strength of warmer, cooked food. Meat is very grounding  and warm in nature and really helps add bulk to a meal. So although my mind embraces the philosophy of veganism, my body really needs heartier food, especially in the winter. That said, when I do eat meat, I am very careful now about the quality, cleanliness and humane farming practice used to produce it. I refuse to support anything factory farmed.

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