Nothing quite finishes off a chilly Sunday evening better then a big pot of stew simmering on the stovetop. Its scent wafting through the kitchen air, with warm notes of cayenne, turmeric, and cumin to entice your brain on its ability to warm your insides. If there were ever a way to ingest a warm, fuzzy blanket (and still have a functioning GI tract), I'd say eating this stew would be a very close second. The best part? It's packed to the brim with nutrient rich goodness and is incredibly easy to prepare, all while providing you with heaps of leftovers for your unquestionable busy week ahead.
I always like to batch cook on a Sunday, as its really my only day "off." Be it various roasted veggies, a big bowl of rice or quinoa, and/or some soup/chili, its so much easier to stay on track for dinner during the week. After a long day of work and exercise, its ever too easy to raid the fridge in a 'hangry' whirlwind, however if there's already healthy options ready to go we are much more likely to stay on track. If you get into the habit of choosing one day in the week to prepare a few dishes, I guarantee you will align more so with your health and wellness goals, and your waistline and mood with thank you.
Now let's get down to the key components of this steamy stew.
Kale: Must I explain myself on this one? Read more here.
Tumeric: a spice used prevalently in Indian and Chinese cooking, it has a peppery, warm and slightly bitter flavor. Its best known to give curry or mustard its bright yellow color, however its much more than just a color enhancer. Curcumin is the plant metabolite that is responsible for turmeric's yellow or orange color, and also its host of health benefits. For this reason, turmeric has been shown to have immense anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce the risk of cancer and other markers of inflammation, such as obesity, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and cardiovascular disease. To my excitement, I also learned just today at a nutrition conference that turmeric was recently proven in a study done by the American Diabetes Association to completely eliminate the progression of type 2 diabetes in those diagnosed as pre diabetic. Let me RD-nerd out on you for a sec, but that's pretty rad. A great summary of this study can be found here.
Cayenne Pepper: Derived from chili peppers, cayenne has played a role in Native American medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese & Ayurvedic medicine, cayenne pepper has been used to help manage circulatory problems and appetite. Capsaicin is the active ingredient responsible for its heat, which has been used topically to treat aches and pains within the joints. The Journal of Clinical Oncology found that the application of capsaicin cream among cancer survivors with post surgical neuropathic pain can reduce post-surgical neuropathic pain. In terms of appetite, the Journal Physiology & Behavior suggested that consuming just 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper along with meal can help suppress appetite and burn calories. If that's not an anti-inflammatory food, then I'm not sure what is!
And the rest of the ingredients? Completely vegetarian/vegan friendly, loaded with fiber, plant-based protein, + antioxidants to keep ya truckin' through the week.
Anti-Inflammatory Spicy Kale + Bean Stew
Makes about 4 servings
4-5 medium sized carrots
1 small onion
1 small box button mushrooms
1 can roasted tomatoes
4 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups water
3/4 can navy beans, drained and rinsed
4 stalks of curly kale
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp tumeric
1.5 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
herbs of choice, to garnish
Begin by prepping your vegetables. Peel and chop carrots, chop onion, and wash/pull off kale leaves from stems. Break apart leaves into smaller pieces. Slice mushrooms thin, then set all veggies aside.
In a large pot, heat up olive oil and stir in your minced garlic and spices. Allow the mixture to bubble, then proceed by adding your chopped onion. Allow onion to sauté for a few minutes, then add your carrots, mushrooms, kale, tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Stir well. Let mixture come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover half way with a lid. Allow stew to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once your 30 minutes is up, add in the navy beans. Allow them to marinate in stew for 1-2 minutes, then remove stew from heat. Garnish as desired (with herbs, spices, grated cheese, etc). Serve stew alone, or alongside your favorite grain or slice of hearty bread.