Eat– for Good Health

Wintertime in California is cool, and comfort meals are as popular here as anywhere else.  Eating comfort foods (that are prepared low calorie) aids the weight loss effort.  Like you busy people out there, I don’t have time to slave over the pot.

Cooking a meal to suit the entire family’s calorie needs is a challenge.  If anything, my tennis-playing CPA husband is trying to gain weight! (It’s tax season, and unlike many of us, stress makes the lucky guy lose weight.) The meal below could be 500 calories, BEEF STEW WITH POLENTA, just right for him.  It all depends on the portion. What I do to make it just right for me, a 5’5″ woman who wants to continue weighing 125 pounds, is to limit my beef stew serving to 3/4 cup and have a thin sliver of polenta.  Always, I serve a green salad at dinner.

Polenta Beef Stew

Ingredients to serve 8:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can beef broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 ounces boiling onions
  • 5 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 recipe Polenta, below
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste


1. Place flour, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a plastic bag. Add meat pieces, a few at a time, shaking to coat. In a Dutch oven brown meat, half at a time, in hot oil; drain fat. Return all meat to Dutch oven; add chopped onion, dried rosemary (if using), and garlic. Cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in broth and wine. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1-1/2 hours.

2. Stir in boiling onions and carrot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes more or until meat and vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, prepare Polenta.

3. Just before serving, stir parsley and tomato paste into stew. Serve stew with Polenta.

4. Makes 8 servings (about 7 cups)

Directions for making polenta:

In a large saucepan bring 3 cups milk just to a simmer over medium heat. In a medium bowl combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir cornmeal mixture slowly into hot milk. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring occasionally. (If mixture is too thick, stir in additional milk.)


19 thoughts on “Eat– for Good Health

  1. Friends, we don’t go through life without suffering in some way. Things we confront make us anywhere from stressed to downright blue. We also know the soothing power of comfort food. What comes to your mind– macaroni and cheese, cupcakes, or just wonderful home cooking? High calories don’t undo the stress. Except for comfort food such as cupcakes, we can enjoy comfort food when we limit portions. We want the long term goal of being at the healthiest weight for our body structure.

  2. Janessa Breckinridge

    Your beef stew with polenta looks delicious. Good to know we don’t have to sabotage ourselves while pleasing the family with a delicious home cooked “non diety” meal.

  3. Kathleen Rowland

    Janessa, our husbands don’t like to go on diets with us. Rather, they don’t like to think they are! Actually, I try to hide this fact in public.

  4. Mary Alice Tallmadge

    Hey Janessa and Kathleen, fifteen years ago when I lost a foot to a propeller, I was so depressed, I gained twenty pounds. I didn’t know where to begin until I started swimming. What a healer that was. My body wanted to lose weight before my mind did. My brain still liked burgers and fried onion rings! I gained even more weight, not caring, until logic set in.

  5. Kathleen Rowland

    Mary Alice, losing a foot was a painful time for you. That moment with a drunken driver at the wheel of a boat changed your life in the blink of an eye.

  6. Mary Alice Tallmadge

    Janessa, that feeling that God was with me gave me real spirit. I hadn’t been a church goer until that time, but my boyfriend Rob Rowland was.

  7. Kathleen Rowland

    Pinky, I don’t, and I believe it’s because I didn’t eat them for a very long time and my taste buds forgot about them. I get my sweet tooth satisfied with (starting with plain fat free) yogurt parfaits, made at home with added fresh fruit and a sweetener packet. Sometimes I add a squirt of (fat free low sugar) Redi-wip.

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