hearty & warming lamb stew (with a slow cooking option)

January and February period I would say it’s the coldest in Scotland. Temperature doesn’t get very low in the city, but on the days when it’s very windy or wet, temperature around 0℃ might feel like good -6℃. It’s still not extremely cold, comparing to other European countries, but if you get used to milder Winters, even humid and windy 5℃ feels like freezing. On the days like this your body needs a hearty meal, full of warming spices and colourful veggies that will cheer you up – both your body and your soul.

According to my old book about Five Elements Theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine lamb belongs to the element of Fire. It has a warming effect, enhance energy, warms up internally and strengthens the body. It is often used in case of severe weakness or hypothermia. It is recommended for kidney failure causing back pain, impotence, cold, deficiency states, postpartum blood loss, lack of milk (especially lamb broth). If you have problems with bones, spine, knees or tendons, you should be reaching for lamb when preparing your meat meals.

I have to say that lamb is still not the meat I often reach for. I’m not a fan of the taste, but my partner really likes it , so when I prepare lamb it’s usually just for him. That’s a shame, because here in Scotland lamb is very popular and widely available. Maybe someday I’ll convince myself to eat lamb. Meat, thanks to its specific nature, prepared in the right way, is not only a source of protein and B vitamins, it also provides a lot of energy.

In cold climates, meat consumption appeared to be necessary. People living in temperate and cold climate have always had access to meat, which was the basis of their food. Once upon a time, the kitchen was much simpler, based on seasonal products found in a given climate. The staple of the diet in regions where it is cold most of the year, there were warm and cooked dishes. Sweets were a luxury, and the fruit was available only in season. Nowadays, we have access to all fruits and vegetables, regardless of the season and climate. Is that okay? Certainly very convenient – in the middle of winter, we can eat tropical fruits that are not available in our region or those that grow out of season in specially prepared tents.

Is it healthy?

I will leave this question open, you can try to answer it yourself. However, I recommend you to do a test, and if you live in a cold climate like me and you are in the middle of winter, do a little experiment. On a cold winter morning, just after getting up from under the warm and fluffy duvet, eat a large juicy orange or a few tangerines (or drink a glass of orange juice straight from the fridge). Try to perceive how your body feels, feel your throat, stomach – how has it reacted? Do you feel nice and warm inside? Or you feel like you want to come back to your bed straight away?

I know that a lot of vegetarians and vegans will be in a huff over eating meat, and I had my time of not eating meat as well. I would like not to eat meat, for sure it would be better for animals and my wallet. But as long as I live in a cold climate I can’t imagine myself eating only veggies or being on raw vegan diet, that is very popular right now. As long as you live in warmer climate, with hot and dry Summer and warm and mild Winter, go ahead! I would be happy to join you. But if I would eat only vegan or raw I would literally freeze. As I keep repeating – each body is different and has different needs, that’s why it’s so important to listen to your gut and find what’s best for you. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine each body has it’s own nature, and like five elements there’s five body types;

Yang: hot body type – if you often feel hot, have a dry mouth and love drinking cold drinks, you’re also sensitive to high temperatures.

Yin: cold body type – if you tend to feel cold very often, you prefer warm food and drinks and you feel better in warmer temperatures.

Phlegm: damp body type – if you have a sweet-tooth, tend to easily overweight and have water retention.

Dry body type – you often experience dry eyes, dry throat, lips and all over skin. You feel like you need to hydrate yourself constantly.

Neutral body type – lucky you – if you don’t experience any of these and you feel fine in any weather conditions.

So based on that, plant based and raw diet will be the best for people who has a hot body type. Especially if you live in a hot climate that affects you. I’m definitely a cold body type, so all the tropical fruits and veggies (eating raw) that has a cooling nature makes me feel even more cold. And if a person with Yin body type choose to follow a vegan or raw vegan diet, their body isn’t able to absorb the enzymes properly – their organs don’t work as powerfully. Their body is left depleted of nutrients and energy from being overworked. So eating a raw vegan diet might not be beneficial to their health or even makes it worse. If I would like to follow vegan or raw vegan diet I would definitely add plenty spices to my meals, such as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, garlic and cumin. It would be best for to slightly cook or steam all of their vegetables rather than eat them raw. This would allow the body to properly digest the “cold” food.

I really encourage you to go deeper in this topic – you’ll find a lot of interesting informations about nature of food and even more about your body. By that time have a look at this delicious hearty lamb stew recipe.

If you follow low carb diet choose from veggies that have a lower carbohydrates content like: carrots, turnip, celeriac (all about 7g of carbs in 100g) or celery sticks (about 3g of carbs), also skip the flour in the recipe. For the rest of you who doest mind the carb intake, parsnips, potatoes or other root veggies will be a great addition to this stew.

hearty & warming lamb stew

INGREDIENTS (for about 2 quite big portions):

  • about 500g lamb (I had 3 chump chops)
  • 2 brown onions
  • handful of green pea
  • vegetables of your choice: for more low carb option choose – carrots, turnip (rutabaga), celeriac or celery sticks; for non keto: potatoes, parsnips will be also great. I used 3 carrots and 1 parsnip
  • 1 tbsp fat (goose, lard, duck)
  • about 200ml tomato passata (I used organic one)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • natural rock salt
  • pinch of coarse pepper
  • optionally: some plain flour
  • for garnish: fresh coriander or mint

DIRECTIONS (FOR SLOW COOKER OPTION ALSO)

Start preparing all the ingredients. Roughly chop two onions, peel, wash and chop your veggies in bits just a little bit less than 1 inch (2.5cm). We want nice chinks of veggies that wont be lost in the stew. Finley chop garlic cloves.

Chop lamb in about 1 inch (2.5cm) chunks. Sprinkle them with good pinch of salt and coarse pepper. If you’re making non keto stew toss them into plain flour, give it a good stir so the meat chunks cover in flour on every side. Remove the excess flour. We want only a little bit flour to thicken up the sauce.

Heat large frying pan with 1 tablespoon of fat of your choice. When it’s hot toss lamb pieces coated in flour and fry until golden on a large heat. Then add chopped onion and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Add all of the spices: garlic, bay leaves, paprika powder, chilli flakes, cinnamon, thyme. Fry for about a minute and add water to cover the meat.

SLOW COOKER DIRECTIONS

At this stage transfer everything from the pan to a slow cooker. Add all of your veggies and tomato passata, sprinkle with additional pinch of salt and cook for about 7-8 hours on “low” or about 4 hours on “high” setting.

OR CONTINUE COOKING ON THE STOVE

When you add water just to cover the meat, cover your pan with a lid and simmer on a low heat for about an hour. Keep an eye on it adding some more water if needed. After an hour add veggies. Simmer for about 20 minutes – veggies should be tender but still nice and firm. Also meat should be tender at this point. Add tomato passata, give it a good stir, check if it needs some more salt or chilli flakes, if you like it on the spicy side, and simmer for additional 10 minutes. If you added the flour you should get nice and thick sauce. If you’re on ketogenic or gluten free diet, your sauce will be more watery, but I think you’ve already got used to 😉

When you decide your stew is ready to eat garnish it with finely chopped coriander or mint and enjoy!

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