Healthified Slow Cooker Beef Stew {Recipe}

It seems like most beef stews are thought of as heavy and unhealthy. I’m hoping this recipe offers another possibility – a healthified beef stew with brownie points for ease of preparation thanks to the use of a slow cooker.

Healthified Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe

I don’t know about you, but this is the time of the year where I want to curl up on my couch with the softest, fuzziest blanket I own and a good book. WIth a delicious dinner slowly simmering away, filling the whole house with the smell of coziness. Because coziness totally has a distinct smell, of course.

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This beef stew would really fit the bill for such a winter afternoon. And it’s not so much that I lightened this recipe up a bunch, though it is light on added fat (cooking oil). I just added plenty of vegetables and then threw in a bonus bunch of kale to amp things up. I’ve never seen a beef stew made with greens, but it seemed like the perfect addition to me.

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{Photo tip – fill slow cooker with water to the bottom of the top level of vegetables}

I tried making this first as instructed below. On the second batch, I tried coating the beef with flour before sautéing it, but I really didn’t like how that version turned out. I thought the flour would give the beef a nice crust and help thicken the broth, but it seemed to do neither. Batch #1 was the winner!

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Healthified Slow Cooker Beef Stew {Recipe}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Beef stew doesn’t need to be heavy and unhealthy or difficult to make. This version is lighter with the addition of extra vegetables and is a cinch to prepare and cook thanks to the slow cooker.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1-2 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1½ pound stew beef
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to season beef
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more to season beef
  • 4 medium/large red potatoes, peeled if desired, cut into large pieces (about 1″)
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • water
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves torn into small pieces (about 1″ in size)
  • 2-4 tablespoons cornstarch, optional (to thicken)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat a large pan over medium heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. When pan is ready, add 1 tablespoon oil (use a wooden spoon to ensure it coats the full bottom of the pan) and in two batches (or more, depending on how the beef fits – make sure it’s not crowded in the pan), cook the beef to brown on at least two sides, about 8-10 minutes per batch. When the first batch is done, add the cooked beef to the slow cooker. Add additional oil to the pan, if needed, and cook the next batch. When the last batch is done, add ¼ cup water to the pan and scrape up the brown bits. Pour the beef and liquid into the slow cooker.
  2. Add potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and stir a little. Fill slow cooker with water until it just reaches the bottom of the top level of vegetables. (NOT covering the whole top with water)
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat is tender to your liking.
  4. Stir in kale, re-cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and tender.
  5. Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and stir until the mixture is evenly combined. Stir cornstarch slurry into the stew. Repeat until the stew is thickened to your liking. Note: there may be some variation on how much cornstarch is needed depending on how much water you add to the slow cooker earlier in the recipe.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
If you add too much water prior to cooking, you may have a tough time thickening up this stew. Some people prefer their beef stew more on the liquidy side, anyways, so that may work in your favor.

You can substitute beef broth for some of your water when filling the slow cooker, if you want a richer flavor.

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And since this recipe does have meat in it, did you guys see this article about PETA going after a sustainable butcher in Chicago? I think this quote sums up my sentiments:

“Publican is a shining, tasty example of how to do meat right if you don’t happen to be a vegetarian or vegan. PETA should be high-fiving them and spending its money going after the REAL villains: the factory-farming industrial meat companies.”

Hope you all stay happily snuggled up this winter! Thanks for stopping by!

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