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At times eating right can be a challenge. With all the foods out there that taste so damn amazing, getting back to the basics can feel like a challenge. Like, what did people eat before white rice? Have you ever sat down to that steaming bowl of white fluffy rice and craved something else instead? I know I don’t. And when I make the decision to use brown rice or some other whole grain, it feels like a chore because nothing beats that bleached starchy goodness.

And when I sit down and over think it, I decide to challenge myself. I started looking up paleo recipes and clean recipes and realized that its not all that different from the foods I love, minus a few things. There is nothing like lean protein with tons of hearty root vegetables. The beef stew that I fell in love with was an autumn stew, but comfort like this knows no specific season. So, there.

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Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

• 1 lb / 454 g extra lean stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
• ¼ lb / 113 g low-sodium turkey bacon
• 1 cup / 240 ml chopped onion
• 2 cups / 480 ml low-sodium beef broth
• 2 cups / 480 ml apple cider
1 lb / 454 g diced white potatoes
• 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
• 1½ cups / 360 ml diced rutabaga
• 1 bay leaf
• ½ tsp / 2.5 ml dried rosemary, crumbled
• ½ tsp / 2.5 ml freshly ground black pepper
• 1 Tbsp / 15 ml freshly chopped parsley or dried parsley flakes (optional)
• 2 Tbsp / 30 ml whole wheat flour

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Preparation

Cook beef, turkey bacon and onions in a large skillet on medium heat until the beef is browned and bacon is cooked.

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Place in the slow cooker: beef, onions, bacon, onions, broth, apple cider, potatoes, carrots, celery, rutabaga, bay leaf, rosemary, pepper and parsley, if using. Cover and cook 7-9 hours on low.

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Combine flour with 2 Tbsp / 30 ml cold water to form a smooth mixture. Stir into mixture in slow cooker and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Serve.

I served this over some garlicky quinoa and ripe slices of avocado. This was amazing. I was a little unsure about cider in a beef stew but it really worked and gave the sauce a nice depth of flavor. As for the quinoa, it really didn’t hold up in the stew like rice, but I love the texture of quinoa so it was still tasty. And, avocado? always a win.

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