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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cooking for your Heart: Yosemite Chicken Stew and Dumplings

I love to cook. No, I mean, I really do love to cook. The process, the satisfaction of a home cooked meal—there is nothing else like it in my mind. I'm an especially big fan of cooking everything from scratch. No short-cuts for this girl!

The main reason I make everything from scratch is all of those pesky ingredients on the labels of so many foods. They often contain so many un-pronounceable words, tons and tons of additives and preservatives, and more sodium then anyone really needs. That's why to me it is so worth it to take the time to cook from scratch when the result is food that tastes amazing, and is so much better for your heart.

My family learned the hard way when at 52 years old, my father was told that he needed a quintuple bypass surgery. His doctor told him that if he didn't drastically change his lifestyle, particularly his eating habits, he would not to be around to see his children get married or meet his grandkids. His own father (my grandfather) died of a massive heart attack at the age of 59 and never lived to meet his grandkids, so naturally this was a huge wake up call for him and my whole family. We immediately started to make changes in the way that we ate and as a result, my father is healthier now than he was 10 years ago when he had his surgery. He was there when my brother and I graduated college, got engaged, married and bought our first homes. (No grandkids yet, but we keep telling him there is no rush since he's going to live to be 100.)

So, with my family's history of heart disease in mind, I am always on the hunt for heart-healthy from-scratch recipes. Naturally when I found out that The Heart Truth has a recipe resource online and a cookbook, I had to check it out! Now, once a week I will be sharing my adventures in the kitchen with you and cooking up some heart-healthy goodness!

This week's recipe was inspired by a friend of mine who visited us last weekend. She teaches kids about nature and science in Yosemite National Park, so when I hosted a potluck in her honor, I thought Yosemite Chicken Stew & Dumplings would be the perfect dish to serve. It was absolutely delicious! The cornmeal dumplings really did make it the perfect meal, and with very little oil or salt, it was a super healthy and nutritious too! Here's how you make it (I made a few substitutions which are noted with an *, I also made a double batch to serve 12):

Yosemite Chicken Stew & Dumplings (serves 6):

For the stew:
-1 lb skinless, boneless chicken meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
-1/2 C onion, coarsely chopped *(Used 1 whole small onion—about ¾ cup)
-1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced *(I doubled the carrots)
-1 stalk celery, thinly sliced *(I doubled the celery)
-1/4 tsp salt to taste black pepper
-1 pinch ground cloves
-1 bay leaf
-3 C water
-1 tsp cornstarch
-1 tsp dried basil
-1 package (10 oz) frozen peas
For the cornmeal dumplings:
-1 C yellow cornmeal
-3/4 C sifted all-purpose flour *(I used whole wheat)
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 C low-fat (1%) milk *(I used Soy Milk)
-1 Tbsp vegetable oil *(I used Canola oil)

For the stew:
  1. Place chicken, onion, carrot, celery, salt, pepper, cloves, bay leaf, and water in a large saucepan.  Heat to boiling; cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook about 1/2 hour or until chicken is tender.
  2. Remove chicken and vegetables from broth. Strain broth.
  3. Skim fat from broth; measure and, if necessary, add water to make 3 cups liquid.
  4. Mix cornstarch with 1 cup cooled broth by shaking vigorously in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  5. Pour into saucepan with remaining broth; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.
  6. Add basil, peas, and reserved vegetables to sauce; stir to combine.
  7. Add chicken and heat slowly to boiling while preparing cornmeal dumplings.
For the dumplings:
  1. Sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix together milk and oil. Add milk mixture all at once to dry ingredients; stir just enough to moisten flour and evenly distribute liquid. Dough will be soft.
  3. Drop by full tablespoons on top of braised meat or stew. Cover tightly; heat to boiling. Reduce heat (do not lift cover) to simmering and steam about 20 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings--Serving size: 1-1/4 cup stew with 2 dumplings
Each serving provides:
Calories: 307
Total fat: 5 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 43 mg
Sodium: 471 mg

Happy Heart Healthy Cooking!

- Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich
  Jimmy Beans Wool
  Social Media and Marketing Team

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