Invariably, the onset of cold weather leads Marnina and I (and probably most everyone else) to crave certain foods. Cold smoothies, garden vegetable dishes, and fish with a glass of white wine are replaced with warm soups, hearty chili, red wine and stews. This week, Marnina and I were in the mood for a filling stew that would last us the week – we often spend a large chunk of Sunday night slaving away in the kitchen to prepare our lunches and dinners for the upcoming week. Marnina had picked out a winter veggie stew with Moroccan spices, and after shopping for all the root veggies (we even found some purple carrots!), we were ready to begin the stew…until we realized that the recipe called for a Dutch oven…a tool that we did not have. Instead, we used a large cooking pot that would accommodate all the ingredients, but also require more work to ensure that the stew was evenly seasoned.
The large dose of root vegetables (and therefore large dose of fiber) in this recipe may scare off some IBDers, but some IBD sufferers are able to handle a modest amount of these types of veggies – as the saying goes, moderation is key! And what makes root veggies especially friendly for someone with IBD is that they can be pureed, mashed, or cooked to death and they will most likely maintain their natural sweetness. They also make fantastic soups (hence our carrot soup for the soul). For this recipe, we cooked the stew for an extra 10-15 minutes to make the veggies Marnina-friendly.
Despite the relatively high soluble fiber of root vegetables, as long as they are peeled and cooked enough they will most likely be broken down/digested in the GI tract. Insoluble fibers are found in the skins of most veggies and fruits, veggies such as cabbage and corn, as well as certain grains (i.e. wheat bran). Insoluble fiber is generally bad for IBD sufferers because this type of fiber passes through the GI tract without being digested and has a tendency to stick to the walls of the intestines and cause inflammation. In turn, this will irritate the intestines and aggravate one’s IBD condition. If you can see undigested matter in the stool this is most likely insoluble fiber.
The soluble fiber content of food also affects the glycemic index value of foods. In general, soluble fibrous foods are complex carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic index, meaning they slow the rate at which blood accepts the blood glucose that is formed from digested sugars and starches. Therefore, fiber helps control the rise of blood sugar in one’s body after a meal. This leads to lower blood sugar and less insulin spikes.
There are many flavors that pair well with root veggies – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg come to mind at first, but honey and molasses also enhance root veggies’ natural sweetness. In this particular recipe, the sweetness of the butternut squash and root veggies blended well with the Moroccan spices, and after serving the stew over couscous, we had a delicious meal to last us until well…I am eating the last remaining forkfuls for lunch today!
Moroccan Winter Vegetable Stew
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped (1/2 inch) peeled butternut squash
1 cup chopped (1/2 inch) carrot
1 cup chopped (1/2 inch) turnip
1 cup chopped (1/2 inch) parsnip
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes
2 cups diced (1/2 inch) onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 fresh lemon cut into 4 wedges
1) Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat and add onions. Cook until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the spices including the salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
2) Add the squash, carrot, turnip, parsnip, tomatoes and ½ cup of water. Cover and cook over medium low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes, adding more water if the mixture looks dry. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add the cilantro. Serve with the lemon wedges. Serves 4.
Adapted from: Fast & Fresh Vegetarian by Marie Simmons
American Dietetic Association. Health implications of dietary fiber – – Position of the ADA. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1997; 97:1157-1159 1997.