Quick, clean eating: Prepare food ahead for easy, healthy meals

Barbara Hineline, chef and owner of Fit Food in Winchester, prepares vegetables for use in a beef stew recipe she made in front of seniors attending the Senior Choices seminar at the Woodstock Moose last week. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Making healthy food can be accomplished with only a few ingredients and minimal time.

Chef Barbara Hineline, owner of Fit Food in Winchester, demonstrated how to make a healthy beef stew base and roux at the Senior Choices seminar held last week at the Woodstock Moose Lodge, and added rice pudding for a dessert.

“The focus of what I do is healthy cooking,” she said. “And I like to say it’s nutritious, fresh, creative.”

She takes the basic foods people are used to eating and makes them healthy. She said she creates food for “clean eating” that is “eating all natural ingredients, versus in a bag, in a box, frozen.”

“It’s never too late to learn something new,” she said.

Barbara Hineline prepares the base sauce for her beef stew recipe. Rich Cooley/Daily

She demonstrated to the seminar attendees how to make two bases for beef stew.

She said she likes to cook “from the bottom up” by creating the flavoring in the pan.

She started by using the mirepoix technique that uses a combination of fresh onions, celery and carrots to create a basic sauté.

“That’s just the basic sauté with salt and pepper, you can add garlic if you want, just to get that flavor started,” she added.

To create the base, heat oil in a saucepan, cut the vegetables, sauté in a skillet and add salt and pepper for seasoning.

Sauté until the flavor builds and can be added to the stew.

“So you don’t have to cook it until it’s wilted away,” she said. “You can leave it a little al dente, or a little crispy because it’s going to continue to cook in the broth.”

She said this base can be used for many other meals, including chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie.

“The three of those flavors together bring a lot to the dish,” she added.

Next she demonstrated how to make a roux that will become the base for the beef stew, or the gravy.

The roux is equal parts flour and fat, she said.

She said for the fat portion, you can use the drippings from meat or use butter. Don’t use margarine, she said.

“Butter is a clean food and is good for you in moderation,” she added.

Whisk the flour and fat in a skillet and add beef stock to the mixture. The resulting sauce can be thickened to your liking.

To finish out the beef stew, sauté the beef and combine it with the base and the roux and put it in the oven or continue to cook on the stovetop.

She said making a dish doesn’t have to be complicated. Prep the vegetables beforehand or buy pre-cut vegetables from the store.

“If you are going to cook, you want it to be enjoyable,” she said.

After finalizing the beef stew, she made a quick rice pudding.

“It’s good for you, you can use brown rice if you want,” she said. “It’s simple, it’s easy. It’s four ingredients. In the oven it goes. No fuss. It’s the easiest thing you can do.”

Combine uncooked rice, milk, sugar or a sugar substitute, cinnamon and vanilla. She added that the rice can be brown rice but not instant rice. The pudding takes one cup of rice to two cups of liquid, she said.

Stir the ingredients together and bake in the oven for 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Extras can be added for additional flavoring, such as an orange, almond or lemon extracts.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com