Beef and Barley Stew


Howdy from home! :D

I flew in from LA late Friday night, so Ben and I spent the entire day yesterday unpacking, bumming around and catching up. I cough didn’t leave the house all day cough, while he only ventured out to pick up Jimmy John’s for dinner, and Bridesmaids as our evening entertainment.


OMG it was JUST as hilarious the second time around! I laughed out loud the entire time, while Ben just laughed at me…and built us a fire.


I ordered it extra roaring. :)


Before I get to the cozy dinner I simmered up this evening, I wanted to recap my final day at the Dole Healthy Bloggers Summit (gahhh as I sit here eating leftover Halloween candy…!)


Anyways, on the final morning of the summit, our Dole hosts and us bloggers had a roundtable discussion of some of our favorite healthy weight loss apps, tools and tips. Here are some of my faves:

Healthy Weight Loss Apps & Tools:

Meal Snap App. Take a picture of your meal and the app will tell you how many calories are in your meal. Apparently it’s pretty accurate!

PaceMaker App. Set a target running or walking pace on the app and if you fall below or go above, a voice will tell you to speed up or slow down.

Fitbit Tracker. This tiny tracker clips on your pants or bra and tracks steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. It wirelessly syncs to where you can track your weight loss and progress!

Healthy Weight Loss Tips

  • Eat almonds. A recent study showed that obese women who added 2oz of almonds to their diet a day and made no other changes, lost weight.
  • If it doesn’t come from the ground, don’t eat it as a snack during the day.
  • Get more nutrients and healthy vegetables by adding them to green smoothies.
  • Fill 3/4 of your plate with veggies and the remaining with meat/protein.
  • Eat slowly and eliminate distractions like television when sitting down to a meal. You will be able to more easily recognize when you are full and stop eating.
  • Challenge yourself to take 5 minutes to eat one small piece of dark chocolate. Normally in that time I would have eaten 5!

Interesting Studies Shared by Dole:

Stuff Yourself Thin with Volumetrics

Volumetrics is about choosing more high-volume, high-fiber, high-water content foods, like fruits and vegetables, and fewer energy-dense foods that pack lots of calories into little packages, like butter, sugar and junk food. Because foods in the former category happen to be packed with lots of nutrients, and those in the latter tend toward empty calories and excess salt, getting into this kind of eating habit will not only help you lose weight, but lower disease risk as well.

In a study of nearly 100 obese women, the volumetrics group – those encouraged to eat more fruits, vegetables, soups, whole grains, etc – ate more food by weight than another group told to cut back on portion size, yet ended up losing 33% more weight.

Surprising Vinegar Benefits

Arizona State researchers found that when dieters ate a high glycemic index meal accompanied by 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water, there was a 54% reduction in the amount of sugar that made it into the blood (when compared to eating the meal with water only). Not only did the vinegar affect how the body processed carbohydrates, it seems to have increased satiety as well, and the vinegar drinkers ended up consuming up to 275 fewer calories throughout the day.

Restaurant Diners Using Small Forks Ate 56% More

University of Utah conducted a field study in a popular Italian restaurant, in which 98 university students of both genders were provided a pre-weighed plate of food of their choosing off the menu. Some students were given a large fork (which fully loaded held 20% more food by weight), while others were supplied a smaller fork. The results: big fork diners left 179% more food on their plates! In other words, they ate 44% less weight than their small-fork counterparts.

By the way, I am officially crossing #4 off my 30 Things Before 30 list, as I got to meet Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake at the summit!


I was an awkward goober upon meeting her, per usual, as CNC was one of the very first blogs I ever started reading, and is a big reason why I started IGE. She is super chill AND ran the NYC marathon today. Go Tina! :D


I was also pumped to see Monica from Run, Eat, Repeat at the summit, as we met at BlogHer this summer. Let’s be real though – I loved meeting ALL the women in attendance. Three cheers for blogger buddies, and a HUGE thank you to Dole for an unforgettable time in LA!


Spending a few days in Cali has left me feeling very refreshed and inspired in the health department, but my meat and potatoes husband requested, well, meat & potatoes for dinner tonight. I satisfied both of our appetites by making healthified Beef & Barley Stew!

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This thick, hearty, man-approved meal is made healthy by using lean stew meat and simmering it in low-sodium chicken broth with TONS of veggies. You’ll see!

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I started with the aforementioned stew meat.


There was barely any fat on this meat to begin with, so I just trimmed it up a tiny bit then seasoned with pepper and coated the meat in flour.

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After browning it in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, I added fragrant veggies like carrots, onions and garlic.



I loathe cooked carrots except when I cut them myself and add them to soups or stews. This is the only way!!


Next, savory spices like parsley & thyme are added in. The layers of flavor built in the soup from the pepper, carrots, onions and seasonings allow you to cut back on the amount of salt used.

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After the carrots and onions sweat, low-sodium chicken broth is poured in, a lid is placed on top of the pot, and the whole mixture simmers for 45 minutes.


Next comes the goods. Mushrooms (which I picked out of my bowl, natch,)


White and sweet potatoes (I actually used a white sweet potato since Ben doesn’t like sweet potatoes. He had no idea they were in there! ;) )


Pureed Roma tomatoes,


and barley.


I heart barley, and it’s good for lowering cholesterol. Win!


After another long simmer, the stew with thick and silky, while the veggies and meat were super tender.


Frozen peas, Ben’s favorite, were stirred in at the end.


This bowl was like a big hug. :) I will totally make it again this winter!

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Ben scooped up every last bit up from his bowl, and I did too.

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I followed this recipe and added 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in the beginning to brown the meat in. Other than that – no changes. It was divine!

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Off to go cozy up to another fire and watch Once Upon a Time. Have you seen that show yet? It’s a modern take on classic fairytales and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. Tonight will probably decide it for me. :)

Have a great night, and happy Sunday!


What are your favorite ways to “sneak” extra veggies into you and/or your family’s diet? Green smoothies? Grated into soups/stews? Pureed and added into baked goods?

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  1. Foodiku 11.06.2011

    Forgive me, but I find it both hilarious and disturbing that you were eating Jimmy John’s and watching Bridesmaids . . . considering that very last scene.

    As for veggies, we’re still figuring that one out. We buy a lot of the frozen Bird’s Eye stuff though and just eat the veggies straight.

  2. I watched Bridesmaids again this weekend too. I think it was almost better this time around! I tried pureeing some butternut squash into macaroni and cheese. I think its delicious… we will see if my boyfriend agrees:)

  3. Lauren 11.06.2011

    I thought the same thing about Tina when I met her this past August. So down to earth and totally chill. :)

    It sounds like the conference was a blast! So glad you had a great time.

  4. Alyssa 11.06.2011

    Best way to pack veggies into your diet is by adding whatever veggies you love to scrambled eggs or omlettes. It’s a good balance of protein and vitamin packed vegetables (I add spinach usually) and eat it with some variety of wheat toast or with oatmeal for a grain.

  5. Alyssa 11.06.2011

    Best way to pack veggies into your diet is by adding whatever veggies you love to scrambled eggs or omlettes. It’s a good balance of protein and vitamin packed vegetables (I add spinach usually) and also some variety of wheat toast or with oatmeal for a grain.

  6. I have still yet to see bridesmaids and I’m just dying to!!

    It looks like you had a blast at Dole..I love all of the health tips.

    As for sneaking veggies into my meals..spinach is my go-to. I love sauteeing a huge pile of it and throwing it into pasta, tossing it into smoothies, or just eating a pile of it for a salad!

  7. Allyson Jo 11.06.2011

    I love Bridesmaids! You are so lucky regarding getting to go on these trips! I love California! I usually have my vegetables for dinner!

  8. Dawn Marie 11.06.2011

    You were literally across the freeway from my house if you were at Dole headquarters in WLV.

  9. Dawn Marie 11.06.2011

    Seriously, right across the free from me! LOL 2 minutes.

  10. Dawn Marie 11.06.2011

    I can’t get over that hotel, its kind of a joke around here cause it is so nice and across from Costco and a graveyard! That graveyard is where lots of famous people are buried, like OJs wife. Yikes.

    They always send me deals, just can’t get myself to go there!

  11. what a cozy dinner! i’m gravy meals like this as the temps get colder and the days get shorter.

    i sneak in veggies by stirring extra spinach into almost anything — pasta, soup, stir fry, rice. you name it!

  12. Wow, I would have never guessed that about the forks! Weird! Maybe I should make sure I only eat with the big forks from now on : )

  13. Jeri 11.06.2011

    I absolutely LOVE Once Upon a Time!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! I hope you like it, too. The one I’m having a hard time trying to decide on is Grimm. I can’t decide if it’s too scary for me or not. I might just have to watch it cuddled up with my husband.

  14. Julie 11.06.2011

    I love your blue dress you wore at the summit! Very cute, I love navy! And you’re totally righta bout Bridesmaids, I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard during a movie in my life.

  15. Your fire and soup make me ready for winter! This looks delicious…warm and cozy for nights in. I love simplicity :)

  16. I’m loving Once Upon a Time! Have you watched Grimm? It’s kind of similar, but a little darker I think. Basically if it involves fairy tales, I’ll watch it! Green smoothies are definitely my sneaky veggie snack of choice.

  17. Dee 11.06.2011

    I love Once Upon A Time!

  18. Dream Mom 11.07.2011

    First, I love Dole organic bananas which I get at WF. The flavor is AMAZING and once you have it, you won’t go back to buying just any other banana! I buy them every week!

    I like veggies and I have a green spinach smoothie every other day religiously (1 cup water, 1 frozen Dole organic banana, 1/2 cup chopped organic berries, 4 cups of organic spinach) but I put veggies in most everything. If I cook broccoli for dinner, I’ll make extra to use as a pizza topping the next day. Tonight I made spaghetti and meatballs (I eat meat only once a week) and put a cup of chopped zucchini in the water with the spaghetti. I add veggies (spinach or romaine) to all sandwiches and pretty much any where I can. I am trying to eat more raw vegetables. For salads, I use spinach, carrots, broccoli, red onions along with some fruit/nuts. I try to think in terms of micronutrients and try to incorporate little things to give me more nutrients, such as adding a clove of garlic or some onions to things.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip! Sounds like a wonderful conference!

  19. Megan 11.07.2011

    About a year ago we started trying to eat only protein & veggies with dinner. It was really hard for me at first, because so many of the recipes I grew up with and love contain bread, pasta, rice etc. But, almost a year later I’ll say it’s been really great! Instead of pasta filling up the bulk of the meal, you have to break out more veggies to have a full plate! It makes our meals very simple, since we usually just pick a protein & dig through the fridge & freezer for vegetables. My husband works out over lunch everyday and he’s noticed a big difference in pounds lost / muscle gained. We still eat bread & pasta & cereal, but we keep it to early in the day.

    This recipe looks so yummy – a great alternative to regular stew.

  20. Ah, I do not like cooked carrots either–however, I love them raw!

  21. Amy 11.07.2011


    Your trip for the Dole blog deal sounds so cool. I love that you and Ben are all of a sudden using your fireplace……… happens, things that are available go unused sometimes, then are greatly appreciated………………..and I have to make that stew, looks amazing!!!

  22. Hope 11.07.2011

    I am dying to watch Bridesmaids! Kristen Wiig is one of my favorites. I really need to rent it already! :)

    Your dinner looks delicious! I love stews on a cold day. It’s so comforting. I’m going to have to try your recipe.

    I am hooked on Once Upon a Time! I absolutely love the fairytale concept of the show. The show moves really fast too so before you know it, it’s over! I’m really liking it. It’s unlike any other show on tv.

  23. mmm, that sounds great. i love barley but have been out awhile and haven’t bought a new box!

  24. Jess 11.07.2011

    I was so happy to see you and Carrots and Cake blog owner together :) I read both blogs religiously. It’s kind of odd/weird/dejavu-ish when you see a picture with two “famous” bloggers together.

  25. Kristin from MN 11.07.2011

    I love Once Upon a Time! I didn’t think I would but I am totally addicted. I also love love Revenge. Those are my two favorite shows right now, next to True Blood but I have to wait for next year to get my hands on Season 4.

  26. Brindi 11.07.2011

    I love Once Upon a Time!!!!

  27. Dannette 11.07.2011

    I could feel the warmth reading this post. I hope there was some cuddling for dessert! :)

    My husband loves marinara sauce with no meat…I buy the Bird’s Eye stir fry pepper mix and sneak that in for some extra veggies!

    I loathe cooked carrots as well so I love how you added those in! I’ll be stealing that!

  28. Tracy 11.07.2011

    Looks delicious. I’m definitely trying out!

    I grew up in the land of Hy-Vee, but now live in the Twin Cities where there are none (though there SHOULD be! I miss someone bagging my groceries for me). I LOVE all your photos with a Hy-Vee logo in them! Makes my day. :)

    • Megan 11.07.2011

      Haha – I did the opposite and found it so weird that I didn’t bag my own groceries! I would stand there, awkward, pretending to read the receipt, not sure what to do with myself. For many months I would “help out” bagging … and got looks from the employees. Now that I have a baby girl, I love that Fareway bags and brings to the car.

      • Iowa Girl Eats 11.07.2011

        I remember the first grocery shopping trip I took when I moved to Minnesota and I was like, ummm…is anybody going to help a sista out?! ;)

        • Jeri 11.08.2011

          I did the same thing. I kind of just stood there and realized everyone else was bagging their own groceries and I knew I HAD to find an easier way. I liked to shop at Kowalski’s, I could find all the rare items there and they bagged up my groceries!

          • My first grocery shopping trip in college (to Cub foods, in St Cloud) was with a bunch of gals from my dorm, including an awful girl named Karen. I paused, waited for the clerk to bag my groceries and she bust out laughing at me. And pointing! How rude. We never got along after that.

  29. My best trick is just to chop up LOADS of crudite at the weekend and then carry them into work with me to have as part of my lunch. Often that means I eat less ‘regular’ food (eg sandwich or soup) and it always means I get more veggies. I also like to cook foods like lasagne and stews, which are super easy to mix up with tons of spinach or kale and then EVERYTHING tastes good!!! xox

  30. I haven’t watched Bridesmaids yet, but it looks freaking hilarious!! My Mom was just telling me about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar over the weekend, guess it’s time for me to start adding that in to my days!

  31. EM 11.07.2011

    For sneaking in veggies I buy a variety of pasta made by Barilla that is made up of 25% vegetables. One is spinach-zucchini and the other is pumpkin-carrot. I have used it to make the one-pot macaroni and cheese that you posted awhile back. My veggie-loathing child only notices that noodles and cheese and doesn’t notice that the noodles contain veggie.

    I also make lots of pureed veggie soups– again since everything is blended together the veggie eater doesn’t notice the veg. Another favorite around here is risotto, which I make with pureed veg (I only use one veg– favorites are zucchini, pumpkin, and red beets.)

  32. Your dinner looks awesome!! I really hope to make that some time! I also need to watch bridesmaids. I’m having some major drama with my own bridesmaids, so I could use a good laugh. Why do people make weddings so stressful?

  33. I’m drooling..can’t wait to try that recipe :)

  34. Cindy D. 11.07.2011

    I had to laugh at the Dole recaps – I read mealsandmiles every day, just like IGE and it was hilarious to me to see you in Meghann’s pics and Meghann in yours! You’re in Iowa, she’s in Florida…yikes! The interwebs is so big, yet so small!

    Love reading daily, and beef and barley stew is going on the menu for next week!!

  35. Iowamom 11.07.2011

    I love that movie! Nothing but funny and gets funnier every time you watch it. We don’t have to sneak in veggies here. Hubby and I love them, kids love them so we’re so lucky.

  36. Lisa 11.07.2011

    I am so late to the party, I have not seen the movie yet! I need to get on that. Your pictures look especially stunning in this post; did you get a new camera???

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.08.2011

      I did! I got a new lens, but am still trying to figure it out, AND freaking figure out how to shoot now that it gets dark at 2pm! ;)

  37. The Dole Summit sounds like such a fun event. How cool that you got to meet some other really awesome bloggers. Thanks for providing a bunch of info and tips you learned while there. That Beef and Barley soup looks absolutely divine. I don’t eat beef but I have a feeling this would be equally tasty substituting seitan or tempeh in for the meat. I’ll let you know how it turns out after I make it.
    P.S. I nearly peed my pants a couple times watching Bridesmaids. I know some people don’t like poop humor, but I’m definitely not one of those people :)

  38. […] Iowa Girl Eats: Healthified Meat and Potatoes Meal […]

  39. Michele A. 11.10.2011

    Made this last night for my family (hubby & 2 teenage daughters) – and it was AWESOME! I substituted 1 can drained diced tomatoes (had no fresh on-hand), but everything else exactly as written.

    Thanks – I am passing this around to my friends! :)

  40. […] Run Eat Repeat including the Dole Healthy Lifestyle Summit, and two excellent reports by Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats. Kristin (Iowa Girl) and Crabby, Eating For the Thousandth Time That […]

  41. Diana 12.02.2011

    I made this last night and I loved it. I left out the mushrooms and used onion powder instead of onions (picky hubby who hates onions, but somehow onion powder is okay)

    Thanks for the great recipe! I can tell it will be a favorite this winter!

  42. […] about the Fitbit Ultra when some bloggers and I were talking about healthy weight loss tools at the Dole Healthy Bloggers Summit last […]

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