When someone tells me they have a healthier version of a favorite comfort food, I’m often a little skeptical. Aren’t you?
Her goal is to give people lots of options for eating well even when time is tight. Her definition of healthy is “whatever makes my body feel the most vibrant and free of symptoms and ailments.” For her, that means a paleo diet full of vegetables, fruits and “good-quality” proteins. She avoids grains, dairy, beans, additives, seed oils and processed sugars.
I can get on board with processed sugars, but the others are part of the way I eat, and I want that variety. (Yes, I eat some additives, too, including MSG!) Still, I do try to cut down on sodium. (I noticed Walker suggests coconut aminos in her stir-fry sauce recipes, and while I usually can’t be happy with cauliflower rice, I can mix some into my regular rice to get vegetables and cut the carbs.)
I learned a lot by reading through her cookbook of building-block sauces and condiments and by exploring the various ways she addresses making substitutions without sacrificing flavor and texture.
When I saw she had a fresh take on beef stroganoff, I jumped on it. This is a dish I love but haven’t made in years. Walker has fond feelings for it as well. When she was a child, her mother made it using Hamburger Helper and then added both sour cream and canned cream of mushroom soup, which were ingredients common to her mom’s everyday casseroles.
Walker still craves her mother’s one-pot meals, so she re-created this one, which has become a favorite among her readers, she said. She claims it is even easier to make than her mother’s version. She offers multicooker versions that allow you to go the Instant Pot route or the slow cooker path. We tested both.
Work your way through the recipe and you’ll see that Walker suggests ghee or avocado oil as the fat in the dish. Because I eat dairy, it’s easy for me to simply use 1/3 cup of sour cream, but she also recommends dairy-free heavy (or sour) cream. If you don’t want to use a nondairy product, she suggests this option as well: Omit the sour cream and in its place add 2 1/4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and 1 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar when you add the broth. Whisk 1/4 cup unsweetened raw cashew butter with the arrowroot or cornstarch and water. I tried it in the Instant Pot version and it worked just fine, too.
She also recommends serving the rich, meaty stew with cauliflower rice, grain-free noodles or roasted potatoes. You’re free to do that, but I knew my craving would not be satiated by anything other than egg noodles. You’ll see the nutritional analysis offers versions with and without the noodles, so you can decide which vegetable or starch makes the most sense for you.
Cooking, like life, is all about choices.
Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
We tested this recipe in a 6-quart Instant Pot and a slow cooker.
To use a slow cooker: Brown the meat and onion on the stovetop, then transfer them to the slow cooker. Increase the broth to 1 1/4 cups, add all of the remaining ingredients except the sour cream mixture, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Stir in the sour cream mixture and continue as directed. (If you want your slow-cooked sauce thicker, you can transfer it to the stovetop before adding the sour cream mixture. Place it in a pan over medium-high heat and cook it, stirring frequently, until it thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.)
Note: Coconut aminos, a brown liquid seasoning made from the fermented sap of the coconut palm blossom, is gluten- and soy-free. If you don’t have coconut aminos, you can use soy sauce or simply omit.
Storage: Refrigerate the stroganoff and noodles separately for up to 4 days.
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- 2 tablespoons ghee, avocado oil or another neutral oil
- 1 small yellow onion (5 ounces), diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt, divided
- 3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup no-salt-added beef broth, plus more as needed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos (optional; see NOTE)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup sour cream (may substitute dairy-free sour cream)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Cooked egg noodles, cauliflower rice, rice or boiled potatoes, for serving
Set a programmable multicooker (such as an Instant Pot) to SAUTE. Let the pot heat for 2 minutes, then add the ghee or oil, onion and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and saute until the onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Season the beef all over with the remaining salt and the pepper. Working in batches, add the meat to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. As each batch browns, transfer it to a clean plate. When all the meat is browned, press the CANCEL button.
Return the browned meat and any accumulated juices to the pot and add the mushrooms, broth, garlic, coconut aminos, if using, and thyme, and stir until combined. Make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select PRESSURE (HIGH) and set to 20 minutes. (It may take about 5 minutes for the appliance to come to pressure before cooking begins.)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, arrowroot or cornstarch, and water.
After 20 minutes, release the pressure manually by moving the pressure-release handle to vent, covering your hand with a towel or oven mitt. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Stir in the sour cream mixture, return the pot to SAUTE and bring the sauce to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and is creamy, adding more broth if desired, 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the appliance off and serve over the desired grain or starch.
Per serving (1 1/4 cups plus 3/4 cups noodles) based on 8.
Calories: 469; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 151 mg; Sodium: 747 mg; Carbohydrates: 37 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 44 g
Per serving (1 1/4 cups) based on 8.
Calories: 303; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 116 mg; Sodium: 741 mg; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 39 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
Adapted from “Healthy in a Hurry” by Danielle Walker (Penguin Random House, 2022).
Tested by Ann Maloney and Suzy Leonard; email questions to email@example.com.
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