Instant Pot Lamb Stew
Celebrate spring with this quick-and-easy lamb stew that's packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats from olive oil.
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Lamb is a wonderful source of protein that also happens to contain a fair amount of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Plus, it makes a fabulous stew!
This one is a classic cultural mashup of Irish stew with Indian notes thanks to the curry powder. I especially love the inclusion of the apple, a flavor treat that adds just the right touch of unexpected sweetness. The low-calorie vegetables add to the volume without piling on the calories, making this a nutritionally dense dish that offers a heck of a lot of nutrition without breaking the caloric budget. And the puréed chickpeas not only provide a generous helping of fiber (12.5 grams per cup) and protein (14.5 grams), but they also give this delicious stew a satisfying density.
If you’re wondering about the difference between lamb and spring lamb, it’s all about age. A lamb is any sheep under 12 months of age (older than that, it’s mutton). But a spring lamb is slaughtered at only three months, and the meat is remarkably tender with a milder taste. Lamb in general is considered to be at its peak from May through June, though as the season progresses, a richer flavor develops.
Back in the “olden” days of the 1950s, people had family doctors, and those doctors made house calls. Often, when we had minor symptoms, we’d call the doctor—who would actually answer his phone—and describe them. The standard advice for all but the worst emergencies was: “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Time, sleep, and aspirin made an awful lot of things get better all by themselves.
The modern version of that tried-and-true medical advice might well be: “Take ¼ cup a day of extra virgin olive oil and call me in a few days.”
In the many years I’ve been writing columns for Better Nutrition, I’ve probably written thousands of words about olive oil. It’s certainly been featured in this column before, and I suspect, will be again. That’s because this amazing oil—which I consider to be as close to a “medicine” as we’re likely to find in the food kingdom—continues to dazzle us with its resume of health benefits.
The published literature on olive oil is so extensive that listing all the studies here seems redundant. It’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and is associated with lower risks of heart disease and stroke. Real, extra-virgin olive oil is one food that virtually everyone on the spectrum of nutritional opinions—from vegan to carnivore—agrees is one of the healthiest foods (and one of the healthiest fats) you can eat.
But is it powerful enough to actually be medicinal? Could olive oil be part of a treatment plan to lower heart disease risk?
My cardiologist certainly thought so. And now, so do I. When my NMR cholesterol test showed a very high number of lipoproteins—a definite risk factor for heart disease—my cardiologist and I mapped out a plan that included, at his insistence, the following instructions: Take ¼ cup of olive oil every day.
My numbers have since come down, and while that’s no doubt due to a combination of things, there’s very little doubt in my mind that the olive oil prescription was a big part of it. I continue to take it every day as part of my personal supplement program, and use it every chance I get.