As the leaves turn and the temperatures start to drop, there is something special about walking in from the chill to a warm, aromatic meal waiting for you. A slow cooker (or pressure cooker if you’re pressed for time) can help you create healthy and delicious food without spending hours cooking once you get home from work. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Using a slow cooker is simple. As you can see with the recipes below, all you have to do is prep any ingredients called for, put them in the slow cooker, and turn it on. Depending on the recipe, 4-8 hours later you will have a delicious meal ready for you!
Here are some general tips for making your slow cooker meal as delicious as possible:
- Pay attention to size. Pick recipes that work with the size of your slow cooker. Make sure that you are not under- or overfilling it with food to ensure that it cooks properly. (It is recommended to avoid filling it more than 2/3 of the way full.) Take a minute to make sure the recipe you want to try works with the slow cooker size you have.
- Keep the lid on! While it can be tempting to remove the lid to check on a recipe, it is best to leave it be—this helps to keep the slow cooker’s heat focused on cooking the food. But when you get within 30-45 minutes before your meal is scheduled to be finished, it’s okay to remove the lid to check on your food.
- Be mindful of the temperature and size of your ingredients. It is inadvisable to use frozen foods in a crockpot, so take them out of the freezer beforehand to thaw if necessary. Also, if cooking meat, it is best to cut it into smaller pieces before adding it to the slow cooker to ensure that the meat gets cooked all the way through. Following both of these guidelines can help protect against food-borne illnesses.
Now for the fun part–the recipes! Below are a few ideas to meet a number of dietary needs, but visit here for even more ideas.
- Bolognese sauce – Letting this simmer all day ups the flavor ante. Serve over pasta or zucchini noodles for an extra serving of veggies.
- Whole chicken – Once this is cooked, you can use the leftovers for lunches and dinners for the next few days.
- Lentil sloppy joes – Eating this on a bed of spaghetti squash is both tasty and good for you.
- Sweet potato chili – Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A.
- Chicken curry – Fragrant and delicious with a hint of spice to warm you up.
- Chicken teriyaki – Better tasting and better for you than takeout.
- Minestrone soup – Perfect after a day spent apple picking or pumpkin carving.
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to Wellness Coaching, reach out to your Coach for more healthy recipe ideas.