How to Slow Cook Healthy Meals

The slow cooker is a great tool for making healthy, delicious meals that require few ingredients and minimal effort. While most recipes for the slow cooker are relatively simple and straightforward, you can make certain modifications while cooking to ensure that you’re making healthy meals. Using healthy ingredients and techniques that allow you to make the most of your slow cooker’s utility, you can use your slow cooker to easily prepare a variety of healthy meals.

EditIngredients

EditChicken with Carrots and Potatoes

  • Cooking spray
  • of sliced onion
  • of chopped carrots
  • 6 small red potatoes cut into slices.
  • of chicken broth
  • of white wine
  • of chopped fresh thyme
  • of minced garlic
  • of salt
  • of pepper
  • of paprika
  • 6 6-oz bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
  • Yields 6 servings

EditVeggie Stuffed Peppers

  • 6 bell peppers
  • of quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 14-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14-oz can of refried beans
  • of red enchilada sauce
  • of cumin
  • of chili powder
  • of onion powder
  • of garlic salt
  • of pepperjack cheese
  • of water
  • Yields 6 servings

EditHearty Beef Stew

  • of beef stew meat
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) of beef broth
  • 1 can (11.5 oz) of V8 juice
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • of salt
  • of dried thyme
  • of chili powder
  • of pepper
  • of cold water
  • of cornstarch
  • of frozen corn
  • of frozen peas
  • Yields 5 servings

EditSteps

EditReplacing Ingredients with Healthier Options

  1. Opt for reduced sodium broths. Many recipes for slow cooked meals will call for beef, chicken, or vegetable stock. Substitute low sodium for regular broths for an overall healthier dish.[1]
    Can Beans Step 24.jpg
  2. Choose lean, low-fat cuts of meat. When cooking healthy meals in your slow cooker, opt for low fat cuts of meat, including chuck or eye round beef roasts, pork loins, and skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Trim any excess fat from these cuts before adding them to your slow cooker.[2]
    Can Meat Step 6.jpg
  3. Eliminate sugar from recipes. Any added sugar to slow cooked meals will pack on the calories without nutritional value. If a recipe calls for added sugar or for any high-sugar processed ingredients, such as ketchup or barbecue sauce, opt for a lower-calorie substitute.
    Eat Less Sugar Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • Try making your own low-sugar barbecue sauce, or buy an alternative with no added sugar.
    • Use Stevia as a low-calorie alternative to sugar.
    • Incorporate apples into savory dishes for a lower-calorie flavor enhancer. Apples can add sweet, delicious undertones to slow cooked dishes like beef or pork loin roasts without the high sugar content of other sweetening ingredients.[3]
  4. Avoid cream- or cheese-based soups, sauces, and dips. When you’re using a slow cooker, avoid recipes that call for cream- or cheese-based soups, sauces, and dips to avoid excess fat and calories. Opt for broth-based recipes, instead.
  5. Add minimal amounts of butter or olive oil to recipes. It’s fine to incorporate fats into your dishes so long as you don’t go overboard. Measure out of oil or butter to ensure that you’re not adding an excessive amount of fat to your meal.[4]
    Buy Olive Oil Step 2 Version 4.jpg

EditChicken with Carrots and Potatoes

  1. Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray and add onions, carrots, and potatoes. Use of sliced onion, of chopped carrots, and 6 small red potatoes cut into slices.[5]
    Cook a Deer Roast in a Slow Cooker Step 4.jpg
  2. Add chicken broth, white wine, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Use of chicken broth, of white wine, of chopped fresh thyme, of minced garlic, of salt, and of pepper. Combine the ingredients then pour them over the vegetables.[6]
    Cook Smoked Haddock Step 1.jpg
    • Substitute the white wine with another of chicken broth, if desired.
  3. Mix paprika, salt, and pepper and rub it over the chicken. Use of paprika, of salt, and of pepper. Mix thoroughly then use the spices to coat 6 6-oz skinless chicken thighs (bone-in).[7]
    Cook a Deer Roast in a Slow Cooker Step 3.jpg
  4. Add chicken to oil-coated skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Use medium-high heat and cook until the chicken is browned. Then, arrange the chicken on top of the veggies in the slow cooker.[8]
    Cook Like Heston Step 13 Version 2.jpg
  5. Cover and cook on low heat for 3 1/2 hours. Make sure the chicken is cooked to and the vegetables are tender when speared with a fork. Then, serve the dish and enjoy![9]
    Can Peas Step 16.jpg

EditVeggie Stuffed Peppers

  1. Cut the tops off of 6 bell peppers and scrape out the seeds. Take care to remove only the stem from the top as you need plenty of room to stuff your peppers with delicious ingredients. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and the ribs of the pepper.[10]
    Use a Food Dehydrator Step 2.jpg
  2. Combine quinoa, beans, and enchilada sauce in a bowl. First, rinse of quinoa then drain and rinse 1 14-oz can of black beans separately. Then, dump the quinoa and black beans in a large bowl and add 1 14-oz can of refried beans and of red enchilada sauce.[11]
    Can Beans Step 26.jpg
  3. Add spices and of pepperjack cheese to the mixture. Use each of cumin, chili powder, and onion powder, and of garlic salt. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly.[12]
    Make Djon Djon (Haitian Black Rice) Step 8.jpg
  4. Stuff each pepper and place them in the cooker with of water. Use a large spoon to fill each pepper with the mixture. Pour of water into the bottom of the crockpot, then carefully place the peppers in the pot so they’re sitting in the water.[13]
    Dehydrate Foods Step 18.jpg
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Alternatively, you can cook the peppers on high for 3 hours, if desired.[14]
    Dry Apricots Step 16.jpg
  6. Take off the lid, add cheese, recover, and cook for 5 minutes. After you take off the lid, sprinkle the remaining of pepperjack cheese on top of the stuffing. Replace the lid and let the peppers cook for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.[15]
    Smoke Cheese Step 2.jpg
  7. Remove the peppers, top them, and serve. Use tongs to remove the peppers from the slow cooker so as not to burn your fingers. Top them with cilantro, avocado, and sour cream, then serve them.[16]
    Avoid Getting Drunk Step 5 Version 2.jpg

EditHearty Beef Stew

  1. Put of beef stew meat and 2 peeled, cubed potatoes in a slow cooker. You may want to use a slow cooker liner to cut down on mess and clean up time. You can find them in supermarkets and online.[17]
    Make Birria Step 3 Version 2.jpg
  2. Pour in 1 can (14.5 oz) of beef broth and 1 can (11.5 oz) of V8 juice. Use low-sodium V8 juice, containing tomato and carrot juice, rather than a fruit-based flavor. Opt for a low-sodium variety of beef broth to make the dish healthier.[18]
    Make Birria Step 18 Version 2.jpg
  3. Add celery, carrots, sweet onion, and bay leaves. Chop 2 celery ribs, 2 medium carrots, and 1 medium sweet onion. Put them in the slow cooker along with 3 bay leaves.[19]
    Dehydrate Foods Step 14.jpg
  4. Sprinkle in salt, dried thyme, chili powder, and pepper. Add each of salt, dried thyme, and chili powder and of pepper. Mix the ingredients thoroughly until everything is well combined and the meat is coated.[20]
    Grill Kingklip Step 12.jpg
  5. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, then discard the bay leaves. Check to make sure the meat is tender before proceeding. If it’s not, cook for another hour or so and check the tenderness again.[21]
    Make Birria Step 19 Version 2.jpg
  6. Combine water and cornstarch then stir the mixture into the stew. Mix of cold water and of cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth and well mixed. Then add the mixture to the stew.[22]
    Make Candied Pizza Step 10.jpg
  7. Add corn and peas and cook on high for 30 minutes. Mix of frozen corn and of frozen peas into the stew. You don’t need to replace the lid, as you want the stew to thicken. After 30 minutes, turn off the slow cooker, mix the stew, and serve it.[23]
    Make Your Own Healthy Plant Based Baby Food Step 15.jpg

EditTips

  • You can leave meals in a slow cooker on low for 8 to 10 hours. Most slow cookers include timers that will switch over to a “keep warm” setting after an allotted time.
  • If you start a meal in a slow cooker then head out for work or another activity, add a little extra water to account for evaporation.

EditSources and Citations

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