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Making Friends With Your Slow Cooker

Posted by on May. 17, 2013 at 12:00 AM
  • 26 Replies
1 mom liked this

If you're old like me, you probably remember the round, brown slow cookers that graced the counter whenever mom had to get a meal on the table on PTA meeting night or wanted to make chili that simmered all day. And also like me, you probably found them hilariously retro until right about the time you started cooking for people other than just yourself.

Our generation of moms loves, loves, loves our slow cookers. Everyone I know owns one. If you're working, it's the best thing ever to be able to toss some ingredients in the slow cooker and know it's making dinner for you; if you're not, you can get a meal together at naptime and it's ready when you are, no last minute rush of fitting in your children's needs around cooking. I like to have a meal going for my husband to feed the kids on nights I have class. If you use one of those nifty liners, cleanup is super fast as well.

Of course, the stereotype is that all the recipes are "dump and cook" chock full of processed icky things. But no, you can make delicious, healthy meals in your slow cooker without ever opening a can or going near a packet of onion soup mix. It's a dream at cooking lentils -- mix them with Indian seasonings for a quick healthy dal or add some sauteed aromatic vegetables and broth for delicious and quick lentil soup.

Mine doesn't get hot enough to cook beans, but if yours does it's a great way to make some ahead and freeze them for taco fillings and chili starters. And it coaxes every bit of flavor out of skinned, bone-in chicken parts and renders them so tender you won't believe you're eating something healthy.

Most recipes do well without any added fat, because with the slow, moist cooking method it's not needed as a flavor enhancer or to keep things from sticking. And refined grains tend to fall apart, but the whole grains we all should be eating more of stand up well to slow cooker preparation.

A few notes:

Most recipes do better with some liquid; wine, orange juice, chicken broth, or even water helps keep meats juicy.

Brown meat before putting it in; it's an extra step, but it adds little fat if you use cooking spray and makes a huge difference in flavor.

Cook any "softer," more watery vegetables like zucchini, green beans, etc. separately; tougher greens like kale and hard vegetables like carrots and potatoes do fine, though. Delicate greens such as spinach can be tossed in right before serving and the heat will wilt them for you.

How does your slow cooker help you maintain a healthy diet?

Image via IStockPhoto/© Robyn Mackenzie


by on May. 17, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
batjmom
by Sarah on May. 17, 2013 at 6:22 AM
Lol! That's exactly how I use to think of my slow cooker but my moms was green not brown.
I don't think my slow cooker makes me maintain a healthy diet so much. We choose to eat healthy. However it's nice to to able to have a healthy meal ready in the crockpot
After a day of being gone all day to baseball games, beach, ect.
michiganmom116
by Rhonda on May. 17, 2013 at 6:30 AM

A slow cooker makes it so easy for me to cook from whole foods.  Just last night we had a pork roast that had cooked all day....so tender that it fell apart.  Earlier this week we had a roast chicken (made with skin on) in one crockpot and I baked sweet potatoes (not canned) in another.

I'm not afraid of natural fats so I have no problem cooking with them.  What I AM leery of is processed foods used in the crockpot (canned soups) and artificial food products like cooking spray.

MichelleK41
by Bronze Member on May. 17, 2013 at 7:25 AM

It helps because I can throw everything in at one time and by the time a good veggie is cooked that my kiddos may not like, it blends in and they do not notice, hehe.

sweetheart4171
by Peggy on May. 17, 2013 at 8:37 AM

I absolutely love my slow cooker, I use it on a good week 3 times.  My slow cooker helps me cook wholesome good meals for my family.  I control what goes in it, and that help us maintain a healthy diet. 

cjsmom1
by Member on May. 17, 2013 at 8:41 AM
I'm still trying to find good recipes for me crockpot.
4kidz916
by Bronze Member on May. 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM

I love using my crock pot.  It's such a time saver.  With our busy schedule it ensures that I can have a nutritious meal ready for the kids in no time. 

ceciliam
by on May. 17, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Well, it helps me on busy days to prepare a home cooked meal, rather than grab junk. :)

lalasmama2007
by Ticia on May. 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM

I've only just recently started using my slow cooker more.  I love that I don't have to worry about preparing dinner and I can focus on other things.

Madelaine
by Bronze Member on May. 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM

I love the slow cooker!  I cook a lot more veggies with it now.

slw123
by Member on May. 17, 2013 at 10:53 AM
1 mom liked this

 My moms was green too!!

I use mine to make sure we have a hot meal on the nights when life is hectic and we have to be everywhere but at home.

Quoting batjmom:

Lol! That's exactly how I use to think of my slow cooker but my moms was green not brown.
I don't think my slow cooker makes me maintain a healthy diet so much. We choose to eat healthy. However it's nice to to able to have a healthy meal ready in the crockpot
After a day of being gone all day to baseball games, beach, ect.

 

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