Now that fall is here, I've hauled out the slow cooker. It's a lifesaver on busy nights, and even if we don't have much going on it's great to come home and smell dinner already almost ready, which means our evenings are relaxing and relatively calm versus stressful and rushed.
But a lot of slow cooker recipes out there on the web aren't exactly healthy. You see lots of sodium- and preservative-packed canned ingredients, fatty cuts of meat, and salt-laden seasoning packets instead of real food.
So I wondered: Is it possible to convert some of my favorite healthy recipes to slow-cooker use? As it turns out, yes! Curries, any kind of chicken with sauce, bean dishes, and some soups all cook beautifully in the slow cooker. Just about any meat you roast in the oven can do well in the slow cooker too...you don't get that brown roasty-toasty goodness but you do get moist, delicious meat.
Vegetables are trickier...you want veggies that can stand up to long cooking without falling apart. Carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and even corn do well in the slow cooker, and tomatoes cook down to rich sauce...peppers turn metallic-tasting and veggies like broccoli and peas turn to mush, though. If your recipe calls for them, add them in the last 30 minutes or so of cooking.
Dairy can curdle with long cooking times, so most recipes say to add it at the end, long enough for it to heat through but not so long it will get gross.
You also need to reduce the amount of liquid you use when converting an over recipe to slow cooker use. Here's a good conversion chart from stovetop or oven cooking time to slow cooker cooking time.
Have you ever tried to convert a healthy recipe to a slow cooker recipe? How did it work out?