How do you find time to eat a healthy dinner when you're on the go all day long? Easy — let your meal cook itself! Slow cookers allow you to prepare delicious meals without relying on calories, fat and salt for flavor (and without spending hours in the kitchen). Just throw some vegetables and lean-cut meat into your crockpot in the morning, let the flavors simmer together all day and then return home to a filling meal. Here are three healthy slow cooker recipes to get you started.
1/2 cup (130 g) smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) chicken broth
1/4 cup (60 ml) low-sodium tamari sauce
Juice of 1 large lime
1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch (2.5 cm) chunk peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon (20 g) honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch (3.8 cm) pieces
1/2 cup (8 g) chopped fresh cilantro
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peanut butter, broth, tamari, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary, and set aside.
Combine the onion, bell pepper, and chicken in the slow cooker and pour the sauce evenly over all. Stir gently to coat. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 5 to 6 hours, until the chicken is cooked through but still juicy. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.
Yields: 4 servings
Per Serving: Calories 469.5; Calories From Fat 165; Total Fat 18.2 g; Cholesterol 102 mg; Sodium 1,071.9 mg; Potassium 704.8 mg; Total Carbohydrates 24.4 g; Fiber 3.8 g; Sugar 13.5 g; Protein 52.6 g
1 pound (454 g) navy beans, soaked overnight*, rinsed, and drained
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
4 cups (940 ml) no-sodium vegetable broth (or water), or enough to cover
1 can (14.5 ounces, or 406 g) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (6 ounces, or 168 g) tomato paste
1 can (8 ounces, or 225 g) diced pineapple in juice or water, drained
2 tablespoons (15 g) chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Add the soaked and drained beans, onion, bell peppers, and chile to the slow cooker. Pour the broth over all to cover and stir gently to combine. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until the beans are tender. Turn the heat to high, if necessary, and stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, pineapple, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 45 minutes longer.
*In lieu of soaking the beans overnight, you can also bring them to a rapid boil in water to cover. Cook for 10 minutes, remove from the heat, and let sit, covered, for 1 hour. Drain the cooking water and follow the recipe as directed.
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Per Serving: Calories 217.9; Calories From Fat 9.9; Total Fat 1.2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 391.4 mg; Potassium 1,046.2 mg; Total Carbohydrates 42.3 g; Fiber 14.2 g; Sugar 11.8 g; Protein 11.4 g
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) leanest ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup (5 g) finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons (16 g) toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon (6 g) minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups (470 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (120 ml) low-sodium tamari
1/2 cup (120 ml) mirin
1/2 cup (125 g) white miso paste
1 1/2 tablespoons (12 g) kudzu dissolved in 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chicken broth or water (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the turkey, egg, cilantro, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
Mix gently and form 1 1/2-inch (3.8 cm) meat-balls — do not overhandle the meat. Arrange the meatballs in the slow cooker insert.
In another bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, tamari, mirin, and miso and pour over the meatballs.Cover and cook on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until the meatballs are cooked through and no pink remains.
Remove and serve the meatballs as is or, to accompany with sauce, transfer the liquid to a medium-size pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, add the dissolved kudzu, and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened. Serve with the meatballs.
Yields: 8 servings
Per Serving: Calories 235.3; Calories From Fat 90.1; Total Fat 10.2 g; Cholesterol 93.6 mg; Sodium 1,579.3 mg; Potassium 323.3 mg; Total Carbohydrates 14.5 g; Fiber 1.3 g; Sugar 5.2 g; Protein 21.4 g
Published February 28, 2012.
Recipes and images courtesy of The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth: The Surprising Unbiased Truth About How to Make Nutritious and Delicious Meals that are Ready When You Are by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Jeannette Bessinger, C.H.H.C. Copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Fair Winds Press.