We all know about the health benefits and advantages of eating home cooked meals, but how many of us really have the energy and time to prepare meals at home after a long hard day at work? Therefore, we turn a deaf ear to our conscience and reach out for the cold and processed ready to eat meals. But, what if I told you that you have the option to come home to the mouth-watering aromas of freshly cooked food every day after a hectic day at work? It can be easily achieved by cooking using a slow cooker.
The concept is smart and simple – just put all the ingredients of the recipe into the slow cooker and let your meal cook for 5 to 8 hours at low heat while you are at the office or busy with other activities in the house. The longer time of cooking involved in this method brings out the flavours and also improves the nutrient content of the meals. Healthy slow cooker recipes can be added to a healthy diet chart to make it convenient and nutritious at the same time.
History and Concept of the Slow Cooker
The concept of slow cooking has been around for centuries, but the electrical slow cooker was first introduced in the kitchen during the 1970s by the company Rival. Bean cookers were the precursors to the slow cookers, but the popularity of the slow cooker slackened with the invention of the microwave oven. But, with the increasing concern about healthy eating, the slow cooker is coming back to vogue again.
The slow cooker has mainly 3 basic components:
- An outer casing
- A removable inner container
- A lid
The heating coils are encapsulated in the outer casing. The inner container which contains the foods is made of glazed ceramic. As the food cooks in the cooker, it releases stem which is trapped by the lid which in turn creates a vacuum seal between the lid and the rim of the pot. It adds moisture to the food throughout the cooking process. The slow cooker has 3 settings – high, low and off. Modern slow cookers also have a warm setting to keep the cooked food warm till it is served. This device can be used to prepared delicious, simple slow cooker recipes which can be included in the fruits and vegetable diet plan for weight loss.
Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker for Cooking
Cooking your meals in a slow cooker not only saves time and energy but also helps heighten the texture and aromas of the foods. It also makes the meals more nutritious and less calorie-dense.
One of the biggest advantages of the easy slow cooker recipes is that it helps you have total control over the nutritional profile of the meals you cook. The long cooking time not only makes the meats and root vegetables fork tender but also reserves the nutrients which are otherwise destroyed through other cooking methods like steaming or boiling. In the case of a slow cooker, the nutrients can be recaptured in the sauces and juices produced during the cooking.
Limiting the Consumption of Processed Foods
The question of how to overcome obesity can be answered only through consumption of home cooked foods and cutting out processed foods completely from the diet. And cooking in a slow cooker is one of the practical ways to limit the consumption of processed foods. Frozen meals purchased in boxes add sodium, fat and calories to your diet. But you can prepare these frozen meals such as soups, roasts, casseroles and baked desserts at your home using the slow cooker.
The high and low settings available on the device lets you adjust the temperature for the duration of time you want the foods to cook. Cooking on a low flame for 6 to 8 hours softens even the cheap and tough cuts of meat.
Many of you may wonder if cooking a meal on low heat for 8 hours will increase the chances of bacteria growth. But there is no need to fear because the lowest temperate of the slow cooker is above 140 degrees F at which most Bacteria are killed.
Low Energy Consumptions
The slow cooker requires only a small amount of electricity to operate. It uses a lot less energy compared to standard ovens.
10 Delicious and Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes
So, now that you are familiar with the health benefits of slow cooking let us look into some of the easy and simple slow cooker recipes that you can prepare for the whole family.
Turkey Bacon and Egg Casserole
Now, begin each and every day with delicious and wholesome breakfasts with these easy breakfast ideas to lose weight cooked in the slow cooker. The casserole can be served with crunchy toast or biscuits. This is one of the easiest slow cooker recipes that require very less preparation time.
- 1 pound turkey bacon
- 1 dozen eggs
- 4 cups hash browns
- 5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray. Add a tbsp. of olive oil to a skillet, heat it and sauté the chopped onions and green bell peppers and keep aside. Now, layer the ingredients in the slow cooker and place the hash browns into the bottom of the slow cooker. Cut the turkey bacon into bite sized chunks and layer 1/3 of the pieces on top of the hash browns along with some of the sautéed peppers and onions and the shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat the same layering process 2 times more. Crack a dozen eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the milk, salt and pepper to it, whisk until smooth and pour into the slow cooker from the top of the hash browns, turkey bacon, onions, peppers and cheddar cheese. Cover the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours (overnight) and enjoy for breakfast. This recipe makes 10 to 12 servings.
Cheese Strata with Vegetables
This is one of the gourmet slow cooker recipes that contains the goodness of vegetables, herbs and spices. It is ideal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- 12 eggs
- 1 pound loaf of sour dough bread cut into bite sized cubes
- 1 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/5 cups milk
- 1 cup tomatoes cut lengthwise
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. butter + 1 tsp.
- 1 tbsp. minced parsley
- 5 tsp. dried chives
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place the tomatoes and meat side up on the baking sheet in the oven in a single layer, sprinkle some salt and bake for 5 hours and keep in a container in the freezer. Now, spray the slow cooker with cooking spray, add the eggs to a large bowl and beat, add 1.5 cups of milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, tsp., of salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg and 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper to it and mix well. In a separate bowl add the oven baked tomatoes, diced turkey ham, tbsp. of minced parsley and 1.5 tsp. dried chives and toss well. Spread 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese on the bottom of the slow cooker. Next add 1/3rd of the pound of bread cubes, next 1/2 of the tomatoes mixture. Add another covering of bread cubes and the remaining half of tomato mixture and finally top with remaining half of cheddar cheese. Pour the egg batter over it evenly. Melt the tsp. of butter and drizzle it over the top of the food, cover the container and refrigerate it overnight. Next day, cook on high heat for 4 hours. This recipe makes 8 servings.
Beef Pot Roast
This is one of the most delicious slow cooker roast recipes that tastes best when served with a platter of steamed carrots and potatoes.
- 1 chuck roast
- 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 cup onions thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup white grape juice
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 4 beef bouillon cubes crouched
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of garlic minced
- 1/3 tsp. salt
- 1/3 tsp. pepper
- 1/3 tsp. garlic powder
Knead the salt, pepper and garlic powder well onto the raw 3-pound chuck roast. Heat a skillet and add the canola oil to it. Brown the seasoned chuck roast and place them into the slow cooker, add the onions, beef bouillon cubes, bay leaves and minced garlic. Pour the white grape juice over the top and place the lid of the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Chunky Chicken Stew
This is one of the low-calorie slow cooked chicken recipes which contains the goodness of beans and vegetables, and can be included in healthy 1200 calorie meals.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 cup navy beans drained and rinsed
- 1 can stew tomatoes
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 2 cups finely shredded cabbage
- 1 cup peas
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. chopped thyme
- 1 bay leaf
Cut the chicken breasts in half and sprinkle some salt and pepper over it, place the seasoned chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker, turn to low heat, add the navy beans, stewed tomatoes, chicken broth, chopped carrots, cabbage, green peas, diced onions, thyme, bay leaf and remaining salt and pepper and cover and cook for 4 hours.
French Onion Soup
This is one of the most delicious slow cooker soup recipes that can be included even in a 4 or 5-course and enjoyed for both lunch and dinner.
- 1 loaf of French bread cut into 8 slices
- 5 cup chicken broth
- 5 cups onions thinly sliced
- 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 2 cans of beef consommé
- 1 packet onion soup mix
Add the chicken broth to the slow cooker along with the sliced onions, beef consommé and packet of onion soup mix, cover the cooker and cook over low heat for 8 hours. Now, pour the soup into 6 or 8 bowls and place the 8 slices of French bread onto a baking sheet. Spread the shredded Swiss cheese on the 8 slices of French bread and place under the broiler till the cheese melts. Now pour a ladle of soup into the bowls and place the hot cheese French bread onto of the soup or at the side.
Shredded Turkey Sandwiches
This is one of the low fat slow cooker recipes that is a healthy option for those trying to lose weight. Turkey, being one of the healthiest natural protein foods which helps build lean muscle mass, is a major ingredient.
- 4 turkey thighs
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. yellow mustard
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
Place the chopped onion on the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix the chilli powder, ground cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl and rub it onto the turkey thighs. Place the thighs on the onions in the slow cooker. Mix the ketchup, yellow mustard and apple cider vinegar and pour over the turkey thighs. Place the lid of the cooker and cook for 6 hours on low heat. Once done, bring out the turkey thighs and shred the meat from the bones. Serve the meat on bread or over salad.
Spicy Black Eyed Peas
This is one of the most amazing heart healthy slow cooker recipes which is rich in fibers, derived from the peas and vegetables.
- 4 cans of black-eyed peas drained and rinsed
- 1 can tomatoes and chili peppers
- 5 cups green bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup turkey ham diced
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tbsp. seasoned salt
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
Stir together the black-eyed peas, tomatoes and chili peppers, bell peppers, onions, turkey ham, butter, garlic and seasoned salt in the slow cooker. Secure the lid and cook on low setting for 4 hours. This recipe makes 12 servings.
This is one of the most lip-smacking vegetarian slow cooker recipes for those of you who are on a vegan/vegetarian diet or those who are just trying to avoid meat. This recipe contains the goodness of beans, and we are well aware of the numerous bean sprout health benefits.
- 1 can of black bean soup
- 1 can of baked beans
- 1 can of kidney beans
- 1 can of corn
- 1 can of pureed tomato
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1/2 cup onion chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper chopped
- 1 tbsp. dried parsley
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. dried basil
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
Add the black beans soup, baked beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato puree, celery, onions, bell peppers, parsley, oregano, basil, chili powder and garlic into the slow cooker and stir well. Secure the lid and cook for 2 hours on high setting. This recipe makes 8 servings.
This delicious and healthy dessert made from tapioca is sure to become the favourite of your whole family including the kids. It is a quick fix recipe that takes just 2 hours to make.
- 5 cups milk
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/2 cup large pearl tapioca
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tsp. lemon zest
Place the tapioca in a bowl and add 2 cups of cold water to it, cover the bowl and set aside overnight. After it soaks, strain out the water and place the tapioca in a slow cooker. Turn to high heat; add the milk, heavy cream and a dash of salt. Cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring often. Now, add the egg yolk and granulated sugar into a bowl and mix with a whisk. Take out 1 cup of hot tapioca mixture and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Add a spoonful of the egg batter to the tapioca at a time, now stir in 3 teaspoons of lemon zest to it and cook it with the rest of the tapioca for another 15 minutes while stirring it every 5 minutes. Pour the pudding into a large serving bowl and cover with a plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour. Place it in the refrigerator and serve chilled.
Chocolate Nut Cluster
No meal is complete without a sumptuous chocolate dessert. Here is a simple and healthy slow cooker dessert recipe that contains the goodness of crunchy walnuts.
- 7 cups chopped walnuts
- 20 squares of almond bark
- 4 squares of sweet baking chocolate
- 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Set out 36 cupcake liners on a tray. Place the chopped nuts in the bottom of the slow cooker and place the squares of baking chocolate over the nuts. Sprinkle the semi-sweet chocolate chips on top and layer the squares of almond bark on top. Secure the lid and cook on low setting for 3 hours. After 3 hours, stir the concoction with a warmed metal spoon, evenly spoon out the chocolate and nut mixture into the 36 cupcake liners, set them aside and allow them to cool and harden.
So, what are you waiting for? If you still don’t have a slow cooker, then add it to your kitchen as soon as you can and try out these healthy slow cooker recipes right away.