How to Use Your Slow Cooker All Summer Long

Call on your slow cooker all summer long to cook up tasty meals without heating up your kitchen.

FN_FN Kitchens Slow Cooker Coconut Rice Pudding.tif

FN_FN Kitchens Slow Cooker Coconut Rice Pudding.tif

FN_FN Kitchens Slow Cooker Coconut Rice Pudding.tif

©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Grills get all the credit in the summer, but what if you don’t have a grill? Or what if you’re a bit timid around open flames? (I am!) Slow cookers are a perfect way to keep the kitchen cool and still get dinner on the table. Plus, they hold enough for a crowd, so whether the party theme is Tiki Time or Margarita Night, the slow cooker can make entertaining a snap. 

Time for Tiki

Dust off your Tiki glasses and Tiki torches. A Polynesian-themed party is easy to plan with these set-it-and-forget-it recipes. Make the dessert first, then refrigerate. Either pork recipe could be served straight from the slow cooker.

A mix of coconut water and coconut milk highlights island flavors in this Coconut Brown Rice Pudding (pictured at top) while keeping it from being too rich. Serve with fresh pineapple and mango.

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FOODNETWORK_20081002_250.tif

Set out lots of toppings like purple cabbage, pineapple salsa and avocado to go with our Slow Cooker Pork Tacos.

Who needs a grill when you can make Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops so tasty in the slow cooker?

Breakfasts to Fuel Summer Fun

Oatmeal is for winners. Besides containing a type of fiber that seems to keep kids and adults fuller longer, oatmeal contains muscle-boosting protein. Add more protein by topping your bowl with milk or yogurt. These slow cooker recipes can be made the night before and both include a healthy mix of whole grains and fruit. And by the way, there’s no crime in serving oatmeal for dinner.

Porridge

Porridge

Slow Cook Porridge with Mixed Fruit in Blue Bowls

Our Whole Grain Breakfast Porridge (pictured above) brims with cranberries, oats, farro and wild rice.

Bananas make Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats extra creamy.

Weeknight Dinners

Farmers markets and gardens are bursting with a bounty of vegetables. Use them up in produce-packed soups and stews. One tip to make a summer pot of slow-cooked veggies taste fresh is to add bright green summer herbs at the end, just before serving.

Photo by: Ben Fink ©Ben Fink Photography. All Rights Reserved

Ben Fink, Ben Fink Photography. All Rights Reserved

A squeeze of lemon added at the end of our Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup gives the soup extra zip.

CHICKPEA_BUTTERNUT_STEW_11.tif

CHICKPEA_BUTTERNUT_STEW_11.tif

food stylist: Jamie Kimm prop stylist: Marina Malchin

Easy-to-grow Swiss chard greens up this Slow Cooker Squash Stew. Use summer squash instead of winter squash: it will melt into the soup as it cooks, making it velvety thick.

Vegetarian Chili; Robin Miller

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Chillin’ with Chili and Margaritas

While the margaritas are optional, eating spicy food – like chili – in the summer is a good idea. Hot, piquant flavors can actually help cool the body. Plus, the healthy capsaicin in hot peppers is a powerful inflammation reducer. Capsaicin may help curb appetite and could help you feel fuller sooner.

Another tasty way to use up the abundance of summer veggies is with Vegetarian Chili.

Toppers make Slow Cooker Chicken Chili even better. Think chopped bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, sweet onions and cilantro.

Our Slow Cooker Chili calls for only five ingredients, including brewed coffee and beef chuck.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a food writer and registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing tips and tricks to help families find healthy living shortcuts. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Snapchat.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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