Robin's Fresh Take: Healthy Slow-Cooker Dinners
I don’t know what I would do without a slow-cooker this time of year. I can throw a bunch of ingredients into the pot in the morning (or even the night before) and dinner is ready 8 hours later. And, if I’m not ready, (if soccer runs late or homework takes too long) the meal stays warm and waits for us. Plus, when it’s cold outside, there’s no question an aromatic, one-pot feast warms your heart and soul. Here are my favorite healthy slow-cooker recipes.
It’s super-easy to make slow-cooker meals healthy -- they require little fat, and the braising process that occurs over long-simmering keeps lean meats moist and vegetables tender and flavorful. So what should you put in your slow-cooker? Check out some of my favorites (and then send me YOURS!):
Sear a 2-pound beef bottom round roast in a little olive oil until browned on all sides. Fill the bottom of a slow-cooker with cubed Yukon Gold potatoes, baby carrots, sliced cremini mushrooms and chopped white onion. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt, black pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme. Place the beef on top of the vegetables and pour over a 28-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours, until beef and vegetables are tender. To make gravy, whisk about 1/4 cup of flour into about 1/2 cup of the pan juices and then return the mixture to the rest of the pan juices; simmer on high heat until thickened.
Place a sliced yellow onion and sliced turnip into the bottom of a slow-cooker. Place a 2-pound boneless pork loin roast on top of onion and turnip and season with salt and black pepper. Top pork with 2 cups dried apricots. Whisk together 1 cup of apple cider, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon ground cumin; pour mixture over pork. Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 9 hours, or until pork is tender.
Mexican Chicken With Salsa, Black Beans and Corn (pictured)
Place a sliced yellow onion and green bell pepper in the bottom of slow-cooker. Place 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (5 ounces each) on top of onion and pepper. Season chicken with salt and black pepper. Combine 2 cups prepared salsa, 4-ounce can minced green chilies, 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained), 1/2 cup frozen white corn and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Pour mixture over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until chicken is cooked through. Serve with 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese sprinkled over top.
Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.
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The slow cooker's ability to cook dinner while you're away at work is only one of its many merits. Breakfast, lunch, dessert, party food and even holiday gifts are made infinitely easier when left to the gentle heat of a slow cooker.