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What a Crock Pot! Try These Slow Cooker Recipes

Posted 12/16/2016 by UHBlog

Looking for healthy, nutrient-dense recipes for yourself or an older relative? We have ideas.

What a Crock Pot! Try These Slow Cooker Recipes

At the end of a cold wintry day you probably don't want to start prepping and cooking a big meal. Instead, use your crock pot. You simply add the ingredients to the crock pot in the morning, set the timer and six or eight hours later, you have a hot, comforting meal ready to be scooped out into bowls.

“I like crock pot cooking because it’s easy to do,” says clinical nutrition manager Jacqueline Telmanik, MS, RDN, LD. “You set it, then don’t have to worry about checking it again all day.”

Because crock pots work by trapping heat to cook foods over a long period of time, the toughest cuts of meat are tenderized and vegetables softened. This makes many crock pot meals perfect for seniors who may have trouble digesting hard, raw produce and/or getting enough vitamins in their diet, Telmanik says.

But not all crock pot recipes are created equal.

“I look for recipes that use leaner meats, like turkey or chicken or pork, with the fat cut off,” she says. She prefers using fresh vegetables in her dishes, but says that canned vegetables also work, as long as they are low in sodium or sodium-free.

In addition to its ease of use, crock pot cooking is also a great way to reduce waste and save money.

“I know a lot of seniors have trouble finding smaller portions of things,” Telmanik says. “What I recommend is prepping one large recipe ahead of time, portioning it out into four smaller meals and freezing them.” That way, you always have a healthy, ready-to-go meal at your fingertips.

To help you get started, Telmanik recommends two of her favorite crock pot meals:

Slow Cooker Chicken Quinoa Risotto with Carrots and Asparagus

Makes eight 1-cup servings

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and quartered
  • 2 cups peas, frozen or canned
  1. In a slow cooker, combine chicken, quinoa, two cups chicken broth, garlic and carrots. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook on high for four hours until chicken is easy to shred. Shred chicken, then add asparagus and peas to slow cooker and cook until tender, approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Pour over remaining chicken broth and stir until creamy.

Reprinted from Delish

Slow Cooker Black Bean-Mushroom Chili

Makes 10, 1-cup servings

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds (or ground cardamom)
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 and 1/2 cups mushroom broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1- 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 and 1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack (or Pepper Jack cheese)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 low-sodium vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon salt, optional
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Place beans and two quarts of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for one hour. Drain the beans, discarding soaking liquid.
  2. Combine oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamom in a five- to six-quart crock pot. Place over high heat and stir until the spices sizzle, about 30 seconds. Add onions, mushrooms, tomatillos and water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are juicy, about five to seven minutes. Uncover and stir often until the juices evaporate and the vegetables are lightly browned, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Add broth, tomato paste and chipotles and mix well.
  3. Place the beans in a five- to six-quart slow cooker. Pour the hot vegetable mixture over the beans. Turn heat to high. Put the lid on and cook until the beans are creamy, about five to eight hours.
  4. Garnish each serving with cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Reprinted from Eating Well.

Jacqueline Telmanik, RDN, LD is a clinical nutrition manager at the Diabetes Center at University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center. You can request an appointment with a dietitian or any other University Hospitals health care professional online.

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