Slow-Cooker Recipes Healthy Eaters Will Love
Everyone's favorite kitchen workhorse can do a lot more than short ribs, as these light, bright dinners show. (Slow pizza, anyone?)
A Brand New Take on a Classic Winter Warmer
If you love chicken soup but want to add more veggies—not to mention a whole new flavor dimension—try this vibrant version from Sara Lewis' new Slow Cooker: 500 Recipes
. It starts with a whole chicken that you poach in the slow cooker, along with the usual sturdy vegetables, such as carrots and onions. Here's where things get really interesting, though: You also toss in aromatic ginger, garlic, star anise and soy sauce. Once the chicken is cooked, you remove it, shred it into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot along with the snow peas, bok choy and egg noodles for a unique and delicious soup that's superhealthy, too.
Get the recipe: Fragrant Spiced Chicken
The Lighter Alternative to Pulled Pork
For times when you want to eat a comforting, spicy and rich pork dish without feeling totally "blah" after, Lewis' spiced stew is just the thing. It includes cubes of lean pork, as well as white mushrooms, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes and kale, all in a tomato broth spiced with chili powder, allspice and cinnamon. The all-in-one aspect of the dish (you get protein, carbs and veggies) means you won't need any rolls, coleslaw or other additions to make this a perfectly satisfying meal.
Get the recipe: Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes
A Trip to France Without the Guilt
Cassoulet is actually not
French for "many, many spoonfuls of duck fat," but it's not terribly far off. Traditionally, the dish is a heavy mix of beans, pork sausage, pork shoulder, pancetta and duck. You can still enjoy the rich, slow-simmered taste—and even the crunchy topping of fresh bread crumbs—with Lewis' smart twist on the classic. It has you use diced, lean pork; just three ounces of chorizo sausage; and, lots of cannellini beans, so the finished dish has less fat but still boasts plenty of flavor.
Get the recipe: Skinny Cassoulet
Homemade pizza may not initially seem like a classic slow-cooker dish, but Robin Robertson, author of Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker
, says it totally makes sense, since you don't have to worry about burning it, and turning on a Crock-Pot won't make your kitchen hot (but cranking the oven up to 500 degrees sure will). This thick and chewy pizza is a light version of the deep-dish personal pan ones served in restaurants, with much less oil (just a tablespoon) and no butter.
Get the recipe: Puttanesca Pizza
The New Greek Supper
We love the classic Greek dinner of grilled or roasted meat wrapped up in a pita as much as anyone, but we've fallen hard for this vegetarian dish. Michele Scicolone, author of The Mediterranean Slow Cooker
, simmers a big pot of white beans in a savory tomato sauce and then sprinkles it with tangy feta cheese. It takes about eight hours to cook, so you can start it in the morning and forget about it until dinnertime.
Get the recipe: Giant Beans in Tomato Sauce
The Southern Classic, Lightened Up
In this recipe from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker
, quinoa replaces rice and mixes with black-eyed peas to create a new spin on two Southern dishes, dirty rice and hoppin' John (which usually consists of peas, rice and bacon). For an even heartier meal, add some cooked crumbled or chopped vegan or vegetarian sausage just before serving, which adds flavor without tons of extra calories.
Get the recipe: "Dirty John" Quinoa
Salmon à la You
While many slow-cooker recipes can take eight hours or more, this is one you can start in the late afternoon and still have ready by 7. It'll take just two hours for a broth made from vinegar, water and a handful of vegetables to become rich and savory, and less than 30 minutes for salmon steaks—a staple for calorie counters—to poach. Then, you can use the fish any number of ways, Scicolone says. Serve it plain with some of the cooking broth, chill for seafood salad, or eat hot or cold alongside tzatziki
Get the recipe: Poached Salmon in Court-Bouillon
The Colorful Antidote to the Winter Blahs
In Moroccan cuisine, a tagine is a slow-cooked stew braised at a low temperature, traditionally in a cone-shaped tagine pot. You can re-create this steamy environment in a Crock-Pot. This recipe from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker
—which includes carrot, rutabaga, butternut squash and apricot—looks beautiful on the plate and might just be the sweetest way to eat your vegetables. Regular or Israeli couscous (both come in whole wheat varieties) are the perfect accompaniment.
Get the recipe: Golden Vegetable Tagine
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