chickpea kale squash stew

Photo: Lynn Andriani

A Wintry Way to Get Your Greens
This tasty stew stars bright-orange, sweet-tasting butternut squash and deep-green kale, plus creamy chickpeas (which will fill you up without leaving you feeling stuffed) and a supporting cast of some of our favorite flavor-boosters, such as garlic and paprika (which lends a touch of smokiness). And you can easily swap in spinach, Swiss chard or any other sturdy, leafy green for the kale.

Get the recipe: Kale, Chickpea and Butternut Squash Stew
dirt john quinoa

Photo: EzumeImages/iStock

The American Classic, Lightened Up
Two Southern staples, Dirty Rice (which usually includes chicken) and Hoppin' John (a bacon-boosted rice), come together in this grain-based dish. It also incorporates superseed quinoa, as well as black-eyed peas. For an even heartier meal, add some cooked (crumbled or chopped) vegan or vegetarian sausage just before serving, which—bonus!—also adds great flavor.

Get the recipe: "Dirty John" Quinoa
leek potato soup

Photo: Katerina Petrovska

A Classic Soup with a Healthy Boost
Leeks and potatoes have a natural affinity for one another, whether braised, scalloped or softened in soup. Match the winter vegetables with carrots, celery and garlic and let them all mingle and melt in the slow cooker for a few hours. You'll end up with a deeply flavored soup that makes a fine meal with a nice, crusty loaf of bread. You can stir in a bit of coconut milk at the end for added richness, too.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Leek and Potato Soup
slow cooker tagine

Photo: Alan Richardson

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. No need to buy another kitchen item, though, since you can re-create this steamy environment in a Crock-Pot. This recipe includes carrot, rutabaga, butternut squash and apricot; looks beautiful on the plate; and, could be the sweetest way to eat your vegetables. Regular or Israeli couscous (both come in whole wheat varieties) make the perfect accompaniment.

Get the recipe: Golden Vegetable Tagine

Photo: Jennifer Davick

A Buttery, Fruity Spread That Makes Any Breakfast Terrific
Apple butter is basically applesauce that's gone to the dark side. When you cook the ingredients (apples, cider, spices, lemon juice—plus, some brown sugar) in a slow cooker for hours, their flavors concentrate. The sugar caramelizes and turns the apples deep brown. The longer you cook the spread, the better. Let it simmer overnight, since it will thicken while you sleep. Then, you can wake up to warm, fresh apple butter to put on toast or waffles or to swirl into oatmeal.

Get the recipe: Apple Butter

Photo: TeodoraDjordjevic/Thinkstock

A Not-Pie, Not-Latte Way to Enjoy Pumpkin
The carvable winter squash isn't just meant for cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Pumpkin, which is buttery and earthy-tasting, is also a natural for more sophisticated spices, such as cumin, coriander and cardamom. Toss cubes of the vegetable into the slow cooker along with onion, garlic, ginger, spices, some vegetable stock and a can of unsweetened coconut milk. In just two or three hours, you'll have a thick, creamy soup that combines sugar and spice.

Get the recipe: Curried Pumpkin Soup