It’s November, and in Vancouver that means lots of rain and yucky weather. It also means it’s time for some of my favourite healthy dishes – soups, stews and more done in the crockpot.
Now I realize that some people don’t know the term crockpot, and use the term slow cooker, but “It’s a Slow Cooker” would have been a dumb title.
Crockpots are also a great time saver for busy working people. You can set up the meal before you leave for work, and when you get home, there is a nice hot meal waiting.
Why is that important? We all know how easy it is to get home from work, say to ourselves “I am too tired to cook” and make some quick, easy and usually BAD food choices.
These will not be recipes per se because I want you to try your own experiments, and there are 100’s of recipes online.
My basic crockpot soup starts with a good stock. If you are vegetarian, use a vegetable stock. If not, match your stock to your meat, meaning chicken stock if chicken soup etc.
You can use store bought stocks but read those ingredient lists. In a pinch I will use an organic stock simply because of fewer chemicals, but I prefer to make my own.
Cut up some stewing beef (for example) and give it a quick braise with some thinly sliced onions. (I love my mandolin slicer for this). After the beef is browned and onions are clear, add to the stock. Then add your vegetables.
This time of year there are tons of root vegetables in season. I like using carrots, potatoes and turnip. I will also use beets, or squash, or other veggies like parsnips. When you are buying your carrots, look for other colours. Did you know that you can get carrots in purple, white, yellow and more besides just orange.
Set your crockpot on low and let it do the work.
Another thing you can do is a whole chicken, or chicken parts like drumsticks or thighs. Thighs are often a cheaper cut than other parts. Stewing chickens work well for this too.
Put the chicken in the crockpot and surround it with your vegetables. Put just a splash of water or even wine if you want.
In making dinner this way, you can cook with little or no fat, vegetables YOU like, and you can use herbs instead of salt for extra flavour.
You can even do dessert in a crockpot. I have seen recipes for things like crockpot cakes etc, but I like this simple choice of baked apples.
Here is a link to a good recipe. http://skinnychef.com/recipes/baked-apples
You can even make breakfast in a crockpot. Here is a recipe I found for overnight oatmeal.
- 2 cups milk
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped apple
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
Directions: Grease the inside of a slow cooker. Put ingredients into crockpot and mix with whisk. Cover. Just before going to bed, turn the crockpot on low. The cereal will be ready for morning. Serve with milk.
Here is one last tip – spray with cooking spray before you cook and it makes cleanup so much easier. I don’t like those sprays in a can. I use an oil sprayer. If you have seen these, you put 1/4 cup of oil in these and pump air into them and you can get a nice light oil spray.
I hope you will dust off your crockpot and give it a try. It is a good way to get an easy meal with lots of vegetables, which tends to be lacking in my own diet sometimes.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!