Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Healthy Crock Pot Meals

My brand new husband and I always joke about how the classic wedding present is a crock pot. We specifically didn't register for one because I didn't want one more appliance hogging space in our tiny kitchen. But, sure enough, we got a couple crock pots as wedding presents. However, I'm actually very grateful and can't wait to try some crock pot recipes!

In our Food $ense classes, we often teach about cooking a skillet meal. A skillet meal is a one-pot meal you can cook up quickly. We strive to incorporate protein, grains, and vegetables (at least three food groups) into a skillet meal to make a well-balanced meal in a SNAP. 

If you're even more crunched for time, however, you can make a one-pot meal in a crock pot.  The appeal of crock pot cooking is tempting for anyone: walking into the house after being away all day to the smell of dinner all ready to eat. Crock pots (or slow cookers) can really help a busy family still have nutritious dinners together. However, many crock pot recipes have lots of fat and meat in them, and few vegetables or other nutritious foods. Do a search for crock pot recipes, and you'll get pork chops and gravy, pot roasts, and even very cheesy macaroni and cheese. And while a little meat and cheese has it's place in a well-balanced diet, it's expensive. Crock pot cooking can be a great way to make a quick well-balanced meal on a budget if you do it right.

Here are some recipes for well-balanced crock pot meals. Set the goal this new year to eat as a family more often. Let your crock pot help you.

These recipes and more are also found on our Pinterest board.  Click the recipe name for a printable version.

Slow Cooker Lentil Sloppy Joes:
  • 1 cup dried brown or green lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 28-oz can crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (smoked paprika is delicious in this)
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • dash of black pepper

Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Serve on toasted whole wheat hamburger buns with shredded cheese.
Courtesy of 

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

1 3/4 cups organic vegetable broth 

1 cup chopped onion 

1/4 cup chopped seeded jalapeno pepper (2 peppers) 

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt 

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained 

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained 

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained 

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream 

2 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 

1. Combine first 12 ingredients in a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
2. Ladle soup into bowls; top with sour cream, cheese, and cilantro.


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