Slow-Cooker-Pot-Roast-3075.jpgIf you resolved to start eating healthier in 2015 and you’ve already fallen off the wagon, don’t feel bad. It takes time to establish a permanent change in your eating habits, and every day is a brand new day to start again.

One of the reasons why I struggle with bad food choices is because I always wait until the last minute to start cooking, and then I’m completely starving before I finally get to eat. But I’ve found the solution to this issue, and it’s all thanks to my slow cooker.

Slow cookers do all the meal prep for you, and they cook your meal to perfection while you’re busy doing other things. Just turn it on when you leave in the morning and when you walk in the door, dinner is served. It certainly takes all the stress out of an evening, and you tend to overeat less and make better choices if dinner is served when you’re starving.

But slow cookers don’t stop at dinner – you can prepare breakfast and lunch in them too. There are so many different healthy dishes you can make in your slow cooker, and here are a few of my favourites for you to try.

Slowcooker oatmealslow-cooked-steel-cut-oatmeal-recipe-ghk0313-xl.jpg

You’ve probably heard of slow cooker oatmeal. You put everything in the slow cooker before you go to bed and you wake up to a piping hot and healthy breakfast. This is the basic recipe, but you can jazz it up with sliced apples, cinnamon, peaches, or any type of fruit you like. Recipe and photo from delish.com .

Ingredients:

4 cup(s) water

2 cup(s) (1-percent) low-fat milk

1 1/2 cup(s) steel-cut oats

1/4 teaspoon(s) salt

 

Directions

Spray 4- to 6-quart slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray. To bowl, add water, milk, steel-cut oats, and salt; stir to combine. Program to cook for 4 hours on low and 4 hours on warm.

Lunch

Spicy Black Bean Soupspicy-black-bean.jpg

On a chilly winter day, there’s nothing quite like a bowl of soup. This recipe really spices up your soup bowl with black beans, chipolte chiles, and enough cumin to give it a real kick. If you want to make it on the weekend, just turn on the slowcooker when you get up and it will be ready around 3 or 4 hours later. Recipe and photo from erinsfoodfiles.com.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-size red onions, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles from a can (use less if you prefer less heat)
7 cups hot water (tap water is fine)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Optional toppings:
sour cream
greek yogurt
crema or creme fraiche
avocado

 

Directions

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about eight minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir one minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 3 hours.

Transfer four cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with desired toppings.

Dinner

Chicken Strogonoffstrogonoff.jpg

My kids love a good beef strogonoff, and I can remember a few times years ago when I’d pick up a box of Hamburger Helper strogonoff and dinner was served. But the packaged strogonoff is full of fat and additives, and I wanted to find a healthier way to serve this dish. Once I tried Chicken Strogonoff, I was hooked, and so were the kids. Recipe and photo from chindeep.com.

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

16 oz. whole milk plain yogurt

2 Tablespoons dry, minced onion

2 beef cubes

1 large clove minced garlic OR 1 teaspoon garlic powder

16 oz. chopped, fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup dry white wine

freshly ground black pepper

chopped fresh or dry parsley for garnish

 

Directions

Put fresh or frozen, boneless-skinless chicken breasts in the bottom of a big crock pot. Mix remaining ingredients, except for the parsley, pour over chicken and cover. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Salt to taste. Serve on noodles, potatoes, spaetzle dumplings or rice. Garnish with parsley.

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce WrapsCrock-Pot-Buffalo-Chicken.jpg
I love lettuce wraps so much, they practically make up their own food group at my house. I’ve had lettuce wraps stuffed with all sorts of things including calories, so I’m always up for a new option. This recipe combines my favourite buffalo chicken with yummy lettuce wraps, and it’s low in fat too. Recipe and photo from skinnytaste.com.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

24 oz boneless skinless chicken breast

1 celery stalk

1/2 onion, diced

1 clove garlic

16 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup hot cayenne pepper sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot)

For the wraps:

6 large lettuce leaves, Bibb or Iceberg

1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

2 large celery stalks, cut into 2 inch matchsticks

 

Directions

In a crock pot, combine chicken, onions, celery stalk, garlic and broth (enough to cover your chicken, use water if the can of broth isn’t enough).Cover and cook on high 4 hours.

Remove the chicken from pot, reserve 1/2 cup broth and discard the rest. Shred the chicken with two forks, return to the slow cooker with the 1/2 cup broth and the hot sauce and set to on high for an additional 30 minutes. Makes 3 cups chicken.

To prepare lettuce cups, place 1/2 cup buffalo chicken in each leaf, top with 1/4 cup shredded carrots, celery and dressing of your choice.

 I really can’t imagine life without my trusty slow cooker, and I’m always on the lookout for more healthy slow cooker recipes. If you have a slow cooker favourite, be sure to share it in the comments, and if you need a new slow cooker to kick off a healthy eating routine, check these out.

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A great slow cooker is the basis of every slow cooker recipe
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Store everything you make in your slow cooker and keep it for another day
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Crock Pot’s Little Dipper keeps your lunch or dips warm, and it’s small enough to take anywhere