How to Make Healthy and Complete Meals in a Slow Cooker
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Using a slow cooker makes it easy to create a healthy home cooked dish, as long as it is made with low fat, low sodium and nutrient-packed ingredients. Even though this meal is in a pot, you still want to follow the MyPlate guidelines. Make sure half of the meal is made up of vegetables and/or fruits, one quarter is whole grains and the other quarter is lean protein.
If you decide to cook only the meat in the Crock-Pot, the grains, vegetables and fruit can be prepared as side dishes. Whichever way you spin it, sticking to these guidelines will give you the complete Crock-Pot meal! Here are some other ideas to consider.
When Cooking Grains: Whole wheat and whole grains are the way to go! They are high in fiber, which can help maintain digestive health and lower cholesterol, among other health benefits. Some examples of grains you can use in slow cookers or to accompany your meal include whole wheat pasta, whole grain rice, corn and quinoa.
When Cooking Protein: Choose lean meats for healthy recipes. Trim the fat and skin before cooking them. Fish, chicken, lean cuts of beef and pork loin are some good examples of better meat choices for slow cooking. Beans are a great vegetarian lean protein choice, too. How about using beans to make a healthy delicious meatless chili?
When Cooking Vegetables and Fruits: Aim to include at least five servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Choose a variety of colors for maximum benefits. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber and many nutrients such as vitamin, minerals and antioxidants that can protect against chronic diseases. Did you know there are some delicious dessert recipes that you can make in a Crock-Pot using fruit? Try putting a healthy twist on apple crisps or berry cobbler.
When Adding Other Ingredients: Avoid cooking with canned/condensed soups, packaged soups, salad dressing mixes and canned broths. Try substituting with low-sodium options. Steer clear of high fat ingredients like cheese, sour cream, butter and heavy cream. Instead use skim milk, yogurt, reduced-fat cheeses and light sour cream.
Once you have created your delicious healthy Crock-Pot meal, remember to keep portion control in mind and enjoy!
Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.