I love to eat super healthy and interesting food, and I especially love sitting down to enjoy it in the evening. But I must admit – I don’t love spending hours in the kitchen, and I most definitely don’t like staring at the refrigerator at 6 pm, with no idea what to do.
That’s why I just bought a new slow cooker, and a new slow cooker cookbook.
Now I’m happy.
PREPPING FOOD TAKES ALL OF 10 MINUTES
Prepping food for a slow cooker takes all of maybe 10 or so minutes – that’s it. You do the prep, put it in the cooker in the morning, and go about your day. In the evening when you’re dreaming of coming home to put your feet up – you can. Dinner is ready.
I love these things. They’re magic.
I bought a new one because it’s bigger than my old slow cooker. This is not because my family has suddenly grown bigger, but because I had another brilliant idea – I can double and triple the recipes and then divide the leftovers into freezer bags, in single portion servings, and keep them in the freezer. On those mornings when I know my day is really going to get away from me – I’ll just pull out a serving bag per person, put them in the fridge to thaw during the day, and then pour the contents into a saucepan in the evening and heat it up. I can serve with some steamed or sautéed veggies or a salad and I have a beautiful, healthy meal with no effort at all.
Or I can turn one of these bags into lunch – you can do the same with a thermos and take your slow cooker leftovers to work.
You can see why I’m so happy about this!
HOW TO MASSIVELY SIMPLIFY YOUR COOKING
Here is how you can massively simplify your cooking – buy a slow cooker and find a good slow cooker recipe book. I got this one because it’s got loads of healthy meals – 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth, by Jonny Bowden and Jeanette Bessinger.
Go through the book once a week and choose maybe five recipes and write down the ingredients. Take your list to the store, buy the ingredients as well as enough fresh veggies and salads as sides for your slow cooker dishes – and you have a whole week’s worth of healthy, interesting and tasty meals.
If your job requires you to dash out the door in the morning, then do your 10 minute prep in the evening, put the ingredients in your fridge, toss into your slow cooker in the morning – and away you go!
Using my 150 Healthiest Recipe book, last night I made “Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken,” which was truly fabulous and healthy. Tonight I’m making “Lean-Lemon Apricot Chicken,” and tomorrow will be “Sweet Tooth-Buster Sweet Potato Apple Soup.”
To get you started, here are the three recipes from the book:
CLEAN PEANUTTY THAI CHICKEN
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup low sodium tamari sauce
Juice of 1 large lime
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch chunk peeled fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 sweet bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (get the kind with no hormones or antibiotics), cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
In the bowl of a food processor, combine peanut butter, broth, tamari, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth and set aside.
Combine the onion, bell pepper and chicken in the slow cooker and pour sauce evenly over all. Stir gently to coat. Cover and cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or on low for 5 – 6 hours until chicken is cooked through but still juicy. Stir in the cilantro just before serving. Yield, 4 servings.
LEAN LEMON-APRICOT CHICKEN
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 cup grated carrot
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (again – get the kind without hormones or antibiotics)
1/3 cup apricot nectar
2 Tablespoons low sodium tamari sauce
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (because you’re using lemon zest – be sure to get organic lemons)
1/2 cup chopped, dried apricots – unsulfured.
Scatter the onion slices and grated carrot on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chicken breasts on top.
In a small bowl, whisk the nectar, tamari, lemon juice, mustard, and zest together. Stir in the apricots and pour over the chicken. Cook on high for 2 – 3 hours, or on low for 3 – 4 hours, or until chicken is cooked through but still juicy. Stir to baste before serving.
SWEET TOOTH – BUSTER SWEET POTATO APPLE SOUP
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, halved
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and chopped
2 large baking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili or cayenne pepper (optional)
Add the onion, celery, sweet potatoes, and apples to the slow cooker.
In a large bowl, whisk together the broth, garlic, ginger, honey, cinnamon, salt, and chipotle, if using, and pour over the fruit and veggies. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 5-6 hours, or until the sweet potatoes are very tender.
Remove and discard the celery and puree the soup using an immersion blender. (Or cool and puree in batches in a blender or food processor.) Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve.