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Healthy Made Simple: Crockpot Meals

Healthy Made Simple: Crockpot Meals

The recipes shared throughout this program incorporate a slow- cooking technique with the use of a crockpot, my favorite kitchen appliance. However, if you do not have a crockpot and are interested in how you can prepare any of the recipes using a different cooking technique please feel free to email me.

Incorporating plant-based nutrients on 2/3 or more of your plate at every meal is encouraged by the American Institute for Cancer Research and demonstrated on the New American Plate Model.

Chicken Veggie Quinoa Risotto

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked and rinsed

1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup sliced bell pepper (color of your choice approximately 2 medium peppers)

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (plus up to 1 cup additional, if needed at the end)

1/2large (or one small) onion, thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. each of dried thyme, basil and oregano

1 tbsp. Olive Oil

1/2 tsp.. pepper

Juice of 1 lemon or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups roughly chopped, packed spinach

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Place all your ingredients except spinach and cheese in your crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Liquid should be absorbed, and the mixture should be slightly sticky when the meal is finished cooking. If the dish is very sticky feel free to add up to 1 cup additional broth and mix well until fully combined, creating a creamy texture. Add in spinach and cheese, stir and cover. Continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes or until spinach begins to wilt. For this recipe you can substitute a variety of different vegetables to your liking and try beans in place of chicken. Leftovers for this dish can be stored in a sealed container within the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.

Recipe yields 6 servings and was tailored from https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/recipes/slow-cooker-chicken-mushroom-and-spinach-quinoa-risotto/

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (1 cup): 386 calories, 37g protein, 39g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 4g total sugar, 10.8g fat, 2.8g saturated fat, 3.7g monounsaturated fat, 2.3g polyunsaturated fat, 71.6mg cholesterol, and 280mg sodium

Crockpot Tip: let your crockpot do all the work, don’t be tempted to lift the lid and check your dish throughout the cooking process. Every time the lid is removed heat is released. If to much heat is released you may need to increase the cooking time.

Crockpot Resource: https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/turn-slow-cooking-heat-health/

 

Thai Pineapple and Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients

15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 fresh pineapple, cored and chopped into 1-inch pieces (you could substitute canned ~ 3-4 cups, in natural juices- drained and rinsed)

1 pound sweet potatoes (2 med or 1 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

1 small yellow onion, chopped (about one cup)

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

13.5 oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk (you could substitute with evaporated milk, non-fat

evaporated milk or another plant based milk)

3 tbsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

** Optional: sliced almonds and green onions as topping.

Directions

Prepare ingredients as identified within ingredient list. Add all items to your crockpot cook on low for 6-8 hours (or high for 3-4 hours). This recipe can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and enjoyed as leftovers. If you want to prepare in advance all the ingredients can be added to a gallon freezer bag and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months prior to cooking in your crockpot. For more protein you could additionally add chicken or ground turkey.

Recipe yields 6 servings and was tailored from https://thefamilyfreezer.com/2015/10/21/freezer-to-slow-cooker-thai-pineapple-curry/#_a5y_p=5020252

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (1 cup): 210 calories, 5g protein, 45g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 2g fat, 0mg cholesterol, and 105mg sodium

**Nutrient analysis does not include optional ingredients.

Crockpot Tip: Trying using this crockpot conversion chart when converting stranded oven or stovetop recipes to your crockpot. Keep in mind cooking times may vary slightly. If you are preparing meat in your crockpot I encourage you to use a meat thermometer to help determine if a dish is fully cooked.

Crockpot Resource: https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/slow-cooker-tips-for-busy-weeknights

 

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium white onion - about 1 cup, chopped

2 stalks celery - about 1 cup, chopped

2 medium carrots - about 1 cup, chopped

2 medium zucchini - about 1.5 cups, chopped

4 garlic cloves minced – or 1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tsp. Italian seasoning – or equal parts of basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme (1.5 tsp each)

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp. tomato paste

28 oz can no salt added diced tomato, with liquid

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained- or great northern beans

1 can low sodium peas, rinsed and drained

1 cup whole grain elbow pasta

2 cups fresh baby spinach

** Alternative Vegetable Suggestions: mushrooms, potatoes, green beans, butternut squash, yellow squash, bell pepper kale, swiss chard and cabbage (leafy greens should be added the last 5 minutes)

** Alternative Pasta Suggestions: any small whole grain pasta or gluten free alternative (such as lentil or chickpea pasta)

**Optional topping: pinch of red pepper flakes, pesto or parmesan cheese

Directions

Prepare ingredients as identified within ingredient list. Add all the items except for pasta, peas and spinach to your crockpot, cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours). With 15 minutes remaining to your cook time add uncooked pasta. If you are cooking on low, increase temp to high. Once pasta is fully cooked, add peas and spinach, mix well. Let dish continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, then enjoy! This recipe can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Recipe yields 6 servings and originated from https://bitesofwellness.com/vegan-minestrone-soup-gluten-free

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (1 cup): 250 calories, 13g protein, 40g carbohydrates, 13.5g fiber, 3.8g fat, 0mg cholesterol and 350mg sodium

**Nutrient analysis does not include suggested/optional alternative ingredients.

Crockpot Tip: Be sure to use the right size crockpot. Your cooking appliance should be filled between one-half and two thirds. Crockpots rang in size from 1.5 quarts to 8 quarts.

Crockpot Resource: https://foodandnutrition.org/from-the-magazine/healthy-kitchen-hacks-mastering-the-slow-cooker/

 

Greek Chicken and Vegetables

Ingredients

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 jar roasted red peppers (12 oz) - drained and chopped

1 cup kalamata olives - drained and rinsed

1 medium red onion – cut into 1/2-inch chunks

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. minced garlic – 3 large cloves

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme leaves

½ cup reduced fat crumbled feta cheese – approximately 2 tbsps. per serving

Chopped fresh herbs: basil, parsley, or thyme – I added thyme per serving

** Pair this recipe with brown rice, quinoa, couscous or pita bread. Perhaps try over a bed of mixed greens with cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

Directions

Prepare ingredients as identified within ingredient list. Lightly coat your crockpot with nonstick spray. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium to high heat. Season chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper, then place in a hot skillet. Let chicken brown on each side for 1-2 minutes. Transfer chicken to your crockpot. Arrange peppers, olives and onions around chicken. In a small bowl whisk together red wine vinegar, garlic, honey, oregano and thyme. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables. Place your lid on your crockpot and cook for 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low, until your chicken is cooked through the center. Allow your chicken to reach a temperature of a 165 degrees F. Serve warm sprinkled with feta and fresh herbs. This recipe can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Recipe yields 4 servings and originated from https://www.wellplated.com/greek-chicken/

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (1 piece of chicken and approximately ½ cup vegetables): 390 calories, 45g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 15g fat, 119mg cholesterol and 875mg sodium

**Nutrient analysis does not include brown rice as pictured, or any additional recipe pairing suggestions.

Crockpot Tip: Searing your chicken in a hot skillet on the stovetop prior to placing it in the crockpot can give the meat a richer flavor that cannot be fully achieved by a crockpot alone. This isn’t always attainable if you are in hurry or necessary but a nice touch if you have time!

Crockpot Resource: https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/10-food-safety-tips-For-the-slow-cooker

 

Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

1 large egg

1, 15- to 16-ounce container part-skim ricotta

10-ounce package of chopped frozen baby spinach, thawed and strained

2 large carrots, chopped

4 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

28 ounces canned no added salt crushed tomatoes

28 ounces canned no added salt diced tomatoes, strained (added without juices)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. of dried basil

1 tsp. of dried oregano

1 tsp. of Italian seasoning

Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

15 whole wheat lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces), uncooked

3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions

Prepare ingredients as identified within ingredient list. Combine egg, ricotta and vegetables in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine crushed and diced tomatoes, garlic, as well as, seasonings. Generously coat your crockpot with cooking spray. Spread 1.5 cups of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the crockpot. Then arrange 5 noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly and breaking as needed to cover as much of the sauce as possible. Spread half of the ricotta-vegetable mixture over the noodles and firmly pat down with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add another 1.5 cups sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat your layering process one more time starting with noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles then evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles. Place your one cup of remaining mozzarella in the refrigerator. This will be added to your finished recipe. Put the lid on the crockpot and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours (I cooked mine for approximately 5 hours). I used the extra hour to cook my top noodles to a soft texture. Once finished turn off the crockpot and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella, cover and let sit for 10 minutes to melt the cheese. Your first piece of lasagna may not come out of the crockpot perfectly (at least mine didn’t). However, the following pieces seemed to be plated easily and kept their shape. Enjoy this warm comfort meal and keep your leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Recipe Notes

Cooking spray or a crockpot liner will help keep your dish from sticking to the sides and bottom of your cooking appliance. You will need a 6-quart crockpot (or larger), although this recipe can be modified for a smaller cooking appliance. I used uncooked lasagna noodles that would typically require boiling in advance. Preparing the recipe on low for approximately 4-5 hours cooked the noodles to the perfect texture. However, you could also use a no-boil lasagna noodle.

Keep in mind you don’t have to use the vegetables listed within the ingredients. Use what you have on hand or some of your favorites. You could also add some ground turkey or chicken in place of some vegetables. This recipe can be tailored to your liking! Low fat cottage cheese can be used in place of ricotta, both provide a wonderful flavor. To decrease moisture, I thawed and strained my frozen spinach. Additionally, strain the juice from canned diced tomatoes. If you prefer an extra soft vegetable, you may want to sauté them slightly on the stove in a little olive oil prior to adding to your cheese mixture. The vegetables added raw were soft with some texture, which my family and I enjoyed.

Recipe yields 8 servings and originated from https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252492/slow-cooker-vegetarian-lasagna/

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (~ 1.5 cups): 422 calories, 29g protein, 50g carbohydrates, 8.5g fiber, 12g fat, 61mg cholesterol and 365mg sodium

Crockpot Tip: Use the low setting if you can. Most dishes benefit from a slow, gentle heat to really bring out the flavors.

Crockpot Resource: https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/save-time-and-money-at-the-grocery-store

 

Bean and Pineapple Tacos on Corn Tortillas

Ingredients

1, 8 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed 

1, 8 ounce can great northern beans, drained and rinsed 

½ cup salsa (or no added salt diced tomatoes with green chilies)

8-10 ounces crushed pineapples (within 100% juice) 

2 green onions sliced 

¼ cup lime juice 

1 tsp. grated lime zest 

¼ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. ground cumin 

½ tsp. Chili powder 

1/8 tsp.cayenne pepper 

1/8 tsp. black pepper 

Corn tortillas 

**Additional topping suggestions: Diced pineapple, avocado, tomatoes and shredded leafy greens. You may also consider low fat Greek yogurt and or a small amount of hot sauce.

Directions

Prepare ingredients as identified within ingredient list. Add the first 5 ingredients to your crockpot. In a medium size bowl combine lime juice, lime zest, garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Mix juice and spice mixture together, then add to your crockpot. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to thoroughly mix all the ingredients within your crockpot. Cook on low for 3 hours. Once finished enjoy warm by adding been mixture to corn tortillas with some of your favorite taco toppings. Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. 

Recipe Notes

If you want to use a lean meat option (in place of great northern beans) 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken or ground turkey can be added to the crockpot, uncooked prior to cooking. However, you will need to increase your crockpot cooking time to 5 hours on low. Also, I would suggest shredding your chicken or crumbling ground turkey once fully cooked. A whole wheat flour tortilla can be used in place of corn tortillas. Corn tortillas are smaller than the traditional flour tortilla. However, they still offer fiber, whole grains and other nutrients. While also being lower in fat, calories and sodium. This recipe includes two corn tortillas per serving. The taco bean mixture is great served over mixed greens or brown rice, in place of corn tortillas. You can personalize your plate in many ways, with the use of this recipe. You could substitute canned beans for dried beans, check out the resource below on how to prepare dried beans within the crockpot (or using other cooking techniques). You can easily zest your lime with a grater, vegetable peeler or small knife. You do not need a special citrus zester. Make sure to scrub your limes under running water and thoroughly dry them prior to zesting. Using zest from a citrus fruit is an easy way to add a lot of flavor.

Recipe yields 8 servings and originated from https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/slow-cooker-chicken-black-bean-tacos/

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (½ cup bean mixture and 2 corn tortillas, or ¼ cup bean mixture per corn tortilla): 235 calories, 8.5g protein, 43g carbohydrates, 7.8g fiber, 1.9g fat, 0 mg cholesterol and 144mg sodium

**Nutrient Analysis does not include additional topping suggestions.

Crockpot Tip: Don’t store leftovers within the ceramic slow cooker base in the refrigerator. Always store your leftovers safely within a sealed container.

Crockpot Resource: https://www.cancerdietitian.com/2011/12/one-of-the-top-cancer-fighting-foods-Beans-how-to-cook-dried-beans.html

 

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

16 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup carrots peeled and diced (about 1.5 large carrots)

½ cup celery diced (about 2 celery stalk)

1 cup yellow onion diced (about 1 medium size onion)

1 cup baking potato peeled and cut into small cubes (about 1 medium size potato)

16 oz low sodium chicken broth

16 oz water

2 bay leaves dried

1 tbsp. instant flour (“Wondra Flour”)

½ cup frozen peas

Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste

**Additional recipe suggestions: Enjoy this recipe as is or serve over a slice of toasted whole wheat bread. Try making your own miniature biscuits with whole wheat flour and top your mixture to serve as an alternative to pie crust.

Directions

Prepare ingredients as identified within ingredient list. Turn slow cooker on high for 4 hours. Add your first 8 ingredients and mix well. Let your recipe cook for 3.5 hours, then add your frozen peas and instant flour. Cook for the final 30 minutes then add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Notes

Chicken can be replaced with any bean of choice and chicken broth can be substituted with vegetable broth. The vegetables within this recipe can be substituted for just about any fresh, canned or frozen vegetable. Depending on how you prefer the consistency of this recipe additional instant flour may be needed.

Recipe yields 8 servings and originated from https://www.cancernutrition.org/recipes/crock-pot-chicken-pot-pie

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (1 cup): 225 calories, 27g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 5.5g fat, and 460mg sodium

**Nutrient Analysis does not include additional recipe suggestions.

Crockpot Tip: The flavor from most leaf herbs increase within the crockpot. Add them at the start of your cook time. Some ground seasonings however lose flavor. Try adding ground seasoning during the final 30 minutes and right before serving season to taste.

 

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients

1 lb ground turkey (cooked and browned in a pan)

1 small head of cabbage, coarsely chopped (or half of a large head of cabbage)

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

3 celery stalks, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (15 oz) can no added salt diced tomatoes, with juices

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

½ tspn. thyme

½ tspn. crushed red pepper flakes

Pinch of salt and pepper

¾ cup water

**Additional recipe suggestions: Serve recipe over brown rice or cauliflower rice. Perhaps try filling a whole grain tortilla with mixture or simply enjoy as is!

Directions

Prepare all your ingredients as identified within the ingredient list. Add half of the browned ground turkey to the bottom of your crockpot. In a small bowl combine thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, mix well. Sprinkle half of the seasoning over the top of the ground turkey. Add half of the chopped cabbage, onions, bell peppers and celery. In a medium sized bowl combine tomato paste, diced tomatoes (with juices) and minced garlic, mix well. Pour half of your tomato mixture on top of vegetables. Repeat these layers one more time. Add ¾ cup of water on top of your layers. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Mix your final product and serve.

Recipe Notes

Ground turkey can be replaced with ground chicken or any bean of your choice. You can add alternative vegetables or substitute vegetables in place of orange bell pepper, onion and celery. This recipe can be served as a soup as well, by adding 2-3 cups of vegetable broth. I prepared my ground turkey and cut my vegetables up the night before. So, I literally just layered my  ingredients (as identified within the directions) within the crockpot the next morning. If you want to try cauliflower rice, I suggest a steamtable bag. This can be found within the frozen section of most grocery stores. This recipe can be stored in the refrigerator within a sealed container for 3-4 days.

Recipe yields approximately 6 servings and was tailored from https://crockpotsandflipflops.com/slow-cooker-unstuffed-cabbage-rolls/

Nutrient Analysis per 1 serving (approximately 1 cup): 189 calories, 19g protein, 16g

carbohydrates, 4.5g Fiber, 6g fat, and 113mg sodium

**Nutrient Analysis does not include additional recipe suggestions.

Crockpot Tip: The best vegetables for a crockpot are sturdier ones. For example- celery, carrots, tomatoes, onions and peppers. Additionally, cauliflower, corn, beets, potatoes, mushrooms and squash are all great contenders to add to most crockpot dishes. Vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned. However, make sure you read the recipe directions carefully; sometimes canned or frozen vegetables are instructed to be added to the final 30-60 minutes of preparation.