Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Slow Cooker Meals


Having a busy family schedule can make it seem difficult to find time to cook and eat homemade meals together. You can make healthy, time-saving meals by using a slow cooker. Slow cookers or “crock pots” are safe and convenient kitchen appliances that allow users to “cook without looking.”  By following a few safety measures as recommended in this USDA Slow Cookers and Food Safety fact sheet, you can enjoy the many benefits of homemade meals without all of the fuss.

New to using a slow cooker or need a refresher? Here are 6 great ways you can use your slow cooker:


                     2 15-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
                     1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
                     1 small onion (chopped)
                     1 teaspoon of garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic

                    You can also add vegetables such as green peppers or mushrooms. For meat sauce, add
                    one pound of ground turkey or lean ground beef. Heat on high until sauce begins to boil,
                    then turn down to low and cook for 6 hours. Serve over cooked, whole wheat pasta.
                    You can also use it to make these tasty zucchini pizza bites.
  • Shredded Chicken – Cook completely defrosted chicken for 3 - 4 hours on high or 6 -7 hours on low. Shred and serve on a salad. You may also use in sandwiches, wraps or tacos, or you may use in casseroles and soups. Tip: You can also cook other meats such as pork chops or roasts in the crock pot in approximately 5-6 hours on high or 8 – 10 hours on low. Tougher cuts of meat will take longer.
  • Dry Beans without Soaking – Smaller beans, such as black, navy and pinto will cook without presoaking in 5-6 hours, as long as you boil the beans for 10 minutes first. This is because beans naturally contain toxins that could cause an upset stomach, but boiling will cook these off. After boiling, drain and place in slow cooker and cover with 2” of water.  Cook 5-6 hours on high setting or 6 – 8 on low.    Larger beans such as kidney or limas will take longer to cook through.  Bonus: 1 pound of dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans. You can save time and money by using your slow cooker. 

As long as you follow the basic safety tips listed above, nearly any one-pot meal can be made in a slow cooker.  What family-favorite meals will you make for your family? Try making as many as possible and enjoy lots of quality time spent together around the table!

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall