Healthy Crockpot Dinners – the Perfect Winter Antidote

healthy crockpot dinnersLast weekend, I visited my sister at her new home. As I walked into the kitchen, I was hit with the wonderful smell of a rich beef stew cooking in the crockpot (or slow cooker as we call them in the UK). I had almost forgotten about this simple pleasure (due to traveling a lot). In fact, one of the few things I love about winter is enjoying a host of hearty and healthy crockpot dinners. We were able to head off for a walk in the chilly Gloucestershire countryside and return a few hours later for big bowls of warming stew.

Benefits of Crockpots

I remember a time when crockpots went out of fashion. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because they were cumbersome and unattractive devices that took up too much counter space. Or maybe it’s because they were inextricably linked to bland, overcooked dishes from the Seventies. Of course, more exciting technology also came along, like the microwave.

Whatever the reason, they have enjoyed a “comeback” in recent years for a number of reasons:

  1. Design and technology caught up and now crockpots are easy on the eye, dishwasher friendly, safe and reliable.
  2. Crockpot cooking tends to be more cost-effective.
  3. They’re convenient and require less preparation time. Put your ingredients in the crockpot in the morning and you’ll return from a long day at work to a cooked meal.
  4. Crockpots are versatile and can be used to cook more than stews and casseroles.
  5. Slow cooking tenderizes cheaper cuts of meat and brings out the flavor in your food.
  6. They’re more energy efficient than an oven (approximately the same as powering a light bulb).
  7. They provide healthier meals.

Healthy Crockpot Dinners

You’re less likely to grab takeout after a day at work if you come home to a ready-cooked meal. However, there are other health benefits to the slow cooker.

You can cook healthy meals in your crockpot without fear of losing all of the nutrients. The low heat and covered cooking mean far fewer nutrients are lost than most other forms of cooking.

And you don’t need to use a crockpot solely for dinner. Steel cut oats can be prepared in the crockpot. Cook slowly overnight with water and/or your favorite non-dairy milk, some dried fruit and a teaspoon of cinnamon and wake to a delicious, wholesome breakfast.

Whatever your PCOS diet, you will find crockpot recipes that suit you, whether vegan, vegetarian, Low-GI or low-carb. Even the simplest recipes will become more appealing when cooked slowly with your favorite spices, herbs and stocks. There are some things that shouldn’t be put in a crockpot, so always use recipes designed for that purpose.

A Crockpot for Everybody

healthy crockpotCrockpots come in all sizes and are incredibly affordable. This 6-Quart stainless steel crockpot (almost 7 liters) is currently one of Amazon’s bestsellers and under $40! But if it’s too big (6 quarts is a lot), there’s sure to be another that will suit you.

It’s sometimes difficult to cook for one or two people, but there are now mini crockpots that work perfectly for small families or singles. Or, you could buy a larger size and simply freeze the leftovers for easy future dinners.

Crockpots come in a plethora of colors to match any kitchen décor (such as the red crockpot at the top). They’re pretty enough to serve from the pot, and – as you can see in this picture – some of them are designed to be carried. So, you can cook at home and transport your healthy crockpot dinners to a gathering, family or friends.

Convinced?

Crockpots are not solely for winter use, but with the days becoming colder (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) this is the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with their usefulness and versatility. They’re a good way to make healthy and convenient meals to fit in with your PCOS diet, while making food that the rest of the family will also enjoy.

Please share your favorite healthy crockpot dinners on the PCOS Matters Facebook page.

 

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