5 Delicious (and Healthy) Slow Cooker Recipes that your Family and Friends will LOVE!

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If you could only have one appliance in your kitchen what would it be?

If you would have asked me even just last year I probably would have said my Aroma rice cooker. I have had it since my freshman year of college (the reality that this was SEVEN years ago slapped me in the face the other day) and it has withstood the test of time and is still a crucial part of my cooking to this day. Even though I still think my rice cooker is SO great, I have discovered another contender for the title of “greatest kitchen appliance ever created,” the Crock-Pot. My mother graciously passed hers down to me and I’m not sure why it took me so long to incorporate it into my cooking routine, but now I can’t get enough of it!

I think one of the biggest benefits a slow cooker offers is the convenience of minimal food preparation and clean-up and the cook-time in-between is completely hands-off! Time is a valuable thing and it’s a win in my book when you can create a nutritious meal while also being able to utilize your time in the best way possible. You can even buy slow cooker liners to cut back on the majority of the clean-up! My least favorite chore is doing the dishes, so I am a huge fan of anything I can do to eliminate some of the hassle.

Another beautiful thing about cooking with a slow cooker is that you can cook in bulk and have leftovers that can be stored in the freezer. I’d recommend stocking up on freezer bags and reusable containers so that you have them readily available each time you prepare a meal. Some people spend a fortune on their food storage containers, but I’ve found that even the cheaper Rubbermaid sets that come in all shapes and sizes work just fine. Just make sure they are microwave-safe so that you can easily re-heat your leftovers.

If you’re looking for more ways to cut time in the kitchen, check out these 4 Time-Saving Ways to Batch & Freeze Meals from Brennan at Our Home on Purpose. Brennan is the queen of all things organization for the home and she has meal-planning down to a science (and that’s seriously no joke!). Using Brennan’s methods, I’ve been able to reduce time slaving in the kitchen and keep a little more cash in my wallet!

Less talk, more food, please!

With the Fall and Winter seasons right around the corner, I suspect I’ll be using my Crock-Pot much more frequently. I’ve already started scouting out new, yummy (and more health-conscious) recipes and tweaking them with my preferred ingredients! I love the variety of meals that a slow cooker offers. From soups and stews, to casseroles, there is something for everyone! Here are five AMAZING recipes that your entire family will absolutely love! Taste tested and approved by yours truly.

1. Slow Cooker Chicken Cauliflower Curry

I am not a huge fan of spicy foods, and typically, I shy away from curries for that exact reason, but this recipe will definitely be making an appearance in my kitchen more than once this season. I think it initially drew my attention because of my recent obsession with cauliflower and its multiple uses (and the fact that it’s only 34 calories per 100 grams, raw).

Most of your time prepping this recipe will be dedicated to chopping up the veggies, ginger, and garlic. Once you’re done with that, it’s smooth sailing from there.  A tip from my first experience with it, make sure to monitor the cauliflower as you approach the 3 1/2 – 4 hour mark.  You don’t want it to get too tender, or it will break apart and disintegrate.

We ate the curry alone and thoroughly enjoyed it, but some may prefer to have it over a bed of whole grain rice, whole grain noodles, or quinoa. Just keep in mind, the additions are not included in the calorie count.

Original recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef

Prep Time – 10 mins.
Cook Time – 4 hrs.
Total Time – 4 hrs. 10 mins.

Servings – 6
Calories per serving – About 313 kcal

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add the chicken, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, curry powder, sea salt, black pepper, and onion to the slow cooker.
  2. Evenly pour the chicken broth over and stir all ingredients.
  3. Cook on high for about 3-4 hours or on low for approx. 5-6 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and the cauliflower is tender. Make sure not to cook longer than stated or the cauliflower will become too soft.
  4. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred into small pieces with a fork. Then, return to the slow cooker.
  5. Add the coconut milk and peas, and stir to incorporate. Cook until warmed through.
  6. Top with cilantro and serve hot.

2. Skinny Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup with Bay

Butternut squash soup is just one of those foods that is so much more enjoyable when there’s a cold bite to the air, so I was glad that after making a batch I was able to freeze the second portion for a chillier day. Finding a good butternut squash soup recipe that isn’t loaded with calories can difficult because much of what makes the soup desirable, in my opinion, is the creamy taste and texture that typically comes from heavy cream. I came across this recipe that substitutes coconut milk for the heavy cream and it is equally as good, and not to mention, a fraction of the calories.

The beauty of this recipe is that it is very flexible and you can alter it to fit your personal preferences.  I used carrots as my second vegetable, but you can also substitute another type of squash such as buttercup or kobacha squash. I also cut out the nutmeg and added bay as a spice alternative.

You can also make the soup as thick or thin as you prefer. I kept mine on the thicker side and it proved to be extremely filling!

Recipe derived and modified from Skinny Taste

Prep Time – 5 mins.
Cook Time – 4 hrs.
Total Time – 4 hrs. 5 mins.

Servings – 4
Calories per serving – About 152 kcal

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half, length-wise
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground bay leaves
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut the squash in half, length- wise and remove the seeds.
  2. Place the squash (still in peel), carrots, onion, bay leaves, garlic, pepper, and broth in the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or 5-6 hours on low.
  4. Remove squash flesh from the peel and discard, placing the flesh back in the slow cooker.
  5. Stir in coconut milk and let warm.
  6. Blend in a blender and pour to serve. Top with desired toppings.

3. Healthy Slow Cooker Eggplant Lasagna

I don’t know about you, but Italian is my go-to comfort food and I have to continually resist temptation because I know that it’s not what my body needs. The beauty of this recipe is that you still get that yummy Italian flavor and honestly, forget that you’re eating a vegetable substitute and not a heavy pasta. I even fed this to my boyfriend who loves to see meat on his plate, and I didn’t hear a peep from him about how the lasagna was “lacking” by not having any type of meat in it. He loved it!

The prep time on this recipe is a little longer, mostly because the preparation on the eggplant. As someone who has tried this recipe, I recommend taking your time on the eggplant because it definitely equates to a better product. When cutting the eggplant into thin “noodle-like” slices and placing them on the paper towel, make sure to soak-up as much extra moisture as you can. The more conscious you are about this, the less watery your lasagna is going to be. Mushrooms are also naturally packed with water, so just make sure to be mindful prior to placing everything in the cooker.

When you’ve hit the 2 hour mark, make sure to check the tenderness of the eggplant noodles.  You may need to allow for a little extra cook time if the texture isn’t right.

Recipe derived and modified from Skinny Ms. 

Prep Time – 15 mins.
Cook Time – 2 hrs.
Total Time – 2 hrs. 15 mins.

Servings – 6
Calories per serving – About 221 kcal

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggplants, sliced thin to resemble lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar sugar-free spaghetti sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup mushroom
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Slice the eggplant thin to resemble lasagna noodles, place on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper, allowing excess moisture in eggplants to drain for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and egg in a bowl.
  2. Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with ¼ of the tomato sauce and minced garlic. Layer ¼ the eggplant slices, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cheese on top. Repeat the layer three more times (layering is as follows: sauce, eggplant, peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheese).
  3. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or low for 5 to 6 hours.
  4. Garnish with desired toppings and serve hot.

4. Skinny Slow Cooker Turkey Enchilada Casserole

Public Service Announcement: DO NOT LET THE PICTURES OF THIS DISH FOOL YOU. IT IS AMAZING!

Get your food storage containers ready for the freezer, but don’t plan on keeping the leftovers in there for too long. Your family is going to want you to bring it back out sooner than later! What I loved most about this recipe is the amount of food it yields and the amount of colorful vegetables that are packed in. It’s just another one of those recipes that you feel good about serving those that you love and depending on the size of your family you WILL be able to make multiple meals out of this recipe.

Since there are so many veggies in this recipe, It does produce a lot of extra “juice.” I actually pulled out my colander and strained the entire casserole before adding in the frozen corn, the last cup of enchilada sauce, and cheese. It eliminated the runny portions and made it a much more solid dish. The original recipe was actually for chicken enchilada casserole, but I decided that I wanted to substitute lean, ground turkey. If you prefer chicken, follow the exact recipe from Lauren’s Latest.

You also have to be conscious about your rice near the end. I had some minor difficulty getting it to cook fully. After the entire 4 hours in the slow cooker just make sure to check that it isn’t still crunchy or chewy.

You can eat this casserole alone or with whole wheat tortillas.  Just keep in mind that these are not included in the calorie count.

Recipe derived and modified from Lauren’s Latest

Prep Time – 15 mins.
Cook Time – 4 hrs.
Total Time – 4 hrs. 15 mins.

Servings – 8
Calories per serving – About 318 kcals

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked whole grain rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 16 oz. mild Red Enchilada Sauce, divided (2 cups)
  • 1 – 1.5 lb. lean, ground turkey
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup frozen corn

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In crockpot, stir together rice, chicken broth, zucchini, red pepper, green pepper, onion, carrot, black beans, cumin, 1/2 cup enchilada sauce and salt and pepper.
  2. Top with ground turkey, rubbed with more salt and pepper.
  3. Pour over another 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce, cover and cook on high for 3 and a half to 4 hours.
  4. To finish, stir in another cup of enchilada sauce, shredded cheese and frozen corn.
  5. Switch crockpot to low, cover and cook another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.
  6. Top with desired toppings (cilantro, avocado, Greek yogurt, etc.)

5. Skinny Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

An indulgent, home-style favorite, made skinny! I was a little hesitant about this recipe because I wasn’t sure about the balsamic vinegar and Greek yogurt combination, but I am extremely happy that I gave it a try. I have tried Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream in the past and had a below-par experience, but I couldn’t tell the difference in this recipe. It may have been that I tried a different brand this time, but regardless, this dish gets five stars and will continue to be in our meal rotation.

The original recipe called for chicken, but I decided to “beef” this one up, if you know what I’m saying (haha, bad joke.). That being said, you most definitely want to cook the dish on the low setting so that the beef has extra time to cook thoroughly and as tenderly as possible. Another tip I’d recommend is letting the stroganoff cool and solidify a bit before adding the Greek yogurt. It allows the beef broth and juices released from the meat and mushrooms time to be absorbed back into the meat and makes the whole mixture less soupy, eliminating the need for adding flour to the mixture as a thickening agent.

You can eat the stroganoff alone, but we did add a small bed of whole wheat egg noodles to ours. You could also try a bed of cauliflower mash. It is delicious!

Recipe derived and modified from Skinny Ms.

Prep Time – 10 mins.
Cook Time – 8 hrs.
Total Time – 8 hrs. 10 mins.

Servings – 8
Calories per serving – About 211 kcals

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb. cubed stew beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup beef broth, fat-free
  • 1 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Drop the cubed stew meet at the bottom of the slow cooker and add onion, garlic, black pepper, salt, ground mustard, balsamic vinegar, and beef broth.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  3. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for 1-2 more hours.
  4. When the beef is done, stir in the Greek yogurt.
  5. Serve as is, over whole wheat egg noodles, brown rice, or mashed cauliflower.

If you try any of these recipes drop a comment below and let me know what you think! Share some of your own favorite healthy slow cooker recipes! 

Be Well,

Tori

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