As a wife and mother I am always looking for those “short-cuts” to everyday tasks. One thing that I have recently started incorporating into our routine is Crockpot meals. I normally steered clear of the Crockpot because most recipes are filled with high levels of sodium, fat, and calories. The “traditional” Crockpot recipes call for numerous canned items such as soups and veggies and fatty meats.

Cooking with a Crockpot can be healthy though. Follow these simple tips to create easy, healthy, and delicious Crockpot meals your whole family will love.

Choose Fresh Over Canned

When a recipe calls for canned veggies replace them with fresh items. Canned veggies contain preservative, high sodium levels, and are less nutrient rich. If you use fresh veggies (or even frozen) you will end up with a much more nutritious end product.

Trim That Fat

Always trim the fat off of your meat before placing it in the cooker. You don’t have to trim it all if you like the flavor, but at least cut back.

Replace the White Rice

If a recipe calls for white rice you can easily replace it with wild rice or brown rice. Brown rice has nutrients that you, unfortunately, cannot find in white rice. If you are set of the taste of white rice try mixing half white rice with half brown rice. This is an easy way to up the nutrient level of your dish.

Go Organic or Purchase Local

Choose organic or local produce and meat when possible. Organic veggies are packed with vital nutrients that their conventional counterparts cannot live up to. Animals raised organically are not allowed to be fed antibiotics, the bovine human growth hormone (rbGH), or other artificial drugs. Animals are also not allowed to eat genetically modified foods. So keep your meal free of as much “artificial” as possible. You will get more nutrient and less filler.

Go Vegetarian for a Day

The Crockpot makes it easy to go vegetarian for a day. Add some beans or lentils in for your protein with lots of good veggies.

Here are a few recipes:

Chicken Breast

Adding chicken breast to the Crockpot will create a nice, moist fall apart in your mouth chicken. You can actually just cook the chicken with a little bit of water and it will come out nicely! I throw chicken breasts in the Crockpot in the morning on low. In the evening I remove the chicken breast and dice it up. This chicken is PERFECT for chicken salad! I make my chicken salad and refrigerate overnight. Here is a tasty and healthy chicken salad recipe. ()

Crockpot Barley Casserole

And here is a great dish to try on those “vegetarian” days. Barley has a great earthy taste to it and is a wonderful meat replacement!

Lentil Stew with Butternut Squash

One of my own favorite recipes:

Ingredients

  • 3 large stalks cut celery
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 large peeled, seeded, and cut butternut squash
  • 1 pound bag brown lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can vegetable broth (or sub home-made broth for an even healthy take! About 14 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, peeled

Directions

  • Add all ingredients (except Parmesan) into Crockpot and cook on low setting for approx. 8 hours.
  • Serve in bowl with some Parmesan on top.
  • To serve, spoon lentil stew into serving bowls; top with Parmesan shavings, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Makes about 11 1/2 cups.

This doesn’t even begin to cover all the great, healthy, and tasty recipes that you can create in your Crockpot. There are many easy, leave-it and go kind of recipes, so consider revamping your Crockpot routine. Do you have any healthy and tasty Crockpot recipes to share?