Slow Cooker Recipes

I get the impression that people tend to either love, or hate slow cookers or crock pots….But I am definitely in team slow cooker!

 I received the slow cooker as a Christmas present from my Mum about 2 years ago, just prior to the start of my weight loss campaign (you can read how I lost 30kg here). Initially I thought it was too old-fashioned and  It took me a little while to get going, with more than one completely failed experiment!! But now I am in love!

I think there are tremendous health benefits to using the slow cooker. I love that the slow cooker enables you to make tasty, health meals based on vegetables and meat with little added fats and extra, empty carbohydrates. I often adapt most recipes I find to replace half the meat content with vegetables such as carrot, celery and onions. I mostly use tomato based sauces which are high in the antioxidant lycopene. I also tend to use a variety of spices such as paprika, cinnamon and turmeric and others which are also a good source of antioxidants.

 Using the slow cooker also fits well with my family’s sporty schedule. Often we arrive at home quite late from swimming, gymnastics or soccer training. To open the door and have the yummy smell of dinner waiting for you is a such a comforting feeling. In winter I’ll often set up the bread maker to have fresh hot bread ready at the same time. When the kids and I walk through the door, half frozen and wind-blown from being out on the soccer field, the aroma takes our breath away!

I usually prepare the meals for the slow cooker straight after I have got the girls away to school. Buster (4) just loves to help me. He takes his job very seriously and is the official adder of ingredients to the cooker and the official stirrer, but his favorite job is using the pepper grinder…I think it makes him feel all grown up, like mummy and daddy!

On Swimming nights, my daughter Flash (8), Buster and I arrive home from swimming training at about 6pm and Flash is ‘starving!’.  However, my other daughter, Muscles and GrumpyDaddy  will not arrive home until about 7.20pm- as muscles has gymnastics training most nights until then. If I don’t get food into Flash, she’ll most probably die J (according to her). To stop her incessant asking for food and her filling up on snacks before dinner I just usually give her and Buster an ‘early dinner’ The slow cooker makes this possible as I just take out her portion and serve it with some pasta, bread or rice from the rice cooker. The slow cooker keeps the food nice and warm for the rest of the family to have dinner later.

I find that the tender meat and vegetables from the slow cooker are very easy for the kids to eat and I know they are getting essential of iron from the meat and vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the vegetables. To boost the vegetable content I usually add green vegetables to the slow cooker about 30min-1 hour before serving and I turn it up to high. Typically I’ll add broccoli, sliced zucchini or mushrooms (Flash’s favorite). Adding a cup of small diced frozen vegetables at this time also adds colour and interest to the dish. I also like to stir trough fresh herbs from my little herb garden just before serving to freshen up the dish. Typically I would use baby spinach, Italian flat leaf parsley or coriander. Fresh herbs such as these are reportedly high in antioxidants and vitamins.

Often, coming home from a hard day of child wrangling , I am just either too exhausted or just couldn’t be bothered to start a full dinner from scratch. Having dinner prepared in the slow cooler, ready to eat is the perfect antidote to stop myself from the temptation of ordering takeaway meals. If I could nominate the thing that has made the biggest contribution to turning my families eating habits healthier and helping me loose and maintain my weight, I would defiantly say it is my beloved slow cooker.

Fragrant Cinnamon Beef

Slow Cooker Toppings

GrandmaC’s Favourite: Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

I’m not sure how healthy this one is, but my mum loves it, so I love to cook it for her. It smells so good and is perfect for beating back the cold winter.

6 small lamb shanks, I remove most of the fat that I can
1 can tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
3-4 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
1 carrot sliced
1 brown onion sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low salt chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon wostershire sauce
1 teaspoon vegemite

Chopped flat leaf parsley

Add all the ingredients (except parsley) to a slow cooker and cook on low for approximately 8 hours. Stir through the chopped pasley, just before serving. You can take the meat of the bone, add it back to the sauce and serve over pasta. But I like to serve the lamb shanks, still on the bone, with some steamed vegetables and  hot fresh bread, just out of the bread machine, to mop up the yummy sauce!

Spicy Lamb Curry

This dish is full of flavor and antioxidants from the spices and vegetables. I like to serve it with rice or fresh bread.

500g diced lamb

1 red onion sliced into wedges.
1 large or 2 medium carrots sliced.
1 stick of celery finely chopped (because the girls don’t like it when they see it!).
4 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped.
1 sweet potato (kumara) cut into relatively small dices (this dissolves into the sauce and acts to thicken it).
optional- 1 can of drained and washed chick peas

1-2 tablespoons of Moroccan seasoning depending on how spicy you like it
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Black pepper (for buster!)
1 ½-2 cups salt reduced chicken stock or water (so that the meat and vegetables are only just covered)

To add 1 hour before serving

1 cup broccoli florets
1 slices zucchini
6 button mushrooms

Optional -1cup small diced mixed frozen vegetables

Optional for serving –fresh coriander sliced almonds

  • Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir. Set on low and cook for 8 hours (approx) on low.
  • ½-1 hour before serving, add the reaming vegetables and turn up to high.
  • Before serving stir through chopped coriander and sliced almonds if you like

Mummy’s Mediterranean Chicken

1 or 2 chicken thighs per person, (I use 6) on the bone, with skin and visible fat removed.
1 large or 2 medium carrots, sliced
1 red onion cut into wedges
½ large red capsicum cut into strips
1 stick of celery finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
100g ham thinly sliced
1 or 2  tablespoons (or to taste) green stuffed olives
1 can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
A splash of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
2 tablespoons  paprika
Black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup salt reduced chicken stock

before serving

2 sliced zucchini

Chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low for approx 8 hours.
  • ½-1 hour before serving add the sliced zucchini and stir gently.
  • Just Before serving, stir through the parsley.
  • Serve with pasta or bread.