Slow cookers have come back into fashion as a fantastic moist-heat method of cooking that allows dishes to simmer unattended for hours, resulting in a meal that tastes like you slaved away all day at the stove. Here are four breakfasts, four desserts, four soups and five hearty, savory main dishes that all clock in under 500 calories — so you can enjoy the comfort of satisfying winter meals that stick to your ribs but not to your waistline.
Set a slow cooker to cook before you go to sleep in the evening, and wake up to freshly made old-fashioned oatmeal or other delicious grain-based recipes for breakfast. Pop your ingredients into the slow cooker before leaving for work in the morning, and come home to dinner of fork-tender meat and braised vegetables. Even desserts can be made in a slow cooker, as a handful of recipes in this article demonstrate.
Slow-cookers can turn cheap cuts of meat into scrumptious savory stews, and the low temperature makes it impossible for food to burn — the worst you can do is overcook your meal. And the promise of only one pot to clean, as opposed to a stovetop full of multiple pans, mixing bowls and dishes to wash, is certainly appealing as well.
A few pointers to keep in mind:
- When cooking raw, dried beans, it's imperative that you boil them first to eliminate toxins that are destroyed by boiling for 10 minutes, but not by the lower temperature in a slow cooker.
- If food in a slow cooker is allowed to cool below approximately 158 degrees F, harmful bacterial growth is possible. Make sure to reheat food before serving.
Hearty slow-cooked soups:
Red Lentil and Carrot Soup With Coconut by Judith Finlayson
Parmigiano Pumpkin Soup With Frizzled Proscuitto by Andrew Schloss
The Easiest French Onion Soup by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman
Chicken (or Any Other Meat) Stock by Mark Bittman
Savory slow cooker recipes:
Slow Cooker Sticky Bun Bread by Lora Brody
Chocolate Truffle Cake by Michele Scicolone
Caramelized Brown Betty by Andrew Schloss
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cake by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann
You might also like: What you should pack for lunch. »