The slow cooker is the champion of busy moms everywhere. Try these seven recipes to get a healthy dinner on the table with minimal fuss and attention from you. They are all vegetarian, and so are suitable for Meatless Mondays and are fairly inexpensive to prepare.
Lasagna is a family favorite, but the traditional oven-baked lasagna is a labor-intensive meal to prepare and so is usually saved for special occasions. Try a slow cooker lasagna recipe to cut down the hands-on time significantly, and of course, to have it ready and waiting for you when you come home at night. Simply layer marinara sauce, no-boil lasagna noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and spinach in your slow cooker until it is about half-full, ending with marinara sauce. Top with mozzarella and parmesan, and cook on high for 2 hours. Dinner is done!
Lentil Dal Soup
Dal is a spiced Indian bean dish that makes a hearty soup or sauce to serve over rice. Rinse red lentils in cold water and move to the slow cooker. Add cold water in a ratio of one cup of beans to two cups of water. Set your slow cooker for four to five hours on high, or 8 hours on low. Add some diced tomatoes, diced onion, ginger, turmeric, garlic, cardamom, and bay leaf, and let cook for the set amount of time. Test the beans to make sure they are done, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Mexican Tortilla Pie
This recipe uses two types of beans. Use canned fat-free refried beans or make your own to keep it healthier. Prepare your 5- or 6-quart slow cooker by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying with non-stick cooking spray. To prepare the pie you are simply layering salsa, a tortilla, refried beans, cheese, salsa, tortilla, black beans, cheese until you reach the middle of your slow cooker. End with a layer of cheese, and cook four to five hours on low or two to three hours on high.
Root Vegetable Stew
Cut about five pounds of root vegetables into one-inch cubes. Include a variety of veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, and parsnips. Dice an onion, celery, and garlic, and put it all in the slow cooker. Add broth until half of the vegetables are covered, add a bay leaf, cover, and cook for six to eight hours on low. Adjust the seasoning to taste and remove the bay leaf, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Hearty and filling, packed with fiber and nutrients, this dish will nourish your body and soul. Try adding some butternut squash or pumpkin for an additional flavor. Add a can of kidney beans, one diced butternut squash, a can of roasted tomatoes, a diced red pepper, a diced onion, and some corn to your crock pot. Add some garlic, cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika, and enough broth to cover about half of the veggie and bean mix. Cook on high for four hours, or low for eight hours. When cooking is done, adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Minestrone is an Italian soup made with beans, vegetables, and pasta. It is filling and makes a good stand-alone meal or accompaniment to an Italian feast. Try a slow cooker version of the classic recipe to save yourself some time. Add white beans, broth, diced carrots, onions, and celery, canned diced tomatoes, a bay leaf, fresh rosemary, fresh basil, and fresh parsley to the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. A half hour before the soup is done, add one handful each of spinach and zucchini. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
This is a dish made with brown rice, black beans, chopped veggies and topped with a creamy avocado sauce. Combine brown rice and broth in a 1:2 ratio in your slow cooker. Add diced onion and cook on high for one and a half hours. Chop red, green, and hot peppers and add the peppers and one can of drained black beans to the pot for another 30 minutes. Mash an avocado and thin it with vegan mayonnaise from Hampton Creek Foods. Sprinkle chipotle powder and salt, and stir it into each individual bowl according to taste.
There are a lot of recipes out there for slow cooker meals, many with a focus on being hands-off and economic. Try these seven out and see how your slow cooker can make your life easier and healthier and maybe you will discover a few new favorites.