Healthy Crock Pot Cooking with Real Ingredients
Just because crock pot meals are convenient doesn't mean you have to use equally convenient ingredients that are less healthy for you. Choosing fresh herbs, spices, meats, and vegetables will make your effortless meals taste like you slaved over a hot stove for hours. Here are some ideas for keeping your crock pot meals as healthy as you can for your family.
Make the Right Choices for Healthy Crock Pot Cooking
You can save lots of time when preparing a hearty meal for your family by utilizing your crock pot. Set the temperature and it cooks on its own without much need for monitoring. Youíll be able to run errands without having to watch over a simmering pot.
Sure, crock pots are convenient, but recipes often use too many prepackaged ingredients to make meals faster and easier. This doesnít mean you have to sacrifice eating healthy for a quick meal. Use the following ideas to add certain ingredients and eliminate others, in order to keep your crock pot cooking as healthy as possible.
Add a Little of This
For healthier crock pot recipes, fresh herbs and spices help kick up the flavor of prepackaged flavorings. Snip a few fresh herbs or sprinkle in some dried herbs to boost the flavor of your crock pot creations. Dried herbs hold up better with the long cooking times sometimes required from slow cookers.
If you prefer fresh herbs for your recipes, wait until the last half hour or so to add them to the pot. You can easily mix and match a variety of seasonings like garlic, onion, and black pepper, to provide layers of flavor for your meals without needing additives and preservatives found in packaged mixes.
Likewise, fresh meats and vegetables are better for nutrition and taste than canned or prepackaged equivalents. A little extra prep work may be required, but your crock pot meal will benefit from the effort. Using fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits also helps control the amount of salt in your meal.
The taste of fresh ingredients in these recipes will be noticeable, and probably different than what youíre used to. Soon youíll be creating meals that are closer to what your grandparents used to enjoy a long time ago.
Cooking lean meats in the oven tends to dry them out. To keep the meat moist, you typically have to baste it with drippings or butter and watch it closely so it doesnít overcook. Itís a tedious process, and the extra fat defeats the purpose of eating lean meat for better health.
Crock pots help keep moisture in the meat, recycling the juices over and over beneath the lid. Arrange some skinless chicken breasts in the pot with fresh veggies and a few herbs, put on the lid, and you'll have some lean, mean chicken in just a few hours.
Creamy soup mixes are a staple of many crock pot recipes. It could be cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, or celery soup that makes your favorite dish thick and creamy. The problem is, canned soups are loaded with additives and preservatives your body doesnít need. You can quickly whip up an alternative for that creamy base by combining flour, butter, or oil with milk or broth in a saucepan to give the same flavor without the additives.
Seasoned chefs have learned that salted butter is another ingredient you need less of in your diet. Unsalted butter is a much better way to go. It provides the same creamy flavor, and itís much healthier for you. Unsalted butter even keeps your food from sticking better than salted butter.
Vegetables, fruit, and meats also come in cans, but are often over-processed and full of extra ingredients that don't do well in a crock pot. The nutritional value and texture is not something youíll enjoy.
Avoid food items that have been processed or canned in oil, sugary syrups or, artificial additives to keep the colors bright.
Start Cooking Healthy Today
You can control what goes into healthy crock pot meals. Once you get used to cooking with fresher, healthier ingredients, you'll find thereís little difference in time and preparation. A hearty stew made with fresh, wholesome ingredients, is much more appetizing than dumping a bunch of canned ingredients into a crock pot and hoping for the best.