10 Simple and Delicious Slow Cooker Meals

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A slow cooker can be a lifesaver for busy weeknight dinners all year round. Just a few minutes of prep in the morning yields a warm meal at the end of the day. You can also use it to make breakfast before you go to bed at night -- your meal cooks while you sleep. If you’re used to eating out or on the go, a slow cooker can help cut down on expenses and calories, helping to keep your wallet and waistline in check. Read on to find 10 simple, delicious and healthy slow cooker recipes made with natural ingredients.

1

Chipotle Black Bean and Quinoa Stew

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Beans and quinoa offer a unique twist on the traditional rice-and-beans dish. This combination is a nutritional powerhouse that offers myriad benefits, from protein and fiber to vitamins and minerals like folate and potassium. Pair those two with the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, throw in some fresh herbs and you’ll have a sweet and savory one-pot, one-bowl meal. The comforting warmth of this stew makes it perfect for cold winter months or rainy days. Each serving of Chipotle Black Bean and Quinoa Stew has 225 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

2

Green Chile Flank Steak Tacos

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Lean flank steak packs 23 grams of protein per three-ounce serving, and when paired with spicy green chilies and tomatillos (a great source of immune-system-boosting vitamin C), the result is a full-flavored, nutritionally dense, Mexican-inspired meal with minimal effort. Herbs and spices are some of the lesser-known sources of antioxidants, and this dish -- with cumin, chili powder, pepper and oregano -- has no shortage of these free-radical-fighting compounds. Also, by substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, you’ll cut down on the calories in this creamy topping by more than half! Each serving of Green Chile Flank Steak Tacos has 282 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

3

Pesto Chicken Farro Risotto

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Farro, an ancient (and slow-cooking) whole grain, is a nutty, chewy and delicious alternative to rice for a rich risotto. It’s high in protein and is a good source of magnesium, fiber, niacin and zinc, and a diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Chicken breasts are a good source of lean protein as well. Each serving of Pesto Chicken Farro Risotto has 314 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

4

Sweet-and-Sour Sloppy Joes

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Lean ground beef -- especially when it’s grass-fed -- packs a nutritional punch. A three-ounce serving is only 150 calories but provides more than 10 percent of your daily requirement of nine important nutrients including protein, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin B12 and iron. To get the same amount of iron, you’d have to eat three cups of raw spinach. For an equal amount of riboflavin, you’d need seven ounces of chicken breasts. When cooking, lean ground beef acts as a blank canvas and a perfect base for veggie-packed sloppy joe sandwiches. Each Sweet-and-Sour Sloppy Joe provides 415 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

5

Turkey and Kidney Bean Chili

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This is an easy, comforting and healthy dinner that comes together in minutes by combining lean protein from ground turkey, fiber from kidney beans and antioxidants from brightly colored veggies. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and may help lower the risk of cancer and stroke. This recipe is perfect for a rainy day or watching a big sporting event in front of the TV. A serving of Turkey and Kidney Bean Chili contains 426 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

6

Vietnamese-Style Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are a great way to switch up the regular weeknight meal. When you fill them with pork prepared in the slow cooker, it makes for an easy and fun feast. This healthier version, which combines fish sauce, lime juice and an Asian chili sauce like Sriracha, adds a flavorful twist to the more traditional Southern-style pulled pork. Typically served on a crusty baguette, each Vietnamese-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich contains about 332 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

7

Moroccan Harira Soup

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This North African soup is typically served at weddings and celebrations, but it’s also an important dish during Ramadan that’s typically served to break the fast. The soup is full of fiber and minerals with its fragrantly spiced chickpeas and lentils, and it gets a dose of protein from chicken thighs. And don’t forget that spices do more than add flavor: Ginger displays anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon can enhance glucose sensitivity and turmeric may help fight diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s to diabetes. A serving of Moroccan Harira Soup contains 338 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

8

Pork Tenderloin With Apricots

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Lean and mild, pork tenderloin is a perfect base for a sweet-and-savory sauce made from dried apricots and orange juice. Dried apricots are inexpensive and packed with nutrients, including antioxidant vitamin A, iron, potassium and fiber. Early studies show that a compound found in apricots called enterolactone may help reduce the risk of cancer. Orange juice is high in vitamin C, but it’s even higher in vitamin A, and it’s also a great way to sneak in some extra calcium if you use calcium-fortified juice. Each serving of Pork Tenderloin With Apricots has 396 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

9

Cherry-Almond Steel-Cut Oatmeal

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Eating a healthy and filling breakfast isn’t always easy, especially on busy weekday mornings. Put your slow cooker to work overnight and wake up to a bowl of warm whole grains topped with crunchy almonds and dotted with vitamin-rich dried cherries -- a healthy-breakfast trifecta. The extra effort is worth it. A 2013 study found that when adults ate a bowl of oatmeal instead of a bowl of ready-to-eat cereal, they had greater improvements in appetite control and satiety. Whole-grain oats are a great source of fiber, which can keep you feeling full longer. The almonds in this recipe are rich in vitamin E, and cherries are loaded with antioxidants that help with exercise recovery. A serving of Cherry-Almond Steel-Cut Oatmeal contains 379 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

10

Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage Breakfast Casserole

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Slow cooker breakfasts are made for busy weekday mornings. This savory combination of sweet potatoes, chicken sausage and eggs is hearty, filling and full of health-boosting nutrients. Sweet potatoes have antioxidant properties and they are an excellent source of vitamin A, which keeps eyes, skin and teeth healthy. Eggs are packed with protein, riboflavin, folate, choline, phosphorus and vitamins A, D and B12. They also provide lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that help prevent age-related macular degeneration. Each serving of Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Casserole contains 413 calories.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

What Do YOU Think?

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Do you use a slow cooker? What are your favorite slow-cooker meals or recipes? Please share by leaving a comment below -- we’d love to hear about them!

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Overview

A slow cooker can be a lifesaver for busy weeknight dinners all year round. Just a few minutes of prep in the morning yields a warm meal at the end of the day. You can also use it to make breakfast before you go to bed at night -- your meal cooks while you sleep. If you’re used to eating out or on the go, a slow cooker can help cut down on expenses and calories, helping to keep your wallet and waistline in check. Read on to find 10 simple, delicious and healthy slow cooker recipes made with natural ingredients.

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