Friday, July 11, 2008

Slow Down and Cook

My slow-cooker (or crock pot as my grandmother called it) and I do not have a very close relationship. I hardly ever use is stress relief for me and using a slow-cooker would deprive me of that! But I don't have a husband, kids, etc. And I'm POSITIVE that one day my opinion of this will I won't get rid of it just yet!

All of the following recipes are for a slow-cooker. It can be a huge time saver if you plan ahead, have all the ingredients on hand, and spend a little extra time in the morning. If you do this, you can have dinner ready in the evening without having to come home and cook.

As usual, I've included a salad...don't worry, it's not a slow-cooker recipe. "Chicken and Citrus Slaw" is from a new cookbook I was given, Cowgirl Cuisine. I love it (thanks Jill!!), but haven't cooked from it very much. However, I have made this recipe (with a few modifications). It was featured in Food and Wine magazine and is really good.

If you have never tried steel-cut oats, you should (see the following recipe for overnight the slow-cooker!). Steel-cut oats, sometimes labeled "Irish oatmeal," look like small pebbles. They are whole oat groats with the oat kernel removed from the husk and then cut into 2 or 3 pieces (very little processing...a good thing). They have a slightly chewy texture and nutty flavor. Look for these brands near the other oats in the grocery store:

McCann's (this is what I buy)
Hodgson Mill
Arrowhead Mills
Bob's Red Mill

In the recipe you should not substitute regular rolled oats, which have a shorter cooking time. I love steel cut oatmeal. I make a big batch once a week using the Quick Soak Method and freeze individual portions in zip-loc bags for a quick weekday breakfast (or you could just refrigerate it).

Chicken and Citrus Slaw -
  • Per serving - 265 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated), 10 g carbohydrate, 28 g protein, 2 g fiber (exchanges: 4 protein, 2.5 fat, 2 vegetables); I modified the original recipe by omitting the tortilla (and 1/4 cup oil for frying)
  • Notes - Tofu fills in for mayonnaise in this dressing, offering creaminess without fat. If you don’t like tofu or don't have any, you could use 4 – 5 tablespoons of low-fat plain yogurt…plain low-fat yogurt (9 cal per Tbsp) is a WAY better option than low-fat mayo (50 cal per Tbsp) or low-fat sour cream (19 cal per Tbsp); you could simplify by using bags of pre-shredded coleslaw mix and pre-shredded carrots and a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken; I personally don't like chipotle chile in adobo so I omitted it and added 2 tsp cumin

Overnight Oatmeal -

  • Per serving - 193 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated), 35 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 9 g fiber
    (exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit)
  • Notes - As I've already mentioned, do not substitute regular rolled oats, which have a shorter cooking time; freeze 1 cup portions in zip-loc bags for a quick breakfast…when ready to eat, remove oatmeal from bag, place in a bowl , and microwave until warm (you may need to add more milk or water if too thick); nutrition bonus…36% daily value of fiber; complete the meal with a glass of low-fat milk (cow's, soy, etc.)

Apple Confit -

  • Per serving - 98 calories, 0 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 4 g fiber (exchanges: 1 fruit, ½ starch)
  • Notes - Complete the meal (it would be good for breakfast, a snack, or dessert) by serving with low-fat yogurt and a few tablespoons of toasted walnuts; I'm not sure if you could leave the apple skins on or not, but it would add more fiber!

Middle Eastern Lamb Stew -

  • Per serving - 319 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated), 15 g carbohydrate, 30 g protein, 5 g fiber (exchanges: 3 fats, ½ starch, 1 vegetable, 3 protein)
  • Notes - Complete the meal and serve with whole wheat couscous, bulgur, or brown rice and a salad

Curried Squash and Apple Soup -

  • Per serving - 95 calories, 0.5 g fat (0.1 g saturated), 22 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 4 g fiber (exchanges: ½ fruit, 1 starch)
  • Notes - This make-ahead recipe keeps in the refrigerator for up to four days and up to two months in the freezer; you could serve the soup garnished with a dollop of sour cream or plain low-fat yogurt and chopped cilantro

Slow Cooker Vegetable Minestrone -

  • Per serving - 105 calories, 1 g fat (2 g saturated), 21 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein (exchanges: ½ starch, 2 vegetables)
  • Notes - To up the fiber content, you could add 1 cup of uncooked pearled barley instead of the pasta...if you do use pasta go for whole wheat (or at least Barilla Plus, Ronzoni Smart Taste, or Ronzoni Healthy Harvest); you could add ANY other non-starchy vegetables you like (green beans, zucchini, cauliflower, squash, cabbage, okra, bell peppers)


Like Italian food? Here is an article to read before heading out to your favorite Italian restaurant. It gives best (and worst) options when dining at Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill, but you can apply the information to other Italian restaurants as well.

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