Winter is the perfect time of year to put your slow cooker recipes to good use! Slow cookers (also known as 'Crockpots') make homemade meals a cinch-simply fill them with your ingredients in the morning, and by the time you get home from work, dinner is ready to be served! We rounded up some of the best healthy, hearty, and delicious slow cooker recipes you've got to try this winter.
1. Lumberjackie soup (pictured left): This vegan soup is an amazing way to enjoy winter root vegetables. Plus, it's packed with vitamins and antioxidants to help you fend off winter colds. "This recipe was created while on a camping trip when we threw whatever we had into a pot and slow cooked it over the fire for hours-it came out wonderfully so I've used this recipe many times over the years," says Chef Lauren Hooks of Lithe Foods.
7-½ cups rutabaga
6 cups carrots
1 ½ cups celery
1 ½ cups mushrooms
6 cups of fresh spinach
2 cups of cooked chickpeas (roast them for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees)
5 teaspoons of garlic powder
6 teaspoons of black pepper
1 cup of organic Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons sea salt
2 low-sodium vegetable bullion cubes
18 cups water
Directions: Roughly chop rutabaga, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Place vegetables in slow cooker with water, precooked chickpeas, garlic powder, black pepper, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and vegetable bullion cubes. Cook in slow cooker for approximately 6 hours (or until rutabaga and carrots are soft).
Finish by adding in fresh spinach, allow to cook down, and stir to incorporate into soup.
This recipe yields approx 21 cups (great for freezing and reheating or for feeding a crowd).
Recipe courtesy of: Lauren Hooks of Lithe Foods
2. Crockpot carnitas (left):Pork is actually a great source of lean protein, as long as you don't fry or bread it. This slow cooker recipe is a delicious and easy way to enjoy pork for dinner.
2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (cut into 2" cubes)
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
1 12 oz. bottle of beer
1 14-15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce
Juice from 1 orange
Juice from 1 lime
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions: Place pork cubes in the Crockpot along with the onions and pour the beer and orange juice over the top. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Once cooked, remove pork from juices and set aside. Once the pork has cooled, shred it using a fork or your fingers. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the vegetable oil) to a blender, cover, and puree everything until it is well blended. In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
Once oil is hot, add the pork and sauté to crisp up some of the edges. Spoon or pour in as much of the sauce as you would like onto the pork. Continue to cook until sauce is heated through. Serve with corn tortillas, tomatoes, queso fresco, and guacamole.
This recipe yields 6 servings
Recipe courtesy of: Pamela Braun, of MyMansBelly.com
3. South American slow cooker stew (left): We love that this veggie- and protein-packed meal (28 grams of protein per serving) also includes enzyme-rich pineapple (to help you digest the protein) and potassium-packed coconut milk. It's the perfect post-winter-workout meal!
2 lbs. beef chuck roast (Certified Angus Beef ® recommended)
2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
2 jalapeños (tops removed, chopped)
2 medium peppers (tops removed, chopped)
1 medium onion (diced)
4 medium radishes (tops removed, cut in half)
1-2 sweet potatoes (cut into chunks)
1 8-oz. can pineapple chunks
1 14.5-oz. can stewed tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1/4-cup canola oil
1-tablespoon garlic powder
1-tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. Season roast with garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper; brown on both sides. Remove roast from pan; put in slow cooker with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low about 8 hours.
This recipe yields 8 servings
Recipe courtesy of: Chef Scot Popovic for Certified Angus Beef ®
4. Moroccan stew (left): This savory Moroccan-inspired Vegetable Stew makes a great dinner option (and a great lunch the next day). It's full of flavor and nutrient-rich veggies like kale, onions, carrots, and garlic.
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 tbs. olive oil
1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes with juice
1 cup dried chickpeas
2.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
2 cinnamon sticks
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 bunch kale, chopped and tough stems removed
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 roast chicken, skinned and boned (optional)
Directions: Add the olive oil, onion, carrots, red pepper, garlic, spices, chick peas, tomatoes and juice, cinnamon sticks, and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 6 hours. Twenty minutes before serving, when the cooker is just on the "warm" setting, add the kale. (This is a good time to prep the rice: add 1 cup of basmati rice, 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, and a pinch of saffron in a pot, cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes). Just before serving, add parsley and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve over rice with the optional roast chicken.
This recipe yields 4 servings
Recipe courtesy of: The Cleaner Plate Club by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin.
5. Cinnamon apple butter (left): This delicious cinnamon apple butter is perfect for impressing brunch guests (and it will make your house smell amazing)! It's made without any added sugars and makes great use of fall's apple harvest. "You can use any apples you'd like, but try to pick a sweeter variety such as Macintosh or Jonathan-Granny Smith apples don't work quite as well in this recipe due to their acidity," says Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert. "You can also play around with the juice for slightly different flavors-try using grape, pomegranate, or pear juice (avoid citrus juices)."
8 Macintosh apples (cored & sliced but not peeled)
3 cups apple cider or apple juice (preferably no sugar added)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4-teaspoon ground cloves
Directions: In the base of your slow cooker, add the apples followed by the spices, lemon juice, and apple juice. The cider should just cover the apples, but they shouldn't be swimming in it. If you need a little more, add it. Set the slow cooker to LOW for 12-15 hours (overnight is perfect). Once the apples have softened, darkened, and much of the liquid has reduced, use a standard or immersion blender (or a food mill) to process until smooth. If the apple butter is still a bit wet after the end of cooking time (due to the size of apples or the range of your slow cooker) transfer the apple butter to a large pot and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the apple butter has thickened (be careful because the mixture will splatter).
Let the apple butter cool completely before pouring into a glass jar or air-tight container. This will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
This recipe yields 32, 2 tablespoon-size servings
Recipe courtesy of: Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert
For more healthy and delicious Crockpot recipes to try this winter, click here!