In my job as a health coach, I’m asked a lot of questions.
Q: “Are carrots more nutritious raw, or cooked?” A: There are so many good things about both ways, so either way, eat them!
Q: “Which protein bars/meal replacement shakes/other packaged products are the best?” A: Just cook from scratch, guys.
Q: “Are you trying to tell me fat is good for me?” A: You better believe it, as long as it’s the right kind.
But one of the questions I’m asked the most is, “What is the one tool you can’t live without in your kitchen?” The answer to this question, hands down, no doubt, always and forever, is my slow cooker.
Let me give you an example of the kind of routine I often put my slow cooker through:
Day 1, morning: It’s a super busy day, and I know we will only be home for about half an hour after work before people need to be different places. I throw a pork roast in the slow cooker in the morning for some shredded pork tacos. I get some tortillas out of the freezer and move them to the fridge so they will be thawed by the time we get home. Dinner’s done and it’s not even 8:00 a.m., score!
Day 1, evening: We’re finally home from all the day’s events, the kids are in bed, and I’m washing a few dishes. After washing the slow cooker, I start a batch of slow cooker oatmeal, a definite favorite of my family. I also measure out some dry pinto or garbanzo beans and start them soaking in a bowl of water.
Day 2, morning: I dish up the oatmeal in a hurry because, of course, we are running behind again. I love that I can send everyone off with a warm breakfast without any effort in the morning beyond spooning it into bowls, and maybe adding some frozen blueberries (perfect for cooling off hot oatmeal) and a small drizzle of real maple syrup. The slow cooker gets washed right away and reloaded with the pinto beans that I started soaking the night before and some water. I set it on high for about three hours.
Day 2, noon: Pinto beans are done, so I drain them and set them aside to cool. Once cool, I’ll load them in zipper bags and freeze them. This makes them as convenient as canned beans, but for way cheaper! The slow cooker is immediately washed and reloaded with one of my favorite simple meals, whole chicken in a crock pot.
Day 2, evening: The house smells delicious, and we enjoy our chicken. Even the kids are smacking their lips and saying yum. I don’t even wash the slow cooker this time, I just load it back up with the bones of the chicken, some veggies, some water, and a few seasonings for slow cooker chicken stock before I go to bed. Our poor slow cooker hasn’t had a break for two days by this point!
Day 3, morning: After straining the stock, I put it in a large container in the fridge to cool. Later on when I have some time, I’ll transfer it to freezable containers so it will last longer. After another quick wash, I ask one more thing of my slow cooker, and the meat for some messy drip beef sandwiches is started. It’s going to be another busy day, and I am so grateful that I already know exactly what I’ll be feeding my family that night.
Day 3, evening: I am finally going to give my slow cooker a break. The poor thing has been cooking day and night for three days now, and it has definitely pulled its weight. I wash it one more time and tuck it away. I’m not going to tell you I blow it a kiss and tell it goodnight, because that might be just a little too crazy, don’t you think? Maybe? Thank you, slow cooker, I’ll see you again soon.
As a busy working mom who wants to feed my family nourishing foods, but also nourish them with my time and attention (and take a break here and there!), my slow cooker is 100% essential. It’s true love, BFFs, a match made in heaven! I love my slow cooker so, so much!
What is your favorite way to use your slow cooker?
Emily Allen is a former obese girl turned Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She lost 70 pounds by cutting processed food, an experience she documented on her site, www.thatswhatieat.com. Emily now teaches families how to cut processed foods and live their healthiest lives. She teaches cooking classes, does public speaking about healthy living, and has even appeared on local news programs featuring her recipes. Emily believes that anyone can live a healthier life, no matter their schedule or budget. You can find her on her site www.thatswhatieat.com, on Instagram, onPinterest, and on Facebook.