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Nutrition

Crockpot Meals are the New Way to Sizzle

If you want to be hot without a flash, you may want to get reacquainted with an old friend. The crockpot has never looked so sexy. You can rock rich flavor without a side order of thighs so easily with this underused kitchen appliance. Line up a date with your slow cooker one night this week.

If you thought she lost it, this kitchen maven is back in action and she’s having a good time. Flirting with everything from vegetarian to Mediterranean or Paleo recipes, she’s putting out for dinner. Rumor has it, she’s easy. That’s just one of half a dozen reasons why the slow cooker earns her rightful spot on the counter.

No Willpower Required

You have a limited supply of willpower. Imagine that a Styrofoam cup full of steaming hot coffee represents your willpower. You hold your tongue in a meeting. You have a little leak in the cup. You get interrupted in the middle of work on a project. Your cup leaks more. You work through lunch and haven’t brought anything. You resist the brownies in the break room. By afternoon you’ve leaked out a significant amount of coffee. What’s left is cold.

Woman Looking in FridgeYou planned to exercise on the way home from work. But by then you’re starving, “hangry” and wondering what’s at home to eat. You think maybe you should just stop and pick something up.

If dinner is in the crockpot, you win. If not, there’s a good chance your vaporized willpower could sidetrack your good intentions of clean eating tonight. Standing in front of the freezer with a spoon and the Chunky Monkey is not attractive.

Crockpot meals don’t make themselves in the morning. It does take an extra few minutes. You still have a full cup of willpower at this point, though. Go for it!

Ready When You Are, Dear

You’ve made hundreds of decisions already today. Thankfully, dinner doesn’t have to be another one. You did it. You’re done. What if you also set the table before you left? This is why they pay you the big bucks.

Psychologists refer to “decision fatigue” as the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of the decisions deteriorates. It’s why Alfredo fettuccine starts to look much better than baked fish at the end of a long day, even when it began with the best of intentions. Forget ordering off a menu as big as a phone book. Even dashing into a store with thousands of options, you’re less likely to come out with roast chicken and steamed veggies.

Suddenly you may have a shift when you walk in the door. Rather than have to make a decision that includes what you want to eat and then work to prepare it, the only thing you have to decide is when you want to eat. You’ll be mentally freed up. Thus, you’re more likely to feel you have time for a short walk or yoga in the living room knowing as soon as you hit corpse pose, dinner is served.

One Pot Wonder

Crockpot meals can feature protein and veggies such that there’s no reason to open up the refrigerator until you’re putting away leftovers. It’s that easy.

Vegetable SoupChoose a few recipes to rotate weekly. You’ll make a one-time investment of time choosing simple recipes. You probably have some old favorites tucked away you’ve forgotten about. Stock up on the ingredients next time you’re at the store. Look at your calendar and coordinate crockpot meals for your toughest days.

A hearty soup, savory stew, or roast chicken or beef with vegetables can go straight from the crockpot to bowl or plate. Three ingredient recipes like chicken breast, salsa and taco seasoning combine with your choice of greens, toppings and tortillas for fast tacos or burritos.

Lessen Toxins and Lower Risk

While you’re enjoying the warmth and aroma of your all-day cooked meal, you’re also avoiding chemicals that form at high temperatures. Unlike grilling over an open flame and pan-frying, which can increase the risk of cancer, cooking at low temperatures longer is safer.

It’s not just your meat. Carbohydrates and fat cooked at high temps also contribute to colon cancer according to the National Cancer Institute. The low heat slow cooker method comes with little risk and all the comfort. Oh, and did I mention, there’s no preparation when you least feel like it?

Rich Flavor with Poor Ingredients

A flavorful few ingredients are made to taste oh-so-satisfying in the environment of crockpot meals. Not only will your house smell like someone has been slaving in the kitchen all day, you’ll bite into the most tender meat, even if you don’t buy the best cut. Plus, if your willpower can be healed with comfort food, watch out tomorrow.

P.S. If you think you might get stuck at your desk for lunch again, bring the leftovers. You just might plug some holes in your cup for the afternoon and make the gym.

In the event you don’t own a crockpot yet, or want to upgrade, we’re giving you a look at a few of our favorites! These aren’t your mother’s slow cookers. These have programmable timers, warmer settings and bells & whistles galore.

SHOP

KitchenAid Cooker

KitchenAid Lidded Six-Quart Slow Cooker, $99.99

Easy-start lidded slow cooker features 24-hour programmability and a four-hour warming function.

Cuisinart Cooker

Cuisinart Programmable Slow Cooker, 3.5 qt., $59.95

An intuitive, programmable control panel features a precise, 24-hour timer. Warm-hold function automatically switches the slow cooker to “Warm” once time has elapsed for true set-and-forget versatility.

Hamilton Beach Cooker

Hamilton Beach 6Qt. Stay or Go IntelliTime Slow Cooker, $49.99

Stay or Go IntelliTime Slow Cooker sautomatically adjusts the cooking temperature based on the time you set – anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.

Elite Gourmet Cooker

Elite by Maxi-Matic Gourmet 1.5 Qt. Mini Slow Cooker, $22.99

This versatile little appliance can be a single person’s best companion.

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