Loving your slow cooker

My husband maintains that the first year we had a slow cooker we ate casseroles for a year. I don’t remember it being that drastic but a decade on I still use it frequently to produce plenty of non-casserole dishes for our family. If the current climate means that you are working from home or your job involves the craziness of shift work, I encourage you to consider using a slow cooker. They are relatively cheap to buy, simple to use, and it will make your life (and eating well) easier.

Here are a few non-casserole ideas to get you salivating: 
 

  • Overnight oats: serving hot porridge within 45 seconds of waking up on a cold winters morning makes me feel like I am nailing life. I like the idea of cooking the oats in a bowl in the slow cooker, as My Kids Lick the Bowl suggest, purely because I think a bowl is easier to wash up then the larger slow cooker pot.
 
  • Bolognaise: spaghetti bolognaise is (generally) a no-fuss, quick, easy, everyone-eats dinner. Turns out, cooking it in a slow cooker makes it even easier! Throw in some grated zucchini and carrot, finely chopped mushroom and celery, red lentils with the usual garlic, onion, good quality mince, herbs and passatta/pasta sauce make for a delicious (& healthy!) bolognaise that can be eaten on the day, frozen or reheated.
     
  • Curries: These may not be as fine as what your local Indian takeaway makes, but the aroma that wafts through the house for the afternoon makes it worth it. A quick Google of ‘slow cooked curries’ will provide you with plenty of inspiration and recipes.
 
  • Pot Roasts: I do love a good campfire roast. I just don’t have the time to make a fire, let the wood burn into quality coals, and walk around poking at coals while admiring my fire making abilities for several hours while a roast cooks away in the camp oven. Cue: slow cooker. A variety of meats and cuts can be used, and you can choose to cook some veggies in with them or not. And just like Nanna would do in the good old days, the juices can be used to make gravy.
 
  • Soups: If my slow cooker is not being used for above mentioned bolognaise or a curry on meal-prep Monday, there is a good chance that I am using it for a soup during the cooler months. I particularly love Mexican flavours cooked this way, where extra veggies and toppings can be added when served. If you are not familiar with cooking with legumes or beans, a can of black beans or chickpeas in a slow cooked soup is a great place to start.
 
  • Stews and casseroles (Ok, so I had to include just one): This Vegan Irish Stew is currently on high rotation in our house. It smells great and it is an excuse to drink half a beer at lunchtime (did I say that out loud??). We serve ours with fresh spinach leaves, beet saukraut, and marinated feta (yes, this defeats the Vegan element – so feel free leave it out).  
 

While winter is the perfect time to get some slow cooking in, it is not an appliance that recognises seasons. Being a little bit organised in the morning makes the end of the day so much easier (or let it cook while you sleep – either way!). They are a good way to use up veggies that have seen better days, and are a good option for those keen to make their food budget stretch a little further.

 
Naomi Blines,
Qualified Nutritionist & Registered Nurse
 
Helping people is Naomi’s thing, which is what drew her to nursing.  Over the years she learnt that food is more than just fuel for our bodies; it’s the centrepiece for community, it’s medicinal, it can be simple, healthy and delicious. Wanting to share this discovery, she completed a Medical Science (Nutrition) degree. Naomi knows how busy this thing called life is and loves to share tips and tricks that make eating (& living) well, easy and enjoyable.
 
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