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4 Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes To Keep Handy

The magic of a Crock-Pot or slow cooker is that you can take simple, nutrient-dense ingredients, and simmer them for hours.

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Photo: Oliver Baker
Photo: Oliver Baker

The magic of a Crock-Pot or slow cooker is that you can take simple, nutrient-dense ingredients, and simmer them for hours to produce rich, deep flavors—without standing next to a stove all day. Slow cooking is also economical because less expensive cuts of meat become moist and succulent like their pricier counterparts. The prep and cleanup is minimal, and the slow cooker takes care of the work while you’re working or training. What’s not to love? Give these four recipes a try, and come home to a warm, satisfying meal.

Chicken Chili Verde

Hatch chiles and tomatillos make this chili a standout. Serve over stone-ground cornbread or barley for an extra hearty meal.

Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed
1 yellow onion, diced
2 hatch chilies*, diced
4 tomatillos, husks removed and finely diced
½ cup green tomatillo salsa
15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 T brown sugar or honey
1 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup craft beer (such as amber ale)
2 T cornstarch
Salt and pepper, to taste

*Any large, mild, green chile pepper may be used (Hatch, poblano, Anaheim)

Directions
Place the chicken meat in a slow cooker and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter the onion, chilies, tomatillos and beans over the chicken. Add the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and coriander. Top with the cilantro and pour the beer down the sides of the pot. Cover and let cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons warm water and stir into the pot to thicken.

Photo: Oliver Baker
Photo: Oliver Baker

Lamb Tangine

Indulge in Crock-Pot gourmet as the aroma and spices in this Moroccan-style dish warm your belly.

Ingredients
1½ pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 T garlic, minced
2 T flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp, each, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, ground ginger and fresh cracked pepper
¼ cup, each, dried apricot and dried cherries, chopped
½ cup green olives, halved (optional)
½ cup canned, diced tomatoes, with juices
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup, each, toasted slivered almonds and fresh cilantro (for serving)
2 T cornstarch
Cooked couscous, quinoa or chickpeas (for serving)

Directions
Place the lamb, carrots, onion and garlic in a slow cooker. Toss the lamb and vegetables with the flour and all the spices (sea salt through pepper). Scatter the apricots, cherries and olives over the top. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock and cinnamon stick. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4–5 hours, until lamb is tender and falling apart. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons warm water and stir into the pot to thicken. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve over couscous, quinoa or chickpeas. Top with almonds and cilantro.

Photo: Oliver Baker
Photo: Oliver Baker

Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Red Potatoes and Veggies

A French-inspired dish using vitamin-rich (and budget-friendly!) chicken thighs

Ingredients
8 chicken thighs, skin on
1 pound baby red potatoes, halved
1 pound heirloom carrots, cut into ½-inch-thick coins
1 cup white wine
1 T lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
2 T honey
2 T garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp Herbes de Provence1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly cracked pepper
2 T cornstarch
1 pound haricots verts (French green beans)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions
Place the chicken thighs, potatoes and carrots in a slow cooker. In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients from white wine through pepper. Pour over the chicken and veggies. Cook for 7–8 hours on low or 3–4 hours on high, basting the chicken and veggies every hour if possible. Whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Gently stir in the liquid, along with the green beans, for the last 20 minutes of cooking. Serve with fresh parsley over the top.

Photo: Oliver Baker
Photo: Oliver Baker

Korean Beef with Bok Choy

The flavors and tenderness of this beef will wow you. Add your favorite veggies like mushrooms, carrots or broccoli for extra nutrition.

Ingredients
2 pounds boneless beef chuck meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup low-sodium beef broth
¼ cup low-sodium tamari
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 T minced garlic
1 T sesame oil
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T fresh minced ginger
1 tsp Sriracha
3 cups bok choy (with stems and leaves), chopped
2 T cornstarch
¼ cup green onions, diced
Cooked white or brown rice (for serving)

Directions
Place the beef into a slow cooker. In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients from beef broth through Sriracha, and pour over the beef. Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in with the beef, along with the bok choy. Cook on high for an additional 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve over steamed white or brown rice with green onions on top.

Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif., and the co-founder of JoJé Bar. A former professional XTERRA triathlete, Cerra now races for Twenty16 Women’s Professional Cycling Team. Find 150 more of Cerra’s recipes online at Triathlete.com/recipes.