Keep your crock pot contents healthy

I think it was my mom who thought my idea of asking for a crock pot for Christmas was lame. But let me tell you, this is the best gift a mom could give a mom. A time saver, a healthy way to cook dinner and an easy cleanup, crock pots provide more than just a way to make a roast. If you have one, chances are you either rely on it regularly or it’s sitting in the closet collecting dust. Either way, the following ideas will put your small, handy kitchen appliance to work so you can ask for another one next holiday season!

Make an awesome appetizer: Buff Chick Dip (A take on a Hungry Girl Recipe I adopted long ago!)

  • 2 10-oz cans chicken
  • ¾ cup Frank’s Red Hot or similar
  • 4 wedges Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, cleaned and diced small
  • ¼ cup Bolthouse Farms blue cheese or ranch, or other light dressing
  • 2% grated cheddar cheese or Parmesan to top

Mix ingredients, except grated cheese, and place in slow cooker. Top with grated cheese.  Opt for raw veggies or pretzel chips for dipping, instead of some of the heavier options out there.

Slow cooker soup favorite: Chicken Noodle

  • 8 cups water
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 1 whole chicken, about 3 ½ lbs
  • 3 cups no yolks egg noodles, uncooked

In 4 ½ – 6 qt slow cooker, combine water, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, thyme, 2 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Place whole chicken on top of veggies. Cover with lid and cook on low about 8 hours, or on high about 4 hours. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Discard bay leaves. Add noodles to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. While noodles cook, remove and discard skin, fat and bones. Shred meat. Skim fat from soup and discard.  Return chicken to soup and serve.

Makes 6 main dish servings.  Per serving:  315 cal, 33 gm protein, 26 gm carb, 8 gm total fat (2 sat), 3 gm fiber

Favorite Main courses: Lemon Chicken

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (about 1 ½ lbs)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp chicken bouillon granules, or better yet, no-salt-added chicken bouillon
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp olive oil, + cooking spray

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Place flour and spices in a large Ziploc bag. Add chicken and shake to coat all pieces. Heat oil and cooking spray in a large nonstick skillet. Add chicken pieces until they are browned, but not overcooked. Remove from skillet and add to crockpot. Pour water and lemon juice in the skillet and add garlic and bouillon. Stir to combine and scrape up any chicken bits. Pour this mixture into crockpot, over chicken. Close lid and cook on low about 3 hours. Remove lid and cook on high for 30 minutes to thicken.  If desired, serve over a little brown rice, with a green veggie and/or a green salad. 

Nutrition Facts per 4 oz serving of chicken:  180 calories, 4 grams fat, 36 grams protein

Easy Pulled Pork

  • 1 ½ to 2 lb pork top loin roast
  • 16 oz pineapple juice
  • Approx. 1 cup water

Place trimmed roast in crock pot. Add pineapple juice and then water until roast is almost covered, but not completely. Cook on low for 5 hours. Remove roast, drain juice from crock pot. Run cold water over roast and remove any additional obvious fat. Place back in crock pot and shred with two forks (pork should fall apart easily). Add sauce of your choice and enjoy!

Nutrition per 4 oz serving, before sauce:  ~180 calories, 6 grams fat, 32 grams protein

Healthy Side dish: BBQ Lentils

  • 12 ounces barbeque sauce
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 pound dry lentils
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours. Serve as a side or in small tortillas as a meatless taco entrée.

Serving size ½ cup:  135 cal, 1 gm fat (0 SF), 24 Carb, 7 gm fiber, 8 gm protein