Tuesday, January 29, 2019

new year goals ~ healthy eating

I don't make New Year resolutions or pick a word for the year...I'm not into that sort of thing as I feel I'm a work in progress every day, no matter the time of year. Thus said, I do set small goals for myself at the beginning of the year, and throughout. 

(Disclaimer: As a member of the Wayfair Homemaker program, I have been compensated for this post. All ideas and opinions are completely my own.)

If you're a regular follower of my blog, you'll know I'm into healthy eating. I'm not perfect with this (who is?) but it's something that's important to me and that I strive for. I make a lot of homemade dishes because that way I can control the ingredients that go into our meals. It's much healthier to eat at home using fresh, unprocessed ingredients than it is to eat out or to rely on overly-processed food or packaged products that are full of chemicals and preservatives.

Having a slow cooker is a game changer for me. And on cold days (by the way, I'm in Illinois where we're in the middle of record-breaking low temps...we could go down to -55F with the wind chill factor tonight and tomorrow!), it's wonderful to have an appliance bubbling the food away all day and making your house smell delicious and cozy. It's so easy to throw ingredients into a pot in the morning, press a button, be on your merry way, and then come home to a cooked meal. My old Crockpot worked fine, but the handle had broken off the glass lid, leaving two small holes in the top. I was using tape to cover the holes every time I used it! It was definitely time for a new one. Wayfair has many different slow cookers to choose from. I ultimately chose the Cuisinart 4 quart multi-cooker. I make many dishes where I saute the vegetables first before adding them to the slower cooker, or where I brown the meat on the stove first before adding to the slower cooker. With this multi-function cooker, you can saute your ingredients right in the pot simply by pushing the brown/saute button and then immediately switch over to cooking by pushing the slow cook button. How cool is that? No extra dishes to wash! It also steams food, but I haven't tried that function yet.

The first recipe I tried was one straight from the book that came with the slow cooker. It was for a brown rice and vegetable risotto. Sounded delicious and healthy, plus it'd give me the chance to try out the saute feature. I started out by sauteeing onions and tri-colored peppers, then adding the rice and other ingredients.

This is what the dish looked like when it was done. Looks delicious, right? Unfortunately, it wasn't. We weren't thrilled with the taste, and the texture of the rice wasn't quite right. It was still too chewy. Definitely not like a true risotto.

The second dish I made in my new cooker was a tried and true standby: Salsa Chicken. I started out by sauteeing - yes, right in the slow cooker! - sliced onions. You could easily add peppers to this, too.

With the saute feature still on, I added organic, boneless chicken thighs and browned them on both sides for just a couple of minutes. Then I switched the cooker over to slow cook.

Next comes the salsa. You can use either green or red ~ or a combination ~ which I did.

Pour the salsa on top of the chicken, put the cooker on low for six hours, and go about your day. When the chicken is cooked, shred with two forks. This is what it looks like when it's done. You can then serve over rice or quinoa or in tortillas ~ all with your choice of toppings: cilantro, green onions, sliced radishes, avocado, shredded lettuce, or shredded cheese. Maybe even a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt to top it all off. (Side note: if you're going to serve this chicken in tortillas, use a slotted spoon to remove some of the juice, otherwise you will end up with a super soggy tortilla!)

The third dish I tried in this new slow cooker was beans. As usual, since I'm loving this saute feature, I started with chopped onions, celery and carrots.

I had soaked a pound of heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo for a few hours, then I drained and dumped them into the slow cooker on top of the sauteed veggies. I covered with a couple of inches of water, added a bay leaf and let the beans cook eight hours on low. Sorry I don't have a photo of the finished product ~ I forgot to take one! Even though I can't eat beans anymore as I can't digest them, I did taste them and oh my goodness, they were delicious! I'd had dried beans before (much better than canned) but these heirloom beans were incomparable. Truly the best I've ever tasted. Cooking them all day in the slow cooker was so easy, too. 

Do you use a slower cooker? If you have any favorite healthy slow cooker recipes, please share!


  1. I have a Ninja slow cooker that my husband got for me years ago because it was green and that is my favorite color. But it also has a stove top/crockpot/oven setting and I love that, even though I feel like I don't use it as much as the crockpot setting. BUT it is wonderful for holidays when the oven is full or the burners all have pots on them.

  2. I use a slow cooker often in the winter. Glad to hear you like the saute feature. I have been looking at getting a new one. One of the favorite things we make in our slow cooker is homemade spaghetti sauce. Here is a link to my recipe.

  3. We have never had a slow cooke.

    Steve does all the cooking and he doesn't want one. And, I do nothing to upset the chef!!

  4. I have an ancient slow cooker, but it works so I stick with it. I have to say that beef stew or chicken soup are my standards and the recipe comes straight from the Rival cookbook that came with the pot. Been thinking about you lately and that brutal weather! Stay warm!!

  5. I was just at Dianna's blog reading about her Instant Pot. I think you are both onto something. I have two crockpots, a large one for the family and a smaller one for when it's just my husband and me. I'm not sure how healthy my recipes are, but I do use them a lot! The saute feature would be great to have.

  6. I seem to buy slow cookers every few years thinking I need a different size (not too large for two people) but then I really never use them more than once for some reason. All my soup recipes only take 20 mins. on the stove top, and as we hardly ever cook meat of any kind we don't require all day cooking. But, I have one tucked away under kitchen island and will perhaps pull it out after looking at your beans - it night be great for them!

    Stay warm and safe during this awfully cold weather.

  7. I just bought a new Cuisinart slow cooker and I love it! My old one was really, really old and I didn't use it like I use this one. Great recipe, sounds yummy!

  8. I love that you can saute in it! Whenever I make a roast in the crockpot, I always brown it another pan first...that I have to wash. Such a great idea!

  9. Is it like an instant pot? Does it have a pressure cook feature also? My instant pot is also a slow cooker and I can saute right in it....sounds similar. I'm still experimenting with it!!

  10. My gosh, I love that you can saute right in it! I normally skip recipes that ask me to do that first, I am to lazy to do that. What a great little slow cooker. Great choice.

  11. I usually make quick dishes so no slow cooker needed. I had a crock pot in the past but the only thing I really made in it was red beans (that's when I lived in Louisiana, many many years ago). Made a mushroom and risotto wild rice the other day and man oh man was it good. I didn't even do it the traditional way and it turned out better than I expected. Hope things are warming up over there. Take care!


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