Delicious dinners that can be made ahead and are healthy are dinner goals for everyone. Healthy slow cooker recipes enable you to cook a simple, healthy and yummy dinner for your family. You can also rock those healthy slow cooker recipes for lunch the next day and not have to worry about what you're going to pack for work.
In this day and age, most of us don't have the time or the energy (let's be honest here!) to slave in front of a hot stove for half the day like our grandmothers did. But at the same time, let's be honest...families eat out too much and that's not healthy. A lot of people are setting goals for themselves and their families to get back to eating healthy and clean instead of ordering pizza and burgers.
16 ounces low-fat cottage cheese (do not use skim—I used 1%)
2 large eggs
8 ounces part-skim shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese, divided (about 2 cups—I used a blend of both cheeses)
For serving: Parmesan cheese, freshly chopped herbs such as basil or parsley
With a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the eggplant and zucchini length-wise into long, thin (1/4-inch) sections so that they resemble lasagna noodles. Spread the vegetable slices out onto a kitchen towel or layers of paper towels and sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt. Let stand for 15 minutes to allow some of the excess liquid to drain off. Pat dry. Prepare the zucchini and eggplant according to one of the three methods below:
GRILL METHOD: Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium. Lightly coat the grill with canola oil, then grill the eggplant and zucchini strips until cooked and lightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
BROIL METHOD: Place the top oven rack about 5 inches from the upper heat element. Set the oven to broil at 500 degrees F. Arrange the zucchini and eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Do not line the baking sheet pans with wax paper or parchment, as they will burn.) Lightly brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Flip over the slices and repeat for the other side. Broil for 5-8 minutes, or until lightly brown, working in multiple batches as needed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Place the slices on paper towels to remove excess moisture.
NEITHER: Move ahead with the recipe—skip grilling or broiling the zucchini completely. The lasagna will have a lot of excess liquid around the veggie slices in the slow cooker (even after salting them in step 1), but if this doesn’t bother you, you can scoop out the noodles and discard it.
Lightly coat a 6-quart crockpot with nonstick spray. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of the crockpot—the layer will seem very thin. In a small bowl, beat the cottage cheese together with the eggs.
Create the first veggie lasagna layer in the crock pot as follows: 1 layer of eggplant “noodles”; one-third of the cottage cheese (about 2/3 cup); one-third of the bell peppers and onions; one-third of the mozzarella; 1/2 cup tomato sauce.
Create the second veggie lasagna layer, this time using zucchini: 1 layer of zucchini “noodles”; one-third of the cottage cheese; one-third of the bell peppers and onions; one-third of the mozzarella; 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.
Create the final layer: 1 layer of eggplant “noodles”; remaining cottage cheese; remaining bell peppers and onions; 1 layer of zucchini noodles; 1/2 cup tomato sauce; remaining mozzarella.
Cover the crockpot and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, until the eggplant is tender. To test, insert a long, thin knife into the lasagna and ensure the eggplant feels tender. Re-cover, turn off the slow cooker, and let stand until any remaining liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. (Note: if you did not grill or broil the vegetables first, you will have a lot of remaining liquid.) To serve, slice and scoop desired portions, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and herbs as desired.
Depending upon the size of jarred tomato sauce you can find, you may have some leftover. Most jars come in a 24-ounce size, so you will have some sauce remaining. The extra sauce is great for reheating leftovers (top with a bit before microwaving), or if you like a saucier lasagna, you can heat it separately on the side and spoon it over individual servings.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and reheat gently in the microwave. Top with a little leftover sauce if you have it available.
We have not tried cooking this recipe on low heat, but estimate it would take about 4 to 5 hours covered, depending upon your crockpot.
We also have not tried making this recipe in the oven instead of a slow cooker but would anticipate that it could be assembled in a 9×13-inch baking dish, then baked, covered, at 350 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Uncover the pan for the last 10 minutes of baking. We recommend grilling or broiling the noodles first.
1 package (24 ounces) JENNIE-O® All Natural Turkey Breast Tenderloin
1 package (14 ounces) stir-fry rice noodles
2 medium carrots, shredded or cut into ribbons using a peeler
1/2 English cucumber, shredded
1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
Chopped cilantro, chopped mint, chopped peanuts, sliced green onions, sliced serrano peppers, hot sauce and/or limes, for serving
In slow cooker, stir together coconut milk, peanut butter, and soy sauce. Add turkey and stir until well combined. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or on low 8 hours.
Remove turkey from slow cooker with a slotted spoon; transfer to a cutting board and coarsely shred. Transfer shredded turkey to a large bowl and cover to keep warm. Turn slow cooker off. Leave liquid in the slow cooker with lid off. The liquid will thicken as it sits while you prepare the noodles.
Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and add noodles to bowl with turkey. Add carrots, cucumber, cabbage and some of the liquid from the slow cooker; toss until well combined. Add more liquid from slow cooker to reach the desired level of “sauciness.”
Divide noodle mixture between 6 bowls and serve with cilantro, mint, peanuts, onions, peppers, hot sauce and/or limes.
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut across grain into thin slices
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste, Sriracha, or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus additional to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 cups broccoli florets (about 2 small crowns)
Prepared brown rice or quinoa, for serving
Chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds, optional for serving
Coat a 4-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Place the beef in the bottom.
In a small bowl, stir together the beef broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, rice vinegar, chili-garlic paste, and garlic. Pour over the beef, then stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup water and cornstarch. Stir into the slow cooker with the beef and sauce, then place the broccoli on top. Cover, turn the heat to high and cook another 30 minutes until the broccoli is tender. Serve warm over rice, sprinkled with green onions and sesame seeds as desired.
Slow Cooker Burrito Bowls
Slow cooker burrito bowls are one of those healthy slow cooker recipes that your family will ask for again and again. It's like making chipotle in your kitchen! Except it's so much healthier and much more economical than going out to dinner. You can add as many toppings as you like. Set out the toppings ahead of time and your family can have a make your own burrito bowl night!
1 onion, diced or thinly sliced
1 bell pepper (I used yellow), diced
1 mild red chili, finely chopped
400 gm tin black beans, drained (240g, or ~ 1 1/4 cups, when drained)
215 gm uncooked brown rice (~ 1 cup)
400 gm tin chopped tomatoes (~ 1 1/2 cups)
150 ml water (~ 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp chipotle hot sauce (or another favorite hot sauce)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
To serve, your choice of grated cheese, fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped spring onions, sliced avocado, sour cream, guacamole, etc.
Add all the burrito bowl ingredients (not toppings) to a slow cooker - mine is 4.7 liters / 4 quarts. Mix well.
Cook on low for around 3 hours, or until the rice is cooked *see note below*.
Serve hot with your choice of toppings.
Some people in the comments have found that their rice doesn't cook properly on the Low setting. If you're concerned about this or you're having trouble getting the rice to cook, try cooking on High instead.