If you're living on the East coast our dwindling summer is no more and the cold weather is moving in like a sea of angry black Friday shoppers.
This seems to be the time of year when we naturally crave warmer more comforting foods like soups and stews. These can actually be pretty healthy meals and it's when your slow cooker becomes your new best friend.
Wait, What Actually Is A Slow Cooker?
These are also known as crock pots but are basically the same thing as crock pot is just a brand name associated with slow cookers the way the Kleenex brand is associated with the soft facial tissue. A slow cooker tends to be made of ceramic with a metal housing and glass top. There is an electrical outlet attached that can heat the pot to low, medium and high settings.
When you cook with one you are creating an atmospheric pressure as much as you are a cooking environment and the cooking is slow and gentle over 4-8 hours. Similar to one of my candlelit baths.
That's enough of my personal info, here are 3 reasons why a slow cooker can make life in the kitchen easier and maybe a bit healthier while you're at it.
1. Improved Nutrition & Health
Any meats you use in a slow cooker allow the meat to become tender and softer allowing it to be more easily digested. Along with that, one of the key ingredients in slow cooking tends to be broth or stock. If you can make your own this is even better as bone broth has some really great health benefits including:
- Heals your gut and promotes good digestion
- Inhibits infection ( a reason why turning to chicken soup when sick is beneficial)
- Reduces joint pain and inflammation
- Promotes strong bones, healthy hair and nails
With most recipes, you start to throw in things like carrots, potatoes, onion, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. These are all whole food choices helping bring you soluble fiber, protein, antioxidants and micronutrients in one shot.
2. Cooking At Low Heat Is Healthier
As the summer has ended we bid farewell to all those hockey pucks we left on the grill that started out as a nice hamburger. Cooking at high temperatures is not an ideal form of cooking as it causes the food to lose a majority of its nutrients and makes digestion more difficult. High temperature cooking on grills or by frying can create harmful chemicals in foods linked to cancer. Meat, in particular, can develop polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAC's which can alter your DNA in the body and also linked to cancer.
When cooking you want to take the same approach as my bank account, low and slow. Along with steaming and poaching slow cooking is one of the safest and healthiest ways to cook, not just for the food but for your own health.
3. Using A Slow Cooker Can Help You Save Money
This is good news as we come into the holiday season, those ugly sweaters are not going to buy themselves! Since a slow cooker cooks food at a gradual process it can make a great meal out of some of the tougher and less desirable cuts of meat. These cuts also tend to be the cheapest and really shine once slow cooked. Your best choices will be, drumroll...
- Pork belly
- Pork shoulder
- Flank steak
- Skirt steak
- Top rump
- Lamb shank
- Pork shank
With these cheap cuts and some of those other ingredients I listed above, you are looking at meals that cost only a few dollars that can feed quite a few people.
Wrapping It Up
A slow cooker is amazing, even if you have the kitchen skills of a three-toed sloth you can still put together meals that are easy, better for you and, like me, pretty darn cheap. The beauty of these meals is you really can't go wrong. There's nothing written in stone as far as how much or little of something you use. There are infinite numbers of food combinations and recipes out there to always keep you going and you barely have to even chop anything.
So if there isn't one in your kitchen, maybe one might end up under your tree this year. As is my hope for some economy size scented candles.
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