As the temperatures begin to drop, we crave warm dinners more than ever. Finding time to make a hearty meal, though, can be challenging for many. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: the slow cooker.
These five recipes will get you through the workweek with nutritious and satisfying dinners your whole family will love. The best part: They take hardly any hands-on cooking time at all.
Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps
Makes 6 servings
Prep: 10 min Cook: 4 hours
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 7-oz can chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
12 leaves romaine lettuce
Diced red onion
Place the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top chicken with chipotle peppers in adobo. Cook on high for 2½ hours.
Remove chicken from the slow cooker. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Return it to the slow cooker. Add diced tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and oregano to the slow cooker. Stir, and cook for another 1½ hours.
To serve, spoon some of the chicken into the center of a lettuce leaf. Top with optional toppings.
Serving size: Two lettuce tacos
Per serving (not including optional ingredients)
Calories: 236; Total fat: 5 g; Saturated fat: 0 g; Sodium: 318 mg; Cholesterol: 97 mg; Total carbs: 11 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 5 g; Protein: 34 g; Potassium: 904 mg
Ratatouille With White Beans
Makes 4 servings
Prep: 10 min Cook: 4 hours, 30 minutes
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 lb eggplant, diced
½ lb zucchini, diced
½ lb summer squash, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 lb tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 cups low-sodium white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions, stir and cook until completely softened and browned.
While the onions brown, place eggplant, zucchini, squash, bell pepper, tomatoes, and garlic into slow cooker. Add tomato paste to the onion pan and stir. Transfer to the slow cooker and stir until all vegetables are coated.
Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high. When you’re almost ready to serve, remove lid and add beans. Stir, and cook for 15-30 minutes, uncovered. Add basil and serve.
Serving size: 2 cups
Calories: 301; Total fat: 12 g; Saturated fat: 2 g; Sodium: 102 mg; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Total carbs: 43 g; Fiber: 17 g; Sugars: 1 g; Protein: 11 g; Potassium: 1,093 mg
Slow Cooker Poached Salmon
Makes 4 servings
Prep: 5 min Cook: 1½ hours
2 cups water
1 cup white wine
3 shallots, sliced
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large sprigs fresh dill
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 6-oz salmon fillets
Fresh dill, chopped
Combine water, white wine, shallots, celery, garlic, dill, and lemon juice in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 45 minutes.
Place salmon fillets in mixture. If the liquid does not cover the salmon, add additional warm water. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for around 45 minutes, until fish flakes with a fork and internal temperature reaches at least 145°F.
Remove fish from liquid. Serve warm or cold, with optional lemon slices and fresh dill.
Calories: 289; Total fat: 11 g; Saturated fat: 2 g; Sodium: 92 mg; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Total carbs: 5 g; Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 1 g; Protein: 34 g; Potassium: 796 mg
“Roast” Chicken & Veggies
Makes 4 servings
Prep: 8 min Cook: 4 hours, 10 min
1 cup sliced celery
1 lb sweet potatoes, cubed
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided (2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp)
½ tsp dried oregano
4 skinless chicken breasts, bone-in
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray and place the celery, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, half the parsley, and the oregano inside.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the chicken to the skillet. Cook until well browned. Turn the chicken over and cook for another minute.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and place in slow cooker, on top of vegetables. Top with broth. Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours.
Place one chicken breast and vegetables on each plate. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.
Serving size: 1 breast and ½ cup vegetables
Calories: 386; Total fat: 6 g; Saturated fat: 1 g; Sodium: 208 mg; Cholesterol: 105 mg; Total carbs: 37 g; Fiber: 6 g; Sugars: 3 g; Protein: 44 g; Potassium: 1,077 mg
Makes 6 servings
Prep: 5 min Cook: 5 hours
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, grated
1 cup diced celery
1 cup dried black lentils
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Mix thoroughly. Cook on low for 5 hours. Remove lid. If the sauce is too thick, add water. If the sauce is too thin, cook without the lid for another 10-15 minutes. Use as a topping for spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or whole wheat pasta (or any combination of the three).
Serving size: ¾ cup
Calories: 240; Total fat: 5 g; Saturated fat: 1 g; Sodium: 323 mg; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Total carbs: 36 g; Fiber: 16 g; Sugars: 11 g; Protein: 13 g; Potassium: 482 mg