Slow cookers (or crock pots) are a hugely popular appliance for many reasons. One of the biggest is you can put dinner into it in the morning and it’s ready when you get home from a long day at work.
I know for me, the slow cooker is my best time saver in the kitchen. But, is cooking food in a slow cooker healthy? That is, do foods lose nutrients during the long cooking process?
It’s a fair question, particularly when food is being cooked over a long period of time. Studies show nutrients aren’t lost during the prolonged cooking time. This is because slow cookers stay covered and nutrients are contained.
Cooking with a slow cooker is a much better choice than frying or boiling foods. And it has the added advantage of offering a nutritious meal at the end of a long day. This is a healthier alternative to fast food drive-by options your body will thank you for.
Slow Cooking versus Other Methods
You can cook healthy meals in your slow cooker without fear of losing all the nutrients. A slow cooker uses low heat, over a long period of time which causes far less damage to food.
In contrast, all other methods of heating foods cause some loss of nutrients. This includes blanching, boiling, simmering, baking, steaming and broiling. These methods rely on using a higher temperature, for a shorter time.
Higher temperatures, along with light and air can affect nutrient quality. In some foods this is significant and will vary with cooking method.
Healthy Slow Cooking
Wholesome, all-inclusive meals made with a slow cooker can simplify your life. They can also provide your family the nutrition they need.
Another great bonus of slow cookers is they can help you save on your grocery bill. Using up leftover veggies and making the most of seasonal, cheap produce is easy with a slow cooker. You can also turn budget meats into delicious meals, stews and soups.
Almost any vegetable, legume or meat becomes palatable and appealing when slow cooked. Using spices, herbs, sauces and other flavorings the sky’s the limit. It is a great appliance that makes meal planning so much easier.
But, don’t limit your slow cooker to dinner. Warm cereal, such as steel cut oats, can be prepared in the slow cooker as well. Slow cooked, flavored with honey, cinnamon and butter, they are a delicious breakfast.
A slow cooker makes cooking for weight loss much easier too. Vegan and vegetarian recipes for slow cookers are plentiful. You can even make low-calorie desserts that the entire family will love.
Slow Cooker Options
There are many sizes and types of slow cookers available. Whether you are a single person, or cooking for a large family, there is something suitable.
If you are cooking for one or two, the mini versions that are now available make it possible. Unlike the large ones that used to be the only type available, these make it possible to cook small portions.
Apart from the different sizes, slow cookers come in round or oval shapes. They don’t function any differently but some foods are easier to cook in one shape versus the other. For example a roast lamb leg would be easier in an oval slow cooker.
Vibrant greens, permeated with various spices, become a main dish when prepared creatively in a slow cooker. Food is never boring with a slow cooker. They can elevate even the most mundane food to delicious heights. So let your imagination soar and eat much healthier by planning meals around the slow cooker.