Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker for Delicious & Low-Fat Recipes

Thursday, April 16, 2020

One of the best kitchen appliances for hassle-free cooking is a slow cooker, and plenty of couples consider a slow cooker to be a must-have on their wedding registry. However, it might be slightly overwhelming to learn how to cook using a slow-cooker, especially if you want to make healthy, low-fat recipes.

There are thousands of delicious and low-fat slow cooker recipes out there, including this delicious recipe for Before you get cooking, review these tips for using your slow cooker to make low-fat meals.

7 Steps for How to Choose the Right Slow Cooker Ingredients

After you have created a mouthwatering list of recipes to try with your slow cooker, it’s time to go shopping for ingredients! Keep the following steps in mind for slow cooker ingredients and how to use them:
  1. Choose meat with slow-cooking in mind. The contained cooking and prolonged, slow heat of the appliance creates a perfect environment for cooking tougher meats to a delicious, tender consistency. For low-fat recipes, you might choose leaner cuts of meat, such as dark chicken thighs or drumsticks. If you prefer white chicken meat or pork tenderloin, these cuts may dry out, so only use them for liquid-rich recipes such as soups or pulled pork or chicken. Fatty meats such as roasts, lamb shanks, or ribs do very well in a slow cooker.
  2. Trim excess fat. Although it’s an extra step, you’ll make your slow cooker dishes healthier if you cut off any excess fat from your meat before putting it in the Crock-Pot. No one wants a greasy, oily dinner, especially when you’re aiming for low-fat dishes.
  3. Use only fresh foods. Always thaw your meat and veggies before putting them in the crockpot. Harmful bacteria can grow between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Layer the ingredients correctly. Always cut meat, vegetables, and other ingredients into similar sizes so that everything cooks evenly. Put thicker ingredients such as carrots, potatoes, and other root veggies on the bottom and top with the meat and other ingredients.
  5. Wait to add dairy ingredients. Are you adding some sour cream to that tasty chicken tortilla soup? Wait to add dairy products such as milk or yogurt until the last 15 minutes of cooking, since these ingredients tend to break down in the cooking process. Cheese is the exception, however, so follow your recipe for instructions on when to add the cheese.
  6. Go easy with wine. Just add a splash or two! The slow cooking process and appliance design don’t trigger the same evaporation rate with the alcohol in wine as cooking in a pot or skillet.
  7. Add something fresh! You can enhance the flavors of your slow cooker dishes by sprinkling on some fresh herbs or even a squeeze of lemon juice as you serve.

5 Key Tips for Cooking with a Slow Cooker

When it’s time to get cooking, here are some essential tips to help you correctly use the slow cooker:
  1. Don’t overfill the pot. Always use the correct size of a slow cooker, and avoid overcrowding or overfilling it. The optimal fill is between one-half and two-thirds full. The lid should always fit snugly.
  2. Boost flavor by browning and sauteing. Although it’s not a necessary step, you can get more delicious results if you brown your meat and sautee your veggies a little bit before adding them to the cooker.
  3. Set the correct heat level. It takes approximately twice as long to cook on the low setting versus the high setting, although some recipes or cuts of meat cook better on one or the other. So, follow the instructions in your recipe. If you forget to turn on the crockpot or you try to ‘cook’ the ingredients on the warm setting, toss them because food left sitting can harbor harmful bacteria. 
  4. Avoid opening the lid too often. The beauty of the slow cooker is that you can put all ingredients inside, close the lid, turn on the heat and forget about it until the timer rings 4-6 hours later. Avoid taking a peek too often or stirring, since both can slow down the cooking process.
  5. Add time for altitude. If you are cooking your meal at high elevations (3,000 feet or more above sea level), add 30 more minutes per hour listed in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 4 hours of cooking time, cook for 6 hours at high altitudes.

Be sure to take care of your slow cooker, so that it lasts for many years to come! Avoid abrupt changes in temperature to prevent cracks, so don’t put a hot cooker on a cold countertop or directly into the fridge. You should always wait for the ceramic insert to reach room temperature before putting a cold crockpot into a preheated base or placing a hot pot into the fridge.

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