I didn’t want you all to think that January was just for vegans and vegetarians! For all you lovers of good quality meat out there, I wanted to bring you one of my favourite recipes that contains some of my favourite ingredients. Plus I’ve packed it with some of my nutrient boosting everyday superfoods, cheap and easy ingredients that have been associated with living longer and healthier. It’s a super quick recipe, and you can basically chuck it all in the slow cooker, turn it on, have a cuppa and read your favourite book and wait for the magic to happen!
The benefits of using a slow cooker
I love my slow cooker. Firstly it’s one of the cheapest ovens you can buy, available in most supermarkets for around £20 to £30. As a busy working Mum I often use it to make my life easier… throwing something in the morning before I go to work and leaving it on low, and getting home to delicious smells and an amazing hot dinner. Yes, it can make things a bit mushy but when it comes to stews and casseroles or a tough cut of meat, this is perfect because the slow and low method helps to soften everything up and make your meals super tender.
In an ideal world, we might not be cooking our veggies for quite so long. This may reduce some of the nutrient value, particularly the water-soluble ones such as Vitamin C and B vitamins. However, some nutrients will be released from this slow cooking method, helping to break down cells walls and release the goodness inside. Also I find my kids love a slow cooked meal because it’s easy to eat for them, soft on the palate and more difficult to pick out the bits they think they don’t like!
I think a slow cooker is a brilliant investment for any busy household, especially during the winter months when you want plenty of ready cooked, but warming hearty meals. I also use mine to make bone broth, home made baked beans (much yummier and low in sugar), super tasty beany beef bolognaise (from my How to get your Kids to Live to 100 course) and slow cooked organic meat, especially lamb. We also love a beef stew done in the slow cooker.
Why add pulses to a chicken stew?
I’m always trying to find ways to add extra beans and pulses into my meals. The fact is that research has shown that this cheap and high protein, high fibre and nutrient dense food group appears on the menus of some of the longest living people on the planet, and may also help to reduce our risk of heart disease. I know some people’s digestive systems don’t do so well with too many beans and pulses, and if we eat too many, we know about it! (The house gets too smelly if you know what I mean). But if you’re alright with legumes and beans, then use them regularly to help support longevity.
I also use plant protein so that I don’t have to pack in so much meat to fill up my kids, who are getting hungrier by the year it seems! By adding in cheap plant protein, I can then buy better quality organic meat, which unfortunately has a higher price tag.
So here’s my favourite slow cooked recipe… what do you love to cook in your slow cooker?
Recipe: Slow cooker Chicken Quinoa Root Veg Stew (serves 4 to 6)
1 tbspn olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushes
2 large organic or free range chicken breasts
1 tin of chickpeas, butter beans or kidney beans – rinsed and drained.
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch of chilli flakes (optional – if you like it hot)
Ground black pepper – good pinch
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Any root veg you want to use up – I use 1 carrot roughly chopped and about half a butter nut squash
¾ cup (about 120g) of uncooked quinoa (you could use brown rice if you don’t have quinoa)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
600ml of chicken or vegetable stock (fresh if you can get it, or leftover bone broth – if not use a cube)
1 to 2 cups of water as needed.
In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil and then add the celery and onion. Sautee until soft, then add the garlic for a couple of minutes.
Chop the chicken breasts into fairly large cubes (around an inch cubed).
Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker, stir well.
Allow to cook for around 2 to 3 hours on high, or around 5 hours on low.
Check the seasoning and that the chicken is cooked. You can add in a handful of fresh parsley on top for freshness, and a dollop of plain natural yoghurt.
Enjoy! And keep any leftovers for lunch the next day!