During the winter of 2017 I had the pleasure of conducting several "How to Slow Cook Yourself Slim" classes for Weight Watchers of Arizona.
The following is the handout from those classes...
How to Slow Cook Yourself Slim Introduction
In October 2013, I set out to use my slow cooker every day for a year to make Weight Watchers friendly crock pot recipes that would be easy, healthy and delicious.
And though I lost momentum at the halfway mark, I still continue to use my slow cooker several days a week.
Before beginning my year of Weight Watchers friendly crock pot cooking challenge, I'd never really thought much about the link between losing weight and slow cooking.
But the truth is, if you are trying to lose weight, your slow cooker can be your best friend.
For most of us, dinner is the meal that often derails our best intentions when it comes to weight loss.
After a long day of work, you arrive home tired and hungry. And the last thing you want to do is think about cooking dinner.
So you end up grabbing the quickest thing you can get your hands on. And it’s rarely, if ever, light and healthy!
But, with a crock pot instead of worrying all day about what to make for dinner, you know a healthy and delicious meal will be ready and waiting when you get home.
Or you can use your crock pot on the weekends to make light and healthy meals to warm up during the week. The crock pot makes it easy to cook healthy, affordable meals without having to spend hours in the kitchen.
Have you heard the saying, "20 minutes in the kitchen can save you 3 hours on the treadmill "?
Well, it's true!
Why The Slow Cooker is an Essential Kitchen Tool for Weight Loss
1. Makes meal planning easier. Many Weight Watchers crock pot recipes are complete one pot meals.
2. Requires planning which is critical to weight loss success. If we want to eat right and lose weight we need a plan. If we leave it to chance we'll end up opting for high calorie convenience foods: take out, the drive-thru, fast food, the vending machine, etc.
3. Lends itself to big batch cooking and leftovers. Which can be re-purposed or portioned out for future meals.
4. Saves time in the kitchen. You can put your ingredients in the crock pot in the morning or afternoon and dinner will be ready when you want it. I love the convenience of investing a little time and then moving forward with my day, while dinner cooks, practically unattended. No pots boiling over, burned skillets and last minute rushing around to get dinner figured out.
5. Provides variety. You can make a lot more than pot roast, soup and chili in your slow cooker, as I've learned during the last six months. Appetizers, beverages, breakfasts, main dishes, side dishes and desserts are all possible with a slow cooker.
6. Makes cooking possible even for those with little kitchen know-how. Slow cooking is practical, realistic and very forgiving, perfect for novice cooks. Recipes tend to be straightforward with minimal ingredients and very few steps. Meals made in the slow cooker may not be the prettiest ever. But, they can be some of the tastiest.
7. Naturally low fat. Because crock pot cooking is a moist form of cooking it requires less fat, so you'll save calories and points.
8. Perfect all year round. While most of us think of the slow cooker during the fall and winter, it's the perfect summer kitchen device. I've received lots of comments from folks in hot climates who depend on their slow cooker all summer to avoid heating up the kitchen.
Slow Cooker Tips & Tricks for Weight Loss Success
1. Pick the correct slow cooker for you.
If you are new to slow cooking, figuring out which slow cooker to choose can take some research. There are such a wide variety of options of different sizes and styles on the market today. You'll find an article to help you here.
2. Adapt your slow cooker for smaller portions.
Put your ingredients into a smaller oven safe dish and then put the dish inside the slow cooker.
3. Get to know your slow cooker.
Just like an oven, every crockpot tends to have its own personality. It might run at a some what hotter temperature than another.
4. Don't overfill or under-fill it.
For best results your slow cooker should be at least half full but no more than two-thirds full. If it is less full, your recipe will cook faster. If it is more full, your recipe will cook slower.
5. Layer correctly
For even cooking, cut food into uniform-size pieces. Root vegetables take longer to cook so they should be placed at the bottom of the cooker (items at the bottom cook faster). Then place the meat on top.
6. Lifting the lid slows things down
Every time you take the top off your slow cooker the temperature inside drops several degrees and you extend the overall cooking time by 15 to 30 minutes. Waiting until the recipe is close to done will minimize this effect since you’re closer to done.
7. Pre-browning adds flavor but isn't necessary
Browning your meat and/or sautéing onions before adding them to the slow cooker will add more flavor to your finished dish. But you can skip this step and still get good results that are perfectly fine for everyday cooking.
8. Use a liner for minimal cleanup
Plastic liners designed specifically for the slow cooker will help make cleanup a breeze.
3 Favorite How to Slow Cook Yourself Slim Recipes
Crock-Pot Baked Oatmeal
- 3 cups uncooked oatmeal, rolled or quick oats
- 2 large eggs
- 1-½ cups skim milk (on unsweetened nondairy milk)
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup Truvia Baking Blend (or sugar/sweetener of choice)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Ideal Slow Cooker Size: 3 to 6-Quart
Coat your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl stir or whisk together all the ingredients until well blended. Pour mixture into your prepared slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 5 hours, until the edges are golden brown and the center is set.
Nutrition Estimates Per Serving (⅛th): 250 calories, 5g fat, 41g carbs, 5g fiber, 11g protein, *6PP, *7SP
Crock Pot Baked Oatmeal Recipe Additions/Variations:
- 1-2 cups chopped fresh/frozen fruit (berries, apples, peaches)
- Substitute mashed banana for applesauce
- Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, dates, figs, apricots, etc)
- Chopped nuts, coconut, seeds (chia, sunflower, pumpkin)
- Shredded vegetables: carrots, zucchini
Weight Watchers Crock-Pot Garden Vegetable Soup
- 1 cup chopped cabbage
- 1 cup chopped spinach or kale
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 4 cups fat free broth of your choice
- 1 (14-½ ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon dried basil (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon salt
Ideal Slow Cooker Size: 5 to 6-Quart
Place everything in your slow cooker, cover and cook on LOW until tender, 6 to 8 hours.)
Nutritional estimates per serving (about 1 cup): 41 calories, 5.3 g carbs, 0.9 g fat, 1.5 g fiber, 3.4 g protein, 0 Weight Watchers Points Plus Values, 0 SmartPoints Simply Filling
Crock Pot Garden Vegetable Soup Recipe Variations:
- Use whatever combination of low starch vegetables you like best.
- For a thicker soup, puree a portion of this soup and then add it back into the pot.
- Stir in some fresh chopped parsley or basil an added burst of freshness.
- Italian: basil, oregano, Italian seasoning blend
- Mexican: cilantro, cumin, chili powder, oregano
- Asian: ginger, garlic, soy sauce (skip the tomatoes and tomato paste) add bok choy, pea pods, bean sprouts, etc.
- Spicy: red pepper flakes, chilies, hot sauce
- Heartier: add your favorite canned beans, rinsed and drained or leftover cooked turkey or chicken
2-Ingredient Salsa Chicken
- 1-½ pounds lean boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1-½ cups thick chunky salsa
Ideal Slow Cooker: 4-Quart
Place the chicken in your slow cooker. Top with the salsa. Cover and cook on LOW until the chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours. When cooked, remove the chicken and set on a large plate or cutting board and shred with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back into the crock pot with the pots juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Nutritional Estimates Per Serving (scant ½ cup): 187 calories, 8g fat, 3g carbs, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 30g protein, 4 *PP, 0 *SP
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken Recipe Variations:
different salsas - red, green, chipotle, black bean, fruit, etc.
different sauces - teriyaki, BBQ, curry, marinara, buffalo hot wing, etc.
different meats - substitute lean pork or beef for the chicken
additional spice - add spices such as chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, etc. to boost the flavor
vegetarian - substitute beans - black, white, pinto, garbanzo, lentils for the chicken
chicken & bean - stir in a can of rinsed and drained beans
more veg - add chopped onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, corn, etc.
fresh - add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro, parsley etc.
*PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT Weight Watchers Zero Points fruits and vegetables using the WW Recipe Builder.
I hope you found this Slow Cook Yourself Slim session helpful.
To learn more about using the slow cooker to lose weight while eating great, please visit me at simple-nourished-living.com.
You'll find hundreds of WW friendly recipes, weight loss success stories, tips & tricks, as well as a series of best-selling eCookbooks, including one filled with her favorite Skinny Slow Cooker Recipes - Freestyle SmartPoints Edition.
About Martha McKinnon
Martha is a lifetime Weight Watcher committed to balancing her love of food and desire to stay slim while savoring life.
A huge fan of the slow cooker and confessed cookbook addict, when she's not experimenting in the kitchen, you'll find Martha helping beginners over the age of 50 discover the powerful benefits of yoga.
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