Comforting Food That Won't Weigh You Down
Staying on a weight-management program would be a lot easier if it meant you could eat the foods you know and like, instead of cutting out whole food groups. That's the core idea behind Weight Watchers, which eliminates the need for calorie-counting and carb management by assigning foods a points value. Healthy foods, including these four Crock-Pot recipes, have few or no points while highly refined carbs and saturated fats have lots of them.
1. Chicken "Pot Roast"- 5 SmartPoints/Serving
Pot roast is one of the classic uses for a slow cooker, but – as tasty as it is – you won't always want something that rich and heavy. This recipe substitutes a whole chicken for the traditional hunk of beef, giving a slow-cooker spin to the equally traditional roast chicken.
Rub the bird with olive oil and season it with salt, pepper, paprika and thyme, then put a couple of cloves of minced garlic into the cavity. Place two stalks of celery on the bottom of your cooker and rest the bird on them, to raise it from the bottom. Add a couple of diced potatoes and a cup of baby carrots to make it a complete meal, then cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Inspired by a recipe at SkinnyMs.
2. Provencal Beef Stew - 3 SmartPoints/Serving
This lightened-up version of beef stew combines classic French flavors with an unconventional high protein, low carb thickener: pinto beans. Start by sauteing onions and mushrooms for a few minutes in a hot skillet, then adding minced garlic. Put this mixture into your slow cooker along with a pound of diced top round steak, two sliced carrots, your seasonings, beef broth and a can of crushed tomatoes.
Next, add half a can of drained pinto beans to the slow cooker. Puree the other half in your blender, with more beef broth. Add the bean puree to your slow cooker and simmer for 6 to 7 hours, until the beef is fork-tender and the sauce is thick.
Inspired by a recipe at KitchMe
3. Hoisin Chicken - 4 SmartPoints/Serving
This one's not a complete meal in its own right, but a building block you can use to put together an endless parade of dinners or lunches. Serve it over vegetables to keep the SmartPoints negligible, or use it in salads or over your choice of rice or noodles.
It couldn't be easier to prepare: Whisk together soy and hoisin sauce, some chicken broth, honey or agave syrup, ginger, and a splash of your favorite Asian chili-garlic sauce. Pour the sauce mixture into your slow cooker along with a couple pounds of skinless, boneless chicken thighs, and cook on low for 4 hours. Shred the chicken, thicken the sauce on your stovetop with a bit of cornstarch, and garnish with chopped green onions. Done!
Inspired by a recipe at Cookin' Canuck
4. Spinach and Hash Brown Casserole - 6 SmartPoints/Serving
A good breakfast casserole is a handy thing to have in your repertoire, whether you treat it as a leisurely weekend breakfast, a handy brunch, or a "breakfast for dinner" option on a busy weeknight. This one is as simple as they come, and works as a base for a number of different variations.
Press a bag of thawed hash brown potatoes into the bottom of your slow cooker, and top them with thawed, well-drained frozen spinach, diced ham, shredded cheese and aromatic vegetables such as onions and sweet bell peppers. Whisk together a half-dozen whole eggs and the same number of egg whites, along with a splash of fat-free milk and salt and pepper. Pour the eggs on top and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 on low, until set.
Inspired by a recipe at Slender Kitchen
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.