Posted by Sher Warkentin, guest blogger
By now you know cooking with a slow cooker is an easy way to get a home-cooked meal on the table. But let’s embrace another one of its powers: its ability to increase your family’s intake of green vegetables, which are packed with vitamins necessary to growth, as layed out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Try one of these healthy crockpot recipes that pack a green punch.
It’s easy to add greens to crockpot recipes that are already stuffed with ingredients. Add some greens to your crockpot recipes for lasagna, frittatas, enchiladas, and others to make them extra healthy.
Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas
This healthy crockpot recipe squeezes in a heaping portion of spinach, but you can easily substitute it for kale. Be sure to read labels and pick a salsa that’s low in sugar and sodium.
- 1 can organic black beans, drained
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 tbsp. chopped Chipotle peppers
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 soft taco-sized flour or wheat tortillas
- 2 jars green salsa
In a large bowl, mash half of the beans and add the spinach, corn, peppers, cumin, salt and pepper, 1 cup of cheese, and the rest of the beans. Spoon a portion of the mixture onto the center of a tortilla and fold the sides in. Pour one jar of salsa into the bottom of the crockpot and place the rolled tortillas seam-side down in a single layer on top. Pour the second jar of salsa and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cook on the low setting for three hours.
This is one of my favorite easy healthy crockpot recipes because it’s so simple. You’ll start with three basic ingredients—meat, potatoes and carrots—and then add in any green veggies you like. Leafy greens also work; you just need to add them during the last hour of cooking.
- 1 lb. cubed stew beef (or your vegetarian protein of choice)
- 3 to 4 large carrots, chopped
- 1 lb. small red potatoes, halved
- 1 cup green beans, chopped
- 1 cup zucchini, chopped
- 3 cups low-sodium beef stock
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
Add all the ingredients except flour and tomato paste to the crockpot and cook on high for six to seven hours. In the last hour of cooking, scoop out a half-cup of the broth and mix it with two tablespoons each of flour and tomato paste. Stir the mixture into the pot.
Stuffed Green Peppers
Green bell peppers are full of vitamin C, E, and the fiber necessary to digestion—all while being the perfect container for stuffing in even more healthy eats into your dinner. Here’s what you’ll need.
- 4 to 6 green bell peppers
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup frozen chopped kale, thawed and drained
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cut the tops off of the peppers and carefully remove the seeds. In a large bowl, mix quinoa, beans, kale, corn, and seasonings. Stuff the peppers with the mixture. Pour a half-cup water in the crockpot and place peppers on top in a single layer. Cook on high for three hours. Sprinkle cheese on top of peppers in the last half hour.
Dinner dishes aren’t the only healthy crockpot recipes. This fourth breakfast dish packs in the greens. I like to throw in any leftover vegetables from dinner, like roasted Brussels sprouts.
- 3 eggs
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup chopped baby spinach
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 tablespoon salt and pepper
Beat eggs in a large bowl, then stir in vegetables, half of the cheese, salt, and pepper. Spray the crockpot with cooking spray and pour the mixture in. Sprinkle the remainder of your cheese on top and cook on low for one hour.
Italian dishes make it easy to add in plenty of extra veggies. This recipe calls for polenta instead of noodles, which makes it faster and easier to prepare.
- 1 tube polenta
- 1 jar marinara sauce
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups shredded Romano cheese
- 1 tsp. crushed garlic
Slice the polenta into half-inch slices. Pour one cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the crockpot, placing half the polenta slices in a single layer on top. In a bowl, mix spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, one cup of sauce, and one cup cheese. Pour this mixture over the polenta and add another layer of polenta on top. Cover with one cup of sauce and the remainder of your cheese. Cook for three hours on high, or six hours on low.
The best part about these healthy crockpot recipes is that there’s room to play around with the ingredients. You can easily pack in any favorites or make substitutes as you see fit.
Image source: Sher Warkentin
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.