Slow Carb Secret Weapon: The Slow Cooker | 4 Hour Body Recipes
The slow carb diet is fantastic in many ways: lose weight, eat right, not feel hungry all the time, have a day where you can go crazy… All of these things are what make the diet work. However, there are a couple of things about it that are somewhat inconvenient. Among those things: the fact that cooking your own meals all the time can be time-consuming, especially when you’re cooking legumes! This is where I think one of the great secret weapons of the slow-carb diet comes into play: the slow cooker.
Slow cookers (or clay pots) allow you to easily cook things at lower temperatures for long periods of time. They’re FANTASTIC for things like stews, chili peppers, long stews, baked beans, shredded pork, and tons of stuff that falls into the “comfort food” category. In general, you put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, put it in “low” and then let it cook for 8-11 hours. At the end of that, you’ll have a good hot tasty goodness ready for your enjoyment.
For people on a low-carb diet, this is particularly helpful because this cooking method is great for legumes. If you throw beans into the slow cooker and have enough liquid with them, you’ll almost always have perfectly made beans after 9 hours (of course, that will make some soft beans, but there are recipes for that 🙂). This simplifies things a lot: you don’t have to soak the beans overnight, boil them for a long time, and spend all the time they’re cooking. Thus, it allows you to step away and get on with your life once the ingredients are all in the pot. Lentils are even easier: they can usually go with the meat and the rest of the ingredients and will be fully cooked by the end.
To show you how easy it is to make beans in the slow cooker
, here’s the basic recipe: take 1 pound of dried beans (wash and pick them up), put them in the slow cooker with 2 bay leaves and 5 cups of liquid (water or chicken broth), and cook for 9-11 hours. Fact. You’ll have some nice, lightly seasoned beans that you can use as a base for any type of recipe and they’ll come out perfect every time. You can set it up at night and then have the beans ready the next morning, or put them in the morning and have the beans ready when you get home. This will also make a TON of beans; You’ll usually be prepared for a good portion of the week.
But besides making beans easy, what I love most about the slow cooker is all the comfort food you can make in it. I love using the slow cooker to make carnitas, shredded chicken, Moroccan stews, all sorts of great foods that are really tasty, really filling, really indulgent, and don’t feel like “diet food” at all.
There’s one thing you should know about slow cookers: a little extra time at the beginning will produce MUCH better results in the end. Many people want to take shortcuts: they simply cut a bunch of vegetables, throw them in the slow cooker with some meat, and come back later to find watery, tasteless porridge. However, small shortcuts such as microwaving aromatics (onions, garlic, spices, etc.) beforehand or browning the meat that the slow cooker inserts before cooking add a great depth of flavor and make worlds of difference. So when you read a slow cooker recipe and it tells you to do these things, don’t skip steps 🙂
Here are a couple more quick tips on how to cook with a slow cooker:
- Slow cookers usually come with ceramic inserts, but some have stove-safe metal inserts. I have an All-Clad with a metal insert and I love the comfort – it allows you to brown things directly in the slow cooker, which means you get all the tasty golden chunks and also means one less pan to clean up. The downside – metal inserts for this are really expensive and hard to find. The folks at Cooks Illustrated recommend a slow cooker Crock-Pot, but it doesn’t come with a metal insert. So, if you can shell out the dough, take a metal insert. If not, don’t worry They say that cooking at low temperature is better, and I’m 🙂
- sure it probably is. However, in my experience, I haven’t noticed a significant drop in quality when I cook high. And since you can save 4-6 hours cooking over high heat, sometimes it makes sense to do so.
- I can’t imagine using a slow cooker that’s smaller than 6 1/2 quarts. That might seem like a big slow cooker, but frankly, you’ll want to be able to put things like pork shoulders and have room for onions and all the other flavor that goes with it… So go big!
And here’s the most important tip: the best book without discussion, no discussion about cooking with slow cookers is “Slow Cooker Revolution” from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. This book has some of the best recipes I’ve ever eaten anywhere (slow cooker or not). His tips on using the slow cooker are accurate and easy to understand. Bottom line: This book completely changed the way I use a slow cooker, and I’ve never had a bad meal outside of it. Highly recommended.
So that’s it in my recommendations for slow cooker, one of the secret weapons of the low-carb diet. Use it well and post your experiences, ideas, tips and suggestions in the comments below!