Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Slow Cooker This Fall by Nancy S. Hughes

If you have a slow cooker collecting dust somewhere, it’s time to pull it out and start cooking! Slow cookers are great for making comforting soups and stews in the fall, but they can do so much more.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Slow Cooker This Fall

1. Think outside the stew

The go-to recipes for slow cookers are usually soups, stews, roasts, etc., but you can do so much more! You can cook corn on the cob, bake potatoes, or boil water. You can cook a meatloaf or roast a whole chicken. You can even bake a cake or cobbler directly in the pot or in a pan (see next tip). 

2. Use your slow cooker as a mini-oven

Yes, you can treat your slow cooker like a mini oven! The trick is to place a loaf pan on a rack or several balls of aluminum foil to keep it off the bottom of the slow cooker. You can bake things in the slow cooker, or place food in there to stay warm. This a great trick for Thanksgiving when you're limited on oven space!

3. Make a mini slow cooker

Instead of buying a separate mini slow cooker, you can place a 2-cup heat-resistant glass measuring cup inside your regular slow cooker! This trick is great for small batches of slow-cooked foods, like dips, toppings, or cooking for one. 

4. Plan for leftovers

A lot of slow cooker recipes, especially soups, stews, and roasts, taste even better the next day, when the flavors have had a full 24 hours to blend. These dishes are great to make ahead when you're entertaining, or for meal prepping several days' worth of meals. 

5. Prep and chill

Slow cookers are great to leave on while you are at work so you can come home to a fully cooked dinner, but that requires prepping everything in the morning. If you're not a morning person, prep all your ingredients the night before, or over the weekend, and store it in the fridge. Then in the morning, you can just dump everything in the slow cooker and go!

6. Time things perfectly

If you let the slow cooker run while you are at work or running errands, there's always a risk that you won't get home in time and things will overcook. To avoid this, buy an outlet timer that you can program to shut off after a certain amount of time, or a smart outlet that you can control with your phone.

7. Thicken it

For more concentrated flavors and a thicker soup, just remove the cover for the last 15 minutes of cooking time to allow some of the liquid to evaporate. You could also blend some of the mixture in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender for a creamier texture.

8. Get the most out of meat

When you cook meat in a slow-cooker, it traps all of the juices and moisture. This means that even lean cuts of meat will be juicy after a few hours of cooking. The low and slow cooking method is also great for tenderizing tough cuts of meat, which are often the least expensive. 

Ready to get cooking? Check out this round-up of some of our favorite slow cooker recipes on Diabetes Food Hub

For more slow cooker tips and recipes from Nancy Hughes, check out The Diabetes Fast-Fix Slow-Cooker Cookbook


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