When it comes to saving time and making dinner preparation easy, your slow cooker is where it’s at. However, it doesn’t always mean you’re making a healthy meal, and sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut making chili and soup. Still, with a little creativity your crockpot can become just as versatile as any other kitchen appliance, and its longer cooking times can infuse flavors without relying on fattening ingredients. In other words: You can eat healthy, and save yourself the headache of last-minute weeknight dinners.
It’s easy to believe you haven’t made eggs or attempted to perfect the sticky bun in your crockpot, but these recipes show you how it’s done with ease. In addition, each of the recipes have fewer than 300 calories — a feat for any meal or appetizer. Take a look at the ideas, and plan on easy meals with your crockpot all week.
1. Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs
Meatballs are always an unhealthy indulgence, right? Not really, at least not in this case. Mixing these meatballs together is relatively simple, and the flavors make them perfect for any tailgate or party. Plus, this version uses quinoa, a complete protein that adds extra nutrition to your diet while also filling you up. While this recipe does use the oven for a few minutes to begin the cooking process for the meatballs, the lengthy time is served in the slow cooker, making it easy to keep them warm for guests at a party.
Kristen McCaffrey, the woman behind the recipe at Slender Kitchen, says you can drizzle these with a little blue cheese dressing or serve them in tacos — whichever you prefer. On their own, you get 6 meatballs per serving for just 250 calories, meaning you can munch on several without any snacking guilt at all.
2 pounds 95% lean ground chicken
¾ cup cooked quinoa
1 carrot, minced
1 celery rib, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups buffalo sauce (like Frank’s)
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together all the ingredients except for the buffalo sauce, until just combined. (Do not overmix.)
Roll the mixture into meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. This will make about 36 meatballs. Place on a greased baking sheet, then bake for 5-7 minutes until just browned.
Pour ½ cup buffalo sauce into the slow cooker, and add the meatballs. Pour the remaining cup of buffalo sauce over the meatballs, and stir lightly to coat.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.