Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

Healthy Cooking How-Tos with Barbara Seelig-Brown: Master Your Slow Cooker

Simple tips to punch up flavor in slow cooker classics

By Barbara Seelig-Brown
Learn More about Eat Well America
Master Your Slow Cooker

I love using my slow cooker, especially on busy days when I am not able to be at home cooking. It is always a pleasure to be able to come home to the wonderful savory smells of dinner cooking.

To get maximum flavor from your slow cooker, you want to begin your dishes as if you were cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. It is well worth the time and effort to brown your ingredients first before putting them in the slow cooker. If all you do is place the ingredients in the slow cookers, you miss out on these enhanced flavors. People often complain that their slow cooker dishes lack flavor and this is why. Once browned, transfer the food to the slow cooker and deglaze the pan by adding water, wine, or stock to the pan while it is hot and pouring this liquid and the fond (browned bits) into the slow cooker.

Most recipes that need a long cooking time can be made in a slow cooker. The advantage of this is that slow cookers don't need to be tended to so you can go on and do other things. I use mine for soups, stews, sauces, including marinara, and roasts such as pork loin.

The rule of thumb for slow cookers is that most recipes will cook in 4 hours on high and 8 hours on low. Some slow cookers have timers and keep-warm features. Some also have removable liners that allow you to do the browning on the stovetop and then placing the liner in the warming unit. Some also have locking lids that allow for easy transport. I have actually brought mine full of meatballs to a party on a boat because the cooker keeps food warm for a long time without being plugged in.

Sharpen your heart-healthy culinary skills with healthy how-tos and over 80 delicious recipes in Secrets of Healthy Cooking: A Guide to Simplifying the Art of Heart Healthy and Diabetic Cooking.