Monday, January 6, 2014

Crock Pot Cooking: The Rules and the Recipes

In response to a conversation on the BeyondPrenatals Facebook page, I am posting some rules and recipes for crock pot cooking. Enjoy them and like us on facebook for more health tips.

Debra's Ten Unofficial Rules of Crock Pot Cooking  

  1. Cook on High 4-5 hours or Low 8-10 hours.
  2. If cooking with beans or lentils, don't add salt until the end.
  3. If cooking with beans or lentils AND tomatoes, you should use pre-cooked (or canned or frozen) beans to ensure the acidity from the tomatoes won't discourage the beans from becoming tender. Or add tomatoes after beans or lentils are tender.
  4. "Saute" in the following recipes, refers to cooking the onions in the crock pot on high with some good quality extra virgin olive oil (or leftover chicken drippings for a deeper flavor) before you add water or other ingredients until the onions become translucent. This can be done while getting dressed. If you need to skip this step, feel free. You will lose some of the flavor but it will still be okay.
  5. If your mornings are just too hectic, fill up the crock pot the night before, place in fridge, and put it into the crock pot base in the morning. If you want to do the "saute" part, do it the night before.
  6. Be flexible.  If you start with onions and garlic and add in vegetables you have on hand, beef or chicken or beans, fresh or dried spices, you usually can't go too wrong.
  7. If using mushrooms, opt for portobello or baby portobello, it will deepen the flavor. 
  8. To prep beans for your crock pot without fuss or multiple bowls, simply pour them into the crock pot and cover with filtered water. In the morning, drain the water off using the cover of the crock pot (turn it over with the cover slightly off center allowing the water to drain out but not the beans. In fact, you might lose a few beans using this method, but it's simpler than taking out a colander in my opinion). Rinse and drain again. They are now ready. If you don't need your crock pot, you can cook the beans in there on low for about 5 hours. No salt. You can also soak during the day, and cook beans overnight. Lentils do not need to be soaked. Once you get in a rhythm, you won't be scared to soak and cook beans, it will become second nature to you. If your recipe does not call for cooked beans, cook them as part of the recipe with the other ingredients.. Or if you absolutely hate cooking beans, shell out the extra $ and buy them canned or frozen:) 
  9. You can also use your crock pot to cook rice and other grains for a few hours (not all day). Works great with "sauteed" onions and mushrooms first.
  10. Don't take my measurements too seriously. If you want more of one spice and less of another, go for it!  I love reading cookbooks but hate following recipes. All amounts are estimates. Use your cooking judgment.

Mung Bean Stew

"Saute" 2 onions in the crock pot (either in olive oil or leftover chicken fat). Add about 1 tsp each of dried spices: Oregano, Dill Weed, Parsley and 1/2 tsp turmeric. Stir and let cook until it smells fragrant. Add 2 cups of pre-soaked mung beans, 1 peeled and chopped sweet potato, and one red pepper. Cover with filtered water. Stir to combine. Place two bay leaves just beneath the water. Cook about 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low. When its done, gently stir in some salt but make sure not to mush the sweet potato, keep it chunky or it won't look pretty;) Serve over Fusilli pasta, spooning the extra juice on top too. 

Chicken Crock Pot Three Ways
1. Whole chicken over 2 cups of rice + 4 cups filtered water. Cover chicken in salsa or matbucha and cooked black beans.

2. Whole chicken rubbed with oil and salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and thyme or fresh dill (or other spice you love), surrounded by sweet potatoes. Cook on low all day. Can also be cooked over rice+water.

3. Coat pot in canola oil. Place whole chicken in pot. Cover chicken in honey and then unsweetened coconut shreds. Cook on low all day.  

Beef or Veal Stew
This is not as good as beef stew cooked in a dutch oven but if you want meat for dinner and you are short on time, it's pretty good.
Layer onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, celery. Add cubed beef, 1 cup of red wine, 1/2 cup of water, chopped packaged tomatoes or canned stewed tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, coarse salt, black pepper. When it's done stir in some red wine vinegar. 

Veggie Chili

3 cups combination of pre-soaked beans (kidney, white beans, and chickpeas work well)
4 stalks celery
1 bunch carrots
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3 zuchini zucchini
Spices of your choice (we used: paprika, cayenne, cumin, pepper). 

When cooking beans, always add salt after the beans are cooked or they won't get tender.  
Put everything in the crock pot, add the spices and water to cover.  Cook on low all day. gently add salt to taste.  Make some brown rice or another grain to serve it with and enjoy!

For a more traditional veggie chili, you need to go out of the crock pot, here is my favorite.


Place in crock pot in the following order (all chopped): Olive oil to coat bottom of pot, 2 medium eggplants, 2 onions, 2 zucchini, 8 oz. Mushroom, 2-3 potatoes, 4 cloves garlic.  Add seasonings: pepper, basil, oregano, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tbs maple syrup. Add chopped packaged (r canned) tomatoes.   Add 2 cups cooked chickpeas. Drizzle with some more olive oil. Don't stir. Cook all day.
The reason why you need pre-cooked beans here is because beans dont cook well in the presence of tomatoes. Cook on low all day. Serve hot or cold

Split Pea Soup

1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 cup medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled 
1 pound dried split green peas
8 cups chicken stock or water
Sliced hot dogs (nitrate-free)
Optional: celery, bay leaves, parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt before serving

"Saute" the onions and garlic with the olive oil, oregano, pepper until the onions are translucent, about 20 minutes while you are getting dressed in the morning.. Add the carrots, potatoes, split peas, chicken stock, and hot dogs. If you are home, skim off the foam while cooking. Cook on low all day. Add salt. 
If you prefer your split pea soup with thyme, replace the oregano with thyme.

My kids enjoying mung bean stew over pasta tonight. Recipe above..


  1. So what do you think of something like this?


    1. I would be nervous about maintaining a safe temperature. Stick a thermometer in it to be safe.

  2. i am fitness freak or you can say me that i am live in the gym.

    all my friend and family always complaint about this habit

    can you tell me is this normal or should i think for it

  3. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is fantastic, let alone the content!

    Regards: Eve Hunt

  4. These are so stinkin perfect!! From the picture I assumed you just used jello on each side and it's nice to see that you did something so much better.
    Harold Burton

  5. Simple recipe. Very tasty. The whole family loves it. Added pesto to one. Delish!
    Kelly Hubbard

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  7. Hi just wondering, if this is diabetic friendly? It looks delish and am wanting to try it .🙂
    Paul Brown