Slow cookers are such a saviour on those busy days when you are out all day or have minimal time to spend in the kitchen. Simply place all your ingredients into the pot of the slow cooker, set it on low and leave it to cook all day. The best part is your dinner is ready at the end of the day with minimal effort required. Slow cookers are an affordable kitchen staple that will pay for themselves in the long run. They are versatile and can be used for a range of meals, from curries to casseroles to nourishing bone broths. When sourcing a slow cooker, it pays to do some research into the type of material the slow cooker is made from. You want to avoid any slow cookers which may have lead or chemicals in the coating or bowl, which will leach into your food and be detrimental to your health.
Slow-cooking meals is an amazing way to reduce time in the kitchen and cut down on prep time. Most slow cooker recipes require you to just put all the ingredients into the slow cooker, pop on the lid, then set on low heat and forget. Let the slow cooker do the work and cook it for you.
If you are pushed for time in the morning, you can prep everything the night before and store it in the fridge overnight. Then simply start your slow cooker in the morning, and you are good to go.
Health Benefits of a Slow Cooker
Slow Cooking Encourages ‘nose to tail’ Style Eating
Slow cookers are an amazing way to tenderize less expensive cuts of meat and encourage ‘nose-to-tail’ style eating. Consuming cuts of the meat that you wouldn’t always consume, tough cuts which are normally higher in collagen and gelatine and are healing for your gut. It is also a more sustainable way to eat as you utilise the whole animal, using more slow-cooking cuts instead of primal cuts, making use of the whole animal instead of selected cuts. We get so spoilt for choice in today’s world, and many people choose the best cuts or ‘primal’ cuts with little fat content. We need to consume a wide range of cuts of meat to get the full nutritional benefits. By consuming muscle cuts of meat, you are missing out on the amino acids, glycine and proline, as they are abundant in connective tissues and bone broths.
By consuming nose to tail, we utilise the whole animal and make sure all parts are used, and none goes to waste. We need to make a conscious effort to use the whole animal instead of selecting the primal cuts.
Gut Healing & Nourishing Cooking Process
It is recommended to cook your slow cooker meals in bone broth for added nutrition and health benefits to foods, including added collagen and gelatine. Also, when cooking cuts of meat on the bone, the amino acids release from the bone into the broth and food. One amino acid that is released in this process and found in most recipes made in bone broths is glutamine. Glutamine is vital for healing and repairing the gut lining. A healthy gut lining is the best way to fight off any parasites and bacteria, which helps to naturally boost your immune system. There are four significant amino acids that are found in collagen-rich slow-cooking cuts, which include proline, glycine, glutamine, and alanine.
Helps Digest Food and Absorb Nutrients
Slow cooking with a slow cooker can help to pre-digest your food, making it easier for your body to absorb the essential nutrients in your meal. This is because the low temperature and long cooking time of a slow cooker can break down the fibres in your food, making it easier to digest. Additionally, slow cooking can help to retain more of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in your food, which can then be more easily absorbed by your body.
When compared to other cooking methods like a standard electric oven or stove, slow cookers offer the benefits of low-temperature cooking and better distribution of flavours. They are also convenient for busy individuals as many recipes require only one step preparation and can be left to cook for hours while you attend to other tasks. However, it's important to be mindful of the amount of liquid used, as too much liquid can lead to watery dishes.
Using a slow cooker to make bone broth and cooking meat on the bone can have significant benefits for joint health. Slow cooking helps to draw out essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and silicon from the bones, making it easier for the body to absorb these nutrients. The process also extracts the goodness from joints, tendons, and cartilage, resulting in the production of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are excellent for maintaining cartilage structure, slowing down cartilage deterioration, and reducing pain.
Slow cooking in a sealed container with herbs, spices, and other seasonings adds flavour and depth to any recipe. With the convenience of one-step preparation and low settings that require minimal attention, slow cookers are a great way to prepare healthy and nutritious meals with little effort and preparation time. Whether it's stews, soups, or osso bucco, slow-cooked dishes using the best cuts of meat can make a delicious addition to any diet while also providing the added benefit of promoting joint health.
Healthy Hair, Nails and Skin
Collagen is found in the connective tissue of tougher cuts of meat, which need to be slow-cooked at a lower heat for a longer time to break down the collagen tissue into nice soft, tender meat. Collagen is essential for hair, skin and nail health and is the building block of these tissues. Incorporating collagen-rich foods, such as slow-cooked meat, into your diet can help improve the appearance and health of your hair, skin, and nails. So, not only is slow cooking a great way to cook delicious recipes, but it can also provide numerous benefits for your beauty and wellness routine.
Slow Cooker Tips:
- When making a meal with bone broths or cooking any type of meat on the bone, it is highly recommended to opt for certified organic bones and cuts of meat. When animals are subject to added hormones, antibiotics and the consumption of pollution and toxins, this is stored in the bones, sinew, and cartilage of the meat. In the process of slow cooking, these toxins and chemicals can be drawn out of the bones and connective tissues, which could then end up in your meal.
- It’s not essential, but you can brown the meat at the start of the process before placing it into the slow cooker.
- Always use fresh cuts of meat, and never place frozen meat into a slow cooker bowl.
- Don’t use too much liquid when cooking. You need some liquid. However, you don’t want to cover the meat in liquid.
- Make sure you use the correct cut of meat – ensure the cut you are using is for slow cooking; otherwise, the meat will be tough.
- Make sure you are cooking the meat on a low and slow heat, don’t cut corners by turning up the heat and cooking for a shorter time. Most cuts need 8 hours in the slow cooker to break down and make them delicious, soft, and tender.
- Place hard vegetables at the bottom of the slow cooker, and place the meat on top. This is great because the vegetables cook slower on a low setting, ensuring your meat and veggies cook evenly.
What Recipes Can You Use a Slow Cooker For?
If you're looking for a versatile cooking appliance that can help you make a wide range of dishes, a slow cooker is a great choice. It's perfect for slow-cooking tough meats like chuck steaks or making delicious venison dishes, which require a long cooking time to become tender and flavorful.
With a slow cooker, you can make bone broths, soups, stews, curries, and casseroles with ease. It's also ideal for pulled meat, as it cooks it slowly and evenly to create a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Plus, slow cookers offer many benefits, such as using less electricity, cooking at low temperatures, and providing consistent heat for hands-off cooking.
If you're worried about cooking times, slow cooking times are typically between four to six hours, with some models offering two or three settings for added flexibility. You can also reduce liquids in one pot, and with the lid on, it keeps the food warm, making it perfect for serving hot food year-round.
So, whether you're a seasoned cook or a beginner, try out some of the many slow cooker recipes available right here on our blog, and enjoy the benefits of delicious, cooked-slowly dishes!Best Slow Cooker Cuts of Meat:
- Beef brisket (best way to make pulled beef)
- Pork collar butt (best way to make pulled pork)
- Lamb shoulder (best way to make pulled lamb)