June is here, it’s officially winter, and with the cold weather that comes along with it, what better time of year to get your slow cooker out and make some hearty, warming meals.

Don’t have a slow cooker? That’s absolutely fine, grab a casserole dish or a heavy, lidded pot and cook slowly in the oven on low for 4 hours or more.

And a hearty meal doesn’t have to be based on a meat component alone. You can include all components that would ensure a nourishing, balanced meal, including some protein, carbohydrates and vegetables to fill you up.

So what should you add to make up this delicious warming meal?

Whether it is a stew, a soup, a casserole or a risotto, you can make them all on a slow cook, letting the aroma’s fill your kitchen.

Pick a protein – beef, pork, lamb, chicken, etc

  • And who says you need to buy expensive cuts of meat. It doesn’t matter if you pick the cheaper cuts, it just means that these cuts might take a little longer to cook and will yield their tenderness after a long slow cook.
  • In my opinion, they tend to be more flavoursome then the more expensive cuts of meat!

OR; If you are wanting to use a meat alternative;

  • Throw in some lentils or larger dried beans, which will soak up all the juices and flavours in the pot.
    These are a great protein alternative, or can be added to be an additional protein source from the meat or chicken, whilst also providing fibre, minerals and B vitamins to your meal.
  • Different lentils will mix differently into your pot, orange or red lentils dissolve completely and become quite mushy, whilst green or brown lentils tend to stay intact and add a different texture to your meal.

Add some Carbohydrates;

  • Why not throw in a handful of barley or some buckwheat grains. These will provide additional nutrients, such as fibre, as well as being a great source of carbohydrates, which will sustain you and keep you fuller for longer.

Fill it up with some vegetables;

  • Some of the favourite hearty winter vegetables include carrot, zucchini, capsicum, pumpkin, broccoli, beans, snow peas, eggplant and mushrooms.
  • Aim to eat a rainbow to ensure we are getting all of those different vitamins and minerals that are found in the various coloured vegetables.

Throw it all in, add some herbs, spices, seasonings, stock or liquid that is required, and then let the pot do the rest!

For particularly Slow Cooker recipes, check out http://allrecipes.com.au/recipes/slow-cooker-recipes.aspx

or download the BigOven Phone App and check out their slow cooker recipes, where you can even add those left over ingredients from the pantry or the bottom of the fridge that you want to be used up and utilized in your recipe.  How cool is that! (https://www.bigoven.com )

And if you want further assistance in ways to incorporate some hearty, warming, nutritious meals into your day, or for any other nutrition needs or concerns, give us a call at Discover Health Dietetics on 9431 4337, and one of our dietitian’s would be happy and willing to jump alongside you and assist you in any way we can.