Establishing a lasting healthy lifestyle tends to top the list of self-improvement goals. If eating right is one of your goals, it's best to start in the kitchen. Cooking at home allows you to take control of everything that goes into a meal, which makes it easier to manage your eating habits. However, the idea of preparing healthy meals every day can feel daunting. From prep work and time spent cooking to the mass cleanup afterward, staying on track can be a serious time commitment.
When you don't always have time to cook a healthy meal, turn to the slow cooker. This handy (and hands-off) device allows you to simply gather ingredients, place them in the pot, and go about your day while dinner cooks itself. Foodies and editors alike swear by the genius kitchen appliance, and if you're looking for an easy way to reach your health goals, it's definitely worth the investment.
Ready to start cooking healthy at home? Try your hand at one of these 12 easy, healthy Crock-Pot recipes for dinner tonight.
Thai Pork Salad
The Recipe: Thai Pork Salad
The Hero Ingredient: This dish from Fed + Fit gets its powerful flavor from the homemade curry paste dressing. It's what gives the veggie-packed salad and slow-cooked pork something extra.
The Pro Tip: Cassy Joy Garcia of Fed & Fit suggests whipping up extra dressing to have on hand. "I made extra so I could drizzle it over rice and chicken for days," Garcia says.
The Recipe: Veggie Lasagna
The Hero Ingredient: Kale. Cooking it in the Crock-Pot helps the superfood soften and become tender, making it the perfect filling for this veggie-packed lasagna.
The Pro Tip: Don't worry about breaking noodles to fit the pasta in the crockpot. "In the end, they all sort of just soak together to make layers that hold everything delicious together in one yummy meal," says Lindsay Ostrom of Pinch of Yum.
Potato and Cauliflower Curry
The Recipe: Potato and Cauliflower Curry
The Hero Ingredient: The cauliflower adds so many good-for-you nutrients to this dish, plus it makes the curry feel hearty and satisfying.
The Pro Tip: "This is one of those amazing slow-cooker recipes that you really do just drop in all the ingredients, forget about it, come back later, and eat," says Teighan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest.
Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili With Quinoa
The Recipe: Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili With Quinoa
The Hero Ingredient: Quinoa is not traditionally found in chili. In this recipe, the protein-packed grain will keep you full long after the dinner table is cleared.
The Pro Tip: "This is a go-to recipe to prep ahead and make in the slow cooker while you're away all day and arrive home to all the delicious, homemade chili smells with dinner just a ladle away," says Heidi Larsen of Foodie Crush.
Vegetable Quinoa With Golden Milk
The Recipe: Vegetable Quinoa With Golden Milk
The Hero Ingredient: Golden milk—basically a mixture of coconut milk and turmeric—steals the show in the recipe. It's an unexpected healthy ingredient with bold flavors.
The Pro Tip: You can buy golden milk at the store to save time when cooking. "[It] already has the perfect blend of creamy coconut milk and a pop of sweet honey that is perfectly balanced out by all the spicy-warm flavor profiles of cinnamon," shares Taylor Kiser of Food Faith Fitness.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bolognese
The Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bolognese
The Hero Ingredient: Spaghetti squash may be the main ingredient in Half Baked Harvest's recipe, but this dish wouldn't be complete without a dollop of creamy burrata to top it off.
The Pro Tip: "It might seem weird, but you actually cook the spaghetti squash right in the crockpot with the Bolognese," says Gerard. You don't even have to cut the spaghetti squash in half before cooking it.
The Recipe: Paleo Chili
The Hero Ingredient: Slow-cooked chuck roast is the star of this easy, healthy slow cooker recipe. Paired with lots of vegetables, tomato sauce, and spices, it's a Paleo meal that anyone can enjoy.
The Pro Tip: According to Natalie of The Modern Proper, the key to getting the texture of the beef just right is to brown it in a skillet before allowing it to cook all the way through in the Crock-Pot.
Keto Beef Stew
The Recipe: Keto Beef Stew
The Hero Ingredient: Beef. Root + Revel's keto beef stew recipe is a protein powerhouse, and packs a vitamin and mineral punch too (Vitamin K, B6, B12 and Zinc). In a slow cooker, add cubed beef (organic, and grass-fed when possible), onion, garlic, dry red wine, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs and spices.
The Pro Tip: Omit water if using bone broth instead of marrow bones, advises Kate Kordsmeier of Root + Revel.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Banh Mi Bowls
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Banh Mi Bowls
The Hero Ingredient: In Root + Revel's pulled pork banh mi recipe, pork shoulder (or pork butt) is smothered in a marinade of fish sauce, ginger, tamari, honey, and lime. Add pickled vegetables and serve over black rice.
The Pro Tip: Don't skip the broiler step after shredding with two forks (or by hand) to "make the pork extra crispy and addicting."
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
The Recipe: Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
The Hero Ingredient: A hint of curry. Make Hello Glow's split pea soup when you're craving a vegetarian soup where its "thick, porridge texture gives it that stick-to-your-ribs feel," writes Hello Glow contributor Lindsey Johnson. You'll need: Split green or yellow peas, vegetable broth, carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, garlic, curry powder, bay leaf.
The Pro Tip: Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with naan or flatbread.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos With Himalayan Sea Salt Tortillas
The Hero Ingredient: Sea salt. Take it from Hola Jalapeño's Kate Ramos when she says that the "couple teaspoons of salt make the honey sweeter, the chiles more fiery, and the lime brighter." Cook chicken breasts in the slow cooker for 4–8 hours, shred, and pile onto homemade tortillas (you'll need masa harina, hot water, and salt).
The Pro Tip: Serve tacos with sliced radishes, avocado, Cotija cheese, and cilantro. And, writes Ramos, "If not eating tortillas right away, let cool in a single layer on the counter, then place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week. "
Slow Cooker Korean Chicken With Mango Salsa
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Korean Chicken With Mango Salsa
The Hero Ingredient: Gochujang chili paste gives Yes to Yolks' spin on Korean chicken a customizable kick of heat. To the chicken, add soy, honey, freshly grated ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes. Make the mango salsa while it cooks in the slow cooker (3–4 hours on low, or 2–3 hours on high). Serve over rice.
The Pro Tip: Garnish with scallions, sesame seeds, and lime wedges.