The Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes On The Planet

When it comes to eating healthy, one of the biggest excuses thrown around is, "I'm just too busy to prepare healthy meals." Whether you're driving the kids around, taking them from soccer practice to dance lessons to band practice, or you don't have kids, but between your ever-demanding job, yoga class, and hanging out with your friends and loved ones, you are starting to feel like you're spending less time at home and more time in your car. If this resonates at all, then I understand how eating healthy can seem particularly daunting — but I can assure you, there is one tool which is bound to make your entire life and the goal of eating healthy, and thus avoiding the fast-food drive thru, a whole lot easier: the slow cooker.

If you don't have one, get one. If you do have one, pull it out of the cabinet, dust it off, and get ready to fall in love. After years without one myself, I finally bit the bullet and I'm never turning back again.

The slow cooker gets a bad rap sometimes, but with so many ways to use it and delicious (and healthy) recipes to make, it's time to change that! Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Veggie Lasagna

When you think of slow cooker recipes, I'm sure we often think of large batches of food to feed a big group of people. While I do find this to be one great reason to have a slow cooker, it's time we step away from the norm and get a little creative.

Lasagna is a favorite meal in my house, but it's definitely not one we often think of as "healthy," at least until now. I am specifically eyeing this veggie-packed low-carb lasagna that looks so good, I don't think anyone will miss the noodles!

Turkey Chili

I swear one of the best times of year to break out the slow cooker is during those cold winter months. It's dark when I leave the house in the morning and it's dark by the time I get home after work, so the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. During this time, I absolutely love to have a big pot of chili prepped and ready for me when I get home. Thanks to my slow cooker, this is possible!

Aside from the usual ground beef and tomatoes, I love to pack my chili with lots of added veggies like peppers, carrots and zucchini. You could even make some spiralized sweet potato noodles and pour some of the chili on top!

Shredded pork tacos

Every time I talk to someone about following a healthy diet or meal plan, they mention their biggest downfall is their love for tacos or burritos. I don't blame them — tacos are delicious, but they aren't always prepared in a healthy way. For the purpose of ensuring we get to enjoy all of our favorite foods, even when trying to diet and eat well, I found these shredded pork tacos which look amazing! You could pile the taco filling into a corn tortilla or top them onto a bed of lettuce for a taco salad.

Chickpea and vegetable curry

If you're looking for a delicious, healthy and slow-cooker friendly meal for your next "Meatless Monday," then look no further than a chickpea and vegetable curry. Curries are one of my favorite at-home comfort foods, packed with flavor, nutrients, and of course, a lot more budget-friendly than taking the family out to eat! Prep it before you leave for the day and by the time you get home from work, dinner will be served!

Chicken Noodle Soup

When cold season hits, it tends to either take out the entire family in one shot, or take us out one by one until everyone is sick and no one has the energy to actually cook a decent, healthy and nutrient packed meal. This is why, at the start of sickness in the house, I throw all the ingredients from my favorite chicken noodle soup into the crockpot. If you're already feeling under the weather, it's easy to prepare it and go take a nap while the slow cooker does all of the hard work for you.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

If you have ever found yourself hosting friends and family throughout the holidays or other times during the year, then you know what it's like to try and feed an entire army for breakfast. In that instance, scrambled eggs is a definite go-to, but if you want to change it up, I highly recommend a big pot of hearty, comforting and delicious steel cut oatmeal, which your guests can top with whatever they'd like. Sure, you could hover over the stove feverishly stirring a giant pot of oats, hoping it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot, or you could throw it in your crockpot and let it cook while you sleep. Not only is it ready for breakfast when you wake up in the morning, you can leave it on the 'warm' setting for anyone who chooses to sleep in a bit later that morning.

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

For as long as I can remember, spaghetti (or any pasta for that matter) has been a staple go-to dinner. Pasta doesn't take that long to cook on the stove-top, add a little jar sauce, add some extra veggies or cooked meat, and suddenly dinner is served. Sounds great — unless you're trying to cut some extra carbs out of your diet, which includes your weekly pasta dinner. Have no fear, there is an alternative! If you've never tried spaghetti squash, I highly recommend that you do. This fiber-packed veggie is delicious, shreds to look just like spaghetti noodles, and becomes the perfect base for your favorite pasta sauce. But if you're looking for a quick dinner, roasting the spaghetti squash in the oven for nearly an hour doesn't sound so appetizing. Cut the squash in half and throw it into your slow cooker with your sauce and when you walk in the door after a long day at the office, your spaghetti squash and meatballs will be waiting for you!

Lentil Sloppy Joes

When it comes to feeding a big crowd, another favorite recipe of mine is sloppy joes. I always try to do my best to accommodate my vegetarian friends as much as my meat-eating ones so lately, I have been making a lentil sloppy joe filling. It's perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters who are trying to add a few more meatless days into their weeks. Serve a salad on the side and dinner is done!

Granola

Admittedly, I would have thought you were kidding if you told me you can make granola in a slow cooker, but it's true, you can! For years, my favorite lunch or afternoon snack was Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola, but so many granolas you buy at the store are loaded with excess sugar. When we're trying to eat a bit healthier, we know the first thing that needs to get reined in is the amount of sugar we are consuming. One way to make sure you know how much sugar you are actually eating in a day is to start making your own foods, like this reduced-sugar granola.

For the love of the slow cooker

Now that you have some must-make recipes in your back pocket and hopefully a little inspiration to head to the kitchen, dust-off your slow cooker and start preparing some delicious and healthy recipes for you and your family. Eating healthy doesn't have to be so overwhelming, sometimes all it takes is letting one of your appliances do all the work for you so you can have a healthy meal that also tastes amazing. As Carlo Petrini, founder of the International Slow Food Movement said, "The quest for slowness, which begins as a simple rebellion against the impoverishment of taste in our lives, makes it possible to rediscover taste."