When it comes to making healthy choices, we're always looking for smart ways to make it easier. That's why slow cooker recipes that put the emphasis on veggies, whole grains, and legumes are a big part of our meal plans. These 10 healthy recipes are the ones we turn to constantly because they are not only filled with good-for-you ingredients, but they also seem to please everyone at the kitchen table and leave us with plenty of leftovers. Here are the 10 we turn to again and again.
A hearty mix of lentils, black beans, and kidney beans gives this chili meatiness and packs in a wallop of protein and fiber. The bowls are finished off with diced avocado to add creaminess plus some healthy fat. Save some leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.
Pro tip: Large, pre-cut chunks of butternut squash from the grocery store not only make this wholesome recipe super easy, but they also ensure that the squash won't get overcooked.
This is an extra-wholesome one-pot meal, thanks to the well-balanced combination of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, white beans, broccoli, and brown rice. You get protein from the chicken and beans, and lots of fiber from the rice and broccoli, so count on this dish to keep you full for a while.
Pro tip: If you like spice, we definitely suggest using the optional red pepper flake in this recipe, as it adds a nice contrast to the creamy white beans and nutty rice.
Split peas are a legume that are often left behind, but they shouldn't be, as they are high in protein and fiber, low in fat, and cook up to be naturally sweet and creamy. Since the soup is so wholesome, you can splurge a bit on the toppings — crispy bacon or grilled cheese croutons are both fair game.
Pro tip: While the grilled cheese croutons make this soup extra fun and crowd-pleasing, it's just as tasty without them if you're gluten-free.
Minestrone is the ultimate way to get more vegetables into your diet, and almost everyone loves this comforting soup. One hearty serving and you count on getting your veggies in for the day.
Pro tip: Hold onto that Parmesan cheese rind you're about to toss out and save it for this soup; it adds a wonderfully salty, nutty flavor to the broth.
The slow cooker makes eating a wholesome breakfast easy, thanks to it doing all the work while you sleep. This recipe features quinoa alongside the oats to give the porridge a plant-based protein boost. Chopped, dried apricots hydrate overnight in the oatmeal and being jammy and soft as it cooks.
Pro tip: Feel free to swap in other dried fruit like raisins, cherries, or chopped mango.
We love lentils for their protein- and fiber-rich meatiness that truly makes them a meal in themselves. Serve this as a thick soup or spoon it over brown rice to make it even heartier.
Pro tip: Toasting the cumin, mustard, and fennel seeds before adding them to the slow cooker with the lentils ensures this classic Indian dish will be as aromatic as possible.
7. Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew
This comforting stew is so full of wholesome vegetables and chickpeas, it's hard not to feel good about eating it. Plus, coconut milk takes the place of heavy cream or butter to provide a rich mouthfeel without the addition of dairy.
Pro tip: This recipe makes a whopping eight to 10 servings, but we encourage you not to halve it: Freeze whatever is leftover and your future self with thank you.
You can make a whole lot more than soups and stews in your slow cooker. Salmon actually turns out perfectly cooked when made in the appliance — no risk of dry fish in sight. Salmon is packed with all sorts of good-for-you fats that always make it a wholesome choice.
Pro tip: Poaching it in the slow cooker also means there's no need for oil or butter to cook it, so you can add a pat of butter right before serving.
Kick off your vegetable consumption early by incorporating winter squash into your morning routine. The squash wedges are sweetened naturally with maple sugar and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Pro tip: You can use almost any kind of winter squash for this recipe, although a round squash like kabocha is easiest to work with, and the pieces fit nicely in the flat bottom of the cooker.
This recipe is proof that a few bags of frozen vegetables can be transformed into something you can feel good about serving. Harissa, the spicy Middle Eastern and North African paste, adds layers of spicy flavors to this super-simple dish so you can skip the garlic and hot peppers.
Pro tip: Serve the tagine over whole-wheat couscous or cauliflower rice to make it a meal.