Books Magazine

Cookbook Review: Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution

By Curlygeek04 @curlygeek04

slow cookerI’ve gotten really into cooking lately, partly because of our seemingly endless winter, and partly because my husband and I are really trying to eat better. We’ve mostly given up takeout and turned to light dinners during the week and nicer meals on the weekends.

I got a fancy new slow cooker for Christmas, and of course the first thing I did was look for a cookbook (my book obsession definitely extends to cookbooks). The number of “healthy” slow cooker cookbooks is incredibly limited. This book came out in January and so it didn’t have a ton of reviews, but the cookbook is visually nice to look at and comes with a lot of helpful information. I had read that the size of your slow cooker really impacts the recipes. So I looked at a few cookbooks to see what size their cooker is geared to. I have a 6-quart, and nearly every recipe in this book works for a 4-7 quart cooker.

I rejected a “Slow Cooking for Two” cookbook, because for me the whole point of using a slow cooker is having lunch for the next week. Cooking for two makes sense with meals that don’t reheat well, but the slow cooker is designed to produce mass quantities, and that is exactly what I want.

America’s Test Kitchen is located in Boston and its mission is to “test recipes over and over again until we understand how and why they work and until we arrive at the ‘best’ version.” This is my first “America’s Test Kitchen” book, but my husband had more confidence in these recipes because it came from them. What I also like is that these recipes are healthy but they don’t feel “light”. Generally these are hearty, comfort-food type meals, just with more veggies and less fat.

One down-side to “Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution” is this: most people are looking for a way to make a meal in the morning, go to work, and have it be ready 8-10 hours later. Some of these meals need only 2-3 hours to cook, and some of them have interim steps. So if you want to throw things in a pot and come back at the end of the day, this isn’t your book. But I can tell you I’m never going to be someone who wakes up in the morning and prepares an entire meal before heading out the door. I’m lucky if I can put on matching clothes in the morning. This is a perfect Sunday dinner kind of book. It lets me plan out a meal, throw it together, and forget about it for a few hours. In truth I’m not someone who needs a slow cooker, but I like the safety aspect of it (I won’t set my house on fire if I walk away from it) and slow cooking means you’re not timing to the exact minute so it’s pretty hard to over or under cook.

So with that caveat, I definitely recommend this book! I found it generally easy to use and there are tons of recipes I want to make. A big appeal for me is the book draws on a range of different cuisines, like Indian, Thai and French. Plus every page has a helpful suggestion, either a side dish, or a shopping or prep tip, like how to cut an avocado. They even make product suggestions based on taste tests.

Here are some of the things we’ve made:

  • Thai Chicken with Coconut Curry Sauce (excellent and will do again, although blending the curry sauce was a bit tricky, and I would add more curry)
  • Spaghetti with Meatballs Florentine (this came out great and fed me for a week)
  • Spicy Chipotle Chicken Chili (surprisingly good except it’s written as a two-serving recipe; who makes two servings of chili?)
  • Butternut Squash with Pecans and Cranberries (fantastic side that I will definitely make again; lemon keeps it from being as sweet as it sounds)
  • Curried Chicken Thighs with Acorn Squash (excellent except for two things: bone-in thighs are a fair amount of work to prepare, and the acorn squash was quartered, which we found a little difficult to eat – and not as tasty as butternut squash)

I should say that we’ve found that most cookbooks under-spice things, for our tastes, and that makes perfect sense, since we can always add more spice. The husband likes to add Siracha to everything anyway. But since I’m kind of a rule follower, I get nervous about going my own way with amounts until I’ve made something a few times.

So that’s my review! Next month I’m planning to review Chocolate-Covered Katie, another find in my obsession with healthier cooking. I’m also excited because Hungry Girl has a new diet cookbook coming out in April. But that’s for another post. This book counts towards the Foodies Read 2015 Challenge.

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