Tonawanda News

September 22, 2013

APRONS READY: Healthy slow-cooker meals can save time

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Back-to-school time is a great time to restart your new year’s resolution. Did you keep it going during the summer months? Or did it stop back in March?  

Many of us made the resolution to be healthier this year. Don’t give up on that resolution. Look for new ways to try to be healthy. If you have children, I know you are filling your schedule with all the after-school activities that they have. Take the time to schedule in time for yourself. This is time for you to exercise, read a book or start a new hobby. 

I had a great laugh when I read the headline “Kentucky students to first lady Michelle Obama: Your food ‘tastes like vomit.’ “ 

The article talked about the students being hungry at school because they did not have enough to eat during lunch. All laughs aside, children being hungry at school is something that needs to be looked into. 

Permanent diet changes take time if you want them to last a lifetime. You need to make small changes over the course of a few weeks or months. If you currently eat a diet consisting of processed, fried food with lots of sodium it will take a few months before you are able to appreciate and enjoy the taste of unprocessed lean cuts of meat and fresh vegetables. 

Steamed or boiled vegetables can be very bland but vegetables roasted with olive oil and spices are delicious. It takes time to adjust and making changes at home can help, too.

If your children are very hungry when they get home from school, healthy snacks or an early dinner can satisfy their hunger. Instead of microwaving pizza rolls or nuggets for an after-school snack, why not have dinner ready for them when they walk in the door? 

September is the perfect time to dust off your slow cooker. Fill your slow cooker before leaving for work in the morning, turn it on low and the kids can help themselves when they get home. You can include meat, vegetables, potatoes and your family’s favorite spices. To switch it up, have Italian or Mexican night. You can change the whole taste and feel of a meal by using different spices. Just remind the kids to put the lid back on the crockpot so your dinner is warm when you get home too.

One of my most favorite meals after a stressful day is breakfast for dinner. I find it very comforting. You can make the following recipe for dinner or fill your crockpot with the ingredients before bed and it will be ready for breakfast. For this recipe, you can use leftover potatoes instead of hash browns, add cooked diced ham, crumbled bacon or cooked sausage if you like.

Slow cooker breakfast for dinner

1 cup diced onion, celery and carrot

1/2 cup broccoli florets or spinach

hash browns

6 eggs

1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Spices — use your family favorites. I added a teaspoon of herbs de Provence.

Spray crockpot with cooking spray

Mix vegetables and hash browns together. Place in slow cooker. (For softer vegetables, pre-cook for 5 minutes or use leftovers)

Whip together eggs, milk and spices.

Pour over vegetable/ hash brown mixture.

Turn slow cooker on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Serve with cheese or salsa.

Makes 6 large portions: 155 calories, 7 grams fat, 8 grams protein, 13.5 grams carbs, 1.4 gram fiber (does not include cheese or salsa).

Jennifer Grier works with Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play. It is a five year grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. The grant aims to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases among the people of Niagara Falls by making it easier to be physically active and to eat more healthy foods. CCE Niagara County provides equal program and employment opportunities.