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Nutrition Corner

Slow Cookers = Quick and Easy Cuisine

By Michelle Davis, RD, LDN
Bariatric Dietitian at BIDMC

slow cookerHello, Fall! Although it is hard to say goodbye to summer, I am always happy to welcome in my favorite time of year. Fall is a time full of cool (but not freezing!) temperatures, beautiful foliage, apple picking, pumpkin carving and so much more. We all also know that fall is a time to get back on schedule after the summer months and for some, this means refocusing on weight loss efforts.

One recommendation that will always come with weight loss and weight maintenance is dining in. When we prepare our own meals, we can control what we eat and make substitutions as needed to change the nutrient content of our dishes. But do you feel that cooking every night is close to impossible when your week is filled with work, carpools, sports practices and more? Then say hello to the best batch cooking agent out there: the slow cooker.

slow cookerSlow cookers are a wonderful invention, allowing us to cook simple yet hearty and delicious meals. Many recipes using a slow cooker are one step only — meaning you add all the ingredients at the same time, turn the pot on, and let the magic happen! Not only do you not have to do the work, but the “low and slow” cooking method of allows all of the ingredients to blend together, making the dish very flavorful.

The slow cooker can be used for many different dishes and meals; from chili and stews to homemade breads and oatmeal, this awesome kitchen tool can do just about anything.

Have I convinced you to pull that slow cooker out from the back of the cabinet and start batch cooking? I hope so! Try and take some time during the weekend to make one or two dishes for quick and easy meals for the whole family to enjoy all week long. Here are a couple of recipes to get started!

Pumpkin Chicken Chili

6 to 8 servings

pumpkin chiliIngredients

1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz.) pumpkin puree
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 heaping tsp dried oregano, crushed between fingertips
1 tsp sea or kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast or cutlets, skin and visible fat removed
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed, minced (optional)
2 cans (14 oz. each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn kernels (thaw if frozen)
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped


Add tomatoes, chicken broth and pumpkin to a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker. Whisk until well combined; add onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and chipotles; combine well. Add chicken, chickpeas and corn. Cook 4 to 5 hours on high or 6 to 8 on low.

When ready to serve, remove chicken and chop into bite-size pieces or shred with two forks. Add back to pot, stir in cilantro and serve with low fat/fat free sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded low fat cheddar cheese and green onions.

Recipe adapted from

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal

7 servings (3/4 cup each)


2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk (or substitute non-dairy alternative like almond milk)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
2 Tbsp brown sugar (or sugar substitute like Splenda or Truvia)
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
apple oatmeal1 Tbsp ground flax seed (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins


Coat the inside of 3 1/2-qt. (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approximately 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Note: this dish freezes well.

Recipes adapted from

Above content provided by the Weight Loss Surgery Center Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted October 2013

Contact Information

Weight Loss Surgery Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clinical Center, 3rd Floor
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215