While many of us think of using slow cookers during wintertime, they are also wonderful to use year-round.  You can make appetizers, soups, stews, chili, casseroles, roasts, sauces, breads, breakfast dishes and desserts in a slow cooker. Here are healthy slow cooker meal ideas that use fall vegetables and fruits.

Spinach Butternut Squash Lasagna

Serves 8

Butternut squash puree:

  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, chopped into 1-inch pieces*
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

*Time-saving tip: pick up pre-cut butternut squash in the Meijer produce department

Spinach ricotta mixture:

  • 15 ounce container part-skim Ricotta
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 9 whole grain lasagna noodles, uncooked 
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place butternut squash, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Add sage, rosemary, thyme, black pepper and olive oil. Stir to combine.  Place butternut squash on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, stir occasionally.
  3. Puree roasted butternut squash in blender.
  4. In a bowl, mix pureed butternut squash and nutmeg.
  5. In another bowl, mix ricotta, spinach and black pepper.
  6. Spray a 3 -to-4 ½-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
  7. Spread 1/3 of the butternut squash puree in bottom of slow cooker. Top with lasagna noodles.  Spread butternut squash puree on lasagna noodles. Top squash puree with spinach ricotta mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers.
  8. Cook lasagna on LOW for 3 hours.

Source: Adapted from Skinnyms

Nutrition Information (per serving): 314 calories, 6g fat, 19mg cholesterol, 187mg sodium, 51g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 15g protein

Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew

Serves 4

  • 1 pound turkey tenderloin, all visible fat discarded, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ¾ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 medium carrots, cut crosswise into medium slices
  • 1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  1. In a 3-to-4 ½-quart slow cooker, stir together turkey, broth, carrots, onion sweet potatoes, garlic, cumin, curry powder, ginger and pepper. Cook, covered, on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on high for 2 ½ to 3 hours.
  2. Put the flour in a small bowl. Pour in water, whisking to dissolve. Quickly whisk into the stew and re-cover the slow cooker.  If using the low setting, change it to high. Cook for 30 minutes.

Source: Adapted from American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook

Nutrition Information (per 1 ½ cup serving): 314 calories, 1g fat, 70mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 33g protein

Apple-Maple Oatmeal

Serves 6

  • 4 ¾ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 1 large tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled and chopped (about 1-1/3 cups)
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Spray a 3-to-4/12-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, stirring to combine.  Cook, covered, on LOW for 6 to 7 hours, or until oats are tender and the water is absorbed.

Source: American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook

Nutrition Information (per 1 cup serving): 215 calories, 3g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 56mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 6g protein

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