Clean Eating Crockpot Meals

Written By: Lisa Valentine

Being a mom can be hectic and being a working mother makes it even crazier, especially when I’m at work in middle of dinner time. That makes it even harder to make sure my family is fed a hot meal. When I first became a mom my husband and I both worked different shifts and neither were the typical 9-5. With my husband working 12 hour shifts and my first baby starting to eat real food, I was at a loss for how to have a hot meal for my family when I could not be there. That’s when I started my crockpot experimenting.
Pinterest became my friend. I just started trying different recipes that I found and started making a list of which recipes were at hit. Not all got put on that list, some got altered and tried again, some got the boot. There were a lot of failed attempts and wasted food but I got better at picking meals to cook in the crockpot and it became my saving grace.

   I’m not just talking to working mothers here. I know how crazy kids’ schedules can be and it’s hard to cook dinner every night, especially when your kids have sports and different activities after school. We end up hitting the drive through because we are at a loss for what to cook or you just don’t have the time.  No matter what kind of mother you are; working, stay at home, work from home or homeschooling, the crockpot is THE go-to mom hack. Even when I’m not working I use it because there are some nights I know I won’t have the time or energy to cook. You know, those days you are out all day running errands or doing something fun like going to a theme park, the last thing you want to do when you get home is cook.

   Before I had my second baby I knew I needed to plan ahead this time. That’s when I made a list of our favorite recipes and made some freeze ahead crockpot meals to have on hand post baby. Nutrition is so important when you are postpartum and getting little to zero sleep usually leaves us in survival mode, eating whatever comes our way. This was a life saver when we got home from the hospital! All we had to do was decide the night before what we wanted for dinner, let it thaw out a little bit in the refrigerator and throw it in the crock pot the next morning.

When I became a health and fitness coach and started getting into clean eating, I started altering the recipes to fit our clean eating lifestyle. I knew this was something that I could not keep to myself and could use to help other moms who struggle with putting nutritious meals on the table because time is limited.
   Sometimes time plays a factor, even with the crockpot. Sometimes I forget to put it on in the morning or just didn’t find the time. My shortcut for that is adjusting the cook time. Below is a conversion chart for crockpot cooking.
LOW setting   HIGH setting
7 hours            3 hours
8 hours            4 hours
9 hours            5 hours
10 hours          6 hours
11 hours          7 hours
12 hours          8 hours
My go-to versatile crockpot hack is chicken. Throw in some chicken breasts with a little bit of water or chicken broth (low for 8 hours) and shred it when done. You can use this throughout the week for several recipes and alter to your liking. Some ideas are,
Chicken Salad
Buffalo chicken
BBQ chicken
Quesadillas
Enchiladas
Burritos (or burrito bowl)
Stir fry
To put my clean eating twist on it, I use organic chicken. I will serve atop of a salad, quinoa or brown rice or wrapped in romaine hearts or Ezekiel tortillas. I also recently discovered NUCO coconut wraps, they are a natural alternative to tortillas. I thought they were more flexible and held together better than the Ezekiel tortillas. They tasted good to me, but if you don’t like the taste of coconut, you may not like them. I ordered mine off of Amazon.
I hope these tips bring you some relief so you can still eat healthy while surviving parenthood. Bellow I added some of my favorite freeze ahead crockpot meals with grocery list to help on those days you are in a pinch.

freeze

Crock Pot Italian Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons cornstarch or 2 eggs
2 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp salt + fresh pepper
For the sauce:
2 tsp olive oil
8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil  

1. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic and cheese. Using clean hands, mix all the ingredients and form small meatballs, about 1/8th cup each.
2. Flash freeze on parchment lined cookie sheet in the freezer then place into ziplock bags.
3. Make sauce ahead or when ready to put in crock pot – In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, being careful not to burn. 

5. Pour crushed tomatoes into the crock pot with bay leaf. Add garlic and oil.
Drop meatballs into the sauce, cover and set crock pot to low, 4 to 6 hours. When meatballs are ready, adjust salt and pepper to taste and add fresh chopped basil or parsley.
Serve over favorite pasta.
Write on bag:
1. When ready, pour sauce and place in Crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours.
2. Serve over favorite pasta.

Easy Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup
Ingredients
1 1/2 to 2 pounds stew meat
32 oz beef broth
1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 carrot
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
8 oz green beans
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t marjoram
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
Add 1 T oil to a large pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add about 2 pounds of cubed beef and cook until browning some. About 10 minutes.
While the meat is browning, clean and prep veggies. One stalk of celery chopped medium. One carrot cut into 1/4 inch medallions. One medium onion chopped medium. Also 8 oz of fresh or frozen green beans.
Add all to freezer bag. Add 32 oz beef broth (you can do this now or when you dump it all in the crock pot), one 15 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained), 1/4 t thyme, 1/4 t marjoram and one bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well
Write on bag:
1.When ready, cook on high for 4-5 hours until meat and carrots are tender or 8-10 on low

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas
Ingredients
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 peppers, sliced
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
1/4 to ½ cup chicken broth, depending on preference (leave this out if you prefer a drier fajita filling)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cumin
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
Squirt of lime juice

Instructions
Combine sliced onions, peppers & chicken in a ziplock bag
Pour chicken broth over top (you can do this now or when you are ready to cook)
Sprinkle everything with cumin, salt, and chili powder.
Give a nice quirt of lime juice over the top.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, cook on low for 4-8 hours (or on High for 4 hours) or until meat is spreadable.
2. When meat is done, shred with two forks and stir back into juices. Serve meat mixture with slotted spoon with your choice of fixings.

Chicken Vegetable Soup
Ingredients
1 – 2 lbs chicken, skinless, boneless
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup corn, frozen
1 cup edemame (soy beans), frozen
1 14oz can tomatoes, diced
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. salt (to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. pepper, ground
1 tsp. parsley, dried
Instructions
Add all ingredients to a zip lock bag and freeze.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

* To shred chicken – I keep the chicken in the Crockpot and take two forks to pull apart the chicken. The chicken should be falling completely apart.

Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients
1lb chicken tenders
3 T olive oil
1 cup raw honey
2 T sesame seeds
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Directions
Place all ingredients in freezer bag, toss to coat and freeze.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, place in crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
2. Remove chicken & shred, and then return to sauce.
3. Can serve over hot cooked rice or serve in lettuce wraps.

Crock Pot SW Steak
Ingredients:
1-1/2 lbs. stew meat
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. jar chunky salsa
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
Directions                                                                                                                                          Place onions and garlic in bottom of freezer bag and top with meat. Mix salsa, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper in small bowl and pour over meat. Top with drained black beans.

Write on bag:
1. Cook on low for 7-9 hours until meat is tender
2. Serve with favorite rice

Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients
1 – 2 lbs chicken sausage
2 peppers, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp parsley

Directions
Flash freeze sausage on parchment lined cookie sheet in the freezer.
Place onions and peppers in bottom of freezer bag and top with meat. Add in can of tomatoes and parsley, pour over meat.

Write on bag:
1. Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours
2. Serve with favorite rice or in favorite rolls

Grocery list
Meat & dairy
4 pounds stew meat
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
2 lbs chicken, skinless, boneless
3 lb chicken tenders
2 lb Ground turkey
1-2 lbs turkey sausage
4 eggs

Pantry
Whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
32 oz beef broth
1 32 oz & 1 can chicken broth
3 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
Lime juice
Honey
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Extra virgin olive oil
16 oz. jar chunky salsa
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

Spices
Salt
Pepper
Sesame seeds
Parsley
Chili powder
Oregano
Bay leaves
Thyme
Cumin
Marjoram
Basil
Cornstarch (if subbing for eggs)
Frozen
Green beans
Corn
Edemame (soy beans)

Produce
2 bulbs garlic
fresh chopped basil & parsley
Carrots
6 medium onion
Celery
5 peppers
*Don’t forget freezer bags, your favorite fixings for garnish and favorite rice/pastas.

Freezer bags
Cheese?
Salsa?
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Rice
Pasta
Romaine (for lettuce wraps) and/or side salad for soups.
Whatever else you like…

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