In today’s day and age, it seems everyone is on the go most of the time. The time needed to chop, simmer, sauté, and perform other cooking-related activities when preparing home-cooked meals can often make unhealthier takeout a more appealing option.
Enter the slow cooker. This appliance provides an extra pair of hands to help you out in the kitchen even when you’re not around. It delivers low heat constantly to cook meals with little attention or effort on your part. As a result, you can come home to delicious, ready-to-eat meals at the end of your busy day. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This industrious appliance has a lot more to offer to enhance your cooking.
Better Food Safety
A slow cooker prepares foods slowly over a couple of hours at low temperatures — normally within a range of 170 to 280 degrees F. The combination of lengthy cooking, steam, and direct heat from the cooker’s pot results in the destruction of bacteria.
Low-temperature cooking of meat in a liquid can help lower the number of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) produced by 50 percent in comparison to grilling or broiling. AGEs are cell-damaging compounds that are linked with heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and cancer. They’re typically found in grilled and charred meats. High-temperature cooking of meat can also make it develop polycyclic aromatic compounds or PACs, which can alter people’s DNA and has been linked to cancer.
As you can see, slow cooking is one of the safest methods of cooking meats.
Increased Nutrient Bioavailability
Slow cooking helps increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients in plant foods. When tomatoes are heated, their cell walls break down and release more lycopene, making this powerful antioxidant increasingly available to the body. Lycopene has been linked to improved mood, heart protection, and cancer prevention. Lutein also responds positively to heat. It’s an antioxidant that promotes eye health and is found in spinach and corn. Foods processed with heat have been found to contain more lutein than the fresh versions.
Peanuts too like heat. Boiling them has been shown to increase the concentration of their antioxidants by as much as four times that of roasted and raw nuts.
Cooks Dried Beans with Ease
Cooking dried beans from scratch can be a little daunting. You’ll have to soak them overnight and then boil them before carrying on with your recipe. Fortunately, with a slow cooker, you can cut down the process. You can throw the beans right into the slow cooker, add stock or water and any other ingredients called for by the recipe, turn the appliance on, and leave the food to bubble away for eight hours or more. Alternatively, you could cover the dried beans with water right before bed and then drain them in the morning and put them in the cooker together with more water and the other ingredients.
A word of caution: If your recipe requires kidney beans, you can opt for canned versions or completely cook the beans before adding them to the cooker. That’s because kidney beans have a high lectin content, which can cause a stomach upset if it isn’t reduced through thorough cooking.
The lower temperatures used during slow cooking help preserve some of the nutrients that are lost when food is cooked quickly at high temperatures. Even better, the nutrients lost to the cooking liquid due to the heat are reabsorbed by the meal. The cooking liquids, which contain the natural nutrient-dense juices from meats and vegetables, are retained and usually consumed along with the dish. Therefore, there are no discarded nutrients.
What’s more, many slow cooker recipes involve ingredients like herbs, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables. These are healthy whole food choices that provide a wealth of beneficial nutrients including soluble fiber, antioxidants, and other micronutrients. And let’s not forget that stock or broth is a key ingredient in slow cooking. You’ll be much better making your own because bone broth has many health benefits to offer, including:
- improved digestion
- reduced joint pain
- stronger bones
- healthier nails and hair
- inhibits infections ( a reason why taking chicken soup when unwell is helpful)
It’s not necessary to fry or use oil when cooking with a slow cooker, so it helps cut down on fat and calories.
Some foods tend to stick to the bottom of pans or burn in ovens. The low temperatures that a slow cooker uses reduce the chances of scorching of foods.
Slow cookers are ideal for cooking the tougher and usually cheaper cuts of meat like chuck, brisket, shoulder, and chicken thighs. These tough cuts usually contain lots of collagen that requires a long cooking process to transform it into rich gelatin. The long cooking time of the slow cooker breaks down the tough tissue, leaving the meat juicy and tender. The condensation also doubles as a self-baster.
With a slow cooker, you can use less meat than you would use with other cooking techniques. That’s because slow cooking infuses the entire dish with a tasty meaty flavor. You can add bulk using vegetables instead.
Evidently, the slow cooker is economical to operate. And Not only that these are not an expensive kitchenware, head over to Veranda-Interiors.com for slow cooker reviews before you buy one.
Serving healthy home-cooked meals on a regular basis can be a challenge due to the effort you have to put into cooking. However, the convenience that the slow cooker affords you paired with the benefits it adds to your food gives you every reason put healthy dinners on the table more regularly, even on hectic days.