Freezer Cooking & Slow Cooker Indian Spiced Chickpea Quinoa Stew

Here is a super simple deelish slow cooker meal! We LOVE a great one-pot meal! I like Kathy’s suggestions to add any veggies you have on hand or use yellow lentils instead of red, potato in place of turnip and even carrots.

A while ago I spent a day doing a Huge Freezer Cook aka cooking/assembling meals and freezing then for later use! Brilliant idea but makes for one super crazy cooking day plus another whole afternoon to shop! But I made 26 meals to freeze!! Some meals required cooking and storing in tins to be later defrosted and cooked or reheated. Some meals, like this one, I cut and prepped all the ingredients/spices and put in a food saver bag so it was ready to go in the slow-cooker 🙂 We Love having a freezer full of meals for when we need a prepared meal and don’t feel like or have time for cooking!

This was PERFECT after we came home from vacation recently. We woke up in the morning and I just tossed the bag of ingredients & the 4 cups of water, in the slow-cooker and 8.5 hours later we had a wonderful & hot dinner. Which after coming back to the cold, snowy NY from hot and sunny Mexico was much needed to warm us up! Plus always so nice when the kids love the meal you prepared! Yeah!

Slow Cooker Indian S

Slow Cooker Indian Spiced Chickpea Quinoa Stew
Recipe from Kathy Hester at healthyslowcooking.com 
serves 4 to 6

  • 4 to 5 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled turnip, chopped
  • 1 cup sweet potato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped (about 1 stalk)
  • 1 tablespoon not-chicken bouillon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • salt, to taste

Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on low 6 to 9 hours. Taste, re-season if needed (you may not even need the salt if your bouillon is salty.)

* If you plan to prep & freeze for another time, add the water at the time of cooking.

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Easy Slow Cooker Lentils

My friend Dina told me about a super easy slow cooker lentils recipe. It was really yummy and beyond easy! There is something so nice about placing everything in a slow cooker and hours later having a hot cooked and deelish meal waiting for you! Perfect for weeknight dinners 🙂

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Easy Slow Cooker Lentils

2 cups brown lentils
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (I keep mine peeled and frozen so it is super easy to grate )
1 tsp each garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, cumin
Salt to taste

Mix all of the above in the slow cooker and put in enough water to cover by an inch plus. Cook on high for 2-3 hrs or low for 3-4 hrs. (add more water if needed) I served it with yogurt and chopped cucumber. Deelish!

Iron for Vegans & Kale and Lentil Soup!

We all know that Iron is super important in our diets. Iron transports oxygen to the blood, regulates the metabolism, provides energy and stamina, and supports other important functions. Besides hearing “how do you get your protein?” vegans and vegetarians also hear a lot of “where does your iron come from?” I thought this was important topic to cover especially now as I am not only cooking for my husband and me but also my two kiddos 🙂

“Some might expect that since the vegan diet contains a form of iron that is not that well absorbed (non-heme), vegans might be prone to developing iron deficiency anemia. However, surveys of vegans have found that iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegetarians than among the general population although vegans tend to have lower iron stores.

The reason for the satisfactory iron status of many vegans may be that commonly eaten foods are high in iron. In fact, if the amount of iron in these foods is expressed as milligrams of iron per 100 calories, many foods eaten by vegans are superior to animal-derived foods. For example, you would have to eat more than 1700 calories of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron as found in 100 calories of spinach.

Another reason for the satisfactory iron status of vegans is that vegan diets are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C acts to markedly increase absorption of non-heme iron. Adding a vitamin C source to a meal increases non-heme iron absorption up to six-fold which makes the absorption of non-heme iron as good or better than that of heme iron” (http://www.vrg.org)

We can eat iron rich foods with vitamin C foods which can increase absorption, ex. rice & beans, hummus & lemon juice, falafel with tomatoes and cucumber, and beans, grains and seeds combined with fruits and veggies. There are also plenty of natural combinations;  leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy and tomato sauce have both iron & vitamin C!

Here is a list of great non-animal sources of Iron.

  • black beans, kidney beans, chick peas, pinto beans, lentils, soy beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas
  • blackstrap molasses
  • tempeh
  • quinoa
  • spinach, turnip greens, swiss chard, kale
  • tofu
  • watermelon, cantaloupe
  • enriched pasta and breads
  • green beans, beets, broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, peas
  • whole grains; millet, bulgur, oatmeal
  • prunes, raisins, apricots
  • peanut butter, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, other seeds and nuts
  • potatoes that contain the skin
  • tahini
  • veggie burgers & hot dogs

Also:

Don’t drink coffee or tea or eat calcium supplements with iron rich meals.

Cook with a cast iron skillet, especially Vitamin C heavy foods!

Once you get into the swing of eating a balanced vegan or vegetarian diet, iron is not really a concern at all:)

Here is an iron-rich delicious meal!

 Kale & Lentil Soup

Thankfully my kiddos LOVE lentils as much as we do. It has been SUUUPER chilly this winter so that makes me think soup to warm us all up. I made a super tasty soup and added kale which not only increased the iron & nutritious content but also gave such a great bite & texture to the soup. I used a crock-pot, which I have always loved, but really understand now that it can be a busy mama’s best friend!! Since then we have also revisited the Crock-Pot Oatmeal. Just as good as we remembered!

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  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2-3 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 14 ½ ounce can of diced tomatoes

Super simple 🙂 Put all of the above ingredients in the slow cooker. Set it on low 8 hours or high 4 hours, if you need it cooked quicker.

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When done I like to use my immersion blender and blend it up about half way, this way there is still some good pieces but the soup gets thicker.

Next add and let cook for just 10-15 minutes longer.
3-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3-4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped

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Serve and enjoy! Even better the next day!

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup (slow cooker)

This was a yummy warming soup that was great for this chillier weather we are having. I was hoping this would come out with a stronger “thai” or spiced flavor but I could not really taste the lemongrass, so if you rather leave it out, it would be fine. The candied ginger and the pepitas added some really good flavor and texture. Plus I love slow-cooker meals! (although I am sure you could make this in a soup pot on the stove) Start it in the morning and when you get home you have a fabulous dinner ready to go! Perfect! Enjoy this creamy squash soup 🙂

Check out these other slow cooker meals I made: Slow-cooked Open Enchiladas, Mixed Veggies with Peanut Sauce, Butternut squash, Apricots and Apples with Quinoa, Slow Cooked Corn Polenta and Chiles and Crock-Pot Oatmeal.

Before adding the squash and broth

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup (slow cooker)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 tablespoon, minced ginger root
1 teaspoon, fresh cracked pepper
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed and cut in half crosswise
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
8 cups butternut squash, cubed
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups coconut milk
3 teaspoons red curry paste
1 lime, juiced and zested
1/2 cup pepitas, toasted
1/2 cup of candied ginger, chopped

  1. In a skillet or a meal slow-cooker liner, heat oil over medium heat and add onions, cook for 3 minutes till softened. Add ginger, pepper, lemongrass and toasted cumin, stirring for 1 minute. Either place liner in slow-cooker or transfer skillet  contents to stoneware. Add butternut squash and veggie stock.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours until squash is tender.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon of coconut milk with the curry paste and blend well.
  4. Add to slow cooker along with the rest of the coconut milk and lime juice and heat till cooked through, about 20 minutes. Discard the lemongrass.
  5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
  6. Serve with toasted pepitas and candied ginger.

Slow-cooked Open Enchiladas

Such a super fast and satisfying meal. I made this as a dinner but we realized what an amazing salsa/dip this would make! So yummy with tortilla chips! When I make this again, I will forget about adding the tortillas in since we could just eat this with the chips anyway.

Before the Daiya

after Daiya, ready to eat!

Slow-cooked Open Enchiladas

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 16-ounce bottle chunky salsa
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 1/4-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6-10 6″ corn tortillas
  • daiya or any other vegan cheese
  1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, salsa, tomato paste, beans, corn, green chiles, cumin, and garlic powder. Mix well. Spread about 1 cup of this mixture into the slow cooker liner; spread evenly. Top with 2-3 tortillas, cutting to fit as necessary. Spread on 1/3 of the remaining tomato mixture. Repeat these layers 2 more times, ending with the rest of the tomato mixture; spread evenly over the top.
  2. Cover and cook on the low heat setting about 5 hours.
  3. Add vegan cheese on top and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, till melted. Serve hot.

Mixed Veggies with Peanut Sauce (slow cooker style)

Yum! Peanut Sauce and Veggies – what could be bad?!?! As you know I often use the slow cooker because it is so easy and mostly comes out delicious! This was a great example of a perfect meal that could not have been easier! I usually use the slow cooker on Sundays. In the morning I prep and set in the slow cooker and then go on with our day. When we come home we have a deelish and easy meal with minimal clean-up. What could be better for a relaxing Sunday!?!

Mixed Veggies with Peanut Sauce (slow cooker style)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh pepper
1 cup vegetable stock
3 cups frozen sliced green beans
1 bunch of broccoli, cut into florets and chopped, peeled stems
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp red curry paste
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped peanuts or cashews

broad rice noodles – cooked

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or slow cooker insert and add onions and carrots and cook will softened. Add ginger, garlic and pepper, stirring for 1 minute. Transfer to a slowcooker insert or place insert in slowcooker. Add veggie stock and stir well.
  2. Add green beans and broccoli and stir well. Cover and cook for 6 hour on low or 3 hours on high, until tender,
  3. In a bowl, whisk together peanut butter, tamari, lemon juice, maple syrup and red curry paste until blended. Add to slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes until heated through.
  4. Serve on top of rice noodles garnished with scallions and peanuts or cashews.

Butternut squash, Apricots and Apples with Quinoa

This is a great meal or side dish. The apricot and apples add such a nice sweetness and the spices were amazing! I left mine in the slow-cooker on warm for 2 hours after it was done cooking, it was still really good, but I would recommend not over-cooking this dish. I have said many time before how much I love slow-cooking. It is a tremendous time-saver and such a pleasure to come home to a house smelling so delicious and a meal ready to eat. YUM!

Butternut squash, Apricots and Apples with Quinoa

1 tbsp. cumin powder
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed black pepper
1 cup veggie broth
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 medium, peeled butternut squash
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 1/2 cups quinoa

  1. In a skillet or heatproof slow-cooker liner, heat oil over medium heat and cook onions about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, zest, cinnamon stick, turmeric, salt and pepper, stirring for 1 minute. Add veggie broth and orange juice and bring to a boil. If using a skillet transfer to a slow cooker stoneware.
  2. Add squash, apples, and apricots to stoneware and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until vegetables are tender.
  3. In a pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa stirring to prevent lumps and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until tender and liquid is absorbed. Add to slow cooker and stir well. Serve immediately.

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