Sam Briggs shares some top tips on why using your slow cooker is the right idea at this time of year, as well as providing us with his favourite slow cooker recipe.
As winter arrives it’s easy to shed a tear thinking of all the vibrant food you’ll be missing out on. The long nights will leave you looking for comfort wherever you can find it … and food is a great place to start. Slow cookers are a versatile bit of kitchen equipment that can provide you with a wonderful range of tasty hot food to get you through the cold months. Here are five reasons why you should dust off your slow cooker and put it to use this winter.
1. Cooking has never been so easy
The slow cooker’s main advantage is that it does most of the work. You need to spend a little time (no more than you would for another recipe) doing some peeling and chopping, but then the slow cooker does the rest. No need to stand over the pot stirring and adding ingredients at different times. You can make your evening meal in the morning and know it will be hot and ready to eat the moment you walk through the door.
2. Stock your freezer up
Not only does a slow cooker mean you have to do relatively little cooking, but it’s also a great way to get your freezer stocked up for those nights when you don’t have time or just can’t be bothered. Getting a healthy, home-cooked vegan meal out of the freezer is much more satisfying than buying a takeaway or skipping a meal. Look for recipes that serve more people than you’re cooking for and put the leftover portions in the freezer – just don’t forget to label them. You’ll be stocked up in no time.
3. Have friends over
You’ll find that your freezer is soon full but there’s no slowing down your slow cooker productivity. That’s fine – it’s a great reason to invite friends over for dinner. They’ll wonder how you had time to make the deliciously coconut-milk creamy leek and potato soup when you’ve been at work all day, and they’ll be rushing to the shops to get a slow cooker once they’ve spent a Wednesday night eating your root vegetable stew.
It can be really tempting to lock yourself away during the cold months. A slow cooker is a great way to encourage you to spend time with friends.
4. Eat a variety
You’ll not only surprise your friends with your slow cooker, you’ll surprise yourself too. It’s amazing how much vegan food you can make in one. It’s easy to get in a rut when you’re feeling uninspired – how often have we all gone through a stage of overnight oats for breakfast every day for a month? A quick search on the internet will unveil tons of tasty recipes for you to try. Whether it’s soup, stew, refried beans, pie fillings or curry, a slow cooker can make it.
5. This chilli
There are plenty of great vegan slow cooker recipes out there to try out. Once you get confident with your slow cooker start experimenting and see what you come up with and then share your recipes with friends. To get you started, here’s a recipe for ‘slow n low vegan chilli’:
1 large white onion, diced
1 cup dried red kidney beans (or tinned)
1 cup dried white kidney beans (or tinned)
1/2 cup dried black beans (or tinned)
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
5 green cardamom pods
1 thumb-sized piece of cinnamon
2 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups of vegan stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
• Soak the red kidney beans, white kidney beans and black beans separately over night in plenty of water, then boil them for at least ten minutes to remove toxins. Drain. If using tinned beans, just drain.
• Dry-toast cumin seeds in a frying pan on a low heat for a minute.
• Add to the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients (apart from the coriander).
• Turn slow cooker on and cook on low for eight to nine hours.
• The sauce should be really thick. If it isn’t, turn the slow cooker to high and cook with the lid off until desired consistency is reached.
• Serve with rice and top with chopped coriander.
By Sam Briggs.
Catch Sam on Twitter: @samgrantbriggs
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