Cooking Gluten-Free with Your Slow Cooker

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Unlike other cooking methods, slow cooking can promote healthy eating for a lot of good reasons:

  • It doesn’t cook in extremely high heat, therefore maintaining the nutritional integrity of the ingredients.
  • Slow cooking also preserves the freshness as well as the natural flavor and texture of the ingredients. It means you don’t come home to overcooked or charred meals.
  • Slow cooking requires little oil or fat – or sometimes none at all! It is a perfect cooking method for those who embark on a healthy diet and lifestyle.

A slow cooker or a crock pot could be your best friend in the kitchen especially if you’re in a specific diet such as Paleo and other gluten-free diets. When people hear of the words “gluten-free,” they think of bland meals and specifically, gluten-free flours and breads with a metallic aftertaste that a lot of gluten-sensitive people find unpleasant.

But gluten-free meals don’t always have to be that way – they can be really tasty and delicious! And a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be very costly. Another advantage of using a slow cooker is that it is quite economical to use. It doesn’t need fancy ingredients at all – even the cheapest and the toughest cuts of meat and fibrous produce that shoppers usually reject can be tenderized and made yummy by slow cooking.

Cooking gluten-free using your slow cooker or crock pot doesn’t take up a lot of sweat. It is quite simple and easy! You only have to prepare and assemble all the ingredients ahead of time, that’s why the best slow cookers make perfect companions in planning out dinners and parties. Here are some of the gluten-free slow cooking meals that you should consider:

Cooking Gluten-Free with Your Slow CookerWinter vegetarian minestrone soup

You will be surprised that this all-veggie soup is a lot tastier than you could have imagined. Like the classic minestrone soup, the winter vegetarian minestrone soup has the classic ingredients like beans, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and stock. You can also throw in the other ingredients: potatoes, fennel seeds, escarole (a type of endive) as well as a variety of flavorings such as a kosher salt, ground black pepper, parsley, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Of course, what’s a minestrone soup if it’s not topped with a finely-grated Parmesan cheese?

Since it is going to be a gluten-free soup, you should use certain products such as gluten-free chicken stock and gluten-free pasta (which is optional). This hearty and delicious soup will warm the bellies during the winter season.

Spinach and artichoke dipSpinach and artichoke dip

In the slow cooker, combine all the following ingredients: chopped spinach, chopped artichoke hearts, freshly ground black pepper, and light cheeses such as Parmesan, mozzarella and Neufchatel cheese (it’s like cream cheese but lower in fat).

Close the lid and cook for about 2 hours on high temperature. When it goes hot and bubbly, stir it well and serve. It is the perfect dip for gluten-free bread and crackers, or homemade tortillas.

Slow-cooked BBQ pulled porkSlow-cooked BBQ pulled pork

In this simple but very flavorful dish, it basically takes only a few ingredients to throw into the slow cooker: pork roast (lean and de-boned), warm water, and barbecue sauce. Look for barbecue sauce brands that do not include gluten, or at least contain only minuscule amounts of it: Bone Suckin’ Sauce, Budweiser Barbecue Sauce, Hunt’s BBQ Sauce or Kraft Barbecue Sauce.

The seasonings are optional. You may want to add just a sprinkle of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin or minced garlic. You can also add a beef bouillon or beef granules, but make sure that they are naturally flavored and gluten-free.

Cover the lid and cook all ingredients for 7 to 8 hours, or until the meat is moist and tender. Remove the BBQ sauce from the slow cooker by scooping it out or by using a baster, and set it aside to be served later. Shred the pork straight from the slow cooker by using two forks. Or remove the pork and shred it on the cutting board if you want.

Serve the BBQ pulled pork as is, or with hamburger bun or rice. Serve the extra BBQ sauce.

Chocolate cakeChocolate cake

Who says you can’t eat a sinful chocolate cake on a gluten-free diet? It practically tastes like any other chocolate cakes – rich, moist and oh-so chocolatey! But the best thing about this cake? It is low-carb, low-fat and gluten-free!

This recipe calls for healthier alternatives of some of the common baking ingredients. In place of the regular all-purpose flour, almond flour or a gluten-free flour is used. There are zero-calorie sweeteners commercially available like the Swerve granular, which tastes like the regular white sugar. But if you still prefer sugar, it is recommended that you should use only the organic varieties like cane sugar and coconut sugar.

If you want to completely “veganize” your gluten-free chocolate cake, omit eggs and butter – a vegetable oil or canola oil is mostly used as an alternative. Dairy-free, plant-based milks like almond and soy milk are also used.

Aside from these healthier options, of course you should not forget the traditional ingredients for the chocolate cake like cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and vanilla. If you want your cake extra-chocolatey, use dairy-free chocolate chips.

The great thing about baking in a slow cooker is that there is no need to pre-heat anything. Just grease the pot before pouring the cake batter into it. Usually, baking in a slow cooker takes about 2 hours (on high temperature), but check if your cake is baked all the way through by inserting a toothpick at the cake’s center. If it comes out clean, then the cake is almost ready. Remove the lid and let the cake cool for 30 minutes before serving it with a dollop of cold whipped cream.

Only the top rated slow cookers will be your best buddy in whipping out healthy but delicious gluten-free meals. There are a lot of other slow cooker recipes found all over the Internet; slow cooker reviews can also a great place for finding healthy and gluten-free recipes, plus additional helpful tips on how to maintain your machine.