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9 Healthy Crock Pot Recipes You Need to Try

The colder months are the perfect time of year to put your healthy crock pot recipes to good use! Slow cookers (also known as "crock pots") make homemade meals a cinch—simply fill them with your ingredients in the morning, and by the time you get home from work, dinner is ready to be served! We rounded up some of the best healthy, hearty, and delicious crock pot recipes you've got to try.

Lumberjackie Soup

This vegan soup is an amazing way to enjoy winter root vegetables, plus it's packed with vitamins and antioxidants to help fend off winter colds. "This recipe was created while on a camping trip when we threw whatever we had into a pot and slow cooked it over the fire for hours—it came out wonderfully so I've used this recipe many times over the years," says chef Lauren Hooks of Lithe Foods. It's great for freezing and reheating.

RELATED: Make honey bran muffins to serve as the perfect after-meal treat.

Yields: 21 cups

Ingredients:
7 1/2 cups chopped rutabaga
6 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
18 cups water
2 cups cooked chickpeas (roast for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees)
5 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 cup organic Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 low-sodium vegetable bullion cubes
6 cups fresh spinach

Directions:
Place all ingredients except spinach in a slow cooker. Cook for approximately 6 hours until rutabaga and carrots are soft. Add spinach, allow to cook down, and stir to incorporate into soup.

Recipe courtesy of Lauren Hooks of Lithe Foods

Crock Pot Carnitas

Pork is actually a great source of lean protein, as long as you don't fry or bread it. This slow cooker recipe is a delicious and easy way to enjoy it for dinner.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
Juice of 1 orange
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:
1. Place pork cubes and onion in the crock pot and pour beer and orange juice over top. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Removed cooked pork from juices and set aside. Once cool, shred pork using a fork or your fingers.
3. Add remaining ingredients except vegetable oil to a blender, cover, and puree until well blended.
4. In a large sauté pan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add pork and sauté to crisp up some of the edges. Spoon or pour in as much sauce as you would like. Continue to cook until sauce is heated through. Serve with corn tortillas, tomatoes, queso fresco, and guacamole.

Recipe courtesy of Pamela Braun of MyMansBelly.com

Pulled BBQ Chicken

Who says you can only enjoy BBQ in the summer? This delicious recipe combines protein with winter veggies and tops it all off with an incredibly tasty chipotle raspberry BBQ sauce (that only sounds complicated to make) for a meal the whole family will love!

Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil (use more if necessary)
4 to 5 pounds skinless chicken thighs (bone-in is fine)
1 large Walla Walla or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced thin
3 medium carrots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry rose wine (or dry chardonnay)
1 can (14 ounces) chicken stock
1 can (14 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers (diced is fine, or you can use fresh or canned chipotle chilies in Adobo Sauce)
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For Chipotle Raspberry BBQ Sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce)
2/3 cup raspberry preserves

Directions:
1. Add oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add as many chicken thighs as will fit with the bone facing up. Brown for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Once both sides are browned, add thighs to the crock pot and continue browning remaining thighs.
2. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic to the pan and cook until vegetables are lightly browned and onions are starting to turn translucent (if necessary, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil to pan). Add to the crock pot, and turn it on to high heat.
3. In the pan, add wine, chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle peppers, and brown sugar, and stir to combine. Cook until sugar is melted, and then pour mixture over chicken and vegetables in the crock pot. Mix contents of the crock pot so ingredients get evenly distributed, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 hours.When done cooking, remove chicken and separate meat from the bones.
4. To make BBQ sauce, add all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat. Stir thoroughly and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. (If raspberry preserves have a lot of seeds, strain sauce before serving. Makes 1 1/2 cups.)

Recipe courtesy of Pamela Braun of MyMansBelly.com

South American Slow Cooker Pot Roast

We love that this veggie- and protein-packed meal (28 grams of protein per serving) also includes enzyme-rich pineapple to help you digest the protein and potassium-packed coconut milk. It's the perfect post-winter-workout meal.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 pounds beef chuck roast (Certified Angus Beef® is recommended)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt
Pepper
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 jalapeños, chopped
2 medium peppers, chopped

1 medium onion, diced
4 medium radishes, tops removed and cut in half
1 to 2 sweet potatoes, chunked
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
 

Directions:
Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. Season roast with garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste; brown on both sides. Remove roast from pan; put in slow cooker with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low about 8 hours.

Recipe courtesy of chef Scot Popovic for Certified Angus Beef ®

Easy Slow-Cooker Oatmeal

Slow cookers aren't just for dinner. "Steel cut oats are one of the best hot cereals but often get overlooked for a quicker breakfast," says Beth Bader, co-author of The Clean Plate Club. "Making these in a slow cooker the night before makes this healthy, hot breakfast ready when you are."

RELATED: Oatmeal isn't just for breakfast anymore. Try these savory oatmeal recipes for a creamy comforting dinner.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/3 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped almonds or walnuts
4 cups water
1/2 cup half-and-half (or plain nonfat yogurt)

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together in a slow cooker before you head to bed. Set to low and cook for 8 to 9 hours. Stir to combine and serve.

Recipe courtesy of The Cleaner Plate Club by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin

Moroccan Stew

This savory Moroccan-inspired vegetable stew makes a great dinner option (and a great lunch the next day). It's full of flavor and nutrient-rich veggies like kale, onions, carrots, and garlic.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes with juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 bunch kale, chopped and tough stems removed
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1/2 roast chicken, skinned and boned (optional)

Directions:
1. Add olive oil, onion, carrots, red pepper, garlic, spices, chickpeas, tomatoes and juice, cinnamon sticks, and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 6 hours.
2. Twenty minutes before serving, when the cooker is just on the "warm" setting, add kale. (This is a good time to prep rice, if desired: Add 1 cup basmati rice, 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, and 1 pinch saffron in a pot, cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes). Just before serving, add parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove cinnamon sticks and serve over rice with roasted chicken, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of The Cleaner Plate Club by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin

Cinnamon Apple Butter

This delicious cinnamon apple butter is perfect for impressing brunch guests (and it will make your house smell amazing). It's made without any added sugars and makes great use of fall's apple harvest. "You can use any apples you'd like, but try to pick a sweeter variety such as Macintosh or Jonathan—Granny Smith apples don't work quite as well in this recipe due to their acidity," says Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert. "You can also play around with the juice for slightly different flavors—try using grape, pomegranate, or pear juice (avoid citrus juices)."

Yields: 32 2-tablespoon servings

Ingredients:
8 Macintosh apples, unpeeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 cups apple cider or apple juice (preferably no sugar added)

Directions:
In the base of the slow cooker, add apples followed by spices, lemon juice, and apple juice. Cider should just cover apples, but they shouldn't be swimming in it. Add more if needed. Set the slow cooker to low for 12 to 15 hours (overnight is perfect). Once apples have softened, darkened, and liquid has reduced, use a standard or immersion blender (or a food mill) to process until smooth. If apple butter is still a bit wet after the end of cooking time (due to the size of apples or the range of your slow cooker), transfer apple butter to a large pot and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until liquid has reduced and apple butter has thickened (be careful because mixture will splatter). Let apple butter cool completely before pouring into a glass jar or air-tight container. This will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert

Cranberry Coffee Cake

Try this amazing gluten-free coffee cake recipe for a slow-cooked, healthy treat.

Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients: 

For crumb topping:
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch kosher salt

For cake:
2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions:
1. To make crumb topping, place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse several times, then process until nuts become crumbs. Set aside.
2. To make cake, whisk together baking mix, sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut oil, eggs, sour cream, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Fold in cranberries. Pour batter into a greased, 4-quart crock pot and smooth the top. Sprinkle crumble topping across top of cake and press into batter. Put lid on the crock pot, venting it with a wooden skewer. Bake on low for 2 to 3 hours until a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Amy Green of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Cranberry Applesauce

This quick and easy recipe is sugar- and preservative-free and full of antioxidant-rich cranberries and apples.

Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:


4 pounds (approximately 12) apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 cup cranberries
1/4 cup water

Directions:
Add apples and cranberries to the Crock Pot and pour water over top. (If you want to make it sweeter, add in desired amour of sugar, brown sugar, or cinnamon now.) Place lid on Crock Pot. Turn heat to low and cook for 6 hours. Remove lid and stir to break up apples and cranberries that may still be in large pieces. Serve as is, or use a stick blender (or regular blender) to smooth it out.

Recipe courtesy of Pamela Braun of MyMansBelly.com