We now own a slow cooker. I’m 26 years old and I own a slow cooker. Does this mean I am getting old?! Anyway, this thing is pretty awesome. You chuck in a load of healthy ingredients early in the day, go to work or whatever, and when you come home you are greeted with a delicious meal, that is healthy and nutritious. It’s almost as cool as having a Roomba (a robotic Hoover that cleans your home whilst you are out…)
And that is it. How easy! Obviously, you can add any ingredients you like into the stew, but for the first attempt I wanted to keep things easy. My favourite bits in a Sunday Roast is the stuffing, the gravy and the root veggies (parsnips, carrots, swede), so that is exactly what I added - along with some cannellini beans (that have lived in the cupboard for far too long), some bulgur wheat, olive oil and herbs.
For a warming and tasty nutritious stew, this has it all. Cannellini beans are perfect on a Sunday if you are partial to a couple of drinks on a Saturday night. Why? These beans stimulate an enzyme that promote a detoxifying effect on the body, in particular by destroying acetaldehyde which is the toxic by-product that comes from drinking alcohol.
Bulgur wheat is rich in fibre & protein (to keep you full), Vitamin B (for energy), iron (for immunity & respiratory health), magnesium (good for the heart) and selenium (great for hair & skin). All round, a highly nutritious, low GI, versatile grain that boosts fibre and protein intake whilst being great for many of the bodies systems.
Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew
As I was pondering what to put into the slow cooker for tonight’s dinner, the buzzer went and in comes my mum with 2 spare cauliflowers. Seriously, who has spare cauliflowers just hanging around. Anyhow, I gratefully accepted her vegetable gifts, and set about pulling out some random ingredients to accompany the cauliflower from my cupboards.
1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 tin of chickpeas, olive oil, coriander & ginger.
The cauliflower, even though a bit of a pain to chop up, has many different health benefits. It is super high in vitamin C (the immunity vitamin), it is also a good source of antioxidants (killing off those free radicals that cause cancers), it provides a generous helping of Vitamin K and omega 3 fatty acids – helping with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, on top of all that it is loaded with B vitamins (keeping nervous & digestive systems healthy).
Throwing in a tin of chickpeas gives the stew even more of a nutritional boost. Chickpeas are high in fibre and have a low GI index, meaning that they will keep you fuller for longer whilst helping to control your weight. Due to the high fibre content, chickpeas are very good for lowering cholesterol as they bind to the bile acids in the intestine aiding in movement along the digestive tract instead of returning to the liver.
Here is another simple to make stew, that has so many different health benefits for the body. Butternut squash is a popular winter vegetable, ideal for adding to stews, soups & broths in these colder months. It is full of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant which protects the immune system by fighting off those winter viruses. Butternut squash is high in potassium, making this a great addition to any dish for those who suffer from high blood pressure, lowering the risk for heart disease. Amongst these benefits, it also has an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fibre and omega 3!
Kale is high in iron, which is important for a healthy liver and blood cell function. The vitamins in kale make this a great low-calorie food that boosts the immune system, regulates the metabolism, benefits the skin & hair, lowers cholesterol, and supports digestive health.
Last but not least, lentils are a great source of protein, providing the building blocks for repairing cells, making antibodies and forming new tissue. This is another high fibre, high antioxidant addition to the stew, keeping the heart healthy by providing vitamin B, iron, magnesium and folate – necessary for proper brain functioning and reducing depression!