Let’s be honest: when you aren’t swept up by holiday parties, fresh snow, crackling fires, and feeling awesome in your new knit hat, winter is kind of a bummer.
There. We said it.
After the sun sets at 3pm and you trek home in the cold dark to an even colder, darker kitchen (who knew that was possible?), the last thing you want to do is figure out what you’re going to cook for dinner. Next thing you know, you’re ordering expensive takeout or melting cheese on whatever you can find. Luckily, there’s an effortless invention that we could never live without; the holy grail of the celiac kitchen; the electric cornucopia from whence blessed salvation from winter’s blight springs: the crock pot.
Seriously, is there a better feeling than coming home to the smell of a bubbling stew or tender pot roast that has been slowly perfecting over the course of the afternoon? Suddenly the work day falls away and everything seems warmer. Even your favorite sweatpants feel softer. It’s dinner time… and you didn’t have to do a darn thing.
Craving the freedom of set-it-and-forget-it cooking? Us too! That’s why we’ve compiled some of our favorite gluten-free slow cooker recipes right here. So we can all get started on a heartier, happier season…
One of the obvious benefits of crock pot cooking (besides those extolled above) is that in the colder months we tend to crave fat-rich foods. And if we happen to be tired or stressed, we’re doubly at risk for packing on the winter pounds. Using a crock pot helps you plan ahead and guarantee that whatever you decide to eat is well rounded and nutritious. Plus, unless you’re feeding a small army, most crock pot recipes promise ample leftovers for lunches.
A delicious, affordable and simple way to get started is to choose some slow cooker recipes that use overlapping ingredients, thus allowing you to make one trip to the store and buy in bulk.
To that end, the website 5 Dollar Dinners created a menu and shopping list that yields 20 pre-prepared freezer bags each filled with complete recipe ingredients for a different crock pot meal. If you have a couple hours over the weekend to get this done, the payoff is huge. They encourage cooks to head to Costco, but any place you can buy bulk frozen meats or bags of veggies should do (check your neighborhood farmer’s market or produce stand!). They even created wine pairings for each dish… be still our gluten-free hearts!
If you like a more eclectic take on your meals, these 15 “Sunday Dinner” slow cooker recipes by Homemaking Hacks are a great start. Not only are they low-fat, but a variety of seasonal veggies make an appearance… something we really appreciate. Choose from items like Chicken de Provence, Tikka Masala, and Posole! And if you really want to go nuts, check out this database of 125 (plus!) gluten-free slow cooker recipes. Down the rabbit hole we go…
Of course, we also have to include this oh-so-impressive list of recipes for crock pot soups, stews, chili and roasts from the ever-on-point Gluten-Free Goddess.
Think Outside the Box
Soups, stews and slow-roasted meats aren’t the only dishes that are crock pot appropriate. A surprising number of foods are compatible, like this gluten-free lasagna. Looks delish, right? Also consider making things you traditionally wouldn’t in a crock pot, like taco filling.
If you really want to have your mind blown, just check out this recipe for gluten-free slow cooker pumpkin bread!
Speaking of sweet, you can also make healthy breakfasts/brunches using your crock pot. Like this Pumpkin Oatmeal! It’s a great use for our certified gluten-free instant oats (especially if you want to cut down on cook time for any reason).
The More You Know
In closing, we just want to note that, although one of the hallmark advantages to cooking in a crock pot is that it’s virtually idiot-proof, there are mistakes to be made.
1. Make sure your crock pot is large enough for the amounts the recipe calls for. Seriously.
2. It’s always tempting to open the lid and take a look at what’s simmering. Do your best to avoid this. You’ll release a lot of the trapped heat and since crock pots take a while to warm up you could mess with your cooking time.
3. Show a little restraint when adding wine or other cooking alcohols. While a whole cup may be the standard for stove top dishes, alcohols don’t reduce or cook off in a crock pot and could become an overwhelming flavor in the final product. Dial it back (hey, more for you, right?).
4. If a slow cooked sauce is meant to be creamy, like Stroganoff, be sure that you wait to add the dairy at the very end of cooking so that it doesn’t curdle.
Feeling ready to beat the winter blues with a little laissez-faire cooking? Hurrah! Grab the cold weather comfort food by the horns (you know what we mean) and get to lounging in those favorite sweats. The crock pot has it from here.