John Appleton: Fire up the Slow Cooker – Great taste – easy to digest – healthy immunity

Recently a friend was telling me that a lot of people are packing on the pounds during lockdowns.

It’s not surprising given that for a lot of folks, their daily exercise can involve many trips to the refrigerator.

Here’s a healthy alternative to perpetual snacking that’s easy to make, exceptionally nutritious very easily digested and it’s very economical.

To get started so you can enjoy the benefits of a wonderful health inducing meal, you will need a slow cooker preferably larger than 5 litres. Briscoes is a good place to start if you don’t have one. They have a 6.5 litre ‘Zip’ model for $70.

It’s really good to know that not only will you have dinner that night there is likely to be plenty left over for lunch the next day and dinner as well.

The team at Harvest Wholefoods in Richmond Road Grey Lynn will have everything that you will need including, some wonderful Kallo stock cubes for flavouring and Ceres 'Country Soup Mix’ to add some bulk. While it can be more costly to purchase organic or non-sprayed vegetables, I prefer to use these if available. With a slow cooker meal, it’s anything goes. It can be all vegetables or a combination of both vegetables and meat. Cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, kumara, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and leeks are on my list. If you can resist the temptation to open a bottle of wine, the savings will allow you to go the extra mile for flavour and nutrition and add in some wonderful ‘Best Bones Broth’.

Bone broth is top of mind for many health-conscious people around the world. While it is very trendy today it’s by no means a new fad. Bone broth which is made by simmering animal bones has a long history. Cultures around the globe have been making it for thousands of years and it remains a huge part of traditional cuisines.
Bone broth is a great place to find over 19 easy to absorb, essential and non-essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). You also get collagen which helps form connective tissue and gelatin to support digestive function. For anyone with tummy troubles, bone broth should be a first port of call.

I am happy with either all vegetables or with the addition of some meat. I have been varying my slow cooker ‘recipes’ using either chicken thighs, cubed beef or a ham hock. The ham hock has a lot of ‘flavour’ built in and for the last few hours of cooking, it pays to open the windows. If using chicken or a ham hock, it’s best to lift it carefully out of the slow cooker, remove the bones and any unwanted skin and then add it back in.

During these tough times, it’s important that we support our local businesses. Many have had a tough time during the lockdown period. Grey Lynn Meats at 531 Great North Road is listed in the top ten butchers in Auckland. Tell them what you are planning, and they will give you what you need.

I start out in the morning and have everything chopped up and ready to go at 8.30am and by 9am the slow cooker is ready to be switched on. It’s best to use filtered water and boil it up in the kettle, so it saves heating time with the slow cooker. Apart from an occasional stir if I am passing, there is nothing more to do until I switch it off at 6pm and sit down to enjoy it. I remove the ceramic pot and stand it in the sink without the lid to allow it to cool down before putting it in the refrigerator for the night. (JOHN APPLETON)

Published 5 November 2021