3 Simple slow cooker dinners

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Slow cooker beef stew. (January 2014) Slow cooker beef stew. (January 2014) Photo Credit: Marge Perry

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Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.

TIP Do not lift the lid while cooking in a slow cooker. Each time you do, the temperature inside the pot drops, and the food inside will require 20 to 30 minutes extra cooking time.


3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

8 ounces small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ounces zucchini, cut into 1/3-inch slices

2 small red onions, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

8 ounces baby-cut carrots

1 cup lower-sodium beef broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Combine flour, salt, pepper and thyme in a bowl; add beef and toss to coat.

2. Place beef in slow cooker; top with potatoes, zucchini, onions, carrots, broth and tomatoes. Sprinkle in any flour mixture remaining in the bowl. Cover the slow cooker and turn on low. Cook 8 to 10 hours.

3. Place cornstarch in a small bowl and add a spoonful of the broth from the slow cooker; stir until smooth. Add two more spoonfuls and again mix until smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture back into the slow cooker and turn the heat to high. Cook 20 minutes, until mixture is bubbling and thick. Makes 4 servings

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 386 calories, 8 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 40 g protein, 6 g fiber, 901 mg sodium



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1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups chopped onion

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and cut across into 1-inch chunks

2 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1. Dissolve the tomato paste in the vinegar. Combine in the slow cooker with remaining ingredients, except Parmesan, and cook on low for 8 hours.

2. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the Parmesan. Makes 4 servings

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 289 calories, 3 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 14 g protein, 53 g carbohydrates, 15 g fiber, 685 mg sodium



1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried chopped rosemary

4 3/4-pound lamb shanks, trimmed of fat

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup red wine

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped onion

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1. Combine the salt, pepper and rosemary; sprinkle over lamb. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high; add the lamb and cook until browned on all sides, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.

2. Add wine to pan and cook, stirring to scrape up any bits on surface, and boil 2minutes. Pour into the slow cooker.

3. Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots and tomatoes, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve shanks with the pot liquid spooned over them. Makes 4 servings

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 382 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 46 g protein, 3 g fiber, 669 mg sodium

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