Put your slow cooker to work and save time with these 20 easy and satisfying recipes.
Serve this saucy pulled pork as sandwiches: piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage (or better yet, red cabbage slaw), and let guests build their own sandwiches.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you're feeding a smaller group. Serve over hot steamed basmati rice.
This roast, inspired by a classic Belgian stew, is juicy and tender over mashed potatoes, and the leftovers make the ultimate hot sandwich. Cook the bacon and onion mixture the night before so it's ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning without a lot of fuss.
This beanless regional specialty is a point of pride in Cincinnati, where fierce loyalty divides the city over which restaurant serves the best version. Cooked low and slow, with the distinguishing flavours of cinnamon and cocoa, the meaty, saucy chili is served over spaghetti.
This mild, sweet curry has all the comforting flavours of a curry without too much spice, making it a great choice for the entire family. Serve over steamed rice or with warmed naan bread.
You won't believe how tasty and easy it is to make this classic dish in your slow cooker. A piping bag - or plastic bag - makes easy work of stuffing the manicotti. Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread for an easy family-style dinner.
A brisket needs to be cooked slowly, so using a slow cooker makes perfect sense. Ensure tender slices by cutting the brisket thinly across the grain.
Inspired by Portuguese caldo verde, this hearty, richly flavoured soup is a yummy way to use up an entire bunch of kale in one go. It freezes well, so leftovers make quick and easy lunches all week. The soup thickens as it stands; thin with water and adjust the seasonings as desired when you reheat it.
My mother, Shu-Lai Fong, makes famous pressure-cooked black bean spareribs. They're the inspiration for this recipe, which is just as delicious but uses a slow cooker. You'll find bite-size bone-in pork spareribs at most Asian grocery stores, or you can order them at your butcher's counter.
This hearty sauce is best served over a short pasta with lots of nooks and crannies it can tuck into and cling to. This ragu also makes a delicious lasagna filling when layered with sheets of fresh pasta and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Cost: $2.15/cup
There are few things more comforting than a bowl of rich, creamy seafood chowder. Sweet, licorice-like fennel naturally complements the seafood. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal.
Chorizo sausage and flavourful spices make this chili a real treat to come home to. Stirring in chopped herbs at the end adds a welcome touch of freshness.
Slow-cooked then quickly finished on the grill, sweet and sticky glazed ribs are guaranteed to impress your guests. Pork side ribs are also called St. Louis–style ribs, but back ribs are equally delicious.
Finally a flavourful risotto that doesn't need any stirring! Dried mushrooms work perfectly to create an earthy aroma, we've used dried porcinis here as they're readily available, but any dried mushroom will do. Hearty pot barley makes adds a healthful twist and doesn't become overly mushy - even after 8 hours.
Sweet honey and tender shallots mellow the typically strong flavour of lamb shoulder. Serve with roasted potatoes and steamed greens for a complete meal.
We've swapped beef broth for chicken broth and onions for tender leeks but kept all the flavour in this lighter version of classic French onion soup. When you get home, just toast the baguette, broil the cheese and enjoy!
This veggie-loaded chili is so hearty that even meat lovers will ask for seconds. To freeze it, cook as directed, but don't add the mushrooms. Cook them separately and add to the chili after reheating it. Serve with crusty bread to soak up every bit of sauce.
Inspired by the traditional Mexican tacos served with spicy thin pork slices and pineapple, this slow cooker version features pork shoulder broken into tender bite size chunks. If you don't want to serve these as tacos, try serving the pork on top of steamed white rice instead.
This all-in-one meal is a roast version of classic beef and barley soup. The barley thickens the cooking liquid to make a delicious gravy.
Using stewing beef instead of ground meat adds delicious bulk to this otherwise classic chili. Serve as is or use it as a topping for baked potatoes.
Eat these foods when you're under the weather. Image by: Getty Images
Eat these foods and drinks when you're sick with the flu to feel better faster.
When university professors Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs started a blog about their resolution to get in shape by the age of 50, it sparked a conversation about what it means to be fit, and who gets to claim the title.
For many of us, milestone birthdays can be a source of anxiety. But for Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs, the approach of the big "five-oh" presented both a target and an opportunity. In fall 2012, the longtime friends and fellow professors at Western University in London, Ont., then 48, set themselves a challenge: They would get into the best physical shape of their lives by their 50th birthdays—and they would blog about it along the way.
Fast-forward five years, and Samantha and Tracy's Fit Is a Feminist Issue blog is still going strong, reaching thousands of monthly readers with its refreshing mix of personal stories and thoughtful posts on what it means to be fit (and how to get there). Our takeaway? If you've ever worried that it's too late for you to get in shape, take heart: Samantha and Tracy are living proof that it's not.
What motivated you to begin this journey toward fitness in your late 40s?
Samantha: I wanted to take charge of how I aged physically, to think about what kind of life I wanted to live as an older person and what would make that possible. When I was younger, my fitness concerns were often based on looking a certain way and my goals were often tied to weight loss. Now, I think about my friend's mom who came on a recent canoeing trip. I want to be portaging in my 70s, too!
Tracy: When I first started the challenge, I had a covert hope that [weight loss] would be the byproduct, that I would have this lean, mean body by the time I turned 50. But over the course of the first few months, I made a conscious effort to get away from using weight loss as a measure of fitness. My goal became an Olympic-distance triathlon before my 50th birthday. I also had the goal of shifting my attitude, focusing on performance and getting the endurance needed to be able to complete that race.
Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs
What challenges have you faced along the way?
Tracy: My first triathlon [the Kincardine Women's Triathlon in Kincardine, Ont.] was a big deal, but the Olympic-distance triathlon was a whole other thing. It was a 1500m swim, a 40K bike and a 10K run—more than three times longer than Kincardine! I'd never ran or biked those distances, even individually. The time management involved in training was also hard; I have a full-time job! But my biggest challenges were probably mental: trying to think of myself as an athlete who had a right to be there. When I finally completed the Olympic-distance triathlon, I finished in the bottom 10, but I did it, and that felt pretty great.
Samantha: For me, it's about the balance of fitting it all in. During our Fittest by 50 Challenge, I was doing CrossFit in the mornings and aikido at night, and I'd arrive at my aikido class sore and tired. Interestingly, [doing] CrossFit helped my aikido, because I couldn't rely on strength or energy to do it—I had no choice but to go slow and focus on the technique. I was also dealing with my partner's parents both passing away. His mother had developed ALS [a disease that attacks the nervous system] and moved to London so we could care for her. I was rowing at the time, and I couldn't keep up with it and be the caregiver I needed to be. Some sports, like rowing, require you to be there at a specific time with a group of people; it's a real commitment. Running was easier for me; I could go out and do it—morning, evening, whenever.
What have you learned about yourselves throughout this process?
Samantha: I need to be in a social activity that will get me out the door to people who expect to see me or that I'm committed to. The social part really matters.
Tracy: I've learned that it feels better to achieve something meaningful than to focus on weight loss as a metric. If you're already strong and fit, what does it matter if you're carrying around a few extra pounds?
The fitness industry can be intimidating. What's your advice for pushing through that feeling?
Tracy: Have people to do activities with. For me, going to running clinics was so important because I realized that there are people of all shapes, sizes, speeds and experience levels doing these activities. It's also important to seek out a place that promotes inclusivity and diversity; the YMCA I joined is great because it's a diverse community with a diverse esthetic, and it doesn't emphasize weight loss as a goal.
Samantha: Find something you think is really fun. Try lots of things—maybe something completely weird. Just do your thing! And remember, you don't have to be good at the thing you love doing. Having fun is more important than being good. Samantha and Tracy's book, Fit Is a Feminist Issue: Our Journey to Fitness at Midlife (Greystone Books) will be released next year.
Fitness bloggers Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs share three tips to help you kick off your health journey.
1. Don't make it about weight. "If you make weight loss your goal and then quit if you don't lose weight, you miss out on all the other health benefits of exercise," says Samantha.
2. Set a scary (but not impossible) goal. "Set your sights high," advises Samantha. "[Goal-setting] commits you and focuses your attention and energy. Pick something a year away and train for it!"
3. Begin with baby steps. "We always want to start big, but starting small and building is more likely to lead to established habits because it's realistic and doable," says Tracy.
Are you suffering from any of these bad nutrition habits? Read on for easy ways to get back on track with your weight-loss goals.
When it comes to nutrition, we all have certain habits that need to be broken. While some treats and indulgences are harmless in moderation, some habits can have negative effects on your general health such as weight gain, fatigue, irritability and faulty digestion.
Here are 5 of the worst nutrition habits and advice on how to break them.
1. Drinking too much coffee
A certain amount of morning java can help to boost alertness, performance and concentration. In addition to containing anti-oxidants, research also suggests coffee contains health benefits that can lower the risk of heart disease, decrease the risk of Parkinson’s disease and help prevent gallstones. But, when your body has had too much caffeine you can experience numerous ill effects such as increased in heart rate and blood pressure, the jitters and dehydration. Also, too much coffee can interfere with proper absorption and elimination and can upset optimal weight loss results.
While you do not have to retire your coffee mug completely, the key to drinking coffee is moderation. Research suggests you can safely consume one to two cups of coffee a day.
2. Eating after dinner
After a long hard day, many of us turn to snacking after dinner to soothe emotions, deal with stress or as a treat in front of the TV. Unfortunately, late-night snacking is a one-way ticket to weight gain. Ideally, after dinnertime, the kitchen should be considered closed. If you have eaten a sufficient dinner with a protein source, you should be left feeling satisfied. If you still are feeling the need to snack at night, opt for lighter calorie foods that do not create excess weight gain such as unsweetened apple sauce, a small yogurt, vegetables, soup broths or air popped pop corn.
3. Skipping breakfast
When Mom told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, she was right. Research suggests those who skip breakfast make poorer food choices throughout the day and tend to gain more weight then those who enjoy a healthy breakfast. While you do not have to consume a huge meal first thing in the morning, it is important to spark your metabolic engine and eat a small balanced meal in the morning hours. Natural yogurts, low fat cottage cheese, steel cut oats, fruit, whole grain bread and natural nut butters and fruit are all terrific options to start your day off on the right foot.
4. Falling prey to the afternoon slump
Is it usually the mid or late afternoon when you start to feel groggy and your craving for sweets rears its ugly head? Before you know it, you have grabbed a muffin, cookie or some other starchy carbohydrate to satisfy your hankering for refined, sugary goods. While grabbing a treat mid-day might make you feel better temporarily, you are encouraging the cycle of energy and blood sugar fluctuations, eventually causing weight gain.
Instead of grabbing a processed sweet treat, opt for natural sweets such as a handful of healthy trail mix with raisins, protein bars, fruit, yogurt, vegetables and hummus, a salted hard-cooked egg or a small piece of dark chocolate with at least a 70-per-cent cocoa.
5. Not drinking enough water
Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, headaches, bloating and weakness, and can cause premature signs of aging. Drinking your six to eight glasses of water every day needs to become a habit. To get in the habit, put a dot on your hand as a reminder. Whenever you look at the dot, take a few sips of water. Keep your water handy at your desk, in your car or invest in a home water dispenser unit. Squeeze fresh lemon to you water for a refreshing taste and reap the benefits from its detoxifying properties.
If you identify with one of the bad habits listed above, just remember the key is moderation. Small changes such as making better choices when wanting sweets, drinking more water or eating a balanced morning meal can have positive effects on your health, weight and energy.