Despite all the paleo blogs, cookbooks, Pinterest boards and podcasts out there these days, not much is said in the paleo community about the real-life challenges people face making this diet sustainable, especially people my age.
The truth is, it takes considerable time and more than a little cooking skill to make it work long term. And at a time when keeping ourselves fed, clothed and not broke feels hard enough, eating real food at every meal can easily seem like too much to handle.
But I’m here to tell you that it can be done! With the help of a few key kitchen tools, that is. And number one on the list is the slow cooker.
No, slow cookers are not sexy. They’re not gourmet. They’re not the kind of thing I pictured on the countertop of my hip, eclectic kitchen in my trendy Seattle apartment. Which I totally have.
We’re definitely heading into mom territory here; function over form. I can say without question that my slow cooker has been vital in making the paleo diet sustainable for me. In my opinion, it’s a must-have if you – as a well-rounded, ambitious twenty-something with a social life – want to eat paleo and not become a complete homebody.
Never used one before? Until a few months ago, I hadn’t either. Everyone always talks about how easy and convenient they are, but even after my roommate brought one home, I was too afraid to use it because I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how the thing worked.
Do I fill the base with water? Do I preheat it? Do I need to set an alarm? And how can I be sure it’s actually going to cook my food? It seemed too simple.
Well, let me assure you, it really is that simple. These magical machines come in three parts – a heavy glass lid, a ceramic insert, and an outer metal housing – and work by gently heating the space between the outer housing and the ceramic insert. As this indirect heat cooks the food, steam is released, which gets trapped by the lid and creates a light vacuum seal. The seal locks in moisture, preserving the flavor and aiding the cooking process.
No flames, timers or water baths to worry about. There are ways to get a little fancy with it, but at it’s core, it’s literally a “chop, dump and go” operation. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to screw up.
If that’s not enough to convince you to order one from Amazon right this minute, let me give you a quick rundown of the top reasons I love my slow cooker:
It’s incredibly efficient:
Because of it’s size, I can make an entire week’s worth of dinners in about as much time as it normally takes me to make just one.
It requires pretty much zero cooking skill:
Like I said, it’s a “chop, dump and go” kinda deal. The cook time is extremely flexible, too. You’ve got no worries letting it bubble away for an extra hour if you’re out and about.
It smells ah-maze-ing:
Nothing quite compares to the magical aroma of a slow cooked meal. No need to wait till thanksgiving anymore!
It saves you money:
Slow cookers are ideal for cooking cheap cuts of meat like shanks, chuck and blade. Plus, they’re much more energy efficient than heating an entire oven.
It makes delicious food:
Cooking meats low ‘n’ slow preserves their enzymes and softens the connective tissue, making them incredibly juicy and tender. And the long cook time gives everything in the pot a chance to absorb the aromatic goodness from herbs and spices, giving it richer, fuller flavor.
It makes you look like a rockstar:
Cleanup is simple:
One pot. Enough said.
And of course, the number one reason:
It lets you have a life outside the kitchen:
It cooks your dinner FOR YOU while you do SOMETHING ELSE.
What could be better, right? I’m serious when I say that my slow cooker has changed my life. So dorky, but true. It’s given me loads more kitchen confidence and made it possible for me to prepare food for the work week without sacrificing my entire weekend.
Or, you can check out all my slow cooker recipes here.
While it’s true that these guys are incredibly user-friendly, there are a few things you should be aware of before you go crock pot crazy. For my tips on making slow cooker recipes come out perfect every time, check out this post: Want Amazing Slow Cooker Meals? Make Sure You Do These 9 Things.
Tell me about your first slow cooking experience. Do you share my slow cooker love? Were you as skeptical as I was before you started slow cooking?