Since I am still currently unemployed, APL and I have a pretty old fashioned relationship these days: husband brings home the bacon, wife cooks it for dinner. That's right - my main job these days is to make sure there's a healthy dinner waiting for my husband when he gets home from work (you know, aside from figuring out what I want to do with my life/career and looking for a new job...)
Unfortunately, for the past few weeks, I have also been dealing with what I can only describe as a really bad fatigue flare. Luckily, the nabumetone did help me manage the intense pain I was having in my hips, so these days my joints are all (more or less) behaving, but I have just been so very tired.
I've been resting a lot, but even after a few weeks of taking it easy I'm still having difficulty shaking this extreme exhaustion. Some days I wake up feeling reasonable but then crash by 4pm, which can make my only goal for the day - to have dinner ready when APL gets home from work - seem really overwhelming. Even more frustrating is the fact that I know I will feel better and have more energy if we eat healthy - if I run out of steam and we order a pizza I know that isn't going to help me deal with my fatigue the next day.
And that is where my friend the slow cooker comes in! Tonight, regardless of how I will be feeling after 4pm, I will have a delicious and healthy dinner waiting for APL when he gets home, and I was done preparing it before noon!! The slow cooker is a really big help on days when I feel ok in the morning but I'm not sure how I'll be feeling later on. It's quick and easy and healthy and delicious. And it makes enough to have healthy leftovers on hand for lunches and other tired dinner days. It's certainly a trick I will keep up my sleeve for when APL and I have kids.
If you need some inspiration to get your own slow cooker back out and give it a try, let me share with you one of our favorite slow cooker recipes - and what we are having for dinner tonight! The original recipe comes from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker, but I have augmented it to make it even more healthy by using buffalo instead of beef and adding a few tricks from Deceptively Delicious.
I always make this recipe with ground buffalo - and if your grocery store carries it I highly recommend giving it a try. Compared to beef, buffalo contains 70-90% less fat, about 50% less cholesterol, and is higher in protein, iron, and all the omega and amino acids. I also think it tastes way better than ground turkey. However, you can always substitute lean ground beef or ground turkey if you prefer.
Also, Deceptively Delicious is another great trick to have up your sleeve for healthy meals with less effort. The premise of this cookbook is to always have steamed and pureed vegetables in your freezer to add to meals - a couple hours of preparation gives you quick access to extra nutrition. For example, I never make pasta anymore without adding a few cups of spinach and brocolli puree to the store-bought sauce. And though the cookbook is aimed at cooking for kids we've found it works great for adults too!
Mariah's Buffalo Joes!!Serves 4
1 pound ground buffalo
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 large rib celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar (or more as needed)
2 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (or more as needed)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
2 cups steamed, pureed carrots (see Deceptively Delicious)
1 cup steamed, pureed cauliflower (see Deceptively Delicious)
1. In a large skillet, cook the buffalo with the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, stirring to break up the meat.
2. When the meat is cooked through, transfer everything to the slow cooker.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours.
5. Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns!!