Grills get all the credit in the summer, but what if you don’t have a grill? Or what if you’re a bit timid around open flames? (I am!) Slow cookers are a perfect way to keep the kitchen cool and still get dinner on the table. Plus, they hold enough for a crowd, so whether the party theme is Tiki Time or Margarita Night, the slow cooker can make entertaining a snap.
Time for Tiki
Dust off your Tiki glasses and Tiki torches. A Polynesian-themed party is easy to plan with these set-it-and-forget-it recipes. Make the dessert first, then refrigerate. Either pork recipe could be served straight from the slow cooker.
A mix of coconut water and coconut milk highlights island flavors in this Coconut Brown Rice Pudding while keeping it from being too rich. Serve with fresh pineapple and mango.
Set out lots of toppings like purple cabbage, pineapple salsa and avocado to go with our Slow Cooker Pork Tacos (pictured above).
Who needs a grill when you can make Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops so tasty in the slow cooker?
Breakfasts to Fuel Summer Fun
Oatmeal is for winners. Besides containing a type of fiber that seems to keep kids and adults fuller longer, oatmeal contains muscle-boosting protein. Add more protein by topping your bowl with milk or yogurt. These slow cooker recipes can be made the night before and both include a healthy mix of whole grains and fruit. And by the way, there’s no crime in serving oatmeal for dinner.
Our Whole Grain Breakfast Porridge (pictured above) brims with cranberries, oats, farro and wild rice.
Bananas make this Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats extra creamy.
Farmers markets and gardens are bursting with a bounty of vegetables. Use them up in produce-packed soups and stews. One tip to make a summer pot of slow-cooked veggies taste fresh is to add bright green summer herbs at the end, just before serving.
A squeeze of lemon added at the end of our Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup gives the soup extra zip.
Easy-to-grow Swiss chard greens up this Slow Cooker Squash Stew (pictured above). Use summer squash instead of winter squash: it will melt into the soup as it cooks, making it velvety thick.
Chillin’ with Chili and Margaritas
While the margaritas are optional, eating spicy food – like chili – in the summer is a good idea. Hot, piquant flavors can actually help cool the body. Plus, the healthy capsaicin in hot peppers is a powerful inflammation reducer. Capsaicin may help curb appetite and could help you feel fuller sooner.
Another tasty way to use up the abundance of summer veggies is with Vegetarian Chili.
Toppers make Slow Cooker Chicken Chili (pictured above) even better. Think chopped bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, sweet onions and cilantro.
Our Slow Cooker Chili calls for only five ingredients, including brewed coffee and beef chuck.
Serena Ball, MS, RD is a food writer and registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing tips and tricks to help families find healthy living shortcuts. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Snapchat.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.