The Return of the Slow Cooker: Ginger Broccoli Beef
Posted by Arja on January 5 in Holistic Health, Nutrition, Main Dishes, Soups and Stews | Download a PDF of this Recipe
As far as small kitchen appliances go, the slow cooker isn’t new technology. Not much has changed from the original concept and design, and after a dip in popularity in the 1980s, the slow cooker has made a resurgence. A quick search on the internet will yield all kinds of recipe ideas, and while many involve packaged soup mixes and other questionable, processed ingredients, it’s possible to assemble a whole foods based slow cooker meal in a reasonable amount of time using simple, whole foods.
Crock Pots, the original brand name of slow cookers, were incredibly popular in the 70’s, though the original design was developed in the 1940s. Now you can find many brands of slow cookers, and while some have fancy settings and timers, even the most basic of designs will do the job. You likely already have one sitting in the back of your kitchen cupboard, so haul it out and use it! If not, they’re easy to come by, don’t have to cost a lot of money, and come in a variety of different sizes to suit your needs.
Feeling uninspired? Don’t get caught in a chili rut, your slow cooker can do so much more! Here are a few ways that I use mine:
Bone broth. Don’t want to leave your stove on for hours at a time? Throw some bones, water, vegetables, and whole spices into your slow cooker, turn it on, and let the low heat slowly (safely!) turn everything into a healing broth you can use for soups or drinking. I’ll often roast a chicken on a Sunday night and then put the carcass into my slow cooker overnight.
Applesauce. No need to peel the apples, just core and chop them up and toss them in the slow cooker with a splash of water, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and some cinnamon sticks. After 6 hours or so, the apples should be cooked down. Remove the cinnamon sticks and blend with a hand blender.
Healing oils. Things like calendula oil are so healing for the skin, but also very expensive. I’ve made my own in the slow cooker with dried calendula purchased in bulk and some olive oil. You can search online for a tutorial.
My slow cooker still sees a lot of dinner action. It’s a lifesaver on busy nights! Knowing that dinner is ready when I’m running to an evening client, or coming back from an extracurricular activity with my kiddo really reduces stress. I specifically add slow cooker meals into our meal plan for nights that I know will be busy. If you’re running out the door early in the morning and don’t have time to get yours set up before you leave, take a few extra minutes to prep everything the night before, shove it in the fridge, and then dump it in your slow cooker in the morning before you leave. When you get home later you can make a salad, prep a side dish/grain if needed, and be eating with a minimal amount of effort and time spent.
A few basic slow cooker guidelines to help you get creative:
- Vegetables will get mushy with the long cooking time, and even root veg like carrots get quite soft, so avoid putting in things like broccoli, green beans, or leafy greens until the last 30 mins of cooking time if you prefer a little more crunch.
- Don’t bother browning your meat! I stopped doing this a long time ago and you know what? Things still taste delicious.
- Avoid cooking chicken on high heat as it ruins the texture.
- Fresh herbs also get mushy and lose their taste. Use dried.
This is one of my favourite slow cooker meals! It’s so flavourful and ridiculously easy to prep.
Ginger Broccoli Beef
2 lbs stewing beef
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice from 4 oranges
2" ginger peeled and sliced
Shiitake mushrooms (optional)
1/4 cup Tamari/soy sauce
1 bunch broccoli chopped into florets
2 bunches green onion, sliced
Cooked rice or GF noodles for serving (also tastes great on spiralized zucchini noodles)
Toss beef, garlic, orange juice, tamari, mushrooms and ginger into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-7 hours, or until beef falls apart.
Around 30 mins before beef is done add the broccoli cook until just tender. You can also quickly steam the broccoli while your rice or noodles cook. If you want your broccoli cooked more add it earlier.
Stir in green onions and serve with rice/noodles.