Slow down. If you speed while driving, there’s trouble ahead. You’re not doing your body any good rushing through meals either. Obesity experts warn how fast eating shuts off the signal from the gut to the brain that tells us we’ve eaten enough. It takes at least 20 minutes to make the trip. So if we eat fast, we feel unsatisfied by the meal and we are likely to reach for more.
Unfortunately, mid-winter regularly is grab-and-go time at the dinner table, with everyone rushing in and out from school, work, meetings, extra curricular and volunteer activities.
Yet just as slower eating aids digestion, pausing for family meals can make us healthier overall. It’s well documented that family dinners mean not only more nutritionally balanced meals are consumed, but face time during them produces happier, healthier kids who do better at school and are less likely to take drugs or consume alcohol.
Just don’t rush the meals.
A slow cooker is a great way to put a hot dinner on the table when everyone’s tired, hungry and wanting dinner before anyone has time to make one. Here’s two Crock-Pot recipes to have dinner waiting for you. Both come from Manitoba Pork’s website in a recipe section of slow cooker recipes for all seasons.
West African Pork Peanut Stew
- 2 lbs. Canadian pork shoulder blade roast, well trimmed, cut into 1-in. (2.5-cm) cubes
- 1 c. chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 large plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 tsp. EACH ground cumin and salt
- 1/2 tsp. EACH curry powder, coriander, cayenne pepper, ground ginger and cinnamon
- 1 c. sodium-reduced chicken broth
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2 c. chunky peanut butter
- 1 14-oz (398-ml) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 c. chopped blanched peanuts
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
In slow cooker, combine pork cubes, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Add seasonings and spices. Stir in chicken broth and tomato paste; mix well. Cover and cook on LOW until pork is tender, 6-8 hours. Stir in peanut butter and black-eyed peas. Cover and cook on HIGH, about 15 minutes more. Blend in lemon juice to refresh flavours. Ladle stew into individual bowls. Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves.
Serves: 6 to 8.
Note: It took me less than 10 minutes to put all these ingredients into the slow cooker (onion chopping included) and that minimal effort produced a really delicious stew. I used two packages of pork loin stir-fry instead of a 2-lb. roast and substituted black beans for the black-eyed peas.
Tex-Mex Pulled Pork Chili
- 2 to 2-1/2 lbs. Canadian pork rib roast
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 c. sodium-reduced chicken broth
- 1 28-oz. (796-ml) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 14-oz. (398-ml) can EACH black beans and red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 c. chopped onion
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 packet chili seasoning mix, hot or mild, like Club House brand
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1 c. shredded Tex-Mex cheese
- 1/4 c. thinly sliced green onion
You’ll also need tortilla chips or garlic bread to serve.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add roast; brown on all sides. Meanwhile, in slow cooker, combine remaining ingredients, except sour cream, cheese and green onion. Transfer roast to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to10 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker onto a clean plate. Shred meat with two forks; return to slow cooker. Mix well. Turn heat to HIGH and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes more; stir once or twice. Spoon chili into bowls; top with sour cream, cheese and green onion. Serve with garlic bread or tortilla chips.
Serves: 8 to 10.