It’s common knowledge amongst the team that the most used tool in my kitchen is the crock pot or slow cooker.
Why - because I’m busy (aren’t we all?) and yet I don’t want to sacrifice high performance nutrition.
Busy doesn't have to trump nutrition. Ever.
The most important thing that slow cooking will save you is time. Typically you sauté a few ingredients, throw the rest into the crock pot, turn it on and walk away for 6-10 hours.
Hey presto it’s dinner. For those endurance athletes planning to put in long, slow hours on the road this winter, you might want to put some long, slow hours into your slow cooker too.
The slow cook process is by far the most nutrient-rich method of cooking. Low heat over a long period is gentle on vitamins and minerals meaning all the good stuff is preserved and absorbed. It may taste great but you can also savor the fact that you have preserved every possible performance enhancing nutrient. a
Ingredients that are harder to digest, for example,the tougher cuts of meat or high fiber foods like beans and legumes, are miraculously tenderised and broken down. These cuts of meats also tend to be cheaper and lower in saturated fat so you save both money and calories.
Here’s a high performance slow cook recipe we use a lot at Team Joe Barr.
Sweet Potato & Coconut Casserole
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Onions, sliced
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
Fresh Ginger, thumb sized piece, peeled and grated or diced
1 tsp Paprika
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1-2 red pepper, deseeded and sliced (1 is enough for me)
250g red cabbage, shredded
1 large Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed
400ml Light Coconut Milk
2 tbsp sugar free natural peanut butter
Fresh coriander to garnish
1. Heat oil. Add onion. Fry for 10 mins. Add garlic and ginger. Stir in paprika and cook for 1-2 mins. Tip into slow cooker.
2. Add more oil if needed and gently fry chilli, red pepper and cabbage for 4 mins. Tip into slow cooker.
3. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hrs.
4. Stir in peanut butter in last 10 mins, warm through and serve with rice. Serves 4.
High Performing Nutrition
Every single one of these ingredients packs a serious antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, vitamin, mineral, fibre, phytochemical punch.
But lets take a moment and talk about a few of the top ingredients. We all need more red cabbage in our lives. The red colour comes from anthocyanins and indoles, two plant chemicals that have been shown to be strongly anti-cancer. This fantastic vegetable is also packed full of calcium, iron, potassium, prosperous and B-vitamins, all critical for immune function and bone health.
Sweet potato is simply one of the best energy (think carbohydrate) sources you could imagine. It is rich in betacarotene (precursor to Vitamin A), Vitamin C, manganese, copper, etc. Vital nutrients for blood sugar control and weight management.
I also have to sing the praises of coconut milk. The benefits of it's particular form of fat - medium chain triglycerides (MCT's) - are well documented. MCT's are readily absorbed and quickly burned. In fact studies show that adding MCT's to your diet encourages more fat to be burned as fuel versus stored. If you are interested in burning more fat then add more MCT's to your diet.
Endurance athletes need to find as many ways to incorporate MCT's as possible. We use the above recipe as either a pre or post training meal. Easy.
Whether you are an athlete or not we all need to balance 'busy' with good nutrition. Letting busy win simply doesn't feel good so why don't you break out the slow cooker and start banking all that valuable nutrition?
I'll continue to post recipes that work for us. Feel free to share ones that work for you too.