The colder it gets outside, the easier it is to find an excuse for indulging in unhealthy foods. As opposed to summertime when eating a refreshing, light salad simply sounds more appetizing than creamy casseroles and bakes, fall and winter are the seasons when stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods are the ones that people begin to crave. This craving is completely understandable; not only do warm, heavier foods counteract chilly temperatures, but the months leading up to the holidays tend to get people in the mood for home-cooked casseroles and other filling comfort foods. The only problem with cold-weather food cravings? It is much easier to go the unhealthy route when you’re cooking comfort food than it is when you’re cooking summery dishes like salads or grilled chicken.
Luckily, there are ways to indulge in your comfort-food cravings without going overboard on calories or unnecessary fats. Soup, stew, and chili recipes are all some of the easiest and healthiest ways to enjoy a hearty, delicious dinner that will warm you up fast, and many of them can be made in a crockpot or slow cooker. Soup, chili, and other slow cooker recipes generally all cook in their own juices, meaning that they typically do not require excessive amounts of oil, butter, or cream to be perfectly tender and juicy. The fewer things you add to your cooking, the less likely it is that your dish will be high in calories and fat; when it comes to slow-cooking, simplicity is always the best policy.
Slow cooker recipes are also great for healthy fall and winter cooking, especially if you are on a busy schedule, because they don’t require a lot of hands-on work or lots of ingredients. Throw the ingredients in the slow cooker before you drop off the kids at school or head to work in the morning, and, by the time you get home in the evening, you’ll have a hot dinner that’s all ready to be eaten.
Try out this recipe for Savory Italian Sausage Stew the next time you’re craving a hot, hearty dinner. It only requires 6 ingredients, most of which are foods you probably already have in your cupboard and can be tossed in the slow cooker in a mere 10 minutes. It’s the perfect cold-weather, busy night meal. Enjoy!
Savory Italian Sausage Stew Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes – Total Time: 8 ¼ hours – Serves: 8 (1 cup each) – Calories per Serving: 280
- PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
- 1-1/4 pounds mild Italian pork sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 16 oz package frozen Italian-style vegetable blend
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 1 24 oz can Hunt’s® Four Cheese Pasta Sauce
- 1 28 oz can Hunt’s® Diced Tomatoes, undrained
- 1 6 oz can Hunt’s Tomato Paste
Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray; set aside. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is cooked through and no longer pink; drain.
Combine the sausage and all remaining ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours. Stir before serving. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad for a complete meal.
Savory Italian Sausage Stew © 2012 Meredith Kimelblatt