Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fibromyalgia Survival Tools: Slow Cookers

Slow Cooker Cuban Flank Steak
My life has changed since I discovered the ease and the versatility of slow cookers. I absolutely love my slow cooker and seriously don’t know how I lived without it before! My dad actually introduced me to cooking with crock pots about 10 years ago. He made some rockin’ crock pot meatloaf and spaghetti. And his slow cooker chili was out of this world!

However, it was not until after my life-shattering fibro flare about 4 years ago that I came to appreciate how helpful and amazing slow cookers truly can be. As part of my fibro treatment, my doctor recommended that I try to eliminate as much processed foods as possible. They contain so many additives and preservatives that may irritate some fibro sufferers’ symptoms.

Of course, I wanted to try to follow my doctor’s every suggestion, but I feared that this would be difficult to accomplish. I was a single mother with 2 young children with a fibro flare so bad I was stuck in bed at times. I had family to help out during the worst of days, but what about the rest of the time? I hardly had the energy to do the most basic of tasks. How was I going to add meals from scratch to my daily list?

Determined to make this work, I turned to my dad’s delicious slow cooker recipes. Of course, I couldn’t live off of spaghetti, meatloaf, and chili for the rest of my days. But as I incorporated these crock pot meals into my family’s monthly dinner menu, I began to realize the benefits of regularly using a slow cooker:

Slow cookers utilize morning energy. People with fibro tend to have more energy in the morning and continue to lose that energy throughout the day. By dinner time, there often isn’t much energy left to spare for a home-cooked meal. However, with a crock pot, meals can be put together in the morning and cook on low often for as long as 8-12 hours. This leaves little to no additional cooking or preparation later in the day.

Slow cookers are perfect for freezing leftovers. Also larger crock pots are perfect for making extra portions, which can easily be saved and frozen. During a harder fibro day, these frozen leftovers can be thawed and reheated without much trouble for a quick but healthy meal for the whole family. Plus, they are ideal for the most difficult of fibro days when a spouse or friend is offering to help out around the house.

Slow cookers are simple to clean. One of my favorite benefits of slow cookers, though, is the easy cleanup. Hand and back pain/discomfort can make scrubbing dishes extra challenging. Sensitive, dry skin and fibro rash can complicate matters even further. Crock pots, on the other hand, are specifically designed to help limit burning and sticking. A run through the dishwasher usually cleans my slow cooker inserts to a shine. Sometimes, a few stuck spots remain, but it takes only a couple minutes and minimal elbow grease to clean that right up. Additionally, a lot of stores now carry crock pot liners—durable, heat-resistant, disposable bags that fit right into slow cookers—which reduce cleanup even more.

Now that I’ve grown to be more of a slow cooker pro, I use it nearly every day. I’ve made dishes from soups and chili to whole chickens and roasts to even deserts and applesauce. And I plan to continue to expand my crock pot cooking experience.  There are so many enticing and fun recipes to try.

Are you also in love with your slow cooker? Or is there another kitchen gadget that you couldn’t live without?

No comments:

Post a Comment