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Hail the humble slow cooker
In my last piece, I promised to unveil my secret kitchen standby: a genius gadget that is easy to use, makes meat fall apart with tenderness, extracts nutrients and blends flavours, uses a quarter of the energy of a gas hob and creates several meals in one go.
The equipment in question?
The humble slow cooker, which can be purchased for less than £30, and comes in a medium or large (family) size.
It runs off electricity and includes several settings and sometimes a timer, depending on the model. The beauty of these labour-saving devices is that you can prep them in the morning before you go to work and then come home eight hours later to the delicious smell of a home-cooked meal.
Everything including joints with a full array of vegetables, curries and soups and even puddings can be made in these things, though you need to be prepared for a bit of trial and error over issues such as timing and adding the right amount of liquid.
The benefits of using this gadget are many.
Firstly we all know meat is expensive, yet you can slow-cook anything from pigs’ cheeks to lamb shoulder: cheaper cuts of meat that have fallen out of fashion, but are deliciously tender after a few hours’ cooking.
I also tend to get lamb bones from the butcher (some supermarkets do them too) to put in the bottom with the vegetables. Not only do these increase the flavour of the stock, but they release an amazing array of nutrients, including minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium, for bones, hormones and the nervous system.
In addition bone marrow is a valuable source of iron and good fats that are believed to be partly responsible for the development of our amazing brains!
Bones also release gelatine, which can help heal an inflamed gut (common in allergies). Finally the slow-cooking process breaks down collagen, making this protein- which supports joint and muscle repair- better absorbed by the body.
The larger sized slow cookers hold so much capacity that you only really need to fire them up a couple of times a week to get the benefit- buy some freezer bags or Tupperware and you can freeze the remainder for further meals.
One other thing I should mention when slow-cooking; if you are using meat, don’t be afraid to leave the fat on. Not only does this impart flavour but contrary to popular wisdom, animal fats aren’t bad for you and don’t cause heart disease. But that’s another story, and you’ll have to wait till next week to find out why….
For more information, visit www.naturallywells.com
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