When Hamilton Beach asked me to come up with a new slow cooker recipe I jumped at the chance. Then, things got a little tricky when I started trying to come up with something healthy, seasonal and unprocessed (since I’m participating in October unprocessed this year). After a few tries I created this recipe for Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli using 3 whole grains. Why am I so excited about slow cooking?? Because being a mama of a toddler means a lot less time for cooking. I mean look at these beautiful blue eyes and tell me you would want to spend hours in the kitchen while he wants to be held, played with and read to.
Along with this recipe today I’m giving away a Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker. See more info below.
So, there you have it. I’m becoming a slow cooker mama. It’s easy and so rewarding to have a meal waiting for you at the end of the day. The only problem I’ve found with the slew of slow cooker recipes out there is that they are meat heavy, with few vegetables and generally un-healthy. So I started out by asking my friends on Facebook what some of their favorite slow cooker meals were. I needed some inspiration and preferably inspiration of the green, whole grain, veggie loving kind. I got lots of ideas so now I just need to put my slow cooker to work this fall!
For this recipe I’m using three different grains. Of course you can use all rice if that’s easiest for you (no judgement here!) but it’s fun to try new grains and each grain has it’s own specific health benefit!
I’ve tried a few different combos for this recipe and millet, rice and sorghum have been my favorites. Quinoa ended up being mushy so I would avoid that one. Farro would be another good choice if you have farro around (I make so much with farro that I decided to go with a few other grains for this one). Millet is fun because it makes the grain combo a little creamy while providing heart protective qualities from the magnesium and I hear it also repairs body tissues with phosphorus (great for my husband who just ran a marathon!). Whole grains like millet and sorghum also help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and provide more fiber and iron than rice.
Today I’m giving away a slow cooker just like mine pictured above. One of the great things about this particular slow cooker is that it’s pretty enough to leave out on the counter, which I’ll be doing through the winter! But more importantly, this Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker has a probe thermometer, and is programmable. If you are preparing for a long day at work the machine will automatically set to warm after the cooking time is complete.
If I could give you any tips on slow cooking today it would be low and slow. When I’ve tried to cook things on high for shorter time I’ve always been disappointed, especially with high powered slow cookers. You want the meat to be perfectly tender and the veggies still slightly crisp so… low and slow! But if you are short on time, this slow cooker can cook something pretty quick as it seals all of the heat in with a tight fitting lid. I cooked Cafe Johnsonia’s slow cooker black beans in 3 hours, no soaking time and they may just be the best black beans I’ve ever had!
If you’re a visual person like me, here are the simple steps to this slow cooker meal:
Look at all of these greens and grains! And in a slow cooker none the less!!
If you have more ideas for healthy slow cooker meals please leave them below in the comments. I am a mom in need of easy meals and appreciate any thoughts, ideas and inspiration! Those who contribute will be entered to win a Hamilton Beach slow cooker! Winner
will be announced this Friday is Jenny from Rate the Plate!
Hamilton Beach is partnering with several bloggers this month to come up with new slow cooker recipes. Follow the hashtag #slowcookermeals for more ideas!
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, sliced into large chunks (frozen works best)
- 1 cup of grains, I used 1/3 cup of each rice, millet and sorghum*
- 3 cups vegetable broth*
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 small crowns broccoli, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup + 1/4 cup cheddar cheese*
Turn the slow cooker on low.
Put the olive oil, chopped onion, and garlic into the slow cooker
Add the chicken breast pieces, salt, pepper, and grains.
Pour in the broth and stir.
Put lid on the slow cooker and turn it on low. Cook for four hours on low.
After three hours, check to make sure there is still enough liquid inside. If not, add some more broth.
A half an hour before it is done, add the chopped broccoli and stir. Add more broth if needed.
Cook for another half an hour until broccoli is bright green and tender.
For the cheese sauce: (I promise this extra step only takes 5 minutes and is worth it!!)
While broccoli is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir for 30 seconds. Then, add in milk and whisk, making sure there are no clumps of flour. Bring to a simmer then add in 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is warmed.
Pour sauce into slow cooker, top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and let cook for another 10-15 minutes.
**For any slow cooker recipe you must get to know your slow cooker. This slow cooker cooks quickly and I often use the low setting for recipes which call for high. If your slow cooker cooks on high most often than you may need to turn the heat up on this recipe. *You can use any combination of grains or just one grain. My favorite combo is rice, millet and sorghum. I found that quinoa breaks down to mush in the slow cooker. Farro would be another good option since it's really sturdy. Also, for this recipe to be unprocessed find a good quality cheese that doesn't have any added preservatives, dies etc. Also, check the ingredient list if you're buying broth - you should be able to recognize every ingredient on the list.