Slow cooking is a tasty and efficient way to get many of those essential vitamins, minerals, and compounds essential for good pregnancy nutrition.
Cooking meat slowly is the best way to preserve nutrients while making them more bio-available. It also brings out a wide range of flavors that you don’t get from regular cooking.
Slow Cooking in a Slow Cooker
Another Thing to Worry About
I went to Amazon to look at slow cookers while writing this post. One of the reviewers of the model I have tested it and found that it leaches lead.
Someone on PaleoHacks posted a question about lead in slow cookers. A link to one blogger who tested several popular crock pot models found that they were lead-free. Although she tested Rival, she didn’t test the red color that I have, which apparently is more likely to contain lead.
Well. I guess after tonight’s dinner I will be getting us a new crock pot. The Sunpentown SC-5355 slow cooker is recommended as a good lead-free model. It is made with Zisha clay, which is non-toxic and often used in teapots. The fact that it looks like something you’d see on the set of The Brady Bunch makes it that much more irresistible.
Anyway . . .
Slow Cooking is Not Only Convenient, it’s Healthier
In her book Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, Dr. Cate Shanahan discusses the benefits of slow cooking your meats on the bone. Although a slow-cooker isn’t necessary, it sure makes things easier. You can load it up, leave it, and come home to a delicious meal that’s all ready to be plated and enjoyed.
Nutrients are killed by heat when meat gets overcooked. Not only does this ruin the health benefits of your meal, but it also builds up carcinogens. These chemical compounds damage your kidneys and blood vessels.
When meat is slow cooked, the development of these compounds is reduced and the flavors become more pronounced. When you slow cook meat on the bone and include the organs and skin, the benefits of the individual parts have time to come together to provide you with a nutrient dense and delicious meal.
This happens because water molecules cut apart strands of protein in a process called hydrolytic cleavage. This is what makes slow-cooked foods more tender and flavorful. These water molecules also take apart the connective tissues, skin, and bone. This process releases glycosaminoglycans that include glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid.
You may recognize these names from seeing them in bottles in your local health food store. But getting them in their natural form provides many more benefits for bones, joints, and skin–both yours and your baby’s.
Mineral salts that are released from the bones and cartilage while they’re in the slow cooker provide calcium, potassium, iron, sulfate, phosphate, sodium, and chloride.
Chicken in a Slow Cooker
I love to use my slow cooker for chicken. I slice up an onion and put the slices along the bottom of the cooker. I toss in some baby carrots, too.
Lay the chicken on top of the onion slices, then sprinkle different herbs and spices. My favorites are paprika, garlic, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Throw in whatever fresh herbs you like with your chicken. Today I used basil.
Unless you are going to use them for another dish, leave in the organs. Let the chicken cook on low for about six to eight hours.
Slow Cooking Bone Broth/Stock
Save the bones and skin for the next day. You will put them back into the slow cooker, cover with filtered water (leaving about an inch or two at the top), and simmer for 10 hours. You can add some herbs, spices, and vegetables for flavor.
You may also use a stock pot to brew homemade bone broth on the stove. Update: This is how I’ve been making stock for a while now.
- Break up the bones and place them in your stock pot.
- Add herbs and vegetables, like carrots, celery, and/or veggie scraps. (This isn’t required, though. I make mine plain, then add herbs and spices when I cook with the broth later).
- Cover the bones with filtered water.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Let it simmer for about 10 hours.
I bring my stock to more of a light boil than a simmer. This pulls more gelatin from the bones. Also, adding a couple teaspoons of vinegar is supposed to bring out more nutrients (I don’t always remember to do this, but if I keep a good boil going I get a great gelatin content anyway). You don’t taste the vinegar in the final product.
Keep an eye on it throughout the day. If your broth starts to cook down, add more water. One time I forgot to watch it and it cooked down to nothing but some residue on the bottom of the pot! I added water and scraped the bottom with a spatula–left the bones in, of course–and the broth still came out awesome after a couple of hours.
You may cook your broth for longer than 8 to 10 hours, if you like. Some people cook theirs for 24 hours or more (a slow cooker would be safe for this long). I read somewhere (probably on the WAPF website), about some tribes that used to pass bones around as each household cooked them to make their own broth.
Allow the broth to cool down as close to room temperature as possible. Pour it into a container through a strainer. I love using a batter bowl with a cover.
After you refrigerate it, fat will rise to the top and congeal. You can skim that off and throw it away, if you wish, but there’s no rule against eating it! It will liquify when you heat it up.
Bone broth is amazing, and should be a regular part of your diet. It is excellent for your skin (think: stretch marks!) and bones, and will also help your child to have healthy skin and bones, too.
Do you enjoy slow cooking? What are your favorite recipes?
© Liz Davis 2012 Slow Cooking